Shelley Argent is a mum on a mission. From putting up posters in men’s toilets to taking the fight for equality to Canberra’s heavyweights. Shelley has become a force to be reckoned with who wants nothing more than to see her two sons treated as equals. QNews recently visited Shelley at home and, over freshly cut sandwiches, discovered what makes Supermum Shelley Argent tick.
Ten years ago, Shelley Argent spoke to QNews about her activism and advocacy for the LGBTIQ+ communities. Here’s what Supermum Shelley Argent told us back in 2011. (Edited)
QNews: How did you first get involved with PFLAG?
I first took it over from a mum named Coral Lee in 1999. Coral Lee was suffering a little burnout. I decided to run PFLAG from QuAC (Queensland Council for LGBTI Health – QC). Their office space gave us a more professional appearance. Also, it granted me access to people who knew far more than me. In addition to that, they kept me informed and up-to-date.
Doing beats and visiting cruise clubs
QNews: Was it a steep learning curve?
Well, it was. I initially went to QuAC because I wanted to learn what my son’s life would be like in the gay community. So, I became an education volunteer. I did emotional support courses, safe sex, and also went on beat outreach. You name it, I did it.
QNews: Was it confronting?
No. This would become my son’s life and so, I did not find it confronting at all. I can look back now and laugh at the puzzled faces when I went into the men’s toilets to put up posters. Not to mention, the visits to Klub Kruise and Wet.
QNews: What do parents ask when they first call PFLAG?
One parent thought we could provide a ten-point list to check off – ‘How do you know your child is gay?’
Others, of course, hold out hope it’s just a phase. The calls I find most sad come from sincerely religious people who genuinely believe their gay or lesbian child will go to hell. Just horrible.
QNews: What inspired PFLAG’s move from a support role to a more activist stance?
It had to be done. The more I do, the more I then see there is to do. And the more visible I am, the easier it is to get in the doors of MPs, unions and all those kind of people.
Parents are a politician’s comfort zone. No one wants to mess with a mum. It’s like getting between a lioness and a cub.
Supermum Shelley Argent says ‘Write letters’
QNews: What’s your advice for people who want to make a difference?
Write letters. Your letter will make a difference. MPs want to hear personal stories. Positive, personal stories will change outcomes.
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