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Queer Blak Women Deserve To Take Up Space

24 Mar 2022

Boomalli has helped me find a voice as queer blak woman and it’s inspiring to see our  LGBTQIA+ community can come together yearly with such incredible work and stories . It’s important that people know we are here and we’re not going anywhere!

It was this time last year that I started working at Boomalli. We were setting up the ‘Heart’ Exhibition in celebration of Mardi Gras and it was my first time seeing an entire gallery filled with queer blak art. It was so exciting, and it was incredible to be in the presence of such a strong and proud community during our opening night, but I wasn’t yet ready to be a part of that. A year passed and Uncle Steven Ross, the curator of this year’s Mardi Gras exhibition ‘Deadly/ Solid/ Staunch’ came into the gallery to get an idea of the space and scan some old photos of mob for the memory wall. We yarned and looked through all the photos of black faces filled with joy and pride, and that’s when I realized, I had no reason to hide who I am when I’m fortunate enough to belong to such an inclusive and openly LGBTQIA+ community.

After uncle Steven left, I worked up the courage to message my co-worker Stella and finally, I came out!  After expressing to her how much it would mean to me to be a part of this year’s Mardi Gras show and that if it weren’t too late I would love to submit a work, she warmly invited me to be a part of the show. 

When I think ‘Deadly/Solid/Staunch’, I think of our elders. I wanted to acknowledge their strength and resilience which I have depicted in the form of mountains. This exhibition is a celebration of all those who have been fighting from the civil rights movement of the 60s, the queer movement of the 70s, the HIV/AIDS movement of the 80s and everything that has followed because of the path they paved. There is no real beginning or end to the lines within the mountains, only where the canvas stops. This is because of the long journey we have taken to be where we are today as LGBTQIA+ mob. From the mountains emerges a young queer woman, spear in hand, she is a force to be reckoned with as she holds the power of the hundreds of elders and ancestors which guide and support her on her journey.

I have two pieces in this exhibition, ‘Bilaarr Yinarr’ (‘Spear Woman’) and ‘Giralang’ (‘Star’) they are the first pieces I’ve created that celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and my place in it.

The idea behind ‘Giralang’ is that heteronormativity did not exist in this country prior to colonization and that just like us, our ancestors stood outside of sexuality and gender norms. Therefore, just by being our true selves, we reflect them and what has always been. I have painted them as the stars in the sky while we are their reflection seen in the water below.

They are mixed media pieces I created by approaching the canvas intuitively. I adore the process of building layers and for these works: acrylic, water colour, ink, and powdered pigment.  I feel so honored that they are a part of this exhibition alongside the works of so many incredible artists including Uncle Jeffrey Samuels and the late Uncle Arone Meeks, two of Boomalli’s founding members and icons in Aboriginal and LGBTQIA+ community who have inspired me greatly.

Boomalli has helped me find a voice as queer blak woman and it’s inspiring to see our  LGBTQIA+ community can come together yearly with such incredible work and stories. It’s important that people know we are here and we’re not going anywhere!

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