Rob – Never a Crime

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Rob: My mask is about my life. Have had an assorted life. Had a few bugs but turned them upside down. Now my life is golden with a flutter of glitter. Hence a feather in my cap!

Pride to me means that I can be myself. I am proud to be me.

My mask is about my life. Have had an assorted life. Had a few bugs but turned them upside down. Now my life is golden with a flutter of glitter. Hence a feather in my cap!

#switchboardvictoria #outandabout

Joe – Never a Crime

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Joe: My mask shows that pride is hard fought and won

Pride is being able to say I am trans. Pride is not a given, it is something we individually and collectively struggle for. Pride is individual, pride is political, pride is the hope for a life and world without shame and stigma.

My mask shows that pride is hard fought and won

#switchboardvictoria #outandabout

Luke – Never a Crime

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Luke: My mask represents a person needs a sense of humour to survive

Growing up, society told us to feel shame about who we are and the feeling we have. What an amazing gift from gay men and women that they built a community and a body of art and a theoretical framework that says to people like me “You don’t need to feel shame – be proud instead.”

My mask represents a person needs a sense of humour to survive.

#switchboardvictoria #outandabout

George – Never a Crime

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George: Just a proud femme walking down the street

To me pride is to be free. To feel safe to stand outside and feel the sun on my face. To walk down the street on a crisp winter morning. Pride is feeling the beat of the music and just letting go. It’s safety to explore and the thrill to grow. Its having a community that holds you up and celebrates you for being you.

My mask: Just a proud femme walking down the street

#outandabout #switchboardvictoria

Working with Switchboard Vic

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In 2018 we opened up the Never A Crime Pride workshops to all members of LGBTIQ communities. As part of a Community Grant provided by City of Melbourne we hosted a workshop for Switchboard’s Out and About Program. The workshop included LGBTI Elders and volunteers. We had so much fun – and powerful conversations about Pride. We loved that a number of LGBTI Elders who attended came into the workshop from residential aged care. Thanks for the wonderful work you do Switchboard Victoria. Thanks Lisa White, The Social Photographer for the powerful photos. And thanks to the City of Melbourne for the resources to make this project happen.

 

 

 

Ron Van Houwelingen – Tribute to Tasty Survivors

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In the early hours of 7 August 1994, Victoria Police raided Tasty, a nightclub in Melbourne’s CBD with a predominately queer clientele. Hundreds were strip-searched under the pretence of a drug search. The police didn’t find a thing.

I happened to be in the ladies’ toilets, about 2am, with a trans* friend having a chat. Suddenly we heard sirens, the lights went on and a female police officer stormed in and immediately separated my friend and me.

What happened next was an ordeal that went for many hours. Each of the 463 patrons at Tasty were made one-by-one to strip and bend over for Victoria Police to perform a search.

There was an escalating feeling that the police weren’t finding what they were looking for. They knew they couldn’t find anything, and they were getting angry.

I was one of the first to be stripped but there were hours before of just standing with our hands against the wall, or on our heads, waiting to be searched. Anytime you got tired and your hands would slip, an officer would yell out: ‘Hey faggot! Hands back on the wall!’

There was an added level of humiliation for Tasty’s drag queens and trans* patrons, who were also forced to undergo a full strip-search.

The incident led to successful legal action against Victoria Police with damages of well over $10,000,000 awarded to patrons. This sum would have been considerably higher had all affected parties come forward—a large number of patrons, fearful of the repercussions of “outing” themselves in a public forum or reluctant to relive the traumatic experience of the raid, did not participate.

Although very different in their particular manifestations of activism, the Tasty incident has been described by some as Melbourne’s ‘Stonewall’  comparable to the latter through its effect on community views and awareness, and resultant reviews of inappropriate police activity.

If not already wary of police presence following decades of harassing the community (Stonewall, Mardi Gras etc.) this event left me with genuine trust issues that I’m still working through.

Following the Tasty raid, the LGBTI Liaison Officer program was implemented to help build rapport and also to have trained and experienced liaison officers to be there to support victims of crime who may identify as LGBTI, and this is a welcome initiative.

My mask recognises the magical and fabulous patrons that frequented the Tasty Nightclub back in the mid 90’s. I chose the colour silver to reflect the mirror balls and the blinding colour of the costumes and the general mood that a night at Tasty felt like. It was a place for the ‘queerest of the queers’ – the feeling (before the raid) was one of euphoria, of celebration. We’d survived the 80’s; the loss of many of our friends. This should have been a time to recover from our pain, not introduce a new one.

In 2014, Victoria Police finally apologised for the Tasty raid. While I welcomed the apology, I still wonder why it took 20 years.

More than an apology, the best thing to have come out of Tasty is the lesson that our strength lies in our ability to struggle collectively. For the patrons at Tasty, collectivity was something learned through the AIDS crisis. AIDS was the reason we became active. There was a general camaraderie based on lost members of the community, lost friends. We were already a wounded community, but in many ways, that gave us our strength.