Resilience & Pride in the West - an IDAHOBIT Event Zine

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Ethan Zhou he/him

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land - Darug and Eora People - and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Vivien Vu she/they

Talk: Report Findings Michael Atkinson ACON LGBTQ Safety and Inclusion Manager he/him

Advancing LGBTQ+ Safety and Inclusion in Greater Western Sydney Scoping Study Report

A new report into the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people in Greater Western Sydney has found that within the community, over half experience high to very high levels of psychological distress, compared to 13.5 per cent in the general population.

Some of the key findings include: 56% of survey respondents reported ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of psychological distress, in comparison to 13.5% in the general population.

67%of participants experienced homophobic attitudes, 52% experienced misogyny or sexist attitudes, and 28% experienced racist attitudes.

High rates of psychological distress were reported to increase for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander participants as they aged.

1/3 of CALD participants reported experiences of racism and a quarter reported experiencing negative attitudes about their culture

67.2% of trans and gender diverse participants reported that a lack of access to counselling or mental health services caused them personal worry/stress. However, psychological health improved with experiences of greater inclusion.

The study found that respondents who reported feeling included and safe showed better mental health.


Our Moderator Dr Shiva Chandra Researcher and FOBGAYS+ Organiser he/him

Dr Shiva Chandra. He is a researcher at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, interested in the sociology of personal life, sexuality, gender and post-colonial scholarship. Shiva believes in an academia that informs and actively contributes to broader society. He is also an organiser at FOBGAYS+, which is a support group for queer South Asians, and their friends and family.

Our Panellists Mohammad Awad

Mohammad Awad is a Queer/Arab/Muslim and Writer/Artist/Musician/Poet who’s running out of ways to express himself. While he spends most his

Writer/Artist/Musician/Po et

time as a spoken word artist, he also writes and direct short visual poems about the Queer, Arab and Muslim experience.


Cassandra Best is a proud Gay Kamilaroi woman

Cassandra Best Aboriginal Access Officer & Kamilaroi woman she/her

from Gunnedah. Her totem is Kaputhin the Eagle. She has always cared about the wellbeing of her people and has a background in health as an Emergency Medical Technician/Ambulance Officer for two years, where she has seen support missing for Mob and the LGBTQI+ community.

Karen Menzies is a trans elder originally from

Karen Menzies

Adelaide, with a passion to support gender and sexually diverse individuals. With substantial

Training Facilitator & Trans

experience in training-delivery and education,


including LGBTIQA/Trans Awareness and Inclusive


Practice workshops, Intro to LGBTIQA Peer Work courses and a sensitive interest in Trans Ageing/Aged Care and counselling.

Christian Georges Moore Graphic Designer he/him

Christian is a graphic designer who is A LebaneseAustralian gay man. He was born right here in Sydney, but spent his formative years in Beirut, Lebanon. Christian returned to Australia in the new millennium, and had lived in Western Sydney ever since.

OUTLOUD'S MUSLIM PEERS PROJECT -AUDIO TRACK Outloud's Muslim Peers Project is for young queer or questioning Muslims. With a qualified Muslim counsellor we host a collaborative Instagram page that features letters, art, music and resources. We provide anonymous counselling (chat, phone or face-to-face) and a community of peers.

At our event a letter written by one of our Muslim Peers Project participants was read by Mohammad Awad. Below is an extract of their heartfelt advice:

L told me that you are wanting to come out to your family, but you need some help doing it in the right way. I would like to share a bit of my experiences with my family finding out about me and give you some steps that hopefully help you to find what you’re looking for.

My experience was that last year I was 18 and still in year 12. So I went home one day during the month of Ramadan and I was having a panic attack. I wanted to come out but didn’t know how to. I sat down at the table where my mum and brothers and sisters were getting ready for iftar. My mum asked me why I look distressed and I remember blocking the voices in my head. I said “I need to tell you something but I don’t know how to say it”, so my mum started asking questions to try and guess what was bothering me and finally it her on the head: that her favourite son was gay.

I remember my mum had mixed emotions, she was very upset and crying a lot, and then later in the day she was angry and aggressive towards me. I remember between one or two weeks, we were having a family gathering, all talking about my situation, and so I had enough and knew home wasn’t the place for me to express how I wanted to live.So before my mum kicked me out, I quit. I left everything behind. I won’t go any further, but I would like now to give you some tips that I have shared with others and have helped them in similar situations.

Handpick who you invite into your life (telling people that you are gay). Ask yourself “who am I comfortable with?”

You need to build your support network first. People you feel comfortable with and can rely on. People that can provide many services in one go. For example, a counsellor or a social worker.

Try putting yourself in your parent’s shoes. remember all the stories they told you of how it wasn’t easy for them growing up and everything was done in one way, and if they stepped out of line, there would be consequences for them. Be reasonable and try to understand your family’s reaction. They don’t know much and still follow the old teachings of life.

Check us out: @muslim_peers_project

FROM THE ATTENDEES: Really truly inspiring.

Keep up the great work of raising the issues faced by those who identify as gender and/or sexually diverse. We're ALL just different ... not wrong!

Thanks for sharing! Truly! It can take courage. We all benefited from hearing your experiences and feelings. It was really powerful and it touched on our deep humanistic needs

FROM THE ATTENDEES: They were all amazing and had very informative stories. All great - and beautiful presentation from Mohammed Awad. Excellent representation Thank you for all you shared with passion and bravery

It was so inspiring to hear the experiences. Allies need to think about what we can do to support people during their journey with coming out esp in middle eastern community. Karen, Mohammed, Christian and Cassandra were insightful and intelligent and eloquent they were amazing and inspiring!

You are all doing excellent and amazing work

FROM THE ATTENDEES: I personally found the experience enlightening and thought provoking. It has expanded my horizons and I value what I heard today. Christian - "there is not only a struggle between 'straight' and 'gay' but also between 'western queernes' and 'us.' "it's ok to pick the parts of your intersecting identities that you like and put them together in a way that suits you" Karen: Pride is not arrogance, a sense of superiority or an inflated opinion of selfimportance. Rather for me, it is more about gratitude and humility – know yourself and live YOUR life, not that of others values and expectations.

NOTES BY DR. SHIVA CHANDRA At the end of the panel discussion, Dr Chandra presented these 6 key take-away points based on what we heard:

We need more diverse representation, because they validate identities and this is important (eg seeing people who look like you, or have the same experiences as you).

Coming out is complicated and we need to support people where they are, according to their needs and desires (eg coming out /not coming out should be about what people think is best for them).

For trans individuals coming out is not something that just happens at a personal level, but has to happen in systems/organisations when dealing with them, requiring constant explaining - these systems/organisations need to be better.

NOTES BY DR. SHIVA CHANDRA The queer community needs to address negativity found within it.

Indigenous and other more diverse cultural ways of thinking about gender and sexuality are important. They allow individuals with particular backgrounds to make sense of their sexuality/gender within their own frameworks.

We need educational approaches to teach society more largely about gender and sexual diversity.


Canterbury Bankstown Council | | Local government area of Canterbury Bankstown located in the South West of Sydney.

Bankstown Community Resource Group | | Bankstown Community Resource Group Inc. (BCRG) is a non-profit, community managed and focused organisation, which responds compassionately to address the identified needs of children, families and disadvantaged people without discrimination.

Headspace Bankstown || Headspace Bankstown provides information, support and services to young people aged 12-25, and their families and friends.

ACON | |

Australia's largest HIV and sexuality and gender diverse health organisation.

Bobby Goldsmith Foundation | | Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF) is Australia's longest running HIV charity.

Settlement Services International | |

SSI is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. We work with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.

OUTLOUD | | Outloud is an intersectional, CALD-focused social impact arts organisation that creates genuine, meaningful, inspiring opportunities for young people in Western Sydney.

To find out more about the Inclusive Communities Networks visit: LGBTQ+Inclusion Networks are locally organised networking and action groups that engage local service providers and LGBTQ+ communities in a variety of inclusion activities that aim to make Greater Western Sydney a safe and inclusive place for LGBTQ + people to thrive.

Drawings and notes from the attendees:

Photos by Headspace Bankstown

Photos by Headspace Bankstown

After our IDAHOBIT panel and event concluded we sent you all a reflection survey to try and evaluate what was effective, what could have been done better and who we are as a collective. Below are some of our findings:

83% of attendees said this event helped them feel a sense of belonging in the community

83% of attendees said this event helped them feel proud of their community

88% of attendees said this event helped them feel welcome and included

92% of attendees said this event helped them gain new insights and knowledge

84% of attendees said this event helped them strengthen their cultural pride

79% of attendees said this event helped them strengthen their ability to overcome challenges

42% of our event attendees self identify as allies and 35% as part of the LGBTQI+ community

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