May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). We sat down with LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group member Caro Duca to learn more about this significant day.
Happy IDAHOBIT! Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your involvement in the LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group?
Caro: Happy IDAHOBIT to you too!
My name is Caro and my pronouns are they/them. I am a Latinx-Australian Theater Maker, Arts Manager and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate that works and plays on Noongar Boodja. My work sits at the intersection of arts, community making, LGBTQIA+ inclusion and all things fun.
As a theater maker, my practice has regularly involved engaging the LGBTQIA+ community groups in Perth. In one of my shows, The Out Cast, performed at the Blue Room Theatre in 2019, I collaborated with ‘Dykes on Bikes WA’ to produce an intergenerational queer video with the motorbike riders and our performers. This connection resulted in all our performers riding with Dykes on Bikes WA at the Pride Parade 2019. So much fun!
In 2019 I created Teatro Latinx, an inclusive space for all Perth-based Latin Americans of all genders and sexualities to explore their connection with community and land through theatre. Part of our work involves unpacking what it means to be a migrant on stolen land and how to stand in solidarity with Aboriginal peoples.
I also manage the Lotterywest ‘Dream Plan Do’ Program at Community Arts Network. This mentoring program gives a platform to historically marginalized community groups to showcase their stories and experiences with the support of funding and structured mentoring. I love my job.
I am committed to making the spaces where I work and live more inclusive. As the Artistic Director of Teatro Latinx, I ensure that all the workshops and performances we create are comprehensive of all the identities a migrant can have. As Program Manager at CAN, I support community leaders to start conversations about intersectionality within their own groups. And as a Theater maker, I am committed to making the arts a safer, more inclusive industry.
I am also a BIG soccer fan! But don’t get me started on that one because I won’t shut up. Let’s leave that bit for another interview. I just want to say that Sam Kerr is doing an amazing job at Chelsea F.C.
What was the other part of the question? Oh yes, my involvement in the LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group! I got involved in the Advisory Group at the beginning of this year. It is an incredible group of people whose knowledge ranges from Perth’s untold LGBTQIA+ histories to building toilets. We all work in different intersectionalities and bring that experience to the table respectfully of others views. It is a very humbling opportunity to take part in the making of the LGBTQIA Plan that will hopefully lead to tangible changes to our community in Perth. Watch this space!
What is IDAHOBIT and when did it begin?
Caro: IDAHOBIT was created in 2004 and it stands for ‘’International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia’’. It celebrates the day that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. This happened 31 years ago on 17 May 1990. It is now celebrated in 130 countries.
Why is it such a significant day for you and the LGBTQIA+ community?
Caro: Visibility is incredibly important in the fight for equal rights. That’s why IDAHOBIT is generally celebrated with parades, festivals, street art/performance and marches. Even in those countries that criminalize LGBTQAI+ peoples, this day is used as a platform to establish initiatives that advance our cause all over the world.
It is important for us to remember that here in Australia our community still faces discrimination and exclusion on an everyday basis. This is why queer people have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia. We still need to address problems such as violence, health disparities and homelessness. If we look at our state only, Western Australia hasn’t yet outlawed conversion therapy on minors, our hate laws do not include sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and there is still a waiting period for blood donation for some individuals in our community. This means that even though we now have the option to get married, the “happily ever after’’ bit gets a little difficult when you don’t have the same protections under law as other people.
IDAHOBIT opens a much needed dialogue globally and these conversations have been translated into actions that advance equality and fairness. It is also a good opportunity for us to organize and meet in person or online. For a lot of people, the LGBTQIA+ community is either our second or only family. That means that the spaces and conversations created by celebrating IDAHOBIT contribute to the improvement of the mental health of a lot of (especially young) folx.
How will you be celebrating IDAHOBIT?
Caro: I will be attending the 4th Annual Boorloo (Perth) IDAHOBIT Community Event, hosted by Connection and Wellbeing Australia! You can attend this event in person or online, and it will be Auslan interpreted. This year’s event will focus on exploring the Intersections of Culture, Community and Identity. There will be other events in the regions and online, so feel free to check out the closest to you!
Finally, do you have any tips for how people can be everyday allies to the LGBTQIA+ community?
Caro: I first would like to acknowledge that being an ally of any community is not easy and you will get it wrong. Not having lived experience means that there is a lot of work to do in educating yourself. People appreciate when you make the effort, so don’t let the fear of making mistakes prevent you from connecting with them. The following is a list of some tips I think could be useful to you as an ally. This list is definitely not exhaustive and only comes from my experiences and the ones of my closest queer circle. I hope it helps!
Educate yourself. This is ongoing and can take as little as five minutes on any given day to a 24-hour marathon on how to become a super ally. Some suggestions: You can start by looking up LGBTQIA+ rights Australia on your preferred search engine. It will take you just five minutes to read the many summary tables out there and get up to speed with where the cause is at in your state/country. You can also use the same search engine to find out easy ways to make your language more inclusive. We all love making people around us feel comfortable and this will make a huge change to the LGBTQAI folx in your life.
Connect with us in a respectful way. Just like with everyone else you meet, it is OK for you to be curious but please be mindful of the questions that you ask and the assumptions you make. The first day we meet is not the best opportunity to ask us what we do in bed. Once we have developed a friendship (or else), there will be time for more candid or deep conversations. Asking about pronouns and introducing yours is generally a great way to start!
Support our causes. There are many organizations doing incredible work with our community in Perth. Get in touch, donate your time, money, art, clothes to advance the cause and make new friends. All these organizations will be listed in your favourite search engine that you used for tip one.
Celebrate with us. There are many LGBTQIA+ events and important dates all throughout the year. There are also queer authors, film makers and song writers whose work deserves your attention. Watch a queer movie, have a boogie to some incredible LGBT tunes (there are many lists on Sportify!) or read some of the amazing stories or books written by this community.
HAPPY IDAHOBIT, everyone! Stay safe.
Find out more about IDAHOBIT.
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