Charles Sturt University is proud to be the regional partner of the Queer Screen 29th Mardi Gras Film Festival.
The festival is held Australia wide, and a collection of short films was featured at the Charles Sturt Port Macquarie Theatre on Thursday 25 August.
The series showcases a variety of LGBTIQA+ titles from around the world across multiple genres including romance, documentaries and more.
Charles Sturt Director of External Engagement (Port Macquarie) Ms Kate Wood-Foye said the University was delighted to partner with Queer Screen on such an important initiative sharing stories of diversity and inclusion across regional Australia.
“Feeling connected and included in a community is critical to mental, physical health and wellbeing, regardless of your sexuality, race, gender or ethnicity,” Ms Wood-Foye said.
“Being part of a community, knowing that you are valued and that your story matters are at the heart of what it means to be human. This is particularly important in a regional setting.
“We were absolutely delighted to welcome community members to the University theatre on Thursday evening to watch six beautiful, heartbreaking, funny and heart-warming films from the Queer Screen Festival that encouraged everyone to be brave, to speak up and support others to feel safe and live their truth.”
The stories shared in the six unique films revealed common themes and well-known challenges around the globe for LGBTQIA+ people.
“Storytelling, particularly through film, has the power to connect, change and even save lives, to help us understand ourselves, each other, and the world around us,” Ms Wood-Foye said
Guest speaker Rakkas (Racquel) Robinson of the Out & Proud Port Macquarie community shared her own personal story of coming out as a teen in regional New Zealand and the challenges and isolation she faced.
“Rakkas is an incredible advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, channelling her own daunting experiences of not having a supportive community around her when she came out, into a personal mission to establish a number of online and in-person networks to support the queer community across the Mid North Coast,” Ms Wood-Foye said.
“Headspace Community Engagement Officer Ms Jules Jamieson shared the range of services and support available to the LGBTQIA+ community and is a regular collaborator with the University.
Charles Sturt University Campus Ally Network Lead Ms Deanne Tilden outlined the training key staff undergo to become part of the Charles Sturt Ally Network for students and how the University can support people during their studies or while living away from home.
“As students commence studies on or off campus, they are entering an entirely new world, possibly not only with university but with respect to their sex, sexuality and gender,” Ms Tilden said.
“As a team of Allies, it is super important that we let all new students (and staff) know that they are safe, cared for and accepted, of their whole self. Our goal is to let all beings feel safe and to be there for anyone who needs support or just someone to listen to them.”
The six films shown on the evening included:
- The Beauty of Being Deaf - Be transfixed by The Beauty of Being Deaf, shot underwater with an all-BIPOC, deaf cast.
- Baba - Follow a Libyan teen, Britannia as he attempts to escape to the pulsing queer world of Manchester.
- Dragged Up - A shy non-binary teenage misfit who uses drag to find the confidence they need to show their family who they truly are.
- Blunt - An interracial lesbian couple use straight talk and a little bit of cannabis to ease tensions in Blunt.
- Almost A Year - Delve into the interconnected lives of three New Yorkers navigating the pandemic.
- Tell it Well - featuring Charles Sturt Alumni Nic Steepe and his story of coming out in regional NSW and his passion to now support others to do the same.
The event is hoped to be an annual fixture on the University calendar to support and promote diversity and inclusion for all Charles Sturt University students.