First Australians
launch an Australian First
 Imaging Racism and Homophobia
In July this year, the Anti-Violence Project launched the Imaging Racism and Homophobia campaign which brought together artists from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to produce an educational campaign which examined the links between homophobia and racism.  

The Koori members of the campaign produced a series of t-shirts, posters and postcards around the theme of Safe and Solid, designed to be distributed in gay, lesbian and Koori social centres.  

The campaign acknowledged that the group responsible for 90 percent of hate-motivated violence against gays and lesbians, men aged between 16-25, are the same group most likely to perpetrate racial violence. Lesbians and gay men from marginalised or routinely vilified racial groups can feel doubly vulnerable to victimisation.  

The two Sydney-based Koori artists involved with the project were Brook Andrew and Rea. Andrew said the campaign was intended to target the general problem of "racism which comes from a lack of knowledge about the Koori community".  

For example, Andrew said, a gay or lesbian Koori is in many ways in a very good position in terms of coming out, because the tradition of extended family ties means each person has access to a greater number of people who may be sympathetic. If a parent has a negative reaction to their child's sexuality, there can be an aunt or uncle who will provide much needed emotional support while the rest of the family comes to terms with it.  

Andrew takes issue with those who claim there has never been homosexuality in traditional Aboriginal culture. He said that in any human community there are lesbians and gay men present, and that the Safe and Solid series of images was akin to "a mini-outing campaign", designed to let people know that there were gay and lesbian Kooris, too.  

Andrew said he hoped to secure funding for the next stage of the campaign, which would involve more in-depth research into the extent of the problem of violence against lesbians and gay men in the Koori community. "This is the first campaign of its type in Australia," said Andrew. "It's all about education and getting access to different types of perspectives . . . to combat homophobia."  

Imaging Racism and Homophobia

KooriVoice - MARCH 1997

Other AVP initiatives: 
Talking our Language
Reconcilation: Hand in Hand 
Homophobia: What are you scared of?