Scene News: The Coming Back Out Ball – Coming back out by popular demand!

The Coming Back Out Ball – Coming back out by popular demand!
Thu 25 Oct 2018

A spectacular social event for LGBTI elders

The second Coming Back Out Ball returns this October – it’s a spectacular social event at the Melbourne Town Hall celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) elders aged 65+.

Established for its inclusivity and cultural significance, The Coming Back Out Ball aims to empower LGBTI elders to assert their social agency, value and worth within a mainstream and ageist paradigm.

The Coming Back Out Ball Artistic Director, Tristan Meecham, explains that the ball is a gift to honour the LGBTI aging community – it puts these wonderful people on a pedestal, “LGTBI elders are able to attend the ball for FREE. We want to acknowledge and champion the paths they’ve forged. Our vision is that The Coming Back Out Ball becomes an adored regular event on Melbourne’s social calendar.”

Blending showbiz bells and whistles, community celebration and heartfelt story telling with a full dinner service, this ravishing evening features performances from Briefs: Close Encounters, Meow Meow, Electric Fields and a very special Coming Back Out Ball Band.

The Coming Back Out Ball is conceived as a long-term ongoing project that supports the social needs and development of the growing LGTBI community – it successfully brings together different tiers of government and cross-sectorial partners to address the complexity of ageing and social isolation for this often marginalised group.

In 2018, The Coming Back Out Ball will address social isolation, ageism, homophobia and transphobia through a series of creative actions that celebrates and acknowledges LGBTI elders across rural and regional Victoria.

All The Queens Men will initiate social dance events to connect with socially-isolated LGBTI elders in partnership with municipalities across Victoria, including Greater Shepparton City Council, Mitchell Shire Council, Glen Eira City Council and Yarra City Council.

In the middle of the 2017 Australian same-sex postal survey, the inaugural The Coming Back Out Ball featured LGBTI performers, including Robyn Archer, Carlotta, Deborah Cheetham, Toni Lalich, Gerry Connolly, Lois Weaver and supported by The Coming Back Out Ball orchestra conducted by Dr. Kathleen McGuire.

Lizzi Craig who attended last year’s ball explained, “It’s the first time I have been honoured for all the decades of struggles and my lifetime commitment to my activism for my community.”

The Coming Back Out Ball has been augmented with long- term ongoing social transformation projects that include the LGBTI Elders Dance Club, which was been held monthly for the last three years at the Fitzroy Town Hall and this year has expanded throughout regional Victoria.

In 2017, The Coming Back Out Ball also inspired a feature length film documentary, which recently premiered at the closing night gala for the 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival, with a national cinema release soon to follow.

DATE Thursday, 25 October 2018 at 6pm
VENUE Melbourne Town Hall
ADDRESS 90–130 Swanston Street, Melbourne
TICKETS FREE LGBTI+ Elders (65+), $150 Full and $75 Senior Concession

Research: Ageing LGBTI

The Coming Back Out Ball was developed in response to research on the social isolation and the specific needs of ageing members of the LGBTI community. This research revealed that some LGBTI elders conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity when they access aged care services – because they believe they are not safe. With so much change over the course of their lifetime, some LGBTI elders have lived through a period when being LGBTI could result in imprisonment, enforced medical ‘cures’, loss of employment and rejection by family and friends. For this generation, the first to fight for equality, impending old age may mean going back into the closet or the risk of being deprived companionship or quality care when they need it most. The Coming Back Out Ball has partnered with Val’s LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care, who are working with the aged care sector to implement systematic change to ensure that LGBTI elders feel safe and connected. Val’s LGBTI Aging and Aged Care will host a Ageing and Aged Care Forum on Wednesday, 24 October 2018.

Evaluation: Reflections of on The Coming Back Out Ball: a dialogic evaluation – see here <>

LGBTI Elders
Markie Linhart has lived in Daylesford for 21 years and is an active part of the LGBTI community. Markie recently transitioned 13 months ago, something she has been planning since 2006. Now Markie says “her internal battle with herself has stopped”. She is a proud member of the LGBTI Elders Dance Club and attended The Coming Back Out Ball in 2017.
Ann Urch – A baby boomer, born in the UK, along with her partner of 44 years. She came to Australia in 1978 and some 32 years later, she transitioned. Her partner stuck with her through this period and at the end of 2010 they got married. She is active in local politics, being the Mayor of Frankston in 1985/86. She started an LGBTIQ community group on the Peninsula some four years and ago and now have 280 members.
Andrew Rogers – Out and proud for over 40 years, Andrew is a gay man who lives in the inner west suburb of Maidstone. He has lived through it all and is grateful for the trailblazers who fought for LGBTI rights. He has lived with social isolation and feels that LGBTI Elders Dance Club and The Coming Back Out Ball has contributed significantly to his reconnection with the community.
Elisabeth Bridson is a Queer political women in her mid sixties. She has collaborated closely with All The Queens Men on their new program for LGBTI elders called Rainbow Reviews. She lives in Ballarat and travels to Melbourne as an active member of LGBTI Elders Dance Club.
Liz Craig is a 73 year old recently retired out and proud lesbian. She used to work as an HIV Clinical Nurse Consultant with the Royal District Nursing Service in Melbourne. The service works in partnership with the Victorian AIDS Council to provide community care and support to people living with HIV in their homes. She recently moved to rural Victoria and as such, is experiencing social isolation first hand.

Tristan Meecham The Coming Back Out Ball – Artistic Director
Bec Reid All The Queens Men – Artistic Director
Cameron Menzies The Coming Back Out Ball – Event Director
Chris Reidy Victorian Seniors Festival – Manager
Pauline Crameri Val’s LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Conference – Coordinator