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Meet the heroes trying to end Indigenous LGBTI suicide

They're spreading a 'Contagion of Love' through Australia's LGBTI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Meet the heroes trying to end Indigenous LGBTI suicide
Photo: Black Rainbow
(L-R) Top row: Jake Gablonski, Casey Conway, Andy Farrell. Bottom row: Paul Calcott, Trudie Broderick and Maryanne Brown. | Photo: Black Rainbow

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who also identify as LGBTI are at high risk of self-harm and suicide.

Even though there are no official statistics on the rate of LGBTI Indigenous suicide, anecdotal evidence and similar data from similar communities in Northern America would suggest it is alarmingly high.

But a group of Aboriginal leaders have come together to make a difference.

The Black Rainbow Advisory Group (BRAG) are a newly put together action group to support Australia’s only organization dedicated to suicide prevention in the Indigenous LGBTI communities, Black Rainbow

The team is made up of Maryanne Brown, Paul Calcott, Jake Gablonski, Casey Conway, Trudie Broderick, Andy Farrell and Black Rainbow founder, Dameyon Bonson.

Their project entitled Preventing Suicide Through a Contagion of Love will make sure Indigenous LGBTI communities feel loved and supported.

‘The premise of Contagion of Love is flooding the community with just that, love,’ Bonson told Gay Star News.

‘By hosting community events, it is hoped that Indigenous LGBQTI people will feel loved and valued. In my travels, love is sad over and over again. Love from our family and our community.’

Micro-loans

The Contagion of Love project kicks off on 1 December.

From that date, Black Rainbow will be offering micro-grants to LGBQTI identifying members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The micro-grants will be available to people to help them host and promote local events that are social and community focused.

The micro-grants will be to the value of up AU$300; including AU$200 to purchase items to host a social and/or a community event, plus two Black Rainbow t-shirts and other promotion material.
Bonson got the idea when he was a judge at the inaugural Miss First Nations Drag Pageant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander queens.

‘I was a judge for the Miss First Nations in Darwin recently and all of the finalists, when asked, what would they use the platform of being Miss First Nations, they all mentioned suicide prevention,’ he said.

‘I was moved to tears to hear this for a number of reasons. One, that this is a real issue out there and still very limited work is being done to support those of us who are doing what we can.

‘Two, that Indigenous LGBQTI people, at a community level are active in doing what they can with very little or no support.

‘I decide on the spot that Black Rainbow would give each of the finalists $200 as a sign of gratitude and recognition of what they do.  This money comes via donations.’

The micro-grant initiative is 100% self-funded, through the sale of Black Rainbow’s new line of t-shirts, displaying their proud slogans; ‘Deadly and Proud’ and ‘You Matter’.

The t-shirts are available for purchase through the Black Rainbow website and can be ordered here.

Black Rainbow continues to rely on donations to be able to deliver these small, yet essential, offerings to the Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander LGBQTI community. Donations can be made here. 


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