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Queer Indigenous life celebrated: ‘From the mundane to the fabulous’

Queer Indigenous life celebrated: ‘From the mundane to the fabulous’

a Mitch Hibbens standing in front of a wall that has orange and pink street art. he is wearing an olive t-shirt and baseball cap with glasses. his arms are folded over his stomach and he is smiling

Mitch Hibbens describes himself simply as an academic and researcher, but he is so much more than that.

The 31-year-old is an Indigenous queer man in Australia who wants to share how fabulous his intersectional identity is. Hibbens belongs the Wiradjuri group – one of the many different Aboriginal groups in Australia. The Wiradjuri people’s lands are on what’s now known as central New South Wales – the state of which Sydney is the capital.

‘I often describe myself as a Queer Wiradjuri person, Blackademic, failed athlete, Indigenous Rights campaigner and occasional Drag Queen,’ he tells Gay Star News.

‘I think this is a rather simple way to demonstrate the complexities and nuance in my life.

‘But I also like to this that it reflects that we as Queer Indigenous people exist beyond stereotypes, our experiences are wide and varied. In my day job I work as a researcher- primarily interested in Indigenous Leadership and Indigenous Business Leadership.’

When he’s not fighting for Aboriginal rights and working in his day job, Hibbens also volunteers with Democracy in Colour, a grassroots racial justice advocacy organisation.

Indigenous X

For the past week, Hibbens has hosted the Twitter account, Indigenous X. It is a platform for Indigenous people to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences with a wide audience. Since its inception in 2012, more than 300 Indigenous people have hosted the account.

For Hibbens, hosting Indigenous X allows him to shine a light on the queer Indigenous experience.

Although, Hibbens is ‘not a big player on the Twitter scene’, he has made invaluable connections with Indigenous people on the platform. One of those connections included, Indigenous X founder and CEO, Luke Pearson who asked him to host.

‘I agreed to do it as I thought it would be a great way to engage in dialogue with a receptive audience on issues that matter to me and the communities I belong to,’ he says.

‘I have to admit I was incredibly nervous about hosting but I have been loving interacting with followers of IndigenousX.’

Queerfying Indigenous X

Even though he has spoken about diverse topics while hosting Indigenous X, including sharing pictures of his cute dog, he also wants to raise awareness of LGBTI issues.

‘”Queerifying” the space was really important for me but I also am keen to share my thoughts on Indigenous Leadership, Activism and Allyship,’ Hibbens says.

‘One of the things I have been loving sharing is snippets of the lives of Queer Indigenous Mob and I hope this continues to grow & be shared widely as my week hosting continues.’

Hibbens thinks it’s important for young queer Indigenous people to have visible role models.

‘The transition to adulthood is already a problematic time for young people- layer this with the intersection of a Queer Indigenous identity and there are so many tensions to resolve,’ he says.

‘Unfortunately we still don’t see enough positive role modelling for Queer young people so there is still a so much stigma attached to being Queer and Indigenous.

‘We need to show the beauty in our diverse lives, from the mundane to the fabulous. This gives everyone an opportunity to see themselves reflected and again, find they belong.’

The Haus of Fork

Connecting with other queer Indigenous people has allowed Hibbens to be his authentic self because ‘we don’t have to explain ourselves in any way’.

‘What’s not fabulous about belonging to a culture that is part of the oldest continuing civilisation on earth? This coupled with the freedom I now feel as a Queer person, is the most wonderful thing,’ he says.

Hibbens isn’t just all about academia and social advocacy. He also moonlights as part time drag, Anita Fork.

a drag queen with long blond hair poses in front of a mirror
Anita Fork | Photo: Supplied

Anita belongs to the drag family Haus of Fork borne out of a regional Aboriginal drag show. The Haus comprises two other Indigenous queens, Selma Fork and Mumma Yawana Fork.

‘She (Anita) is foul mouthed, takes no bullshit and loves being the centre of attention,  her sweet looks mask her pretty vulgar sense of humour. She is also a killer dancer who loves to whip her hair back and forth,’ Hibbens says.

You can follow @IndigenousX on Twitter here.