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Young LGBTI hero loses everything in a house fire

Young LGBTI hero loses everything in a house fire

a close up shot of a smiling guy

A much loved Indigenous LGBTI advocate in Australia has lost everything after a fire destroyed his home ‘in a matter of minutes’.

Taz Clay, 21, is an award winning LGBTI activist who lives in Brisbane. He has done a lot of work advocating for LGBTI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Clay is also a brotherboy, a trans gender identity in Australia’s Indigenous community.

On Thursday (2 May), his world came crashing down when the boarding house he lived caught on fire. Around 36 firefighters battled the blaze in the early morning hours at the two-storey, eight unit building. Fire services reported only one injury to a fireman who hurt his knee.

The fire completely gutted the building, destroying the belongings of the residents there, including everything belonging to Clay.

‘Well, the thing about Taz is that he does a lot of unpaid, volunteer work in his communities, both the LGBTIQ+ community and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community,’ Clay’s friend, Chantel Keegan told Gay Star News.

Community outpouring

Keegan decided to start a fundraiser to help Clay get back on his feet.

‘He is a tireless advocate and peer worker supporting young people that have been through similar life experiences to him.

‘Through everything that he gives and provides to others, he very rarely asks for anything in return, so, in his time of need, where he literally lost everything in the space of a few minutes, I felt it was only fitting that the community rally around him and help him get back on his feet.

‘I think as a community we often forget that Taz is still a young person himself. He’s only just turned 21.’

Within a day people had donated US$9,146 (€8,197) at the time of publishing. Keegan said Clay felt ‘overwhelmed’ at the outpouring of support.

‘For someone so young, Taz has achieved a lot,’ Keegan said.

‘He currently works at Diverse Voices, a peer support telephone service, he volunteers with gar’ban’djee’lum and IndigiLez, has worked with Headspace (a mental health organisation for young people). He has worked as a research assistant at the University of Queensland, spent time working with Open Doors Youth Service, has consulted on policy development at the Queensland Family and Child Commission to improve the experience of young people in foster care and he currently sits on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ Advisory Group, Tekwabi Giz, for the National LGBTI Health Alliance.

‘Did I mention he only just turned 21?’