Each month we’ll champion two amazing drag queens, DJs, or community heroes in the gay scene. This week: Deeje Hancock, President of Brisbane Pride.

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What do you love about Australia’s LGBTI community?

What’s not to love – it’s an amazingly diverse, strong, resilient community that never gave up. Most of all I love our determination and ‘out there’ lack of subtlety throughout history.

What has been one of your highlights at Brisbane Pride?

From a community angle it would have to be an even split between last year’s march of 10,000 people and hosting Queen’s Ball, the oldest LGBTI event in the world.

On a personal level it has been having two fabulous women—my mother in law Bev and my aunty mum Judy—be a part of these events, it’s the most amazing experience ever.

What area do you need to focus on at the moment?

One is stigma. I believe stigma forms the basis of a lot of our community’s problems and costs so many lives. Drug abuse, depression, and mental illness exist and are very real problems within our community, but the stigma that surrounds them is something that makes it harder for people to reach out or seek help.

Internal stigma within our community is also a major problem. We cannot succeed if we continue to stigmatise members of our community who align themselves with a different subculture to ourselves.

Who do you see as an LGBTI hero in the community?

There are many heroes in our community and way too many that are no longer with us. If I had to name one it would be Mr Neil McLucas. I love and admire that ‘Nellie’ has never hidden himself or his sexuality.

He has always been outspoken, proud, and there to provide safe places for our community in one of the hardest states in Australia to do so.

Favourite LGBTI venue?

How can you ask that question of a Pride President, someone will kill me. Sporties in Spring Hill has always been there through the good and the bad times.

Favourite LGBTI anthem?

Still after all these years it’s “I Am What I Am”.

What do you love most about Brisbane Pride?

I’m known for telling it how it is, so I’ll be honest and say that at times there is nothing I love about Brisbane Pride.

But these seem to precisely be the times when someone will walk up to me out of the blue or send a message and say “thank you”, or “you don’t know this but you saved my friend’s life”, or something along those lines.

Whenever I learn that just one person has had a positive experience from the work the Pride team does, that’s what I love most.

Best Pride moment?

Seeing Brunswick Street disappear under the rainbows of last year’s march, and the entire street filled with 10,000 people was amazing.

Advice for young LGBTI people?

Please say thank you to a community elder, as they went through things that could not be imagined today, so that we could all live in a better world.

Also learn your history. It’s not always a pretty story, but it’s yours, as well as those who lived it.

Be proud, look in the mirror, and smile at the hero who looks back at you. Oh and for fuck’s sake, put the bloody apps and phones away for one day of the month, just one.

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