The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association has presented Lemons with a Twist since 1999.
This event has always been open to anyone and everyone, so I was disappointed to hear that a friend had recently experienced discrimination at the event.
Gentlemen often come along to Lemons with their female friends to socialise and make business connections, and the SGLBA welcomes their attendance.
I was surprised to hear my friend felt unwelcome. I expected that within the LGBTQI community, most of us have, at one time or another, been discriminated against because of our sexuality, gender or expression.
When Lemons started in 1999, it was to give women their own place to mingle and network. Businesswomen had been mixing it with the guys at Fruits in Suits for several years, but it was thought it might be good to have another event that catered for women.
As the event developed, it went through ups and downs. At one stage it dwindled to around 20 attendees, to be revived to a healthy 350 or so under Kate Semken’s stewardship.
Today, Lemons with a Twist draws crowds of around 300 SGLBA members and guests on the first Friday of every month. The most common remark I hear about the event is about the diversity of the crowd and the age range of those who attend. It really is an event for all.
Lemons takes some organising. The SGLBA needs a team of people to ‘person’ the door — welcoming attendees, writing name tags and taking entry fees for non-members.
When there are not enough female volunteers, the SGLBA board members help out. There are eight men on the SGLBA board, each with strong ties to the community, and each has a desire to give back to provide spaces for networking and socialising.
One way to change the makeup of the team on the door is to encourage more women to help at our events, and for women to meet this challenge.
The SGLBA does not support homophobia or sexism at any events. We want to continue to encourage men and women to come to Lemons and we hope those attending can contribute to the event’s spirit of diversity, tolerance and acceptance. After all, it really is a great night out!
Would you like to be involved? If you’d like to volunteer at Lemons, we would love to hear from you.
Lemons with A Twist will be held Friday, November 4 at Slide, Oxford St, Darlinghurst.
Stay tuned for an exciting December venue for a special Christmas Lemons.
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Amanda Keeling is an SGLBA board member and director of Media and Communications.