Ever considered a water-based hobby with oodles to gasp at that you won’t see anywhere else? No, it’s not a foam party at the Shift, it’s SCUBA diving, and happily, there’s a readymade gay and lesbian enclave which will help you kick-start your desires.
Before you gulp with anxiety, I am a living testimony to the fact that it’s not that scary. Seriously. In fact, diving is downright addictive. From the moment I dipped into coral waters in Fiji 18 years ago, it’s been love, desire and adrenalin in equal measure -“ and this from a totally non-sporty chick who barely dares to get beachside during the summer!
SUBS (Sydney Underwater Bushwalking Society) is a not-for-profit social diving and snorkelling club for gay men and lesbians and their friends in Sydney and beyond. Formed in 1993, the club has about 90 members, hosts regular dives throughout the year and even has a float in the Mardi Gras parade.
In addition to its dive trips, SUBS organises regular picnics, barbecues, social nights and monthly meetings with guest speakers. Its monthly newsletter, Sub-Aqueer, includes dive reports, details of forthcoming dives and other articles of interest to divers.
Co-president Siobhan Blacket says that diving can be expensive, but gear and boat hire isn’t that huge when you consider what you are getting. SCUBA diving, like any sport, can become expensive when buying equipment, but one can never have enough toys, gadgets and gismos to play with, she says. For beginners, I’d recommend buying your own mask, snorkel and fin set and then the next suitable purchase would be a wetsuit.
Find a dive shop near you that runs PADI [open water diving] courses and talk to the instructors, she advises. It’s important that you feel comfortable, so ask lots of questions. No question is too silly -“ remember this is to be an enjoyable and safe experience. If you need to shop around, join a club which is affiliated with a dive shop. But better still, join SUBS. It’s a great way to meet people, swap stories, share experiences and above all, go diving.
Inexperienced divers and snorkellers are more than welcome at SUBS. Everyone, no matter what their level of skill or experience, is given the opportunity to join in. On the [SUBS] dive calendar, we rate the dives on suitability for snorkellers and indicate clearly the dives which are easy, says Blackett. The more information you provide us about your needs, the better we can cater to them, as we want everyone to feel they are able to participate.
Blacket thinks that SUBS is a readymade family for gay men, lesbians and their friends with a common interest in diving and snorkelling. We are always looking to adopt, she quips. We’re also always looking at doing something different, new and fun. Our main fundraiser for the SUBS float for the 2002 Mardi Gras parade is the great SUBS car rally which is taking place on Sunday 27 January 2002. Starting at St Peters, this two-hour rally will conclude with a barbecue, but along the way, there’s great prizes to be won. At only $15 each to compete, it includes lunch as well as a great day.
For more information about diving or snorkelling with SUBS, call Siobhan 0413 308 418, Kevin 0409 490 095 or see www.gaydive.org.au.