AN impressive list of Sydney’s LGBTI community members were celebrated at the 10th Honours Awards, including Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon who was presented with the Community Hero Award for over 30 years of spiritual leadership for LGBTI people.
The reverend began her community life as a peace activist in the 1960s and was ordained a minister in the Uniting Church in 1982, leading the Pitt St congregation in Sydney and then taking on the role of National Director of Mission before becoming one of the first Uniting Church ministers to come out, subsequently becoming a leader in the successful campaign to have gay ministers formally accepted within the Uniting Church, arguing that homosexuality was a sign of wholeness rather than evidence of moral decay.
She currently edits the South Sydney Herald which has a readership of 60,000 people and is recognised as an internationally renowned writer, liturgist and feminist theologian.
McRae-McMahon has faced a lot of hardship for her role as a LGBTI activist, including having neo-Nazis turn up to her house and she credits the support of those she loves, including her late partner for helping her through the tough times.
“I think you have to be careful to cherish yourself a bit every now again, make sure you’ve got friends who hold you as you go,” she said.
“You need to take seriously the fact that life can be very hard and costly, but I’d also want to say it’s worth it.”
Now its 10th year, the Honour Awards were handed on Thursday night with the eight winners selected from a diverse field of 170 nominations and 34 finalists and the event raised $50,000 for LGBTI health initiatives supported by ACON and Aurora.
Another popular winner on the night was the group Mature Age Gays (MAGs) who took out the Community Organisation Award for their 25 years of providing support, health education services and social activities for older gay and same sex attracted men.
David Bowron who accepted the award on behalf of the MAGs stole the show with a rousing acceptance speech and said after the ceremony it was a great feeling to win an Honour Award.
“This is very special, we’re celebrating 25 years tonight and to get an award from ACON has been the icing on the cake,” he said.
“I’ve sent the founder (of MAG) who’s not in the best of health a message and he’s over the moon. Of all the people we’ve met over the years, this is a fantastic acknowledgement of their contribution to MAG.”
ACON President Justin Koonin congratulated the winners and all the finalists on their achievements and community service.
“Last night’s event was a truly inspirational and thoroughly entertaining evening and a great celebration of the dynamic spirit of our community,” he said.
“I’d like to thank all the people who submitted nominations as well as all our guests for coming along and supporting ACON and Aurora.”
The full list of the 2016 Honour Awards Winners:
Community Hero Award – Rev Dorothy McRae-McMahon
Young Achiever Award (joint winners) – Sally Rugg (GetUp!) and Chris Pycroft (NSW GLRL)
Media Award – Patrick Abboud (SBS)
Health & Wellbeing Award – Garry Trotter (for his work in HIV)
Arts & Entertainment Award – New Theatre
Business Award – Claire’s Kitchen/Mark Kuzma
Cayte Latta Memorial Awards For Visual Arts – Lionel Bawden
ACON President’s Award – NSW Parliamentary LGBTI Cross Party Working Group