The Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year recognised the contributions of several LGBTQI community members including  historian and marriage equality activist Dr Shirleene Robinson, Men on Men Gay Art Prize founder David Allen and gay country music singer Beccy Cole. 

The 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours list recognised nearly a thousand Australians with 37 recipients of awards in the Military Division of the Order of Australia, 201 Meritorious awards, and 85 Distinguished and Conspicuous awards. Governor-General David Hurley congratulated all Australians recognised in the Honours List.

“Recipients share some common traits- including selflessness, excellence, and a commitment to service. They are from different backgrounds, their stories are each unique, and each has served in different ways. This diversity is a strength, and each has impacted their community and made it better,” Hurley said.

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“Collectively, the recipients, whose achievements span community service, science and research, industry, sport, the arts and more, represent the very best of Australia.”

The Journey To Marriage Equality

Dr Shirleene Robinson, author and Honorary Associate Professor at Macquarie University, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to the LGBTIQ community, to marriage equality, and to history”.

Dr Robinson’s book Yes Yes Yes: Australia’s Journey To Marriage Equality is a moving account of the marriage equality movement in Australia with the help of a combination of a public vote, the courts, and the parliament. This book included over forty interviews with advocates and key figures across Australia as well as personal experiences. Alex Greenwich congratulated her for “her inclusion to the Queen’s Birthday Honours List” and “her service to the LGBTIQ community.”

“Honours never belong to one person but recognise all who give so much and guide us on our way. It’s been a great privilege to have volunteered alongside some of the best people I’ve ever known,” wrote Dr Robinson on Twitter, adding that she was “very humbled” to have received that recognition.

Dr Robinson’s other books include Pride in Defence: The Australian Military & LGBTI Service since 1945 and Serving in Silence? Australian LGBT Servicemen and Women.

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While the former book delves into the lives of LGBTQI members of the military in the face of harsh systemic prejudices and injustices, the latter involves similar personal stories in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women in Australia’s military after World War II. 

Men On Men Art Prize

David Allen, founder of Men on Men gay art prize, was just as surprised and humbled when he  received the letter that informed him that he had been awarded the Medal of Order of Australia.  Along with his partner Ron Watkins, Allen founded the Men On Men Art Exhibition and Competition in Melbourne in 2011, to help provide places to gay artists who were struggling to find places to exhibit their artworks. Allen explained the difficulty gay people faced when they tried to get into art galleries in the early 2000s. “Once you give artists an opportunity, they take it,” he told ABC.

Another person who made it to the list was Australian born singer-songwriter Beccy Cole  who was awarded the Medal of Order of Australia for her “service to country music.” Not only did her recognition mean “visibility for the arts, in particular, country music”, Cole explained to Sky News that her recognition also meant “visibility for the LGBTQI+ community.”

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Cole had come out as gay in 2012 on the ABC show Australian Story.

HIV Leaders Recognised

The contributions of HIV leaders were also recognised in the Honours List. This included Dr Kerry Chant AO, NSW Chief Health Officer for public health administration and governance and Professor Basil Donovan AO for his service to medicine in the field of sexual health through tertiary education and research on sexual health, its history, and STI testing.

“A very special alchemy of medicine, research, grassroots community effort and advocacy powers Australia’s HIV response. Each of these Australia Day honours recipients have contributed to that effort, improving the health of countless Australians. We recognise and honour that contribution,” said AFAO chief executive, Darryl O’Donnell said:



 

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