Each month we’ll champion two amazing drag queens, DJs, or community heroes in the gay scene. This week: Craig Mack, R U OK? Day Ambassador and mental health advocate.
* * *
What do you love about Australia’s LGBTI community?
I love that you can be anything and anyone that you want to be, once you give yourself permission to. Whether you want to be a drag queen, a dungeon master, a business leader, or all three, your tribe is easy to find.
Mental health is a complex, misunderstood topic full of stigma, fear, and shame. Everyone goes through hell sometimes – the only good things about it are that it’s temporary, we’re all strong enough to survive it, and you’re never as alone as you feel. As an ambassador for suicide prevention charity R U OK I hope to use my voice and experiences of living with depression, as well as what I’ve learned from my attempts to check out early, to break these things down, encourage people to talk to their mates, and know where to get help when we need it.
What area do we need to focus on at the moment?
The repeal of the gay panic defence is only happening now in SA, gay men are still unable to (realistically) donate blood, trans rights are far behind, we have limited understanding of the intersex community, and we are still being beaten, murdered, and discriminated against for who we are. Even within the community we judge and discriminate based on things like HIV status, race, and gender.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m the head of social media for an ad agency and part of the social teams at TEDxSydney and LGBTI youth charity The Pinnacle Foundation. Add conference speaker, lecturer, blogger, model, ambassador for R U OK and trying to squeeze in some kind of social life, and my days are anything but typical.
Who do you see as an LGBTI hero in the community?
“What somebody else thinks about you is none of your business” is one of my life rules, and Jordan Raskopoulos, my favourite modern LGBTI role model, is the personification of this. She is bold, brave, transparent, intelligent, empathetic, and not afraid to use her voice to create change.
Favourite LGBTI venue?
I’m all about variety so do I have to pick just one? The packed up, retired, and rarely seen drag queen in me loves a show as much as the cheekier gogo boy in me loves the fun of the dancefloor. It’s great to see The Imperial shining again, Bear Bar doing so well, and parties like Go Out and Trough keeping the party alive.
Favourite LGBTI anthem?
My favourite song is “The Rainbow Connection” (original Kermit version of course) and I think it’s the LGBTI anthem all us lovers and dreamers need.
Best Pride moment?
One of my favourite things about the marriage equality survey debacle was that it sparked passion and brought the community together in ways that, outside of festivals like Mardi Gras, rarely happen. Our community loves to talk about togetherness, but insists on dividing ourselves up by letters, colours on a flag, labels, and judgements. But during the postal survey we put them to the side, for the most part anyway, and showed the huge heart, and wonderful people, that we’re made of. That was epic.
Advice for young LGBTI people?
“The Karen Walker School for Shady Mean Girls” isn’t a role model for life. Your success, happiness, and reputation isn’t dependant on judging, wrecking, and dragging other people down. Believe that you are capable of anything and spend your time and energy building your life, not bulldozing others – and when you can, pay it forward and lift others up.