Kieran Nsk is a member Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club. (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

Kieran Nsk is a member Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club. (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

“I’m passionate about being part of the LGBTI community because of the equal rights and the ability to perceive and express yourself in the way I want to. Simply be yourself and be open about being homosexual.

I became a surf lifesaver because it was a challenge for me: to overcome my fear of the ocean and learn rescuing skills and various medical terms. I’ve been a lifesaver for two seasons now, and not only am I passionate about it, I also really like the social part of it. I joined the lifesaving club because my mate told me that it was a great thing to do and a good opportunity to meet nice gay and straight people.

I’m a member of Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club. The iconic surf lifesavers Mardi Gras float unites all the lifesavers. There’s no division between the clubs in terms of the uniform.”

Kieran Nsk 

Member, Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club

Kieran Nsk with members of Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club. (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

Kieran Nsk (centre) with members of Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club. (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

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Dykes on Bikes Sydney (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

Dykes on Bikes Sydney (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

“The joy I get from being a part of the LGBTI community is hard to measure. We’re common in diversity, we’re kindred in spirit and we’re united by love. It’s hard not to be passionate about that.

Funnily, I don’t really remember joining Dykes on Bikes, it’s like it happened through osmosis. Today I’m more involved in the club and it’s close to my heart.

Much has been said about the thrill of riding, it’s easy to appreciate that engaging in a risky hobby can translate to feelings of passion. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had an affinity with things that go ‘rooaaarrr’.

Associating with other women who share a passion for riding is as exhilarating and addictive as riding itself. Everyone knows that Dykes on Bikes are a force in the community (and that we’re awesome).

I like to think that I live my life the same way as we lead the lead the parade: that is, loud and proud.”

Melinda Kelly

Dykes on Bikes Sydney committee member and DJ

Melinda Kelly of Dykes on Bikes Sydney (Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

Melinda Kelly of Dykes on Bikes Sydney (Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

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WEBFEATURE

Sally Whitney (Bentstix Hockey), Steven Thorne (Tennis Sydney), Edoardo Mesiti (Silverbacks Wrestling) and Danielle Warby (Flying Bats soccer). PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer

“It’s amazing how we celebrate so much diversity in our community. No matter what your passion or interest there is a group or venue or special event that caters for it. Sport is no different with around 20 sports clubs in the community offering a variety of ways to get involved, meet new people and feel connected. All these clubs exist because of the passionate work and dedication of committees and volunteers.

Tennis is a game for life. It’s played year-round and it’s great for your health and wellbeing. It doesn’t matter how you identify, what you do or how old you are, if you’re passionate about tennis you are welcome at our club.”

Steven Thorne

Member, Tennis Sydney

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“Joining an LGBTI team gave me the confidence to pursue wrestling outside the LGBTI community. Now I train with straight people as well and participate in competitions with them.

I came out and wanted to meet other gay people without going to a bar. Wanting to participate in a manly sport, I joined the Sydney Silverbacks wrestling club. I have been with the club for nearly two years now. My team mates have become good friends. Our wrestling club is one of the oldest in the country. We are coached by an Olympian and we enter competitions here in Australia and abroad.”

Edoardo Mesiti

Member, Sydney Silverbacks Wrestling Club

“Passion is playing as hard as you can and digging in deep for your team mates, supporters and club. Passion drives me to be the best I can be, pushes me to never give up and helps lift me when my teammates and I feel we can’t give anymore. Bentstix Hockey Club has an ethos of being supportive, competitive and encouraging, and we stand by ‘fair go, fair play’. Passion has no boundaries and I believe our club’s positive and inclusive way we conduct ourselves on and off the field helps breakdown barriers in sport. Playing for Bentstix excites me. When I take the field and see my teammates and hear the supporters, there is no place I would rather be.”

Sally Whitney

Vice President, Bentstix Hockey Club

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Shirley "Mama Shirl" Hamid, costume designer specialising in drag (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

Shirley “Mama Shirl” Hamid, costume designer specialising in drag (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

“I became involved in our community when my daughter 20 years ago went overseas dancing with Ashley Swift. On her return Ashley and I became friends and soon after, I met his flatmate at the time, Chelsea Bun (alter ego of Anthony Delfina). Within two weeks, I started working for her in her new shop, House of Priscilla.

The next thing I knew, I was designing costumes for a Stonewall drag show.

My sewing skills improved with every show I did and my passion for my community grew stronger and stronger, meeting so many people every week. Many of my clients come with their own designs, but often I co-design and I am truly blessed to have some of the very best clients I can truthfully call my best friends.

My passion is actually making female costumes for male bodies, and I have always been very passionate about the absolute joy I feel when I watch my own costumes worn on stage by my wonderful drag family.”

Shirley Hamid (“Mama Shirl”)

Costume designer specialising in drag

Shirley "Mama Shirl" Hamid in her element with Ivy League (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

Shirley “Mama Shirl” Hamid in her element with Ivy League (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Caililhanna; Star Observer)

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Screen shot 2015-02-14 at 4Lydia Joie Divine, Ms Leather Sydney 2014 (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer).18.10 AM

Lydia Joie Divine, Ms Leather Sydney 2014 (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

“I am fortunate enough to have been embraced and accepted by the community from a young age. In general society I feel like a bit of a misfit, in the LGBTI and leather community I feel as though I fit and therefore belong.

I don’t see myself nor am I seen as a typical person of leather, and that’s part of what makes it so wonderful. I have been nicknamed the unofficial Msfit Leather and I like that.

As the current title holder and female representative of Sydney Leather Pride Association (SLPA), I have enjoyed educating the wider community that we are just like everyone else.

You don’t have to wear leather 24/7 to be a part of the leather community. It’s about what’s in your heart. I hold core values such as respect, integrity, passion, and pride closely to my heart and it is how I live.

I see my role in SLPA as it is in everyday: as a mentor, aunty and educator.

It is with this passion that I represented Sydney at International Ms Leather 2014 and achieved the highest placing of any Australian in both the women’s and men’s international titles (second runner up). It is also with this passion that I will now be a judge at International Ms Leather 2015. I will be the first Aussie to do this.”

Lydia Joie Divine

Ms Leather Sydney 2014, millner and owner of Divine Bespoke

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Ulo Klemmer, a longterm volunteer of the LGBTI community (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

Ulo Klemmer, a longterm volunteer in the LGBTI community (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

“‘It’s your aura’ was the answer when I wondered out loud why I spent decades at most parties looking after random people who gravitated to me for help due to their misadventure with substances.

I enhanced my ‘aura’ by training to competently wear an ACON pink Rover vest. The gratitude from party people has lifted my passion for roving higher and higher for many years now.

Another passion began by discovering the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA). My years of hoarding ‘stuff’ all made sense when I started donating it to them. Their knowledge and passion for LGBTI history was infectious and I became their volunteer Sydney collector.

Documentation of the collective history of the LBGTI community is actually quite a recent phenomena, due to past oppression. Maintaining history is important in all its forms and subject matter for future generations to see, perhaps learn from, admire and get inspiration from. Since ALGA commenced in Sydney in 1978, changes in Australia’s queer history have been enormous and will continue to be.

Calls for an LGBTI museum from the community and by the likes of Michael Kirby, Dennis Altman, et al reaffirms my passion for not only archiving but for the wonder that this community is: a joy to volunteer for.”

Ulo Klemmer

Communuty volunteer (Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and ACON Rover)

Ulo Klemmer, a longterm volunteer of the LGBTI community (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

Ulo Klemmer, a longterm volunteer in the LGBTI community (PHOTO: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

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This feature was first published in fg, the Star Observer’s festival guide for the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s available now. Click here to read the e-book version.

© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.