Hospitality professional Dan Duncan last week opened Chameleon Lounge Bar on Broadbeach as the Gold Coast’s first LGBTQI space to open in more than two years.

Earlier this year, Star Observer had spoken with a number of individuals from the Gold Coast LGBTQI community, about how there was a distinct lack of LGBTQI spaces for locals. As a city with a population of over 600,000, it was clear, something needed to change.

“This is somewhere people could come relax, have a nice meal, play pool and actually meet people and be able to talk to each other. I own another restaurant, but when I found this space, I realised the potential that it held and that was as a space to build a safe space for the LGBTQI community,” Duncan told Star Observer.

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Broadbeach itself,  away from the main nightclub district of Surfer Paradise, has as Duncan describes, offered the perfect spot for such a venue.

Queer Spaces Are Essential

Chameleon Bar. Image: Facebook

Aside from regular LGBTQI events and drag shows held at a spattering of Gold Coast venues, the last remaining solely LGBTQI venue, Rise Nightclub, closed its doors in 2018 and as Duncan tells us for a long time there “was no vibe”.

“It was like the Gold Coast gay community had to go back into the closet.” Duncan describes, “There was nowhere for us to go and be who we are without feeling like someone might come up to us and have a go. All though a lot of people are accepting, there are still those few people who really aren’t and want to take it too far.”

Duncan tells us that already the response to the venue has been incredibly supportive, and not just from the local LGBTQI+ community but from people from all walks of life.

“I think spaces like these are essential.”

A Fully Accessible Venue

Chameleon Bar. Image: Facebook

Alluding to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, Duncan continues that “throughout the last two years, everyone has had to be lock downed or kept at arm’s length.

“It created this disconnect with everyone, now we are coming out of it, people need to be able to come out and have that physical interaction, where they get to meet each other, hug each other and laugh.”

In a recent interview, Helen Wheels a Gold Coast drag queen who lives with cerebral palsy and is also wheelchair user told Star Observer that accessibility was a “big issue” for themselves and others within the local community

“The main issue is that I can’t go as much as I want to because of wheelchair access on the Gold Coast. Accessibility is a big issue, the LGBTQI community should be open to everyone, no matter what,” Wheels had told Star Observer.

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Duncan tells us that he had “heard that Helen was finding it quite difficult, I really took that to heart.” He added adding that Chameleon Lounge Bar is fully accessible, with Wheels set to be performing this coming weekend.

“We want to allow performers of all capabilities to get up on stage and perform.”

Nurturing Talent

Chameleon Bar. Image: Facebook.

The venue is also committed to nurturing the next crop of local drag talent, with Friday nights dedicated to an open drag night.

“Anyone new to it can come in, have some fun with it, no judgement, just enjoy being up on stage and enjoy the art of drag.”

Vince Siciliani, Director of Gold Coast Rainbow Communities told Star Observer that the organisation “having worked hard over the past 2 years advocating for the LGBTIQ community to be visible and feel connected as a community” was “so excited with the opening of the Chameleon Lounge because “now there is a full-time venue where people can come together to meet and be themselves.”

“A venue for our community has been missing for three years now and if you wanted to go out you had to go to Brisbane and either find a place to stay for the night or drive home in the very early hours of the morning and that’s not the case anymore.”

“The Gold Coast is about to go through a LGBTIQ revolution as more and more businesses feel more comfortable opening up for our community,” Siciliani added.

To find out more about Chameleon Lounge Bar head to its Facebook page.

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