HUSSAIN | QUEERS OF BRISBANE
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Pakistan.
What and where are you studying in Brisbane?
I’m studying a Master of Public Health at the University of Queensland.
What do you identify as? (LGBTQI)
Free. I’ve personally never been big on labels.
Is Brisbane a queer friendly place?
As I have never lived outside of Pakistan before so that’s my only point of reference…and let’s just say in comparison, most places around the globe would be deemed queer-friendly (*insert nervous laughter here*). I’ve found Brisbane to be quite queer-friendly, in the past 18 months that I’ve been here, and the existence of Rainbow Hub is proof in itself. The University of Queensland runs a UQ Ally Network which provides support services for its LGBTQI students, and is not the lone educational institution in Brisbane in doing so.
Spend a Saturday night out at the Valley, have a picnic at the New Farm Park, check out performances at the Brisbane Powerhouse or drop-in at the events at Rainbow Hub; experience for yourself.
Is it important to have a QUEER space?
Absolutely. I think queer spaces have the potential to be a lot of things from providing social and mental support to being forums for debate and discussion of ideas to simply being a place to hang out and chill in a comfortable environment with like-minded individuals. Forming a marginalized and ostracized part of society, I feel it is crucial to have queer spaces to support individuals identifying as LGBTQI so they can feel safe, accepted and loved for who they are. Queer spaces are also important as they symbolize tolerance – a core value of being human.
I look, at one of its functions, as an attempt to heal the damage that years of forced heteronormative standards, expectations and ideologies thrust upon by religion, culture, society and out-dated regurgitated beliefs has had on anyone who does not fit the dictated ‘norm’ in terms of sexuality. Struggling to find and understand oneself in an environment that doesn’t merely enforce heteronormativity but outright admonishes and demonizes the LGBTQI is not without its price. To name a few; having to deal with feelings of guilt, shame, lack of self-confidence and self-worth and internalized homophobia (as if life didn’t come with enough problems already – am I right? *more nervous laughter*).
What is the best thing about being QUEER?
The same as being straight, really. The way I see it; I define my sexuality rather than the other way around. Being queer is just one aspect of my life. Though I will say this (and I can only claim to speak for myself), it did make me, at an early age, more inquisitive, more curious and more critical of everything I have ever known and of everything I learn. And I don’t believe this is confined to being non-heterosexual but rather it is a consequence of having to face adversity and conflict within oneself that forces the mind to delve deeper and self-reflect often. It has made me so that I seek alternative perspectives to issues and situations for greater understanding which has also made me more empathetic. Perhaps the downside is that I have little patience for ignorance now. When people choose to stay ignorant and not even consider, let alone contemplate, the possibility of a world view other than the one they have always always held, because questioning that would be too scary a thought and SHAKE THE VERY FOUNDATION OF EVERYTHING THEY HAVE EVER KNOWN…*sharp inhale*.. or maybe I’m just growing old (*dead serious face*).
What other QUEER things would you like to see in Brisbane?
What – am I not enough? (*sobs*)
What does the Rainbow Hub mean to you?
Imagine walking into a room full of strangers for the first time and immediately feeling a sense of belonging. That’s Rainbow Hub. It’s a source of expression, empowerment and support for the LGBTIQ. Rainbow Hub is particularly special because it’s not just a collective of gender diverse individuals but at the same time it represents an intersection of nationalities and culture and I truly believe there is strength in diversity. One of my life philosophies has always been ‘live and let live’ or more specifically in this case: Love and let love.