Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Being a part of any minority can make it hard to find friends and support in smaller rural communities, but most do have groups you can get involved in, if you know where to find them. 

For the LGBTIQ+ community that can be particularly hard, as the very act of seeking the community ‘outs’ the person looking for support, when they may not be ready to share that part of their identity with the broader community. Similarly, people who run the groups, even the most informal ones, need to protect their members and create a safe space. So, while you can find Facebook Groups like the LGBTQIA North West and New England group with a search, the best groups you won’t know about unless you hear about it by word of mouth. 

GAYS – Gay Armidale Youth and Seniors – is one such group, open to all ages, but you can’t really google them. Coordinator Anneka Ralph says she and a few friends run the informal group to provide a safe space to help people connect. 

“A small social club, mostly just a safe space for queer people to hang out and meet friends.”

“We have a group chat and organise events every month for anyone to attend,” Anneka said. 

The chat group that is core to the social group’s activities is a Discord server, disconnected from other social media.

“People need the link to get in so it’s a secure place where people can be open or anonymous if they need.”

“The best way to reach us is to come to one of our meets which are the first Saturday of every month.”

Next month’s meeting on Saturday the 4th of February is a picnic in the park to raise money for the Pinnacle Foundation. 

The Pinnacle Foundation is a charity which provides educational scholarships, mentoring and opportunities for young LGBTIQ+ Australians to realise their full potential and overcome challenges arising from their identity. 

The picnic will begin at 11am at Curtis Park. Those wanting to join the picnic or the group should contact Anneka and the GAYS team by emailing gays.armidale@gmail.com.

Something going on in your part of the region you think people should know about? Send us a news tip or email newsdesk@netimes.com.au.