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Dynamic Duos: Kate & Rach

Is Adelaide a hub for queer women in leadership? The city has many incredible LGBTIQA+ women working hard to make their city a better place for their community and several of them are partners in life as well as partners in leadership!

For International Women's Day 2024 we talked to three dynamic duos in Adelaide who are inspiring inclusion in their work by leading the way as queer women.

Rach and Kate

Frustrated by the lack of queer spaces in Adelaide, Rach and Kate brought their significant experience in social work, academia, and finance to bear and opened beloved venue My Lover Cindi.

After three years and hundreds of gigs, the pressures of operational costs and less people going out are creating an uncertain future for the venue. Rach and Kate are encouraging everyone to get on down to support one of the few queer spaces in Adelaide.

Hospitality is a notoriously demanding industry that can be difficult to disentangle from personal life. Like a true dynamic duo, Rach and Kate continuously work on this aspect of their partnership and honour each other’s need for space from the business.

We asked these two stalwarts of queer Adelaide what it’s like being women in leadership:

What are your individual leadership styles, and do you find that they complement each other?

Having both been in leadership in our professional lives previously and having had bosses all over the scale from life-changingly supportive to soul-crushingly horrible, we knew early on that it was important to create a work experience for our staff that nurtures their weaknesses and celebrates their strengths. We both come at leadership from an intersectional feminist lens that is based on mutual respect.

What challenges have you faced as venue owners, and do you think being LGBTIQA+ has influenced your experiences?

For Kate particularly coming from a professional background where women are overrepresented, those first few months of meeting suppliers and tradespeople was a rude awakening! We had real estate agents direct conversation to our (male) builder rather than us.

Being young, queer, female presenting people meant that we were rarely taken seriously and there are occasions where we are still reminded of this even now after three years of trade. People underestimate us and are surprised by us all the time.

In what ways do you think your identities as LGBTIQA+ women contribute to your leadership approach?

Our identities inform everything that we do! We understand what it is like to face some kinds of oppression and to be othered, and we are very mindful not to perpetuate that ourselves.

For us leadership has always been about collaboration, for example as two able-bodied people, we are not the experts in accessibility for physically disabled people so we look to and honour the knowledge from those communities when making decisions that affect them.

We have such an incredible team of staff, producers and artists and we lead by example with kindness, respect and tolerance of difference at the forefront.

Who are your LGBTIQA+ role models?

For Kate working in abortion, she is proudly surrounded by the pioneers in that field- those who have risked their professional success for the greater good and for freedom of choice. Rachel has been inspired by the women in leadership she's observed and worked with across her hospitality and service careers, who have smashed glass ceilings in industries dominated by men.

This extends socially, too, where Rachel's looked up to the Dykes on Bikes of Mardi Gras and her own women motorcycling community in Adelaide.

And shared, there are so many individuals in the queer communities, people who have forged ahead not for their own benefit but for the good of the community- from the trans people at Stonewall to our own 78ers who created Mardi Gras, from the team at the Sex Industry Network to LGBTQI+ women leaders like Margie Fischer and Jenny Scott. We are so lucky to be surrounded by people we look to as role models including the matriarchs in our families of origin.

What advice would you give to young LGBTIQA+ individuals?

Find a queer family who you trust to give you advice and support, and who will call you in when you make mistakes. Find those who have gone before you and can relate to your struggles. You will never please everyone, and don’t spend too much time on people who are quick to criticise without offering alternative ways of operating. Leading with an openness and the humility to make mistakes will bolster you for living true to your values.


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