The queer First Nations group connecting across state borders
28 Jul 2022
After the last few years of social distancing and disconnection, Ricki Spencer was keen to create a space for queer First Nations people to come together safely.
“A lot of it came from my own want to connect to country, and want to connect with other people who are queer and blak throughout Australia,” she said.
Ricki is a trans and disability community advocate, and co-facilitator of Thorne Harbour Health’s new Yarning Blak & Queer online group. She worked with First Nations Health Lead Peter Waples-Crowe on the project.
“It's been about a year and a half in the making because we wanted to wait for the right opportunity. For some people, it's not safe to come out,” said Ricki.
“Even in blak, queer spaces in some remote communities — being a sistergirl or brotherboy, it's not easy. And being Trans comes with its own issues.”
The group is held on the last Thursday of the month from 6-7 pm AEST. Each session is an opportunity for participants to explore what’s happening in their lives with other First Nations people.
“People might want to talk about if there was an event occurring in their state. It might be reading about different totems or artwork or songlines.”
Ricki wanted to bring people together across the country, with attendees calling in from Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory so far. There’s also a private Facebook group for people to share information outside the sessions.
For many who haven’t been able to, it’s a unique opportunity to explore what cultural connection means to them.
“It allows us to talk freely about our own experiences of racism that we may have experienced. There’s a sense of understanding of what it's like to feel excluded in some spaces, but it’s also a chance to celebrate our uniqueness,” said Ricki.
“We all come from different experiences and backgrounds, but we all have that deep spiritual connection to country and want to belong.”
The hope is that Yarning Blak & Queer will evolve and provide more opportunities to connect with the community.
“We're hoping eventually there'll be more facilitators and all sorts of things could come out of it — producing artwork, producing all of the wonderful things that I can't pre-empt. It depends on whatever the group wants to create and develop.”