By JULIUS DENNIS
For the first time fabALICE, the local weekend-long celebration of LGBTQI+ culture, will this year have a youth-focussed event.
That’s thanks to the efforts of 17-year-old Augustine Gapinski, who has become the youngest member of the fabALICE committee.
Till now there have been plenty of “events for 18 plus,” but none specifically for younger people. That’s set to change with the DI-VER-CITY Festival taking place on Saturday, March 13 as a part of the fabALICE program.
Says Ms Gapinksi: “I joined the committee this year, and I’ve never been to a fabALICE event before. I never really felt welcome because I always think there’s a lot of drinking.
“The committee has been really responsive and really excited to have an event run for youth by youth.”
While venue has yet to be confirmed, will run DI-VER-CITY will run 4pm-8pm, with multiple activities, including a Drag makeup tutorial and a showing of The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the 1994 Australian road trip comedy that has become a LGBTQI+ classic.
Most importantly, Ms Gapinski says that the event is about trying to “make a very safe space for youth,” and showing young people that there is space for them in the community.
“It’s a really hard community to be in because when you’re an adult you go to bars and you see people in the LGBTQ community. It’s a lot more around you. When you’re a youth, you see the adults around your parents, and you see the school community.
“It’s not as normalised and I’m trying to kind of change that idea because there’s so many youth in the LGBTQ community, that should be supported and there’s so many supporters that want to support.”
Ms Gapinski is relishing her role on the committee, even if it does mean using the communication platforms of an older generation:
“I found emails very challenging. I’ve never understood that form of communication.”
The archaic use of @ and mailboxes aside, Ms Gapinski says she brings a new angle to decision making at the festival.
“It’s also really nice because for them [the committee], it’s kind of a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective.
“For me it’s also a really good chance to put input into all the events, especially ones that youth are allowed to go to and just kind of have that information there and be able to support the community when before this is kind of an age bracket that was overlooked.”
And the committee is enjoying having her. fabAlice event manager Dale McIver says that “it’s been great to have that fresh information and way of looking at things from a young person’s point of view in town.
“Part of what we’re really focusing on this year is doing more events for the broader community, so when Augustine mentioned doing an event for the youth, it certainly fitted in really well with what was the thinking of the committee.”
Ms Gapinksi is hoping her role in fabALICE will become a permanent position even after she is done. As a year twelve student this year, she is likely to leave the Centre to study at university elsewhere.
“I’m hoping to help some other youth to get involved and take over that role. My whole thing is, if I don’t do it no one else will. But once I get the ball rolling somebody will take it on from there.
“For me it’s important because I see how much some people in the community struggle as youth.”
Ms McIver says that the committee is “absolutely” interested in keeping at least one young person on the committee going forward, saying the “more diversity and younger minds” on the committee casts new light on the weekend.
“The way that they think and do things is probably a bit different to other generations so to have that mix in a committee with such a unique event as fabAlice, it’s just really fantastic.”
As the LGBTQI+ community knows well, change often comes at a snail’s pace. Ms Gapinski is just trying to keep things moving forward.
“While I think our community does their best to support [youth] as they can, I just also think that little steps we can take are really important, and that’s what this event is about, it’s another little step towards having a very open youth community.”
Photos from the fabALICE website.