Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge country – the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people’s country that we’re on now. The Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people are also the traditional custodians of the lands I live and have grown up on in the western suburbs of Melbourne; I’d like to pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging, and any First Nations people here tonight. I’d also like to acknowledge that all of the work we’re doing is only possible because the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people have looked after this land for tens of thousands of years, and continue to do so.
I won’t pretend this award has anything in particular to do with me; it’s one of those amazing, humbling things about being part of team like GenZine – I can look at Hannah and Emily (my co-conspirators) and genuinely say that whatever personal success we have hinges on this wondrous web of trust, love and passion for gender equity, that we’ve woven together over the last couple years.
GenZine is first and foremost a community that seeks to explore gender equity creatively and personally, through art. We facilitate workshops and events on gender equity and art as activism, and it all culminates in this exquisite gender equity art and discussion magazine we produce. We put a callout for young people to submit their art and we collate all of this into a little zine, which we give away. Hannah, Emily and I have created 4 issues of GenZine together since 2021, with baby number five on the way.The very generous scholarship money from this award will be pumped back into GenZine and the events we do, just because that’s how I see it being of most use to the cause of gender equity. A portion will also be given to Pay the Rent, to acknowledge something of the privilege and injustice of living and creating GenZine on stolen land.
I think if there’s anything I do that particularly champions gender equity, it’s actually the deceptively simple, everyday stuff. Organised gender equity activism is great – the meetings and merch and social media and workshops and all of that is so fantastic, but the most transformative moments I’ve witnessed have come out of vulnerable conversations between real people in quiet moments – conversations that start with brave questions, like 'How do you feel about that?', 'What did that relationship mean to you?' and 'What’s holding you back?'
I reckon the best thing you can do for gender equity is to nurture your community, to warmly invite people into it, and offer them as many interesting, vulnerable ways of being men, or women, or both, or neither, as we can.
Gender does scary things with people who are isolated from true community (as we know), but on the flip side, there are worlds of joy and freedom to be explored through and beyond gender, when people come together and share something real and true, like art.
That’s part of what we’re trying to do through GenZine, but it’s also something everyone can do! We’re not claiming to be perfect, or to be right – being curious, playful and loving is more important and more interesting to us and I am completely indebted to these two for continually showing me how to do that.
Thank you for this award, I so admire what you’re all doing.