Spectacular night out – but not for everyone
By Caitlin McGrane
Heaps Gay and YUMMY were the hostesses with the mostess on Wednesday night, bringing their unbridled enthusiasm and vibrancy from their home in Sydney where they host queer parties and events, and run their website writing about all things queer. I’m so glad Heaps Gay partnered with legendary cabaret act YUMMY to bring us the biggest, queerest love-in I’ve ever been to. It was delicious, but the aftermath has left a sour taste in my mouth.
Walking into the State Library of Victoria for a massive queer dance party on a Wednesday night, I had no idea what to expect. The State Library is ultra-familiar to me, it was where I got my first real job, and have spent many magical hours wandering the labyrinthine corridors imagining how great it would be to have a massive fucking party in the dome.
The dome itself didn’t open until 10pm, so we spent the first couple of hours in the aptly named Queens Hall dancing to some amazing DJs, and watching brilliant drag queen shows. The library opened its arms to Melbourne’s huge queer community, and it seemed like literally everyone showed up. As a shy newcomer to the queer community, I was feeling pretty apprehensive. It was one of the best nights out I’ve ever had. However, in the days since I have been forced to reconsider how much I enjoyed it; as a white cisgender able-bodied woman my experience at HGHY was not necessarily everyone’s experience. I have been told about numerous incidents of harassment from the security guards, some of whom looked ‘visibly disgusted’ at people making out and ‘grabbing you if they didn’t see your wristband as you walked past’; there was also no security outside at the end of the event, so a group of men verbally harassed people while they left. The venue also had some serious accessibility issues – the stage was not visible for disabled people; the lifts into Queens Hall and the Dome were not adequately sign-posted; the bathrooms were not gender-inclusive with ‘M/F’ still on the doors. All-in-all, these just seem like rookie mistakes in organising a LGBTIQA+ event.
The line-up was amazing, HTML Flowers upped the fucking ante with their amazing beats, and featured a special guest appearance from angelic bb Daisy Catterall. The level of talent was out of control, although artists weren’t always signposted (especially in the dome), and there wasn’t a set list that I could find, so I felt like I had to cobble together who was playing through guesswork and actually knowing who some artists were. Heaps Gay Heaps Yummy at Melbourne Music Week is an incredible platform for queer artists, and I would have appreciated knowing who was playing and when for numerous reasons, but mostly so I could a) find out more about them later, and b) write this review a little easier. It also seems a little bit tokenistic to put together such an amazing inclusive line-up, then not ensure artists and patrons are sufficiently protected from dickheads.
In any case, the night was expertly MC’d by YUMMY, and featured some incredible performances from Donny Benét, HABITS, Brooke Powers, Karen From Finance, KT Spit and DJ Ruby Slippers among others; but for me the highlight was FURY performing the very best poem about gay marriage that I have ever heard.
Check out Heaps Gay here: http://heapsgay.com/ and YUMMY here: https://www.facebook.com/yummytheshow/?fref=ts. Melbourne Music Week is on until Saturday 19 November, get more info here: http://mmw.melbourne.vic.gov.au/