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Minus18 on supporting the LGBTQIA+ community throughout Mardi Gras and beyond

January 1 | 6 minute read

Minus 18 Interview Hero 16x9

Words by Christie Sinclair

Originally published on | July 28

At MECCA, we’re passionate about celebrating our authentic selves – all the time.

This week we’re shining a particularly bright and sparkly spotlight on the LGBTQIA+ community as we gear up for one of our favourite (and most colourful) festivals of the year – Mardi Gras.

However, beyond the glitz and glamour, it’s important to understand how to support the LGBTQIA+ community year round. There are always ways to do more, but it can be hard to know where to start – which is why we’ve opened the floor to Eva from Minus18, a not-for-profit organisation improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth in Australia.

From creating a safe space to what it means to be a good ally and the respectful way to ask someone’s pronouns, Eva kindly answers some commonly asked questions and provides their advice on how we can all support the LGBTQIA+ community.

MECCA: Hi Eva! Thanks for chatting with us. Can you start by sharing your preferred pronouns?

Eva: “We just say ‘pronouns’! I use they/them or she/her pronouns, which means that I’m happy for people to use either one (or a mix of both!) to refer to me.”

About Minus18

Can you tell us a little about Minus18 and what you do there?

Minus18 started more than 20 years ago in Melbourne, as a parent-led effort to provide safe social spaces for LGBTQIA+ young people. From there, it’s grown dramatically – we still deliver incredible life-affirming events but also offer LGBTQIA+ inclusion education for schools and workplaces, as well as a wealth of free online resources.

“In my role as fundraising relationships coordinator, I work with anyone who wants to fundraise in support of our work to help make their activity as impactful and engaging as possible. I work with everyone – from a young person running a sausage sizzle or bake sale, all the way through to a business or workplace delivering an Australia-wide activity across all their offices or stores!”

If you’re not sure how to refer to someone, it’s always best to ask them than to just assume.


Is it OK to ask someone what their pronouns are? If so, what’s the best way to ask?

“Absolutely! At the end of the day, if you’re not sure how to refer to someone (either in terms of their gender or any other way), it’s always best to ask them than to just assume. It doesn’t need to be a big deal either. If you’re meeting someone new, introduce yourself with your name and pronouns to show them that you’re happy for them to tell you theirs. For example, ‘My name is Eva, I use they/she pronouns. What about you?’.”

What’s your advice if you’re talking to someone and you realise you don’t know their pronouns?

“Simply ask politely, as if you’re asking whether they’d like coffee or tea! Something like ‘Can I confirm what pronouns you’d like me to use when referring to you?’ is probably less confronting than ‘What pronouns do you use?’ mid-conversation!”

Could you use gender neutral pronouns?

“Yes, if you’re talking about someone and realise you don’t know what pronouns they use, it’s probably best to play it safe and either use gender neutral pronouns (they/them) or their name. If you’re around people who know them well, you can always ask them too.”

Safe spaces

We often hear about how important it is to create safe spaces. How would you define a safe space?

“Safe spaces can be any kind of community space (physical or otherwise) where, as a rule, the emotional, physical and psychological wellbeing of people in that space are protected by a shared understanding of acceptable behaviour. Safe spaces aren’t static either – they’re an ongoing process and require constant maintenance and active participation.”

What’s involved in creating a safe space and where should we all start?

“Firstly, it’s important to listen to the people who the safe space is for, and to recognise that no two people’s needs are the same. We all have multiple identities – I, for instance, am queer, trans, disabled and neurodiverse – and it’s important that everyone can bring all of who they are into the space. Ask what people need and use that as a basis. It might be creating quiet zones or perhaps some shared guidelines around inclusive language.

“Secondly, don’t forget that it’s an ongoing journey. Safe spaces take work to maintain and the shared agreement of everyone in that space to do so. Taking time regularly to reflect, and perhaps to have challenging conversations as a group, are essential.

“Finally, understand that things can and will go wrong sometimes. We’re all human, after all. What matters most is making sure that you have a respectful, solutions-focused process for resolving disputes and challenges, one which is transparent to anyone participating in it, but which protects their privacy and personal space as well.”

Safe spaces take work to maintain and the shared agreement of everyone in that space to do so

Creating impact

You’ve given us so much valuable information. What’s the best way to create a real impact?

“If you’d like to take a stand for the LGBTQIA+ community yourself, you can get involved by running your own event or activity during one of our campaigns. One of the best ways to make a visible difference and get people talking is through fundraising – if you’d like to run a fundraising event, just get in touch with me!”

Do you have any other advice for those wanting more guidance on how to support the LGBTQIA+ community?

“I’d recommend looking at the articles and resources on Minus18’s website. If you’d like to take it further and get people at your school or workplace learning more, you can find out more about our LGBTQIA+ inclusion training on our website as well!”

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