The LOTL Power List 2016
Honouring the most amazing individuals from our community.
Gone are the days of shame and secrecy and living a half life in the closet; we have kicked and screamed our way out and ripped that closet door off its hinges and today, the achievements of the LGBTQI+ community are regularly celebrated in mainstream newspapers, at glitzy awards ceremonies, and at fancy government receptions.
Here at LOTL HQ, we believe that it is something worth shouting about, and that’s why we are proud to present the inaugural LOTL Power List, celebrating some truly amazing individuals from our community; people who are doing everything in their power to make life that little bit better for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities: sometimes with blood, sweat and tears; and sometimes just by being themselves.
We asked you to vote for the people who inspire you—community heroes, celebrities, business leaders and politicians—and we were overwhelmed with the sheer number of votes we received. We initially planned a Top Ten but as the votes continued to pour in, we realised we had to change our plans and, instead, make it the biggest list we’ve ever done!
Ten years ago it may have been enough to win a place on a list like this simply by being out; now what you do and say to create change and make it easier for others to come out is increasingly important.
We’re thrilled with the list and had such fun putting together these pages, which demonstrate just how rich and diverse our community is. We’ve got top politicians in there like Senator Penny Wong; community activist Dr Kerryn Phelps; and Matilda’s striker, Michelle Heyman.
Media personality, Ginni Saraswati, said, “What an exciting and humbling honour it is to be nominated! Considering I used to read LOTL under my sheets in my pre coming out days so my mother wouldn’t see! I’m so excited!”
There are bona fide national treasures on our list! We know there will be some who are disappointed not to have made it onto these pages—please vote for them next year! But the final list, we hope, is an accurate representation of the heroes and role models in our wonderful LGBTQI+ community and proof, if proof is needed, that this community is brimming with talented and brilliant individuals who are increasing LGBTQI+ visibility in their own unique ways.
So without further ado, we’re delighted to present the first LOTL Power List. We’d love to hear what you think of it. And don’t forget to cast your vote for the LOTL Power List 2017!
1. Penny Wong
Penny has forged a revolutionary path into Australian political history. She is Australia’s first openly lesbian member of Federal Parliament and cabinet minister, as well as the first Asian-born female to serve as a federal minister. Penny was also appointed Australia’s first Minister for Climate Change and Water, following the election of the Rudd Government in 2007. In this role, Penny expanded the renewable energy target allowing for significant investment in wind and solar power.
In 2013, Penny became the first woman to be appointed Government Leader and Opposition Leader in the Senate. Penny tirelessly works towards Australian Labor’s central values of striving for a fair society, of promoting a growing economy, and of building a better future for the nation.
To achieve these values, Penny’s policy interests include economics, environmental issues, gender equality, and international relations.
Penny speaks out against prejudice in all its forms. As a senator, Penny has fought for the rights of LGBTI people and is one of the most prominent figures on the political stage leading the fight for marriage equality.
In February, Penny wrote in The Monthly about the importance of Australia achieving marriage equality. She wrote “On any moral calculus, whether viewed through the prisms of individual choice, social justice, utilitarian ethics, welfare economics or effective social policy, marriage equality is both necessary and overdue.”
Penny lives in Adelaide with her partner Sophie, and their two daughters.
2. Magda Szubanski
Magda is one of Australia’s most loved and respected actors. Her most iconic character is Sharon Strzelecki from the blockbuster sitcom, Kath & Kim, which is widely acknowledged as the most successful comedy in Australian television history.
Her memoir Reckoning details, with great power and emotion, her journey of self-acceptance. It has touched the hearts of nearly one hundred thousand people throughout the country whether they are straight or part of the LGBTQI community and its supporters. It has also helped non-LGBTQI people to relate to the experience of their gay loved ones, friends and acquaintances.
3. Pippa Downes
Non-Executive Director of the Pinnacle Foundation
Pippa is a respected executive and a non-executive director with a 25-year distinguished career with major achievements in the international business and finance sectors. Her extensive experience makes her contributions to the boards she sits on both considered and intelligent. Her experience, abilities and collegiate approach are valued as positive contributions to any commercial board. Pippa has a passion for life and her community; she is a volunteer lifesaver for the Bronte Surf Life Saving Club and enjoys an active life with her two children.
4. Faustina Agolley
Faustina Agolley/DJ Fuzzy is new to the LGBTQI community, having only come out (with a giant rainbow cake) on her 31st birthday in April 2015. She’s a British-Australian broadcaster, DJ, TV producer and writer with Chinese-Ghanian descent.
She toured with Oprah Winfrey as resident DJ for her An Evening With Oprah arena tour. She has also spun for Snoop Dogg and opened for the Scissor Sisters. She’s co-hosted The Voice, Video Hits and the 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Her written work on LGBTI issues has been published in the Huffington Post, Sunday Life and Women of Letters through Penguin.
5. Sally Rugg
LGBTQIA+ Rights Activist
Sally is the Marriage Equality Campaign Director at GetUp! and a LGBTQIA+ rights activist. This year, Sally’s work has been key in the campaign against the plebiscite. Her commentary and creative content have been instrumental in shifting public opinion away from the poll, and building the message in the public narrative that the plebiscite as unviable, unnecessary and discriminatory.
Sally volunteers as a youth worker at Twenty10, where she works with LGBTQIA+ teenagers and young adults who need social support or access to services, and has helped lead Sydney’s community response to the attacks on the Safe Schools Coalition.
6. Liz James
Liz launched PinkSofa.com in March 2000, Australia's first social network for lesbians and same-sex attracted women. It aims to provide a comfortable, safe space for the lesbian community to find each other, connect, provide mutual support and express themselves.
Since 2000, Pink Sofa has become an iconic brand within the worldwide lesbian community; it has connected tens of thousands of women; it has supported numerous local community events and entertainers and has been instrumental in bringing the Australian lesbian community closer together.
7. Alex Blackwell
Alex is a professional cricketer who has played more matches for Australia than any other female cricketer in history. Alex captained Australia to World Twenty20 and Ashes victories in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Alex’s proudest moment was leading the Mardi Gras parade in 2015 as an out athlete. In 2012 Alex chose to be public about her sexuality and experiences of homophobia in sport in order to encourage change toward safer and more inclusive environments for LGBTI people. Alex was an ambassador for the 2014 Bingham Cup in Sydney and is currently an ambassador for the Pinnacle Foundation.
8. Kerryn Phelps
Doctor and Deputy Lord Mayor, City of Sydney
Professor Kerryn Phelps AM is one of Australia’s best-known doctors, health communicators and public health and civil rights advocate.
She and her wife, Jackie Stricker-Phelps, began the Australian conversation on marriage equality in 1998 and have been fighting for marriage equality for almost the two decades since. They were involved in the Wear It With Pride campaign which brought about the end of almost all discrimination under Federal law. They helped to lobby for same sex adoption in NSW before becoming one of the first same sex couples to adopt under the new legislation. As President of the Australian Medical Association, Prof Phelps pioneered the first AMA policy on gender and sexual diversity and has been a prominent advocate for LGBTIQ health issues.
9. Tanya Sale
CEO and Managing Director outsource financial
Tanya is the founder, CEO and Managing Director of multi-award-winning national mortgage aggregator group, outsource financial. Tanya is the only female CEO/Managing Director of a mortgage aggregator in Australia. With extensive banking and finance experience Tanya wanted to make a difference in the third party mortgage sector, so she created models to change the way lending was conducted in the country. Tanya’s strength and determination follows through equally in her personal life. After extensive debate about same-sex adoption, Tanya played an influential role in the same-sex adoption bill being passed in September 2010 in NSW
10. Michelle Heyman
Professional Football Player
Michelle is the striker for the Matildas and Canberra United and has been named top goal scorer of the Westfield W-League. Affectionately dubbed the “Smiling Assassin”, Michelle made her Matildas debut in 2010 and has proudly been in the national team since. She was named one of the first openly gay athletes and says “To have that recognised by a mass audience showed the world that no matter what our sexuality, we are great role models”. Michelle was the only openly gay athlete in Team Australia at the Rio Olympics 2016, a unique position that she keeps very close to her heart.
11. Lisa Rose
Volunteer Board Director Queer Screen
Lisa, Vice-President of Queer Screen since 2012, volunteers up to 1000 hours a year to the organization that produces the Mardi Gras Film Festival and Queer Screen Film Fest. Passionate about showcasing the diversity of the GLBTIQ rainbow, Lisa is incredibly proud of the growth of Queer Screen and the significant increase in films about queer-identified women that it has featured, with the most recent festival reaching parity of lesbian and gay male films for the first time. Lisa is also known for her amusing film introductions, Q&As and bad jokes about Queer Screen members being vastly better looking than their peers.
12. Ginni Saraswati
Ginni is an award-winning journalist known to stun many a personality with her quick-witted introductions and on-air antics. She left Paula Abdul in a laughing fit and Havana Brown choking! She has interviewed them all, from k.d. lang, Jennifer Beals, Ruby Rose to Martina Navratilova... and the list goes on!
She has recently launched her brand new podcast The Ginni Show—Curry, Comedy & Connectivity, which invites listeners to follow the hilarious journey life of a young Sri Lankan gay immigrant woman growing up in Australia with guests appearances from Ginni’s aunties, 170 cousins, and celebrities.
13. Roz Ward
Roz co-founded, developed and currently directs Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV), the first Australian program to specialise in supporting gender diversity and sexual diversity in schools. Through research-driven resources, teacher education and policy advocacy, the program promotes practical measures for creating affirming and inclusive learning environments for same sex attracted, gender diverse and intersex students, staff and families. This year Roz has continued to defend the Safe Schools Coalition from ongoing attacks and she has supported dozens of transgender and gender diverse students to be themselves at school.
14. Kim Leutwyler
Sydney-based visual artist, Kim Leutwyler, creates portrait paintings of LGBTQ-identified and queer-allied women. Her work explores the mutability of identity, gender and beauty. Kim hopes to destabilize gender borders through her work just as LGBTQ artists have been doing since the 1920’s and earlier Kim's paintings have been exhibited in galleries throughout Australia and the United States. Her painting Start the Riot was a finalist in the 2015 Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. She won the Midsumma Visual Arts Guide Cover Competition, and her painting is the hero image for the 2016 LGBTQ Festival in Melbourne, Australia.
15. Candy Royalle
Multi-disciplinary Artist and Activist
Candy Royalle is one of Australia's most prominent performing writers. She is a multi-award winning storyteller, activist, educator and singer who has performed at innumerable folk, music, writers and arts festivals globally. Her poetry has been published in many journals and her essays and opinion pieces have been published online for national and literary presses. She collaborates with film-makers, musicians, visual artists, dancers and photographers, to bring her work to life.
16. Sam Turner
Sam is a passionate and influential leader who has been the Chair of GLOBAL since early 2015. Through her role as Chair of GLOBAL, Sam is one of the most passionate and visible advocates for LGBTI equality and inclusion at Westpac Group. Not only does she use her chairing role to influence across the organization, she has also ensured that her own team values and exhibits the behaviours of an inclusive and balanced team. She is tireless in her dedication and commitment to furthering equality both in our workplace, and more broadly in the community.
17. Julie McCrossin
Broadcaster and Journalist
Julie currently writes for the NSW Law Society Journal and has often been a television reporter for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, as well as for ANZAC day.
She became active in Gay Liberation at Sydney University in 1974. She participated in demonstrations and was arrested many times throughout the '70s. Julie was part of the huge crowd of demonstrators outside Darlinghurst Police Station in 1978 after the first Mardi Gras and at the Liverpool Street Court the next morning. Since the 1990s, Julie has been a vocal advocate for marriage equality.
18. Roz Bellamy
Roz is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and teacher. Her writing has been published in a wide range of publications including Archer Magazine, ArtsHub, Daily Life, Everyday Feminism, Going Down Swinging, SBS and Seizure. Her work was shortlisted for the 2014 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers. She has presented at forums at the Australian Education Union, the National Young Writers' Festival, and the Hult Prize (Shanghai). She regularly attends conferences and writers' workshops, and has plans to commence a PhD on the wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ students, exploring the role that writing can play as a therapeutic tool.
19. Jax Jacki Brown
Disability and LGBTI Agent of Change
Jax is a disability and LGBTI consultant, writer, spoken-word performer, public speaker, disability-sexuality educator and workshop designer and facilitator. She was named one of the 25 LGBTI people to watch in 2015, a finalist in the 2015 Victorian Disability Sector Awards and a 2015 Junket attendee. She runs workshops on disability and sexuality for university departments and organisations, presents at conferences and is frequently a keynote speaker on disability and LGBTI issues. She is becoming increasingly well-known within the LGBTI and mainstream communities.
20. Cec Busby
Cec is a media professional and has been editor and contributing editor of numerous mainstream media titles and was founding editor of Sydney street press The Brag. Since moving into the queer media space Cec has worked across a range of titles. She is a past editor of LOTL Magazine and is currently the news editor of SX magazine and online editor of gaynewsnetwork.com.au. She is passionate about human rights and LGBTI rights. She is a committee member of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and a board member of LGBTIQ family advocacy group Rainbow Families.
21. Danielle Warby
Advocate for women in sport
Danielle has been working to promote women’s sport since 2006. Working with elite athletes, sports organisations and the media, she’s built the largest women’s sport network in the country. Danielle is a life member of The Flying Bats Women’s Football Club, the largest lesbian soccer club in the world, as a player for over 10 years with 7 years on the organising committee including two years as President. Danielle was recently awarded the ‘Local Hero’ Legacy Award from the Federation of Gay Games for her work promoting women in sport and The Flying Bats in the LGBTI community.
22. Shirleene Robinson
(Image: Frank Farrugia)
Dr Shirleene Robinson is National Spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality, the leading national volunteer organization working for marriage equality in Australia, and also served as NSW Co-Convenor since 2012. She has led community workshops on marriage equality in electorates across Australia and has participated in a wide range of media, talks, seminars and rallies and public events. Apart from volunteering with Australian Marriage Equality, Shirleene is a professional historian and was President of Sydney's Pride History Group in 2015-2016. She has written several books on LGBTQI history, including the 2016 co-authored Gay and Lesbian, Then and Now: Australian Stories from a Social Revolution.
23. Amy Middleton
Amy is a Melbourne-based journalist and founding editor of Archer Magazine, a UN-award-winning publication that presents diverse perspectives on sexuality and gender. Amy has written and edited for Australian Geographic, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, Daily Life, The Big Issue, The Bulletin, Junkee, Meanjin, and The Lifted BrowShe is a mentor with the Out For Australia[ED: use italics]program, co-hosts a monthly show on Joy FM, and teaches business writing at RMIT. In 2014 she was named among Gay News Network's Top 25 People To Watch, and Melbourne Writers Festival's 30 Under 30. In 2016 she was nominated for Young Australian of the Year.
24. Chloe Sargeant
Chloe is a writer, currently residing in Sydney but still a proud Adelaidean. She has been featured in Broadsheet, Catalogue Magazine and Vogue Italia and is currently News Editor at PEDESTRIAN.TV. A bisexual woman, she considers inclusivity and intersectionality of utmost importance, and takes great pride in prioritising queer voices and stories in her work. She is an avid activist for both LGBTQIA rights and gender equality, and regularly gets herself in trouble for ruthlessly disregarding the antiquated idea that women should be seen and not heard. She also swears far too fucking much.
25. Alayna Cole
Alayna is a writer, researcher, game developer, and tertiary lecturer. She uses her multi-faceted involvement in the games industry as a foundation for improving diverse, queer representation. Alayna founded Queerly Represent Mea database detailing 450+ games that feature queer representation, which she uses to amplify queer voices to the wider public. Journalists, researchers, and the wider gaming community use the database. In addition, Alayna writes about queer representation as a journalist, academic, and developer.
26. Maxine Drake
Maxine has been working in LGBT activism since the early 1980s. After coming out in her early 20s she started speaking about what it meant to be a lesbian and worked as the Homosexual Information Officer at Curtin University. Maxine was the second employee to be recruited to the WA AIDS Council which led her to do HIV/AIDS work in the prison system as HIV Coordinator.
Maxine now speaks openly about the way that her identity and the liberation struggle has formed her and shaped her understanding of the world. She speaks of the lesson of Pride and how it can be a vehicle of hope.
27. Dianne McGrath
Sustainability expert & astronaut candidate
Dianne leads two lives. She is the Director of Food for Thought Consulting Australia, and currently working on a PhD on food waste in the hospitality sector (Watch My Waste). Her goal is to reduce the excessive amount of food wasted. Dianne sits on the Boards of food sustainability and community food not-for-profit organisations, 3000acres and the Open Food Network.
Dianne is also one of 100 shortlisted, astronaut candidates in the international Mars One Mission, seeking to establish the first permanent human settlement on Mars.
28. Michelle Sheppard
Michelle is the co-host and co-producer of JOY’s Family Matters radio show, a weekly program dedicated to rainbow families. The powerful combination of self and community she shows through the platform of community radio has raised the public profile and national dialogue of transgender, gender diverse and intersex issues on a national scale. Through radio work, Sheppard is now a sought-after public speaker and guest blogger. Michelle uses her public profile to host seminars on LGBTI employment and work issues which has raised employer awareness in the banking, energy, retail, education and health care industries.
29. Kate Fitzpatrick
A powerful, energetic and charismatic young woman, Kate has a global vision to create the healthiest and happiest LGBTIQ community on the planet. She knows that teaching the basics right through to advanced healthy habits is the key to success. Her down-to-earth approach is refreshing and the simplicity of each step helps it to make sense. The PinkFitz motto “Changing Lives One Gay At A Time”, paired with the vision of creating the happiest and healthiest LGBTIQ community on the planet, is admired and supported by many.
30. Sam Lilit
Sam is a non-binary activist and the head of Ygender, a support and advocacy organisation for transgender-diverse, young people. Ygender develops resources on gender diversity, advocates for the rights of trans people, runs events for trans young people to connect with each other, and makes sure that the voices of trans youth are being heard.
31. Nicky Bryson
Aurora Director, VIP Liaison and Bookings
Nicky is a communications specialist with an extensive background in public relations, journalism and copywriting. Nicky has profound passion for networking and fundraising. She leveraged these skills across a variety of successful event-based and digital campaigns before she joined the Board of The Aurora Group where she significantly contributes to the philanthropic success of the organisation.
32. Rebecca Madsen
Founder & CEO of Gay Parents Australia
Rebecca is the Founder and CEO of Gay Parents Australia, which is the organisation behind the LGBTQI parenting network, Pink Parents Hub. The Pink Parents Hub mission is to connect LGBTQI parents everywhere to services, to information and to each other. Rebecca launched the Pink Parents Hub social network in April 2016 and is currently working towards launching an online magazine to accompany the network. Rebecca has two daughters aged three and one.
33. Rachel Chapman
Rachel is a lecturer in early childhood education at RMIT University. She has been a children’s practitioner in a range of preschools and childcare settings. She is currently completing a PhD on early childhood educators’ understanding of gender and how it impacts on young children’s emerging gender identities. Her research, A case study of gendered play in kindergartens: How early childhood educators’ perceptions of gender influence children’s play, has been published in a peer-reviewed international journal. She is presenting her work on gender in early childhood at the Beyond the Culture Wars: LGBTIQ History Now Conference in Melbourne in November 2016.
34. Eliza Berlage
Eliza is a freelance journalist passionate about mental health, feminism, and dogs. She has worked with The Walkley Foundation, GetUp, ReachOut.Com and Sydney Story Factory. She produced and presented the feminist radio show Infinite X [ED: use italics](formerly Double X[ED: use italics]) on 2SER and presents a segment on 2SER Weekend Breakfast with Van Badham called No Feminism Before 9[ED: use italics], where they identify the most sexist comment of the week. She’s also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of educational women's website F is for Feminism]and is currently working with activist group, Sexual Violence Won’t Be Silenced, to fight online harassment.
35. Cash Savage
Cash is one of Australia’s finest and most unique blues and rock singers; a charismatic and intense performer with her explosive live band, The Last Drinks. The band’s recent third, full-length release One Of Us demonstrates her devastatingly honest lyrics backed by howling guitar and heartbreaking fiddle. The album explores beauty, freedom and the problems that seep into even the supposedly, safest of realms: family, friendship, sleep and love. She’s a formidable songwriter with a first-class reputation with her audience and a huge amount of respect from her peers.
36. Jerico Mandybur
Australia Editor at global tech/entertainment publication Mashable.com, Jerico is a digital journalist who’s written for sites as diverse as The Guardian, Oyster Magazine, NITV, Heaps Gay and Dolly. A proud bi-identified wog, she regularly covers LGBTQIA stories and adores the idea of queering pop culture from the inside. Her approach is, if it’s going to pop up on your newsfeed anyway, to at least make it subversive, accessible and intersectional at heart.
37. Julie Kalceff
Writer, Director, and Producer
Julie is the creator, writer, director and a producer of the international hit multi-platform, award-winning, lesbian drama, Starting From Now. Attracting both critical and popular acclaim, the series is one of Australia’s most successful multi-platform projects. It has amassed over 30 million views, been watched in over 230 countries, and was sold to and played on broadcast television in Australia.
Julie is the founder and director of production company Common Language Films. Common Language Films focuses on developing and producing high quality content for the screen which utilises humour to tell dramatic, character-driven, female-centric stories that appeal to a wide audience.
38. Rachel Maria Cox
Rachel is a non-binary, queer singer-songwriter. Rachel is also the founder and manager of Sad Grrrls Club, a record label and booking agency aimed at promoting gender diversity in the music industry by working with female, non-binary and gender diverse musicians. In 2016 Rachel released a second EP, I Just Have A Lot Of Feelings through Sad Grrrls Club Records, as well as organised Sad Grrrls Fest in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia’s largest female-fronted music festival. Rachel is also an advocate for mental health awareness and support, as well as non-binary visibility in the arts.
39. Renee Russo
Director at Queeriosity Podcast
Renee is the director at Queeriosity Podcasta podcast that talks about everything you’ve ever wondered about sex, sexuality and gender. After experiencing an almost non-existent, sex education, Renee was too scared to ask questions and later realised that many people go through the same experience. On Queeriosity, Renee is joined by Tam, Jess and Cyrus who share their knowledge and opinions on relevant topics. Renee hopes to remove all the dirty stigma around aspects of our community and to discourage discrimination within an already discriminated group of society. “Don’t forget to love yourself, you’re all incredible” Renee says.
LadyHood's vision behind music is to be completely fearless in bringing the fluidity of gender and sexuality into the mainstream. LadyHood has performed at many LGBTIQ events around the world including Vienna Pride, Midsumma Festival, and HER parties. You can often catch her marching alongside her brothers and sisters at Equal Love rallies in Melbourne. She recently released a very steamy, girl-on-girl music video for her song, Naked. The idea behind the clip was to create a sense of empowerment for viewers about their sexuality and also to allow them to feel comfortable about being exactly who they are.
41. Tegan Ayris
Tegan is currently signed with two major agencies worldwide. Being a model has given her the ability to inspire and encourage others to be themselves. She also donates part of her earnings to help young kids who are battling all kinds of diseases to have access to up-to-date medical equipment. Giving back to those who need it most is a big thing for her: “Knowing that I am changing a life or two helps me to get through my day”, she has said.