Beccy Cole And Libby O'Donovan
Beccy Cole And Libby O’Donovan On Tour

“I’m gay. I’m queer. I’m lesbian. I’m all the things you need me to be”, says country music singer-songwriter Beccy Cole.

Speaking from her hometown in Adelaide while on tour for her new album, Sweet Rebecca, and on the line with her fiancé, cabaret singer and songwriter Libby O’Donovan, who was also on tour promoting her group show, The Lennon and McCartney Songbook in Melbourne, they spoke to Brigitte Lewis about walking like a dyke, music, human rights and touring together with an all-female all lesbian band.

As lesbian women performing at their first Olivia cruise (where lesbians go to cruise the seas and each other) back in 2015, Beccy says, “I thought I was actually going to explode with happiness. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest because I realised how long I had denied myself this incredibly empowering experience of playing to a room full of women who are exactly like me. I had run from those women for so long.”

With a characteristic laugh and comedic flair, her audiences love her for, she quips, “I didn’t know whether to hug them or kiss them or take them all to bed.”

Beccy and Libby’s chemistry is palpable, even over the phone and across states. Beccy says, “We make each other laugh every day. If you’ve got humour with someone it’s a beautiful thing, we’re like-minded in so many ways, we both love making music together and we get to go home together, which is the cool part.”

On Libby’s 40th birthday after 4 years together, Beccy surprised her with a marriage proposal in front of their parents, who are both priests, and their children. When asked if they’ve set a date, Beccy explains, “what we really want is to be married in Australia because we feel quintessentially Australian so we’re waiting for the Government to get their act together.”

“As we tour around Australia we’ve had 100% support,” says Libby, and Beccy adds that so many people come up to them after their shows and say, “I’m so sorry, I feel really embarrassed that I’m allowed to get married and you’re not.”

Libby who is an ambassador for Wear it With Pride, a campaign celebrating same-sex law reform, says “some people ask why I’m banging on about marriage equality and as a mother I have to say to my daughter all the time that I’m not allowed to get married. And if she’s growing up in a country where her mother is basically a second class citizen because she’s not allowed to marry” then that has to change.“It will not ruin the sanctity of marriage or the constitution of Australia.”

Beccy sings on her latest album Sweet Rebecca, “I even love you more than ice cream – I wish they’d let me marry you.” As well as singing a song called ‘poster girl’ (also the title of her autobiography) about a fan who ripped her poster off the wall after hearing that she performed for the troops in Iraq. While, Libby who has been out since she’s 19, explains that she laughs out loud, ‘song for sexy straight with lyrics like “number one I want to wake up with my hand on your thigh, number two I want to know you stayed the whole night” is about offering a community service to women who have never been with women before and want to experience it just for a night. Another favourite, her newest single, ‘silverfox’ is a “homage to your bestie and the importance of female friends who give you a shoulder to cry on, the wine to drink and a bed to lie down on.”

When pushed as to the political aspect of some of their respective songs and their on-stage banter, Libby says, “we’re more personal and we connect to the audience in that way…it’s almost like a comedy act…we believe in basic human rights – it’s about equality – in that sense I’m really proud to be vocal about that – it’s a really simple thing – let people who love each other marry each other.” So it seems the personal is political, and what could be more true, more real than that kind of songwriting and performance. That, and song lyrics like,“I live in bum crack, bum crack, that’s my town” which is the final track on Beccy’s latest offering.

LOTL Cover with Beccy Cole and Libby O'DonovanBeccy doesn’t want to be known as “lesbian singer Beccy Cole” and would rather be, Australian singer-songwriter Beccy Cole but says, “I will call myself whatever people need to hear to understand where I am.” And she’s often out touring in rural Australia where she considers it a very important role “to be explaining just by being who I am.There’s always a smattering of queer-identified people or people who have a gay auntie that come up to us and say thank you. I always feel really proud. If I can make people feel they belong then I’m really happy.

As the years have gone by, I’m far more me on stage. I was deeply closeted. I was playing this character of this woman who couldn’t get a bloke and I thought that was hilarious because the real me doesn’t want a bloke. I’m not pretending anymore. Prior to coming out, I kept having all these a-ha moments, that’s because you’re gay, that’s because you’re a great big raging lesbian that you had those feelings and I denied that about myself for a long time because it didn’t fit with the public persona or it didn’t fit with the description of what an Australian country singer is supposed to be like so I kept ignoring the very, very obvious signs, like being good at softball,” she says with a giggle.

On the Olivia cruise, “the thing that stood out for me was the kind of stuff you get asked when you’re with another woman – the number of times someone has asked,‘are you two sisters?’ – on the cruise, it’s already clear, you’re in the majority.”

As they say, “there’s something really empowering about out women on stage.”


This article appears in the May/June 2016 issue of LOTL.