This sad truth is one of many reasons why Heaps Gay is so important. Director, Kat Dopper, has taken the intrinsic social value that music and art has to people, and created events that are not only fun, but also a safe environment for those who may need it most.
“I live in a pretty sugar-coated community. I’m super lucky that my friends and family and the people I’m surrounded by are really supportive and I sometimes don’t even notice. But there are so many people without amazing support networks around them.
“I really love the idea of creating an inclusive space where people can come together and really be themselves. Some people haven’t been able to come out to family and friends, so at the events they’re able to be around like-minded people and be themselves.”
Founded three years ago by Dopper after a trip to London, Heaps Gay started as a means to fill the gap in Sydney’s music and social scene for all inclusive, queer parties.
“I’d got back from a really thriving queer scene in London, there were lots of different parties and it was really inclusive. But in Sydney I really didn’t align with anything that was here. We were sitting around one day and decided to start something that we really want to go to, with really great music, and a mixture of people, sexualities, ages, genders.”
The Sydneysiders are making their way down the coast for Melbourne Music Week, filling one of Victoria’s most iconic venues in collaboration with Melbourne’s own cult, camp, cabaret act YUMMY. The usual whispers of the State Library will be replaced with the roaring, brilliant sound of music, the event boasting a lineup of over 30 artists, with an emphasis on local and queer talent.
“You’ll be entertained the whole time, it’s all immersive. Get in there and explore. And don’t be late because stuff is happening right from the very beginning,” says Dopper.
Aside from big events like Melbourne Music Week, Heaps Gay hosts popular monthly parties, with ticket sales supporting the accompanying website. The site is a hub of articles, social commentary, memoirs and news told from a queer perspective. All contributors and content creators are members of the LGBQIT+ community.
“The site was the natural next step for Heaps Gay. We had the opportunity to do more, to take this vibe and extend it out to rural areas, to where people don’t necessarily have support networks around them. We started a website to get the vibe out there.
“When we curate the house parties, it’s not necessarily a headlining act, it’s often local acts, arts students, and the party is a platform to help them get their stuff out there, and the website works the same. It’s another platform,” says Dopper.
Combining charity with immersive art and supporting local, queer artists, and event partnerships with foundations such as HIV/AIDS prevention and support, LGBQIT+ health promotion ACON, Oxfam, and Marriage Equality, Heaps Gay’s strong charitable emphasis is one small part of what distinguishes it from the gay club scene.
“We don’t like to say that we’re a club, you don’t turn up to Heaps Gay and dance in the corner. You communicate with like-minded people, experience music, and art, lots of creativity around you. We incorporate music and art and performance. It’s so important, especially in the young LGBQIT+ community. Coming to an inclusive and supportive space like that, they’re able to come out and work out who they really are.”
By Claire Varley