From Magda Szubanski to Lana Wachowski, 2012 saw plenty of inspiring lesbian, trans and queer women make headlines. Rachel Cook casts an eye on the women that caught our attention.
Stars come out
2012 proved to be the year of women coming out. It started with Magda Szubanski early in the year. For many of us the fact that Szubanski is a lesbian was the world’s worst kept secret, however, Magda’s coming out did shock some. Her emotional interview on Channel Ten’s The Project moved the nation and she soared to new heights as a queer icon. The publicity around Magda’s disclosure was huge and the support she received from the broader community was even bigger. Then in April Tony Abbott’s sister came out and we mistakenly hoped this revelation might change her brother’s stance on same-sex marriage. Sadly, it did not. Three months later country music singer, Beccy Cole, came out on the ABC’s Australian Story. The seven-time Golden Guitar winner caused quite the stir in the country music scene, but Cole has gone on to be a great ambassador in an industry not known for its queer performers.
Russian girl group takes on Putin
In a move that shocked the world, three women, all members of the feminist punk collective, Pussy Riot, dared to stand up to Russia’s President, Vladamir Putin, and subsequently found themselves sent off to prison camps. In February, Pussy Riot, who champion women’s and LGBTIQ rights, performed and filmed one of their performances/protests at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They then turned the event in a music video called ‘Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!’ Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested and charged with hooliganism. While Samutsevich had her sentence suspended, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are still serving out their two-year sentences.
MPs come out to support marriage equality
The gay marriage debate ramped up in 2012 with a number of female MPs taking a stand and expressing their support for marriage equality. Penny Wong, Kate Ellis, Sarah Hanson-Young, Jenny Macklin and Tanya Plibersek were among them. Recently Wong wrote an article for this very publication (and/or its sister publications), and while we could put Wong’s lack of public commitment to the issue in past years down to a number of issues, we know now, behind the scenes she has always pushed for marriage equality. “This is the most personal of debates for LGBTI Australians,” Wong wrote. “It is about the people we love most in the world – the people who give meaning and hope to our lives. And that is why we must all continue this campaign. And that is why, in time, we will succeed.” That said, Australia’s most prominent woman, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, remains unmoved.
Kylie turns lesbian on screen
In one of Kylie Minogue’s more bizarre career moves she appeared in the lesbian romance/horror film, Jack and Diane. Minogue played Tara, a tattooed lesbian who kisses the films protagonist, Jack, played by Riley Keogh, who (in real life) just happens to be Elvis Presley’s granddaughter.
It was also the year of stirring speeches. Our PM’s ‘sexism and misogyny’ speech went viral as did transgender American filmmaker Lana Wachowski’s. Wachowski’s acceptance speech for winning the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Visibility Award’ was hailed as a significant moment in transgender history. Wachowski talked about the feeling of ‘not fitting in’ her whole life and her suicide plan. She talked about not having any role models growing up and in one of the most emotional moments of the speech she said: “If I could be that person for someone else then the sacrifice of my private, civic life may have value”.
[Images] UK demonstrators call for the release of Russian band, Pussy Riot; Kylie in Jack and Diane. Photo: Getty Images