Queers of Melbourne: This month we meet Cathy Anderson
This month we meet Cathy Anderson from Melbourne Queer Film Festival.
Name: Cathy Anderson
Where born: Sydney
Favourite thing about Melbourne: It’s openness - both in attitude to newcomers and green spaces (brilliant for cyclists like me).
I came late to the coming out party. I turned 30 the year my first serious girlfriend and I ‘migrated’ from Sydney to Melbourne, so I feel as though I have played a fast game of catch-up over the last 14 years.
Almost all of my experience as a queer woman is intangibly linked to this city, which is ironic since I was living in the land of Mardi Gras before, but Sydney has never been like that for me.I love Melbourne. I love its casual vibe, the friendly bike paths and its ‘up yours’ attitude to anyone says it isn’t really that liveable.
I’ve always been a journalist. I love the art of meeting people, telling stories and informing readers about things they might be oblivious to, but shouldn’t be. Soon after we moved here, Darren Pope aka Kaye Sera did a spot on JOY saying queer newspaper bnews needed more female writers – I couldn’t have made that call fast enough. A freelance gig writing news copy one day a week morphed into the editor’s role, and I became immersed in Melbourne’s rich queer culture.
Working in LGBTI press was extraordinarily rewarding. I interviewed people of such diverse backgrounds, acquired an appreciation of the hard work of community groups and was inspired by the passion and fearlessness of queer campaigners and activists. I got a baptism-by-fire introduction to a world I knew so little about. It was a huge rush.
But working in the community also has its challenges. I learnt quickly that while you always do your best, someone is invariably dissatisfied. We are so often one voice, but equally our community can be so disparate. When you have your byline out there you can become a target for accusations of political bias, over or under-representation of community sectors or simply not having enough scene pics in your paper.
I believe in having a strong code of ethics, so it wasn’t until bnews folded and I had moved on that I considered a role on the Board of Melbourne Queer Film Festival. It’s my favourite Festival of the year, but I felt I couldn’t be involved in an organisation while I was also reporting on it.
I love Midsumma and ChillOut, but MQFF is my happy place. It’s a wonderful event attended by so many familiar and new faces each year. We may all have different tags (or none at all) but at MQFF we’re all drawn by a common allure – incredible films that showcase our lives on the big screen.
I remember being overwhelmed during one of my first MQFF films. Sitting in a packed cinema of queers I thought: ‘That’s me up there. And all of these people in here are my people.’
I’ve spent three years on the Board and have been lucky enough to work with MQFF legend Lisa Daniel and now with our current amazing team and passionate Board members.
I think volunteering is an important thing for everyone to do – giving back is such a good feeling. And although there’s long hours and sometimes difficult decisions to make, it’s completely worth it when March rolls around each year and I see the queues for sessions, hear the laughter and sobs in the cinema and the clink of glasses in the Festival lounge. I want everyone to experience what I felt that day – acceptance, love, validation, a sense of home.
I’ve had a few longing moments for Sydney, but my love affair with Melbourne is quite obviously a very queer and enduring one. I’m here to stay.
(Top image -Cathy Anderson. Photo Nicole Cleary.)