Last night, in the historic setting of the National Art School in Darlinghurst, 25 of the most influential gay and lesbian Australians were honoured and awarded by the GLBTQ online portal SameSame.com.au in the annual Same Same 25 list.
Those awarded came from all walks of queer life including political figures, journalists, chefs and even and an out-and-proud Olympic gold medallist.
As the youngest recipient of the award, gold medalist Matthew Mitcham joined the most mature recipient, longtime equal rights activist John Challis, in speaking about their personal journeys and challenges as gay men. An emotional audience was honoured to hear two stories from different eras, outlining significant changes in the way gay and lesbian rights have evolved within Australia's history.
Time Out was thrilled to be in attendance and sincerely congratulates each and every nominee for their contribution to the community.
Particular congratulations go to Siri May, a young role model to many Australian women, who has worked tirelessly in developing a range of women's health strategies, projects and resources for same-sex attracted women through her work at the AIDS Council of NSW. Time Out was privileged to bring you Siri's story earlier this year and we salute her inclusion on the 2009 SameSame 25 list.
Driven by Same Same's co-founder Tim Duggan and national editor Christian Taylor, the awards publicly acknowledge what our community has always known: that gay and lesbian Australians make a remarkable contribution to not only their community but also the country at large. Same Same's criteria for nomination require nominees to publicly declare themselves as gay or lesbian and to be Australian citizens.
With thanks to Same Same, Time Out is proud to present the list of 2009's 25 most influential gay and lesbian Australians.
Andrew 'Fuzz' Purchas (NSW) Founder of the Sydney Convicts rugby team, who won the Bingham Cup, commonly known as the 'gay rugby world cup', in 2006 and 2008. Andrew has had a significant impact on the perception of gay men in sport and has been on the board of ACON for the past three years.
Bill Bowtell (NSW) One of Australia's pre-eminent experts in HIV/AIDS. Bill was an architect of Australia' successful and well-regarded response to the disease. From working as a senior advisor to Prime Minister Keating in the 90s to currently being director of the HIV/AIDS Project at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, he is at the forefront of one the biggest health issues facing the world today.
Bob Brown (Tas) One of only four people to appear on the list again in 2008, Bob is not only the leader of the Greens, but also a strong campaigner for same-sex equality. He was instrumental in campaigning for the removal of discriminatory legislation in Parliament this year.
Brett Sheehy (Vic) The current artistic director of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Sheehy has spent the past decade defining Australia's artistic landscape. From 2000 to 2005 he broadened the appeal of Sydney Festival before moving onto Adelaide Festival where he set new records for box office and attendance.
Christine Manfield (NSW) A highly regarded Australian chef, author, food writer, food manufacturer, presenter, teacher and gastronomic traveller, Manfield has set new standards of culinary innovation both with her Sydney restaurant Universal and her line of cookbooks.
David Marr (NSW) Journalist and author, Marr reappears on the list for 2008 for his instrumental coverage of the Henson case, examining the role of art in our society. As a feature writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, he continues to combine influence with intelligence.
Felicity Marlowe (Vic) As a spokesperson for the Victorian Rainbow Families Council she has vocally campaigned in support of the ART (reproductive technologies) bill, which recently passed through the Lower House. Her work in this area will have a huge impact on future generations.
Fran Kelly (NSW) As a respected radio presenter, current affairs journalist and political correspondent, Fran Kelly has the ear of Australia's most influential people from the PM down every morning as the host of ABC Radio National's agenda-setting Breakfast program.
Giz Watson (WA) Giz's interest in ecology, peace and social justice has taken this former builder from grassroots activism to the halls of Western Australian Parliament. As a member of the Western Australian Greens she's an extremely vocal advocate for women, the environment and gay rights. In 1992 she became one of only three women to be registered as builders in WA.
Jem Masters (NSW) This unsung hero has been the driving force behind Mardi Gras Medical, a volunteer team who work tirelessly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of tens of thousands of people at Australia's largest gay event every year.
John Challis (NSW) The oldest member of this year's Same Same 25, this 80-year-old activist has been the most vocal campaigner for equality in Australian superannuation law. Challis and his partner of 40 years are all too aware that the clock is ticking and he has said that at his age they cannot afford to be patient.
Ken Campagnolo (Vic) By standing up for himself in the face of adversity Ken has found himself at the centre of a media storm in 2008. Taking his wrongful dismissal case to the anti-discrimination board, this former football coach put the issue of homophobia in sport on the national agenda, despite verbal attacks from the likes of former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.
Matthew Mitcham (NSW) Since winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Matthew has gone on to inspire millions of people around the world with his natural charisma and pride in his sexuality. He's recently been named GQ Sportsman of the Year and Fairfax Sport Performer of the Year, and as a down-to-earth role model his influence is undisputed.
Melinda Edwards (NT) As a police officer Edwards has had a huge impact on the relationship between police and gay and lesbian communities. She established the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit in 2001 and since moving to the Northern Territory she has taken on a leadership and mentoring role within NT police.
Michael Kirby (NSW) Justice of the High Court of Australia. There are few who would dispute the influence of one of the highest judicial representatives in the country, including those who voted him as the People's Choice from last year's list. Justice Kirby has been a vocal opponent of the discrimination against same-sex couples and is an important ally to every gay or lesbian person in Australia.
Meredith Turnbull (NSW) As the Executive Officer of Sydney's Twenty10, Turnbull has directly affected the lives of countless young people and been a passionate ambassador for social justice and disadvantaged youth. She's recently been appointed director of Get Up!, Australia's largest online political advocacy group.
Nerelda Jacobs (WA) Jacobs is both the first Aboriginal and the first openly gay newsreader in Western Australia. She became a single mother at the age of 18 and has managed to juggle her commitments to her family with a successful media career, this year becoming the lead news anchor for Ten News in Perth.
Paul Martin (Qld) With over 15 years experience as a counselling psychologist, Paul Martin is a well respected force within mental health in Queensland. In addition to the influence he has over his numerous clients, his work as a public speaker has seen him address a variety of issues, including the dangers of the ex-gay movement and the importance of keeping families together.
Penny Sharpe (NSW) One of the key advocates for same sex parenting rights in NSW, Sharpe helped push for recent law reform after years of stalemate. The first out lesbian in the NSW Parliament, she has been a member of the NSW Legislative Council since October 2005 and is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for Mining and Energy.
Penny Wong (SA) Wong has been a member of the Labor Party representing South Australia in the Senate since 2002 and was the first openly lesbian and first Asian-born female member of the senate. In 2007 she was appointed the Minister for Climate Change and Water and is one of only four people to appear in the Same Same 25 for the second year.
Portia de Rossi (USA) As a high profile actress and the wife of US comedian Ellen Degeneres, Portia de Rossi has become a household name. Her recent wedding and the media storm surrounding gay marriage rights in California have thrust the issue of gay equality into mainstream headlines.
Ruby Rose (NSW) Since landing the role as a host on MTV, Ruby Rose has been an outspoken, proud lesbian in the public eye. As an active member of the community, Rose has become a welcome and fresh role model to lesbians worldwide.
Sam Sparro (USA) Sydney-born Sparro burst onto the music scene this year with his self-titled debut album. Nominated for a Grammy and five ARIAs, this performer, songwriter and producer has never shied away from his sexuality and has gone on to become a shining light in the music world.
Siri May (NSW) May has been working in lesbian health for the past decade. She co-founded the young women's project at the AIDS Council of New South Wales in 2005 and has most recently launched the lesbian health strategy, the first project of its kind in Australia.
Tony Sheldon (NSW) For more than 700 performances Sheldon has played the key role of Bernadette in the stage production of Priscilla The Musical. Sheldon will be the only lead cast member from the Australian production to star in the London production opening in the West End next year.