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Melbourne Shrine Defending with Pride Exhibition

by Rachel Cosgrove White, DEFGLIS President

DEFGLIS stands by the exhibition planned by the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance: Defending with Pride: Stories of LGBTQ+ Service. The exhibition can still achieve its intended purpose to commemorate brave heroes with diverse sexuality, sex and gender who have contributed to the defence and security of Australia.

In light of safety concerns to the hardworking and dedicated staff of the Shrine of Remembrance, we understand their decision to cancel the rainbow light show. As veterans, we condemn abuse directed at the Shrine’s staff.

We find it concerning that harmless symbols of inclusion such as rainbow colours - whether on national institutions or a rugby jersey have received unwarranted backlash - increasing stigma against LGBTQ+ Australians. These attacks are particularly harmful to young people and their mental health.

Defending with Pride is on at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance 01 Aug 2022 - 01 July 2023

Image: Shrine of Remembrance

DEFGLIS recognises International Transgender Day of Visibility for 2022
Since it was first celebrated in 2009, Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) has been held each year on 31stMarch. TDOV is an opportunity to celebrate the incredible resilience, strength and courage of the transgender and gender diverse community. It is a day to be proud of the hard-won joys that come with our identities, such as the fiercely close friendships formed with our peers and the unique perspective we have on life. Equally, it is a day to recognise the significant challenges and frustrations that come with transitioning in a world that is not always safe or affirming. Most of all, TDOV is a chance to recognise the contributions made by transgender & gender diverse people across society, and to commit to breaking down barriers that prevent many from being visible in their everyday lives.
Transgender & gender diverse personnel serve with pride across all aspects of Defence. Trans members of DEFGLIS can be found serving openly in combat, engineering, technical trades, personnel capability, communications, aviation, intelligence, health, logistics and training roles. We have both enlisted members and officers among our ranks, both uniformed ADF personnel and civilians within the Australian Public Service that work hard to contribute to Defence capability.
Sometimes, visibility can be a double-edged sword. With the increased visibility of transgender & gender diverse members in Defence over the last decade, comes new challenges of navigating our identity in the workplace. Those in our community who are most visible are often also those most vulnerable. Members who are just beginning the journey of affirming their gender identity may not have practice or confidence at advocating for themselves in social or professional settings. Similarly, having an identity outside the gender binary can mean additional challenges in navigating a strongly gendered environment such as Defence.
In support, cisgender allies can wonder about how to speak and act in ways that are respectful and empowering towards their trans peers. With that in mind, today DEFGLIS is suggesting three ways to be VISIBLE in your support for transgender & gender diverse people:
#1 Stand up for respect and inclusion. As a core Defence value, respect is essential when engaging with any transgender or gender diverse person. If you witness disrespectful or exclusive behaviour in the workplace as a bystander, have the courage to stand up and point out why that’s the case. If it’s in a situation where an individual has been personally affected, check in with them for support. Model respectful and inclusive behaviour in your own interactions as an ally, to show others how to support and empower transgender and gender diverse people.
#2 Work hard at using gender-affirming language. When it comes to pronouns, the best thing to do is practice, practice, practice. Whilst changes in our everyday language can seem hard at first, conscious practice at using the correct pronouns and gendered terms for the transgender & gender diverse people in your life will very quickly become second nature. If you don’t know somebody’s pronouns, it is always best to ask rather than assuming. When speaking to groups of people, or in circumstances where you’re not familiar with your audience, adopting gender-neutral language is a great way to ensure you are respectful and inclusive of everyone. When you make a mistake, quickly apologising and correcting yourself is the best way forward. If you’re lost getting started, pronoun guides are a great resource.
#3 Celebrate the resilience and accomplishments of trans people. As transgender and gender diverse people become more visible, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that are faced on a daily basis. Reach out to the trans people you know to see how you can better support them. Learn to recognise barriers to visibility and inclusion, empower transgender and gender diverse people to overcome them, and celebrate together when they do.
This TDOV, DEFGLIS celebrates all our transgender & gender diverse members, the incredible lives that they lead, and the amazing work that they do.
Author: Riley Bradford.
Riley is a Lieutenant in the Australian Regular Army, and the DEFGLIS Transgender and Gender Diverse Board Representative.

Over the weekend, DEFGLIS Member Stuart Martin was featured in a documentary produced by the ABC, The Many Days of Anzac. The documentary is available on ABC Iview.
Stuart appears toward the end of the documentary (51:05) in an interview on the attempt to lay a wreath at the Shrine in 1982 and the modern day (DEFGLIS run) rainbow wreath project.
DEFGLIS runs the rainbow wreath project each year to commemorate the service of LGBTI+ veterans, laying rainbow wreaths at memorials all around the country.
To get involved with the rainbow wreath project or the other fabulous work of DEFGLIS, join as a DEFGLIS member.

On Saturday March 5th, the skies cleared and the rain stopped for Mardi Gras 2022 to parade in a spectacular sight.

DEFGLIS proudly supported the Department of Defence and DEFGLIS contingents in MG22. This year’s theme was United we Shine and saw the first time the Department of Defence contingent paraded with the National Flags of Australia. Another first for this year’s Mardi Gras saw our uniformed members parading in ceremonial uniforms whilst wearing their service medals.

In addition, the Department of Defence contingent were joined by proud, supportive non-uniformed personnel displaying the recognisable colours of the Pride Flag in military style camouflage. Notably there were a number of first timers who participated in this year’s event, highlighting a Defence Force that is making changes, evolving and advancing towards being an inclusive employer of choice for all Australians.  

The LGBTIQA+ members of the Defence Force can hold their heads high as they proudly step into tomorrow knowing that a more inclusive narrative is being listened to by their Senior Leaders.

The Department of Defence contingent was led by Group Captain Mick Jansen, with Lieutenant Rachael Cosgrove (RAN) and Lieutenant Angus Currie as parade adjuncts. The Flag Bearers were Flight Sergeant Thomas Teo (AAFC), Lucy and Lieutenant Riley Bradford. With volunteers from the Lancer Band Corporal Ben North, Corporal Elizabeth Smith (who’s voice projected with the vocals on the recorded track) and MUSN Jack Rolls that made keeping step and marking time a much easier task then years gone by. This year’s contingent was history making as it displayed that the Australian Defence Force is an employee of choice while visibly showcasing their steadfast support to LGBTIQA+ personnel on the largest scale in a calendar year.

The efforts of the volunteers who provide unwavering support throughout the ADF, greatly enhance Defence's LGBTIQA+ visibility and presence to participate in such opportunities.

For uniformed members, being able to participate in such a parade gives them an extreme sense of pride and honour, knowing their employer values who they are as individuals and what an inclusive workforce can positively bring out in each of its members. This visibility sends a strong message throughout all of Defence that sex, sexuality and gender diverse people are included, supported and empowered to express their most authentic self, just as they feel comfortable to do.

Every year the Department of Defence contingent is complimented by the DEFGLIS contingent. This year the group paraded in unison following the lead of our primary choreographer Vince Chong supported by Nikki Rossendell. The contingent was a proud display of colour and creative movement, with as much glitter, sparkle and shine as they could muster. With the DEFGLIS contingent echoing the celebration of this year's theme: United we Shine. This showcased DEFGLIS's work building and supporting the ADF and its members to rise up to the challenges and obstacles often faced for the LGBTIQA+ community. 

The DEFGLIS contingent are a vital part to the celebration as they are made up of supportive and proud family members, peers and other military personnel wanting to stand alongside our members in uniform. DEFGLIS support really amplifies the message that together we can face the prejudice and bias that is still felt amongst the broader LGBTIQA+ community and extended toward those within the ADF.

DEFGLIS continues to be a pillar for the ADF in providing a safe space to all of its members, no matter their orientation, gender or sexuality.

 Mardi Gras was born in 1978 as a protest for LGBTIQA+ inclusion and acceptance, however these days it is more of a celebration of that community then the protest it once was. Next year we will see ‘World Pride 23’ being hosted here in Sydney. It should be noted that World Pride is the largest global LGBTIQA+ event and will be in celebrated in hand with the traditional Mardi Gras Festival. It will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride Week, the 45th anniversary of the first Mardi Gras Parade and the 5th year anniversary of Australia’s marriage equality. The theme for World Pride 23 is: Gather. Dream. Amplify.

We look forward to seeing DEFGLIS and the ADF being spotlighted as stand out contingents on the world stage next year.

I’d like to take the word “amplify” and challenge how we can use it to once again display that Defence is an organisation that prides itself on being a powerful fighting force built from an inclusive, diverse workforce that I know we are all proud to serve.


United We Shine