Shepparton’s Damien Stevens has been selected to join the Victorian Pride Centre Community Reference Group.
The reference group is a not-for-profit organisation that was founded in October last year and celebrates and protects equality, diversity and inclusion.
The selection process was rigorous with many people applying for a role in the group.
Fortunately, Mr Stevens was well prepared and during the past 15 years has been involved in a range of projects and initiatives across Victoria, including the Goulburn Valley Pride Group and Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gay People.
This wealth of knowledge not only helped set him apart, but will also be used as a resource during his two-year term with the reference group.
Mr Stevens said the reference group was a wonderful opportunity.
‘‘The pride centre is designed to be a hub where people from all across Victoria can really feel safe and connected to everything they need,’’ he said.
Mr Stevens said a key reason why he may have been selected to join the group was to help represent rural and regional lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
‘‘Often people think that the big cities like Sydney and Melbourne is where all the LGBTI+ people go and that we don’t live in regional, rural or remote areas, but clearly we do,’’ he said.
‘‘Many, especially young people, feel that the only life for them is to move to the cities which is certainly not true.
‘‘But we need to be reminded of that by having the voices of LGBTI+ regional and rural people on this pride centre community reference group.’’
Mr Stevens said there were many LGBTI+ people who would benefit from the Victoria Pride Centre.
‘‘There are so many groups who need a space to come and use a computer, to come and meet at a cafe, to perhaps have accommodation when they are visiting from rural and regional areas and don’t know a safe place to stay,’’ he said.
‘‘I hope the pride centre can be all of those things.’’