Let's Talk: Queer visibility with Georgie Poort

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Let’s Talk: Visibility in the community is Georgie Poort’s main priority. Photo by Megan Fisher

It’s hard to miss Georgie Poort and it’s not just because of her bright personality — more so the rainbow that follows her everywhere she goes.

Being raised in Rochester, Georgie said she never saw anyone like herself in the small town.

Now, as a queer 32-year-old, she’s making sure she stands out for those who need a guiding light.

“I feel that being out isn’t just being myself, it’s actually verbalising that, it’s showing that I am,” she said.

“So I think for me, I try to show that I’m part of community where I can ... wearing badges, having a brightly coloured umbrella, all of those things, which I think is what people are often looking for and that’s what I was looking for as a young person.”

Going by she/her pronouns, Georgie lives by the notion of “we can’t be what we can’t see”.

In her work in the LGBTQIA+ advocacy space, working mainly with youth, she said her priority was to give the community “a seat at the table” to be recognised and seen in regional areas.

But as she’s learnt, exploring the complexities and nuance of intersectionality doesn’t stop just at her work.

Although being “out and proud” is a part of her journey and identity, she recognises everyone highlights their pride in different ways.

“You shouldn't always have to walk around with something rainbow on your person to be seen as being queer,” she said.

“I just knew that I didn't see that growing up, so I try to highlight that to other people so that people go, ‘yeah, cool, she's out and proud and just herself, and it's not a big deal’.“

Georgie moved to Shepparton at 18 and while she’s openly out now, she said her journey hadn’t always been straightforward.

Standing out: “I try to show that I’m part of community where I can,” Georgie says. Photo by Megan Fisher

She said the Campaspe region was a “wonderful place to grow up” but in a town with a population of only a few thousand, she didn’t experience the nuances of being in a more diverse city.

“I didn't really know that I did identify until I left school and had relationships and experiences, because I would say that being in a small town, it was, I guess, quite sheltered,“ she said.

“So everybody just played netball, football and had boyfriends and girlfriends of opposite gender, and it was very, you know, black and white.

“I suppose sheltered is the right word because whilst I was loved and supported, I didn't know that you could exist in other ways.”

Having been a 1980s baby, Georgie reflected that she didn’t have access to resources the youth of today do when growing up, and while she said it wouldn’t necessarily be easier to grow up in this day and age, times weren’t as progressive when she was young.

Only with age did she realise she had internalised aspects of homophobia from her surroundings.

“(Coming out) there was that sense of hatred and discomfort with yourself, just because of lack of exposure, of lack of visibility, and also, because that's how the world and society was,” she said.

Similarly, having a disability, Georgie said she was grappling with the concept of intersectionality — of existing within more than one space.

“I think that I often reflect that I'm really proud of my queer identity, and not so proud of my disabled identity,” she said.

Country life: Georgie grew up in Rochester before moving to Shepparton at 18. Photo by Megan Fisher

“I feel like I have quite a bit of internalised ableism, where I almost haven't quite grasped that I have a disability, whereas I’ve worked really hard to go ‘woo, this is my queer identity’.

“But I think that any layers to your personality, to your identity, they take that constant work.“

While acknowledging her privilege in that she can safely be herself in the spaces of work and, for the most part, in everyday life, Georgie said she felt there was still room for change.

Much of which would start with greater representation.

“I still do look for a person that might be in a leadership or a management role that has a disability, that is also queer, that also lives in the country,” she said.

“I think that those layers of intersectional visibility don't exist yet and that's what I would like to see in the future.

“But I guess as well, we also have to understand that not everybody unpacks their full self at work, there's probably lots of people that could exist like that, that you're just not aware of, but that always, for me, it ties back to ‘you can't be what you can't see’.

“And like it's not just seeing visibly, but it's knowing someone, and so if you can't know that about that person, how can you ever aspire to be like them?“

Beaming: A rainbow follows Georgie everywhere she goes. Photo by Megan Fisher