Coming Back Out Ball 2017

When she was a young mum and her baby wouldn’t sleep, Elisabeth Bridson found herself joining a group of other young mums who also had babies who were unreliable sleepers. On some early mornings with a sleepless child, being part of a group with a similar experience made it easier.

I’d be up with a crying baby and think: ‘it’s OK, such and such is probably doing the same thing’, Elisabeth, 62, recalls.

Elisabeth says that people with similar experiences usually feel a degree of comfort being together sometimes, including seniors from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community.

Sharing similar experiences is one of the reasons Elisabeth travels around 120 kilometres most months to attend the monthly LGBTI Elders Dance Club in Fitzroy, and is excited about the pending and second annual The Coming Back Out Ball, being held this year as part of the Victorian Seniors Festival. The other reason? She loves dancing.

The monthly dances and the ball are a chance to publicly celebrate the lived experiences of elder LGBTI people who fought for LGBTI rights, to share stories and experiences; and have lots of fun, she says.

Elisabeth came out as a lesbian 28 years ago, she was a mother of five, heavily judged and ostracised by many, including some family and friends. But those experiences, as difficult as they were, are no comparison to the struggles many older gay men and older lesbians faced, she says.

Elisabeth delights that at the LGBTI Elders Dance Club, all people are welcome regardless of sexuality, race, age, religion, disability and gender.

They don’t discriminate, she laughs. Anyone is welcome.

Elizabeth says last year’s inaugural The Coming Back Out Ball was particularly special because it was in the wake of the passing of the same-sex marriage bill. The ball was amazing, she says. Not only did it have fabulous music, entertainment, food and decorations, it was such a strong and moving tribute to LGBTI elders, she says.

Tristan Meecham, artistic director of All The Queens Men, which organises the ball, hopes The Coming Back Out Ball will become an annual event on Melbourne’s social calendar as a public celebration and declaration to LBGTI elders of their worth and value, acknowledging their experience and rich lives.

The Coming Back Out Ball will be held on Thursday 25th October 2018 at the Melbourne Town Hall as part of the 2018 Victorian Seniors Festival. For Tickets and information visit the Coming Back Out Ball website.