From a 20 year-old to an 80 year-old, a diverse group of Australians from across the nation were last night named as the year’s 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians at the second annual Same Same 25 awards.
Nicknamed the “Gaylies”, the list includes well known names like 20 year-old Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham, singer Sam Sparro, MTV host Ruby Rose and actress Portia de Rossi, as well as unsung heroes like Alice Springs policewoman Melinda Edwards, GetUp! Director Meredith Turnbull and 80 year-old activist John Challis.
According to Same Same co-founder Tim Duggan, the list was created to bring together a group of the most inspirational, aspirational and influential gays and lesbians in Australia, shining a spotlight on people and issues that should be talked about and debated, while creating the next generation of gay and lesbian role models.
“The Same Same 25 is a very important list,” he said. “The sheer range of the people who have shaped 2008 is a real testament to the year we’ve had. From inspirational feats at the Olympics to equality before the law, no matter what their age or occupation, the 25 Australians on this list have all influenced the wider community in a big way.”
The Same Same 25 was announced at a red carpet cocktail event at the Cell Block Theatre at the National Art School in Darlinghurst last night, attended by many of the 25. A heartfelt speech from the youngest member of the Same Same 25, gold medalist Matthew Mitcham was followed by one from the oldest member, 80 year-old John Challis, who spoke of the changes he has seen in his lifetime.
The awards were publicly nominated through SameSame.com.au before a panel of community leaders, including the publishers of Same Same, DNA Magazine, LOTL and Evolution Publishing, selected the 25 winners. The criteria for nomination in the Same Same 25 was that the nominated person must be an Australian citizen who has publicly acknowledged that they are gay or lesbian. They could be someone in the public eye, or a behind-the-scenes worker who is highly respected in their chosen profession.
Only four names re-appear on the Same Same 25 list for the second year in a row – Justice Michael Kirby, politicians Penny Wong and Bob Brown and author David Marr.
“Australia is at a stage where gay and lesbian people have a huge amount of influence across a number of different fields,” said Duggan. “Whether in sport, entertainment or politics, recognition for the men and women on the Same Same 25 list helps to not only applaud these individuals for their contribution to Australia in 2008, but to show the rest of society how strong, vibrant and unique our gay and lesbian community really is.”
The full 2008 list is very diverse, covering a broad range of ages, locations and fields of endeavour. There are some names people will already know and others that they won’t – but whatever the case, the Same Same 25 for 2008 is destined to once again enlighten, fascinate and spark plenty of debate.