• Sean Smith, Ollie Cotsaftis, and Kathleen Ashby. (Supplied)
The art exhibition and series of events are aimed at celebrating all things LGBTIQA+ to coincide with the marriage law postal survey.
By
Michaela Morgan

2 Nov 2017 - 12:57 PM  UPDATED 2 Nov 2017 - 12:57 PM

When Sean Smith first heard about the marriage law postal survey, he knew that he wanted to do something to lift the LGBTIQA+ community up during a difficult time. 

“When the postal survey came about, a friend of mine Ollie (Cotsaftis) and I got together,” Smith tells SBS. 

“We said, ‘This is the most ridiculous thing in the world, but if it does go ahead we should arrange some community response’. Because we were worried about the negative advertising and marketing that would come out of it.”

Although at first, the Brunswick Street Gallery director wasn’t so sure that the legalisation of same-sex marriage would be decided via snail mail. 

“To be honest, we thought it wouldn’t go ahead,” he says. 

“We were convinced the High Court was going to throw it out. So we didn’t really plan anything concrete until we woke up and found out the High Court had actually upheld it.”

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Smith and Cotsaftis (the founder and Design Director of the future ensemble) then got to work in putting together an art exhibition and a series of events to take place from November 3-19, buffering the announcement of the postal survey. 

“We thought, ‘Let’s try and organise something that is playing to our strengths and is very community-based, so we went straight to Hares and Hyena’s —which is Melbourne’s longest running queer bookshop— and straight to Minus 18— who do a lot of work with LGBTIQA+ young people. 

“We wanted to provide a space or platform for the community to decide what the events should look like’.”

The RESPECT: A Queer Affair exhibition will be opened this Friday by Greens MP Adam Bandt and will feature 60 artists who have created pieces around the theme of ‘respect’.

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“The work is stunning and it ranges from first time artists who feel passionate about the exhibition all the way through to some established artists like Caleb Shea, who’s got work at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria),” says Smith. 

"There's a bit of installation, a bit of conventional artwork, we’ve also got What Froggy Bakes, who wants to become Melbourne’s local gay wedding cake maker! So he’s doing the catering for it.”

The program also includes a Yes block party, a Queer Choir Off, an under 18s event and a performance party featuring PO PO MO CO “for all our queer, LGBTQIA+, rainbow babes, allies and friends to laugh, drink, dance, whatever the result.”

“It’s really just the community coming together out of the woodwork with all these great ideas and us just trying to make them happen,” says Smith.  

Smith adds that the event is about celebrating all things LGBTIQA+, sending out positive messages encouraging respect in all forms and to raise money for Minus 18. 

You can check out the RESPECT: A Queer Affair exhibition details here