Understanding Colonialism and Indigenous sexualities

The introduction of queer theory in Australian Indigenous contexts presents powerful possibilities and challenging complexities; for the building of new histories, the inhabiting of the historical space, the “queering” of ideas of blood, family, community and lineage, and the limits of “being” and “doing” as they relate to bodies and genders.

Queer First Nations people in settler-colonial contexts, particularly in Turtle Island, have begun to drawn on Queer theory to extend their understandings of colonialism and Indigenous sexualities. It calls into question the politics of reclaimation; of language, history, and embodiment, and demands a reading of Indigenous gender and sexuality under regimes of global colonialism.

With these histories in mind, this introduction and our collection theorise gender, sexuality, and settler colonialism by advancing beyond similar scholarship in colonial studies. For some time now, the very ubiquity of feminist and queer accounts in colonial studies has appeared to explain gender and sexuality in settler-colonial situations.

A group of Tiwi Island sistagirls are heading to the Sydney Mardi Gras for the first time.

Indigenous queers in Australian are going through a crisis of ‘recognition’ which bears some similarity to this. While the politics of the Recognise1 campaign for constitutional recognition are hotly debated within Indigenous communities, trans Aboriginal people are also beginning to articulate our identities within the colonial queer and trans communities in which we live and relate.

Indigenous people globally are concerned with how research about us and involving us is conducted. Being a part of both queer and trans non-Indigenous community and the Indigenous community, collaboration and relationships are a necessary part of life. It feels like the space around us in Australia is expanding, even while existing government supports for Indigenous run services, mental health and suicide prevention, and anti-discrimination measures is torn down more every day.

The community makes room. Collaboration, solidarity and intersectional organising are sore points I don’t think I know how to grapple with yet. Non-Indigenous trans woman Starlady’s appearance during TEDx Sydney2 , speaking of her work in collaboration with Indigenous people, for example, provoked debate among the trans and Aboriginal communities about the nature of collaboration and solidarityin particular, whether the trans community or the Indigenous community could better speak for Indigenous Trans/Sistergirl and Brotherboy community, and whether certain kinds of relationships could be ‘approved’. Indigenous people (including cis people) are rightly protective of Indigenous knowledge and suspicious of any and all claims of “engagement” and “consultation” coming from non-Indigenous people.

Source: Indigenous Subjectivity in Australia: Are we Queer?


Black Rainbow are currently offering community micro-grants to self-identifying LGBQTI people of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. These micro-grants are to the value of $300 and include $200 to assist with hosting Indigenous LGBQTI community events.  They also include Black Rainbow merchandise, including t-shirts.


ACON is working to help improve the sexual health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, sistergirl/transgender or living with HIV. We do this by providing culturally sensitive HIV and sexual health education, including:

  • HIV and STI education campaigns targeting Aboriginal people including our Aboriginal gay men’s HIV testing campaign
  • Arts-based community development activities in partnership with Aboriginal Community organisations
  • Outreach at selected community events such as NAIDOC Week events
  • Partnership activities with Aboriginal health organisation such as the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW
  • Support for NSW Aboriginal Sexual Health Workers

Visit: www.facebook.com/AboriginalProjectACON

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