HAVING A BALL: Red carpet event celebrates diversity
Glitter will be filling the streets of Bundaberg to embrace diversity and allow members of the LGBTIQA+ community to shine 'brite'.
The Headspace Bundaberg centre opened its doors four years ago and has been helping young people aged 12 to 25 ever since with mental health support and early intervention ever since.
Community and youth engagement officer Cristel Simmonds said the local centre then created Brite - a social gathering for the LGBTIQA+ community to come together in a safe space every Wednesday.
"Facilitated by the youth engagement committee the Brite meetups might include activities like art and craft or guest speakers but it is generally just a place to come and hang," Ms Simmonds said.
"Over the years the confidence has grown and (some of the Brite members) indicated to us that they wanted to have a school formal style of event so they can be who they want to be."
The gala ball which will feature a red carpet, photographer, dinner, entertainment and dancing will be the group's first official event and is strictly drug and alcohol free.
But above all the gala ball is an opportunity to let loose, have fun and celebrate diversity.
"I think Bundaberg is ready - we've had an overwhelming response of positivity, support and sponsorships so we're really excited," Ms Simmonds said.
"Every single person no matter their race, culture, gender or sexuality deserves to feel safe and supported - we need to walk alongside young people and support who they want to be."
While this kind of acceptance and support wasn't available once upon a time, Ms Simmonds said she strongly believes times are changing for the better and regional communities like Bundaberg have evolved.
"We've received nothing but positivity so I think the local community really stands by us in offering that support," she said.
"In my opinion the Brite Ball is the first event we've seen like this so it's exciting to be able to glitter and glam Bundy up."
Many members of the LGBTIQA+ community face challenges when exploring gender identity and sexuality making it all the more important to hold inclusive events and safe spaces.
Consisting of Headspace staff members and community champions the Brite Ball committee is made up of inspiring young people like event co-ordinator Rhys Williams.
"(The Brite Ball) is a chance for us to be truly authentic, to be who we want to be and dance how we want to dance … it's all about having a good time and knowing there is no judgment," he said.
"The queer community has always existed - now it's time to come together and for all of us to accept each other.
"Being LGBT isn't a phase or a trend … it's who we are, it's how we feel and who we want to be - we're still the same person you always knew (and) we just want to be more open and comfortable with who we are."
The Brite Ball is on July 3 at Brother's Sports Club.
Expressions of interest to attend the event are now open before tickets go on sale on May 1.
Priority tickets will be reserved for people aged 16 to 25 years old before the event is opened to older members of the community to attend.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed but will be set at an affordable price.
Event sponsors include Heritage Bank, Best Practice, Queensland Computers, Stroud Homes, Steeline Roofin Spot, Accent Psychology, Open Door Support Services, Ergon Energy, Bundaberg Regional Council and Members for Bundaberg Tom Smith and Burnett Stephen Bennett.
For more information or to register your interest click here.