Mackay's "Welcome to Mackay" sign, slightly altered.

Mackay losing redneck reputation

MACKAY ain’t the redneck town it used to be.

As the community has become more open minded and accommodating, its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) population has grown.

Rainbow Youth Mackay (Mackay’s GLBT group) chairman Derryn Ridge said more and more gay people were moving to Mackay from other major cities, enticed by work opportunities in the mining and tourism industries and a tolerant and friendly social environment.

“Mackay has come a long away; we are not the redneck town that we used to be,” he said.

“It is changing, especially in the last five to 10 years with the influx of miners from cities such as Melbourne or Sydney.

“If you look back 10 years ago Mackay was losing its young gay people as they were heading to places like Melbourne or Sydney but today more people are choosing to stay on as they feel comfortable to be living here and there are opportunities here for them now.

“And I believe the population growth and what we are offering through our Rainbow Youth group, dance parties and so forth has a lot to do with it.

“With the large influx of out-of-towners, horizons have certainly been broadened and really opened the eyes of a lot of Mackay people.”

With Mackay no longer relying on the sugar industry as its main source of income, people have come from all walks of life to take up professional roles within our wide range of industries, including the mining, tourism and government department jobs that Mackay now offers.

“The stereotype of career choices is no longer there, it has changed,” Mr Ridge said. “The stereotype of a general gay person’s career is no longer a hairdresser... they are miners, bank managers; they are highly professional people.

“It’s not going to be a perfect world.

“Not everyone is going to agree with you.

“There is always going to be the old boys who are never going to change. There are people who are stuck in their ways and that’s okay as that is who they are.

“At the end of the day it is a personal option and all we are asking for is to be accepted by the community.

“We all pay our taxes and are good to our mothers; we are no different to someone who is in love with the opposite gender.”

Has Mackay trully transformed? Or has it got a long way to go to being an open-minded city? Was it ever a redneck city? Tell us what you think, leave your comments below...

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