To shine a light on all the incredible LGBTQI executives and creatives in our industry, TIO has teamed up with Wonder founder Matt Emsell (5SOS, Matt Corby) to launch an article series. We’ll ask industry figures and artists how their sexuality and gender identity has shaped their experiences in the Australian music business. And, of course, why marriage equality is important to them.

With the final day of the Same Sex Marriage Postal Vote happening on November 7, the music industry has an important role in the discourse playing out in the public space.

We asked Matt to kick off the series…

Why are you taking part in this campaign?

Because I don’t think I have read an article in any of the industry press about the experience of being gay in the Australian music business. We need to shine a light on all the incredible LGBTQI executives and creatives in this country doing brilliant work and achieving great success. As a 23-year-old gay man starting out in the business, it would have made the world of difference to me to have read about that.

The marriage equality plebiscite. Discuss…

Ridiculous. Absurd. Hurtful. Shameful. I could go on. I respect the right of everyone to hold their own view on the issue of gay marriage. But this debate isn’t about marriage. It has inevitably become about whether or not Australia believes a gay kid should grow up and have the same rights as a straight kid.

The public nature of the debate and the vote has turned the marriage part of into an excuse for a debate about whether it’s ok to be gay. Coming out is scary enough and we as a society should be making it as easy as possible for young kids to do so. Instead, we risk creating a toxic environment.

Tell us about your experience of being LGBTQI in the Australian music industry

I moved to Australia to when I was 23. I actually took my first job at Scorpio Music working for Rebekah Campbell and so came out as a 24-year-old man trying to build a career in the industry. Rebekah was incredibly supportive and was 100% there for me , I was so lucky to have that. I found it hard because there were very few role models at the time to look up to. It was a very straight/white/male culture and still is in many ways. Around that time, Mark Poston became head of EMI and it was incredibly inspiring for me to see a gay man as a CEO of a major label.

I don’t think I ever experienced any direct discrimination but definitely found it to be a bit of a novelty to a lot of people at the time.

It made me more ambitious and determined. Growing up feeling different and like an outsider puts some fire in your belly. I like to think it gave me an edge!

What are your hopes for the next generation of LGBTQI kids hoping to break into the Aussie music industry?

So much has changed in the last 10 years. I would like to think it is becoming less and less of an issue but we clearly still have a way to go if this plebiscite is anything to go by.

I want to see more LGBTQI people in positions of influence across the industry. I want to see more Australian artists like Troye Sivan being given a major platform to create art about what it’s like to be in love with someone of the same sex. I want questions like this not needing to be asked anymore because your sexual and gender identity has become a non-issue.

If you would like to take part in this series, please email [email protected]