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.

Below is our Q&A with Nic Holland, the Online Media & Promotions Manager at John Watson Management & Eleven: A Music Company.

Why are you taking part in this campaign?

Visibility is always really important – and the more that things like this exist in our small world, the more we can be aware of other LGBTQI people in our industry and elevate each other to greater heights.

The marriage equality plebiscite. Discuss!

*deep sigh* It’s very unfortunate that the vote is happening at all – there should have been a free vote in Parliament, with no public involvement. As a result there’s been license for a lot of hate speech that goes beyond expression of opinion – and if it’s getting me down, it’s pretty sad to think of how the discourse might be affecting the mental health of young people.

On the flip side though, so much good is shining through and it’s been inspiring to see what we’re capable of when we open our hearts. Everything from the Equality rallies around the country, to my grandparents doing a door-knock around their retirement village forms part of a bigger, louder picture of love that we are painting for the world. I hope young people are seeing this rather than the negativity. Let’s show ‘em what we’ve got and win this by a landslide!

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

When I started out in music I remember thinking that being gay might actually put me at an advantage ha! That view was neither true nor false, and I’ve found my sexuality to be a non-issue when it comes to my ability as a professional… I’m lucky to have had employers who feel this way too.

Perhaps I’m part of the first generation to be able to navigate through the industry and have a very limited experience of discrimination? I’m thankful to the people who have come before me, who have broken down those barriers and paved the way so that I can enjoy the freedom to be myself without giving it a second thought.

That said, I wear my Pride on my sleeve and I’m very fortunate to be able to work with colleagues and artists who are not only accepting, but incredibly supportive of me as an LGBTQI individual, as well as of the community at large. You should see how many ‘YES’ posters are hanging in the Eleven offices.

I do have to mention that a high point for me was last year’s ARIA Awards… Troye Sivan winning Song of the Year for ‘Youth’, Kylie on-stage in an ‘EQUALITY’ t-shirt – they even re-played Darren Hayes singing ‘Lost Without You’! Iconic.

I hope that if there were any young people watching the ceremony that may have been struggling with their identity or thinking that they might never be accepted for who they are, that they could see the standing ovation given to Sia’s acceptance speech and know that they are not alone.

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

My hope would be that the Australian music industry continues to be a safe place for LGBTQI professionals, artists and fans. I would particularly love to see more support for our Trans brothers and sisters – imagine how amazing it would be to have a Trans person in a position of influence, to bring their unique experience to our industry! It can only make us stronger as a whole.

I do also hope that being known as an LGBTQI individual – whether others see this as a novelty or not – can continue to be worn as a badge of honour. That’s what Pride is all about!

More in this series below

:: Rachel Maria-Cox: “Being non-binary is strange when it comes to music”

:: Greg Gould: “I was told by my former label not to be ‘too gay’”

:: Todd Wagstaff: “I got left out from certain parts of the industry”

:: EMI’s Trent Titmarsh: “When I was young relatable artists were not present”

:: Caitlin McGregor (PKA Handsome): “Promoters need to remember that queer isn’t a genre”

:: Brendan Maclean: “I’ve seen managers threatening to out other managers”

:: APRA AMCOS’ Dean Ormston: “An overwhelming YES vote will go a long way”

:: 5SOS’ manager Matt Emsell: “I want to see more LGBTQI people in positions of influence”