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 Rachel Maria-Cox, a Newcastle-based artist, founder of record label and booking agency Sad Grrrls Club, and organiser of the national Sad Grrrls Festival.

Why are you taking part in this campaign?

To me, marriage equality is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting legal recognition and protection of the rights of LGBTQI+ People. I’m taking part because I know we have such a long way to go after this, and if this fails then we set our entire country back and put some of our most vulnerable at further risk.

The marriage equality plebiscite. Discuss!

I’m Non-binary, I’m attracted to people of all genders (pansexual) and I’m also a Catholic. I’ve always loved the idea of marriage even as I started to explore ethical non-monogamy and I still have always wanted to get married some day.

Being NB in this sort of ‘debate’ is difficult because by virtue of being neither male nor female, every relationship I’m in is inherently a queer one. So the debate has been rife with NB erasure, trans erasure, and it’s also been very isolating for me as someone who’s both Catholic and Pro marriage equality.

It took a real toll on my mental health because so much of the debate is making it simple for people – “it’s just an issue of letting people in same-sex relationships do the same things you can”, “it’s not about safe schools or making people trans” etc. etc. But in doing so I felt myself being erased entirely from the conversation. It’s tough, I know it’s been tough on everyone but I think it’s important we don’t isolate anyone from this cause.

In this debate one thing is clear: the way to convince people to vote yes is to listen to them. Listen to their fears and their beliefs and be open to that. Marriage equality is nothing to be afraid of, but you don’t get that message across by yelling at people who are already afraid.

That said, please stop fucking skywriting the word ‘No’. Like, we get it, you have money.

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

Being non-binary is strange when it comes to music. You sit in this like, awkward spot between ‘women in music’ and ‘LGBTQIA’ and kinda don’t fit neatly into either because gender is not sexuality, but also my gender is not female. It’s almost like wherever I go in the music industry I have to carve a space for myself and then worry about pushing my way into somewhere I don’t belong.

In a nutshell, my experience being non-binary is just constant misgendering. In music and in daily life. It’s exhausting.

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

I hope they don’t have people constantly assume their gender, I hope they don’t have to be victims of violence or misgendering or other microaggressions. To make art you need to feel safe and I hope that they always feel safe enough to make music.

Rachel Maria-Cox upcoming show dates

Solo – Sad Grrrls Fest Brisbane 2017 – Saturday November 4th
Band – Sad Grrrls Fest Melbourne 2017 – Saturday November 11th
Band – Sad Grrrls Fest Sydney 2017 – Saturday November 18th
Solo – Lincoln le Fevre & the Insiders – Lombi’s Farewell Show! – Saturday November 25th in Melbourne!

More in this series below

:: 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”