Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 11 June 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 11 JUNE 2016 19 Greek & Gay celebrates milestone year Donning cocktail wear, the support network will host its first Greek dinner dance ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS T wenty-one years on from the establishment of the Greek and Gay Support Network, the organisers are going back to their roots as they prepare to celebrate the exciting milestone with their first-ever Greek dinner dance. "It's not often that we get to do the traditional stuff that our parents used to do in an environment where we feel safe," the network’s chairperson John Tzimas tells Neos Kosmos. Scheduled to take place at Stars International Receptions on 25 June, so far there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the event, with half the tickets already sold. While identifying as LGBTI may not be the mainstream, Mr Tzimas says it is very much a misconception to presume those who do wish to steer clear of the other, more traditional aspects of their identity. "If anything we try and embrace them even more," he says. "I find that we're constantly thinking about things we can do to keep the culture going, even to the extent of our picnics in the past. We've had the full- on paniyiri with the lamb on the spit." The network, which is made up of the Greek and Gay Group (GGG) and Greek Australian LesbianS (GALS), was established in 1995 as a much-needed safe haven that also gave members the opportunity to meet and support each other with issues they had in common through shared ethnicity. Mr Tzimas was particularly moved by a statement from one of the group’s current members, which he believes sums up what the network is all about: "I am Greek Australian; my cultural heritage and sexuality have been the two foremost struggles and exhilarations of my life. Growing up in Melbourne, I did my utmost to integrate and hurl my way through schooling and employment. "As time progressed, I was confronted more and more with the issue of my sexuality. Confused, frightened and needing to reach out to someone who was undergoing the same struggle and who would understand the challenges from a cultural perspective, I turned to the Greek group. It provided a safe environment of care and understanding, support and guidance and has helped shape me into the person I am today. I no longer feel alone," they said. While its philosophy remains the same and group numbers are still on the rise, the chairperson admits the network has had to change its approach. Where support group meetings were run weekly, they changed to fortnightly and then monthly as the turnout started to diminish; an evolution that Mr Tzimas attributes to a more welcoming and open society and the increased number of support services available through the internet. "I think the younger ones don't need the group support as much as the older ones did 21 years ago; life has changed. People are a little bit more accepting and they have other places they can go to for assistance. "Also the online community has changed a lot of things, so you don't have to physically meet in a particular location, you can just ask questions in our forum and people will respond," he says, though he adds that the group continues to offer one-on-one support where needed. These changes have all been welcomed by the network as a way of moving forward and achieving its original objective for a more supportive and equal society. "One day we should be made redundant, because hopefully the Greek community will be more embracing and we won't have to have the segregation that we've have now − not just with our sexuality but in so many other ways," he says. In the meantime, the network is focused on keeping the momentum going with increased community engagement, with plans to work with Greek organisations in a bid to help eliminate stigma within the wider Greek community of Melbourne, along with social activities. And this year's birthday bash is sure to be one to remember, hosted by Melbourne's premier cabaret entertainer Dolly Diamond, who will share the floor with a seven-piece live Greek band and a special guest DJ who is yet to be announced, along with entertainment by the Greek Showgirls and Koula, Soula & Roula. The 21st birthday dinner dance will take place on Saturday 25 June at Stars International Reception, 1C Bell Street, Preston, VIC at 7.00 pm. For more information on the group and event details, visit www.greekandgay. com or the Facebook page www.facebook. com/greekkaigay. To purchase tickets, visit www.trybooking.com/179144 Orpheus Awards draw LAGFF to a close Maria Kavogianni, Jim Gianopulos and J.K. Simmons honoured Panos Karkanevatos' film Riverbanks is continuing on its path of success, managing to take out the top spot for best fiction feature film at this year's Orpheus Awards. The annual event, held as part of the 10th Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre, was produced by Dorothea Paschalidou, directed by Yorgos Karamihos and hosted by Mena Suvari. The ceremony was also a chance to honour chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox Jim Gianopulos and Oscarwinning actor J.K. Simmons. According to Variety, Gianopulos received an honorary award for his ongoing support of the festival. In his acceptance speech he recalled falling in love with film during his visits to New York's Cameo Theatre as a child, where he watched Greek movies once a week with his family. Simmons was also honoured for his leading role in Christopher Papakaliatis' Worlds Apart, which was the festival's closing film and which won the Audience Award. Simmons' co-star Maria Kavogianni was also recognised for best performance, while Exotica, Erotica, Etc. won best documentary film, Stagnation received the Van Vlahakis Award for best short fiction film, and Nazli Elif Durlu was awarded the MFI scholarships and Aegean Award for Zuhal. Co-founded by Ersi Danou and Angeliki Giannakopoulos in 2006, this year the LAGFF attracted its largest number of attendees in the festival's history.
4 June 2016
18 June 2016