After a vicious attack caused because he was wearing a dress, one queer man's bloodied face became synonymous with gay bashing in Australia.
Isaac Keatinge, 25, was physically assaulted by three men in April, on his way home from a party. Keatinge told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was targeted because he was wearing a dress, which the men mocked using homophobic and transphobic slurs.
WARNING: Image below is graphic.
"I was confronted by some straight men who didn't appreciate the gorgeous gown or make-up I was wearing," Keatinge wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post, that accompanied a selfie where he looked severely beaten and sported a black eye. The photo was circulated by various news outlets, such as Buzzfeed and ABC, which reported Keatinge needed 15 stitches after the assault.
After seeing that photo, Heaps Gay, an LGBTQI+ event organization and digital publication, wanted to help Keatinge change the narrative behind his public image.
The group threw him and his friends their very own photo shoot with photographer Bradley Tennant, with the images going public two days before International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
Heapsgay was inspired by both Keatinge and the "Keep Newtown Weird And Safe" rally, which was ignited by a string of assaults associated with homophobia in Keatinge's area.
Newtown, a neighbourhood in Sydney known for its many queer and transgender residents, experienced an influx of increase assaults which some have attributed to "lock-out laws." The bylaws enacted night curfews in surrounding areas near Newtown, leading those who want to stay outside longer to enter the suburb.
In doing the photo shoot, Keatinge wanted to emphasize that there should be no penalties for wearing any clothing, regardless of one's gender.
"The rules of gender are so heavily enforced, and I think certain groups of people have an institutionalised idea of reinforcing those norms. It’s almost like there’s a vested interest in the pecking order," he told Heaps Gay. "But the future is so bright!"
And while Keatinge was thankful for support sent to him after the assault, he was also critical of his nation's role in perpetuating oppression.
"While Australia continues to be ruled by rich white people, and continues to ignore its violent history/present of oppression and dispossession, it’s hard to have faith in the extended, arbitrary and very imagined community we call Australia," Keatinge said.
Queer, transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex individuals in Australia experience disproportionate amounts of violence than the general population, reports the Australia Human Rights Comission.
Over 85 per cent of queer, transgender, and intersex Australians have experienced abuse, harassment, and/or violence, reports a New South Wales study.
Although Keatinge wishes he could change what happened to him, he wouldn't do so if it meant he couldn't be himself.
"I would certainly have called an Uber rather then walk to the bus stop, could I change the past," he told Attn. "However, I would not change my appearance, for this would be allowing the gender terrorists to win."
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