Samuel Leighton-Dore is a multidisciplinary artist and writer based on the Gold Coast. With a keen interest in mental health and masculinity, Leighton-Dore writes for SBS Voices and produces work spanning ceramics, LED neon, illustration, animation and painting. His book of illustrations, How To Be A Big Strong Man, was released through Smith Street Books and Simon and Schuster in August 2019. His first solo exhibition, Fragile Masculinity, Handle With Care, formed part of the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival.

To quote Benjamin Law, his works are a “big-hearted, happily subversive, technicolour-hug”. 

Equality Australia Interview with Samuel Leighton-Dore: COVID19 and the LGBTIQ+ Arts Scene

Tuesday 21 April, 2020.

How has your work been impacted by COVID?

My husband and I are both creative freelancers, so our work has been impacted on a few different levels. My husband works in the film industry, so he lost 6-months of contract work overnight once the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, meaning we’ve become a single-income household for the first time in our relationship. I’ve also had a solo exhibition cancelled, which has been frustrating and expensive, given the associated upfront costs. However, most unsettling of all has been the general uncertainty that now hangs over several of my longtime working relationships — not knowing whether the clients I depend on to make a living will have the means to hire me for much longer.

Why are cultural events so important for LGBTIQ+ people during isolation?

I feel like cultural events have always been so vital for community groups, particularly those with a history of being marginalised or disenfranchised. But this is the case even more-so now. Because LGBTIQ+ culture isn’t readily celebrated or taught in the Australian mainstream, so much of our connection, purpose, sense of history and ‘queer education’ comes from gathering with the diverse members of our community for cultural events. Moving these events online is necessary at this time, but also highlights the general lack of accessibility long discussed in the ‘Before Covid’ times, particularly by those with disability or chronic illness. I’m hoping once this is all over, we’ll be able to incorporate some of these more accessible components into a new normal. 

What’s one thing that’s been helping you get through this period?
Honestly, not having a choice.

What does equality mean to you?
It means that Jeff Bezos probably shouldn’t be making $17,000 per *second* while others are buried in unmarked mass graves because their families can’t afford a proper funeral. It means that housing is a right. A basic wage is a right. Healthcare is a right. Marriage is a right. Equality is not caring more about those on the top than those on the bottom.

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