When I came out as a gay man living and working in the West I was married with three children. There were no queer role models and no support services locally and it has been a very challenging and sometimes lonely journey. I instigated this project because I want others who are contemplating coming out to have access to stories of other queer people in their community who have become WEST AND PROUD.

I teach and practice in community development, I am a member of Hobsons Bay Council’s GLBTIQ advisory group and I have been involved in a personal artistic and professional way in creating opportunities for GLBTIQ people in the west since 2005.  Currently I am employed by RMIT as a sessional social work tutor teaching community development to 7 students across 3 councils in the North and West of Melbourne

 Bridget and Sophie Social Work students RMIT
I was delighted when Hobsons Bay City Council Libraries agreed to support two final year RMIT University Bachelor Social Work students, Bridget McLennan and Sophie Klein, both on 70-day field education placements. Beginning in July 2013, under the guidance of library and community development staff and myself the students have developed a detailed project plan, recruited expressions of interest from community members to participate in telling their stories of GLBTIQ life in the West and begun gathering historical data for a timeline events.

 By the completion of the pilot in mid-December 2013, the students and library staff will have collected a maximum of ten accounts of queer life in the West, edited into long and short documentary films. Along with the photographed archival material and historical timeline, these films will be uploaded to the WESTANDPROUD Website, currently in its development phase.

Last week it was my turn to be interviewed and filmed,I chose my studio as the location 

A special thank you to volunteer MQFF filmmaker Cait Bryan   and her colleague Dan the sound man. it was quite a different experience for  a social worker and artist like myself to be interviewed and documented ! 

There will be a huge launch including a rainbow crossing project during  Midsumma and a forum where I interview the interviewees - stay tuned for details 

Update - here is the link to the website hosted by Hobsons Bay Libraries - great night full house and I felt we were witnessing the birth of a new generation of diverse leaders in the West ! WESTANDPROUD website this gives you the background to the project

here is the actual final edited interview Interview Michael WESTANDPROUD