Introducing Milly, the star of our third and final Free to Be story, a series exploring the experiences of three young people in relation to living, working and hanging out in Melbourne. Milly is a participant in our Youth Activist Series (YAS!) and was one of the young people who took decision makers on a guided tour of Melbourne recently as part of our International Day of the Girl activities. Mill is the new Head of Trans and Gender Diverse outreach at Minus18 - congrats! We headed out to some live music venues with Mill and were lucky enough to hear Mill play ourselves - what a treat!

WARNING: This content may be triggering.
If reading this has been upsetting in any way, you can talk to your GP or call 1800 RESPECT.

My name is Milly. I am a non-binary feminist - non-binary meaning I identify outside of conventional gender binaries, male and female.

My friends would describe me as very over-zealous, opinionated and I think that they would say that I am an absolute goof, but definitely very loving and supportive.

Mill Portrait - Free To Be
Mill Portrait - Free To Be

I am 24 years old, born and bred in Melbourne. I grew up on the northside in Northcote and was very engaged in arts community stuff from a very young age.

I am a blues guitarist. I have been playing since I was little — since I was nine actually! — so my first love is definitely music. I play in a few different bands, I’m about to record my first album, it’s all really exciting.

When I was young, my favourite singer was Avril Lavigne… and that hasn’t changed! I’m not even ashamed about it because she is amazing.

Her album Let Go actually changed my life. Those feelings of being a young girl in the world and not being taken seriously, and being shut down by the boys… she gave us all the anthems.

Avril Lavigne - Free To Be 

I love Melbourne’s queer feminist punk scene - it’s absolutely popping off at the moment and it’s the coolest place to be because you are allowed to have so much to say and say it very loudly.

One of the most highly sought after DJs in town at the moment is a trans person called Brooke Powers  -  they’re phenomenal!

It’s really cool to see venues actively supporting the little cultural storms that happen in queer communities. They’re not just treating it like: Diversity ✔️

Mill Performing - Free To Be
Fashion Journal feature by Jordan Drysdale | Gig time at the Wesley Anne

Melbourne gives itself a big pat on the back for being an incredibly multicultural place, but there are only isolated spaces that actually celebrate that.

My favourite parts have always been Collingwood, Fitzroy, Northcote and Preston (it’s really hard to escape my little Northside bubble) but I’m finding less to love about them as they become more gentrified and a bit more... whitewashed, I suppose.

“I’ve found myself escaping to Footscray a lot recently. It is incredibly multicultural, and it actually engages with its multiculturalism instead of just allowing it.”

Footscray is an amazing place because it’s a place where I can go and not be as visible and not be the centre of attention.

Mill in Melbourne city - Free To Be
Rat bag reppin’ city slicker edition

I was sexually assaulted in a bar along Bourke Street.

I won’t say which one, but it was quite a traumatic experience, not in the assault itself, but in the time post, where I really had to fight for anyone to listen to me.

He wasn’t removed from the venue, I was removed from the venue because I was making too much of a scene about it. When the police got involved, I was practically almost bribed to stop talking about it.

“It really wasn’t the assault that upset me. It was the lack of support and lack of care. You just really get to know your place in a situation like that.”

Mill at home - Free To Be
Kitchen boi ft. beautiful natives

In the city you have these bars and venues that have completely unregulated crowds. Managers and the venues are more concerned about mass and getting as many people through the door. They’re less concerned about actually helping you in a situation that is volatile or traumatic.

“It really breeds this mentality that people are entitled to behave however they like. And that is justified by the lack of enforcement or accountability.”

Mill at concert - Free To Be
Femme Punk party at The Tote, The best Sunday Sesh

What queer communities do really well is help each other.

The internet is a really amazing (and terrifying) place. As a queer person, I don’t know how anyone survived before it!

Before I go out somewhere, I will do a quick check of what’s cool and what people have said about a venue. People might write “Hey the security staff are really trans friendly, really supportive of women and are non-aggressive,” or “The venue doesn’t have gender neutral bathrooms but there is a lot of queer positivity in this space”.

It’s a really beautiful thing. Where there are holes, we fill it with our own support and information systems. There are thousands of threads and groups on Facebook. And there are organisations like Listen who advocate for safety — uncompromised safety — for minorities and women in these venues.

With this crowd sourcing tool Free To Be we are given the opportunity to contribute to Melbourne’s future -  to tell others what this space means to us. It creates a forum and I think this is so exciting.

“This is a really small but beautiful revolution in giving people the power, giving that power back, so if you are thinking of contributing to this, every story matters and every access point counts.”

Mill at home - Free To Be
Surfing the world wide webs