To shine a light on all the incredible LGBTQI executives and creatives in our industry, TIO has teamed up with Wonder founder Matt Emsell (5SOS, Matt Corby) to launch an article series. We’ll ask industry figures and artists how their sexuality and gender identity has shaped their experiences in the Australian music business. And, of course, why marriage equality is important to them.

With the final day of the Same Sex Marriage Postal Vote happening on November 7, the music industry has an important role in the discourse playing out in the public space.

Below is our Q&A with Dean Ormston, who after 20-years at APRA AMCOS, recently accepted the role of CEO. He’ll replace outgoing Chief Brett Cottle in June.

Why are you taking part in this campaign?

It’s an absolute no brainer. Whether or not you want to get married, you should have the choice. For many people marriage reflects the strength and legitimacy of their mutual commitment – to each other, friends and family and the wider community.

I’ve been with my partner (obviously a bloke) for 16 years. For much of that time marriage hasn’t been something we’ve discussed a lot, or necessarily felt was an imperative.

But two years ago my partner proposed to me, unexpectedly and in front of 80 people at my 50th birthday. It came as a shock both to me and everyone else in the room. My immediate and lasting thought was  – wow, you really do want to be with me! Proposing publicly and having friends and family present to witness was wonderful. For the first time I think I actually appreciated why people get married. The public declaration is very powerful.

So of course it’s a bit of a downer when the next thought is – we can’t legally get married in Australia. My partner is a Kiwi and that progressive bunch have been happily marrying gays for years, and with only economic upsides from what I can see. It’s insulting that we can’t marry locally and that’s why I’m actively supporting the marriage equality campaign, attending rallies, and voting YES!

The marriage equality plebiscite. Discuss!

Marriage is a construct of the State and accordingly it is my strong view that our political leaders should do what they’re paid to do and rectify the discriminatory nature of the Marriage Act. We shouldn’t be in the midst of a $122m plebiscite. But there is a plebiscite and so we all do need to vote. We should collectively use the opportunity to show that the vast majority of Australians are tolerant, open-minded and accepting of diversity in the community.

Tell us about your experience of being LGBTQ in the Australian music industry

I am very fortunate. I can honestly say I have never personally experienced any overt discrimination in the time that I’ve worked at APRA AMCOS or from the wider music industry. As a younger person coming into the industry it was very reassuring to know or be aware of other ‘out’ LGBTQI people. I think we all look to role models or mentors as reference points in our personal and professional development. And I think this is perhaps even more important to LGBTQI people in feeling accepted.

What are your hopes for the next generation of LGBTQ kids hoping to break into the Aussie music industry?

I would hope that as in industry we’re already open, inclusive and embracing of diversity. I am also a realist – no doubt there’s a way to go before before young LGBTQI kids – whether artists, songwriters or working in the industry – will feel comfortable knowing that their sexuality is not a barrier to progressing their career. An overwhelming YES vote for marriage equality will go a long way to providing that surety.

5SOS’ manager Matt Emsell: “I want to see more LGBTQI people in positions of influence”

If you would like to take part in this series, please email poppy.reid@seventhstreet.media