Rackas Robinson doesn't have fond memories of the time she revealed she was gay to her friends and family.
It was 1998 in regional New Zealand. Rackas was 18-years-old.
"There was no else like me around, so it was a big deal," she said.
She says she lost a lot of friends in high school.
Rackas estimates there are about 1000 LGBTQIA+ people who are members of different groups in the Greater Port Macquarie region.
She's part of the Rainbow on the River committee, which is planning a LGBTQIA+ Mardi Gras Festival in Laurieton in June 2023. The launch party for the festival is on November 26 at the Laurieton United Services Club.
She formed the Port Macquarie Rainbow Families group, which meets monthly to support families with adoption and parenting.
And she created the Out Loud and Proud events group, which joined headspace in hosting Port Macquarie's first Queer Prom.
Rackas moved to Port Macquarie in early 2020.
She has a daughter who she wants to educate about the value of having resilience.
"She understands what a rainbow family is," she said. "Just showing her that you can have different dynamics in families; that's what she needs to grow up seeing."
According to LGBTQIA+ Health Australia, 63.8 per cent of people aged 14 to 21 have reported being diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Rackas wants all people, regardless of their sexuality or identity, to be accepted by the community.
"When I came here I wanted to find people like me," she said.
However, she struggled to find groups or places where she could go to meet other people.
Rackas said the area's groups have gained allies, but unfortunately there are some people who still aren't accepting.
"We're all part of a large community. Visibility and acceptance is important."
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