A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and an award-winning podcast

A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and award-winning podcast

302 Nadine Chemali – Gay Soundtrack

Nadine shares a collection of tales from a queer life.

Nadine Chemali is a writer, researcher and social worker. She is dedicated to creating and nurturing communities, facilitating discussions on identity, sexuality, displacement and representation, discourse she feels was missing from her own migrant upbringing in Australia. She has written for publications like SBS Voices, The Big Issue, The Guardian and has spoken at events like Melbourne Writers Festival and Brisbane Feminist Festival.


Maeve: Hi, I’m Maeve Marsden and you’re listening to Queerstories. If you can spare a few bucks each month to help me continue to produce this podcast, because you love it, or you love me, please check out Queerstories on Patreon and consider supporting the project. Also, follow Queerstories on Facebook for upcoming events, pics and other good shit.

Nadine Chemali is a writer, researcher and social worker. She is dedicated to creating and nurturing communities, facilitating discussions on identity, sexuality, displacement and representation, discourse she feels was missing from her own migrant upbringing in Australia. She has written for publications like SBS Voices, The Big Issue, The Guardian and has spoken at events like Melbourne Writers Festival and Brisbane Feminist Festival.


I’m going to share some very Brisbane stories about myself and my life.

I became a teenager in the 1990s, a time when lesbians were routinely called ‘dyke’ and the worst insult you could use was ‘lemon’. Women were just starting to come out and almost none of them were femme. In 1993 Melissa Etheridge professed she had a female partner, in 1997 Ellen DeGeneres declared her lesbianism to Oprah and KD Lang reclined in a barber’s chair to be shaved by a swimwear clad Cindy Crawford. 

You were one or the other on the sexual binary. You liked men or you liked women. There were no out bisexuals and there was nothing in between. The word queer hadn’t been reclaimed yet, it was a word that was spat out only as an insult.

In Brisbane, if you were queer, I like to think you were a part of something I like to call ‘the big relationship’. It is what every single person has been in at some point. It’s this web of lust and loathing creeping its way across the great south east.

The fourth time I ever had sex, was when I realised I was fucking our whole city. The person I had sex with was sleeping with a girl, one of our best friends, she was having sex with a guy I absolutely loved with all my heart, who I also went on to sleep with and I was also sleeping with her. I think both the boys had slept with another girl, a girl who’s little sister was dating the girl I lost my viginity to but at the time she was dating a guy that years later went on to have a child with the girl from the original story. It was like the summer of love… without the 70’s… and it spanned years. So it was nothing like the summer of love. I called it ‘the big relationship’ because we really did have this big love for each other and we were all fucking. 

What better to accompany this, than with a soundtrack. So I’m going to present to you some of my queerest moments as told to you by the soundtrack that was playing.

The first one, for the lesbians is Ani Di Franco.

In 1997, my strict Arab parents had banned me from hanging out with boys for fear I would lose my V Plates become pregnant, ruin my reputation, shame my family, disappoint my elders and inevitably ruin my life. I did end up doing all of those things, at 40.

Little did they know all they were doing was creating a perfect little avenue for me to get my gay on. 

Penelope was a year older than me in our first year of uni, she wore docs and cargo pants with tight bonds tshirts, sleeves cut off so you could see her appropriately furry pits, she had a perfectly appropriated dread lock in her hair (just one), she was obsessed with Tori Amos and would walk around campus clutching her acoustic guitar, ready to serenade any unsuspecting young virgin into removing their underwear, and boy was she successful. 

She picked me up from my parents’ house one balmy Thursday evening, and we stopped at maccas and had some cones, smoked from a coke a cola can with holes punched in it using my earrings, we grabbed fries but no burgers because as baby blossoming lesbians we had to keep as vegetarian as possible. 

We drove to the most romantic place Brisbane has to offer, the Kangaroo Point cliffs. Penelope had a tape deck in her car and just before she turned to me she pressed play on it, and Ani Di Franco’s living in clip album started playing. 

There, overlooking the blinking lights of our tiny city, amongst the smell of drunken man piss, gazing upon the bridge upon which countless people have jumped to their death, Penelope put her hand in my pants in the front seat of her burnt orange Datsun. 

Whilst you think THAT may have been my most queer Ani moment, it wasn’t. It was in fact when Penelope told me that she “didn’t see me that way” and that we were “just friends”. My teenage heart was DEVASTATED. It was actually the night I sat sobbing, clutching her favourite drink (it was chamomile tea), drenched in the smell of west end lesbian hippie (its rose geranium and sandalwood contrary to the belief it is patchouli), singing my heart out to untouchable face. Those words  Tell you the truth I prefer the worst of you, Too bad you had to have a better half, She’s not really my type, But I think you two are forever, And I hate to say it, but you’re perfect together, So fuck you, And your untouchable face, Fuck you. 

And look years later I still listen to that album and remember that time of my life, one of my first big crushes, where I wasn’t emotionally literate enough to understand that sex and love weren’t the same thing. 


The second one might come as a bit of a shock. Black Sabbath. I had started seeing this white guy, listens to a lot of heavy doom, metal, stoner type music and on our second date his youtube playlist switches from the heavy sludge of the melvins, to of all things the Black Sabbath live album. Doesn’t sound too queer I know, white man, black sabbath, sex, probably sounds like the straightest fuck you can get on Tinder in Brisbane. It was so typical in fact I think my partner had that playlist picked out so he could impress upon his dates an orgasm as track five (electric funeral) peaked. 

Side note – does anyone here know me from the internet? Like actually – does anyone know my online persona? Ok and what is my title on the internet? Daddy? 

This was the night daddy was born and I had one of my queerest sex moments.

We started making out, I was really FEELING MY SELF. But like literally, I stopped making out with my partner and started feeling myself. I had an inkling that this was some sort of well practiced routine for my partner, there was something about the rhythm of it all, the lights turned down, the candles on, an actual sheet on the mattress on the floor, it was too fucking rehearsed. 

So I flipped it, got on top, forced his arms down, pinned him, kissing him hard. I proceeded to grab a big bright pink dildo from my handbag, and I fucked him with it whilst performing upon him an oral sex and wristie, by track two I had thrown the dildo across the room and was in there with two fingers, deep, hard YOU WANT TO COME yes yes please let me cum CALL ME DADDY I yelled. 

It wasn’t track five that found that peaking crescendo of cum upon us, but track three, as ozzy yells WE LOVE YOU WE LOVE YOU ALL my partner shook with such ferocity I genuinely thought he was having some sort of stroke. 

We lay there afterward, exhausted, sticky, gross. He looked at me very very seriously and I was a little worried, had I crossed a boundary? Was the daddy stuff TOO MUCH?? Was he not ready for anal play? Fuck what about consent I mean I kinda asked with my body language and he seemed really fuckin into it but what if I did something wrong fuckkkkk

And he goes “I like black sabbath, like, they’re good. But now I need to get a sabbath tattoo to commemorate tonight. That was the best fucking experience of my life oh my fucking god, like even if we don’t stay together I NEED THIS MOMENT MEMORIALISED ON ME FOREVER I DON’T THINK I HAVE EVER CUM THAT HARD IN MY LIFE”.

And so, a few days later, he got a black sabbath tattoo on his arm. He is here tonight, and if you come over after the show, Daddy here will ask him to show you his tattoo because it is hilarious that Black Sabbath and I have changed one humans life forever, together. 


Okay so I mean I was queer in the 90s so it made total sense for this to be a song on my list. But in the summer of 2006 I went back to my homeland of Lebanon to visit my cousins, reconnect with my culture, escape my life failures. 

In my own culture your entire identity as a woman was defined by your femininity. My aunts would tell me to never leave the house without lipstick or high heels if I wanted to be respected.

Lesbians were never Lebanese.

My Middle Eastern community was too conservative for me. My cousins lived at home till they met the person they were going to marry. I often sported blue hair, I liked heavy metal and I ran away from home.  They did not understand my black boots, my love of music festivals and obsession with foreign film. None of the boys in my community wanted me and I certainly did not want any of them.

Imagine my fucking mind blowing excitement like EARTH SHATTERING BRAIN BOMB when one night at the most boring normie nightclub called Skybar surrounded by Jasmin from Aladdin barbies in downtown Beirut my cousin turns to me and goes FUCK THIS PLACE WE NEED SOME FAG LOVE. Look it’s a slur, but my cousin was apparently gay as hell. He shoved me into a service (taxi) and before I knew it was shoving me back out into what seemed like…. A bomb shelter? There in the middle of a seemingly abandoned carpark there was a staircase, at the bottom of that staircase a huge metal door. I pushed the door open and was hit by a wall of sound and bass *makes bass noise* 

Flashing strobe lights, sound so thick you could feel it in your chest and everywhere the eye could see…. Queers. It was the most gleeful thing I had ever seen or felt in my life, I was giddy and drunk and not just from the tequila. Every time I saw my cousin I SCREAMED WHAT IS HAPPENING whilst hysterically laughing – I danced and danced till everything hurt and then suddenly the DJ started doing something with the music, building it up and slowing it back down, leading the room into a trance, fucking ecstatic, then as music of some song built into a crescendo there was a loud bang and the lights went out and everything went absolutely silent. 

These were people that had been traumatised by a war. The power would cut out all too often, the entire room was absolutely still, sweat, heat, anxiety off the back of the elation of dancing hung in the air for what felt like one 




Then, the scream of Delores ZOMBIE ZOMBIE ZOMBIE erupts and the lights flash and the whole bunker goes absolutely freaking wild. The song gets mixed into some bananas bass line and the crowd erupts into life around me,

I look around me and everyone is kissing, jumping, humping, rubbing against one another in the most absurd mess of humanity, lipstick, glitter, tequila, sweat just passing from himan to human and im standing there in the middle, shaking, laughing, crying, absurdly terrified and excited. 

Lebanon for me had been home, but it had been a place I left as a child during a war, my memories there were marred by violence, by terror, by religion and restriction. 

Never in a million years did I envision that I would be there in a bomb shelter full of queers off my head dancing to a techno version of an irish rock song ten years after it was released- watching people kiss and hug and hump and break every rule we ever knew in abject delight flaunting our freedom and courage in survival and willingness to love how and who we wanted. 

There are so many songs I could add to this list, Bjork, Portishead, Air, Sepultura (no really), BIFTEK were a girl duo part of clan analogue that played right here in this very venue once, when I was on a date with someone that was a love that taught me so much about myself, and I fingered her later amongst the moreton bay figs that line the playground in the park outside. 

So goodnight my sweet partners in the big relationship. I love you all and look forward to fingering many of you to many soundtracks in the future

Maeve: Thanks for listening. Check out queerstories.com.au for more episodes and please follow Queerstories on Facebook for news and event updates.

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Queerstories is produced by Maeve Marsden and recorded by wonderful technicians at events around the country. Editors and support crew have included Beth McMullen, Bryce Halliday, Ali Graham and Nikki Stevens.