A woman smiles at the camera. Her pink tshirt says She Shapes History

Sita Sargeant, Capital of Equality grant recipient.

12 October 2023

A passionate researcher and storyteller, Sita Sargeant successfully applied for a Capital of Equality grant through the ACT Government’s Office of LGBTIQ Affairs.

She is using the funding to produce a queer history podcast which she expects to publish by the end of the year.

In 2021, the founder of She Shapes History began organising walking tours around Canberra after noticing an absence of easily accessible women’s history in the ACT.

In addition to a ‘Badass Women of Canberra’ tour and a ‘Spies in the Capital: Women in Espionage’ tour, She Shapes History runs weekly LGBTQIA+ History of Canberra tours, bringing the city’s queer secrets out of the closet.

Sita brings gems of insight from the tour to the recording studio. There will be six half-hour – or “commute-length” – episodes of the podcast.

Sita’s fellow She Shapes History guide Zev Aviv co-presents the podcast, bringing a trans perspective to the conversation.

Each episode will dive into the history of an iconic site of queer Canberra history and will feature an interview with someone who has contributed to the social fabric of queer Canberra.

The Capital of Equality Grants Program aims to support and strengthen Canberra’s LGBTIQ+ communities.

Funding is available across three streams:

  • Connection Fund
  • Partnerships and Capacity Building
  • LGBTIQ+ Leadership.

“I don’t think the podcast would have been possible without a Capital of Equality grant,” Sita said.

“It has allowed us to pay for all the recording equipment. As a small business I’m not sure we could have justified the spend otherwise.”

But perhaps most importantly for Sita, the grant ensures she can pay her guests for their time.

“There are so many queer people whose emotional labour is exploited time and time again. It just wouldn’t have aligned with our values as a business not to pay them for speaking with us,” she said.

Sita says a lot of queer history is white and under-documented, and conflicting views abound.

“Queer history is especially interesting in Canberra, and both the tour and podcast offer an interesting insight into our city in a way you wouldn’t expect,” she said.

“We invite people to the podcast who are active in the queer community today or were in the past. We create a space for them to share their story, which we then use as a starting point to delve into the history of key queer landmarks in Canberra. We find that this is a really engaging way to get the history across and to help people feel more connected to Canberra.

“A woman named Sam Edwards features in one episode, for example, and she’s a cornerstone of Canberra’s queer community,” Sita said.

“She helped establish the first SpringOUT Pride Festival and moved here at a time when it was quite uncommon to be out. She helped get Canberra’s queer scene up and running. Hers is a great episode.”

As well as recording the podcast, running She Shapes History and working another part-time job, Sita is going from strength to strength, having landed a book deal to write a women’s history travel guide to Australia.

She found the Capital of Equality grant application process simple and said she received a lot of support along the way.

“This grant was the second I’d applied for – I was unsuccessful the first time, and I took away some key learnings from that. I’d really encourage people to apply for a grant, but not to be discouraged if they don’t get it the first time,” Sita said.

Capital of Equality grants are open until 22 October 2023.

Find out more or apply for a grant on the Office of LGBTIQ+ Affairs website.

Four people look at the ground - some are crouching down.

A She Shapes History tour in progress

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