Armidale's queer community has found a safe space at the Social Club cafe.
An estimated 100 people came to the Big Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Evening at the Armidale Social Club on Tuesday night to make new friends and socialise over tapas and enjoy live music.
"There is nothing like this in Armidale," cafe owner Caleb Harvey said. "The night was amazing; insane; crazy. No words can describe it!"
This was the first of many events Mr Harvey plans to hold - important in a town like this, he believes.
"Armidale is close-minded, and they really need to work on opening up," he said. "You don't need to look at us twice; we're just normal people walking down the street."
But many LGTBQ people still face discrimination and hostility, he said.
"The people who are not in our community, and say and do those things, don't realise that they need to make that adjustment each single day,. We live with that; that is what haunts us, what hurts us.
"That is the reason why we don't walk out on the street; that is the reason why we don't come out; and that is the reason why we have to have these events."
Mr Harvey told his guests to call him if they faced trouble.
"If there's one thing that comes out of tonight, that is that anyone who's ever scared in this town, if you're ever stuck, give me a call," he said. "This is a place where you guys can come. I want everyone to know that we've all got each other's back."
What could be done to bridge the LGTBQ and wider communities? "Acceptance is such a cliched way of answering that," he replied. "Just embrace it; we let you do you, we'll do us. It's as simple as that."
Mr Harvey will hold his next LGTBQ event in summer.
"Whoever you are, support the Social Club," he said. "We're a small business here in the Mall trying to get it up and going. Help me keep the doors open and look after us; we'll look after you in return."
The Social Club evening was Armidale's second queer event in a month. NERAM held its Winter Blooming Festival in July.
"If we learnt one thing from the festival, it was that there is a significant queer community here in Armidale," she said, "and that community wants social and cultural events and spaces that recognise, welcome, and celebrate queer people, and where people can access their own community and make new friends. I hope that we see more events in the future."
Debra O'Brien, Boobooks owner and Armidale Regional Councillor, thought it wonderful to provide a venue and events for local LGTB people.
"It is also important that the wider community supports such events to break down barriers," she said, "and make Armidale a welcoming place for LGTB people to visit or move here. I would love to see a Pride march here, as happens in Dubbo!"
The Social Club is at 171 Beardy Street, in the Mall. Call Caleb Harvey on 0432476182.