9 min read

Interview with Caroline Layt

Is this Queensland in the 20s?
Anubhav Chakraborty

June 10, 2021 9 min read

It is a film that explores Queensland with a particular local focus at the Sunshine Coast’s Rainbow Beach, where Team Rainbow’s inclusive painting of the Rainbow Stairs was hijacked by another group graffiti-ing their own message “How Good Is Living” on those same stairs.

The occurrences over a period of 18-24 months is explored in this documentary, through a series of interviews and a timeline of events.

It is the director’s first attempt at producing/directing a documentary and she felt this story needed to be told, as she feels there’s still much to be done before inclusion of LGBTIQ people and other minority groups extends universally to regional areas in Australia.

Caroline is an alumna of Macleay College, graduating with her Bachelor of Journalism in 2018.


Caroline Layt

She’s a trans woman who currently writes as a freelance journalist, including having recent articles published by Pink Advocate.

She’s also a former fitness instructor and is a Trans Athlete; former representative women’s rugby player, a medalist at World Masters Athletics Championship level, she also plays women’s grade cricket and recently took up lawn bowls.


Talk to us about your love for movies. The movies that still inspire you and directors you would like to emulate.


There’s so many, where do I start? Shawshank Redemption and the Green Mile by Frank Darabont, then you have Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson and their very successful assortment of films.

I love JJ Abrams work as in my eyes he redefined movie making with the way he tells those stories through his movies.

I recently watched Clueless again with my mother and it was directed by Amy Heckerling and we both loved it.

They’re all fantastically talented directors and they all inspire me along with many others I haven’t named, but also from a documentary perspective it’s interesting as Dr Darryl Gauld OAM who was an interviewee talent in my documentary, “Is this Queensland in the 20s?” called me and excitedly said after watching one of Michael Moore’s documentaries that I make film’s similar to his, which I took as a huge compliment.

But, yes I have attempted to base my work similar to Moore’s, as I like the way he goes about his work and how he asks the hard questions.

Recent works I’ve really enjoyed are 1917 directed by Sam Mendes and Most Promising Woman directed by Emerald Fennell.

As for LGBTQIA films I recently loved Netflix’s Disclosure directed by Sam Feder and Holding the Man directed by Neil Armfield.


It would be a cliché but I would still go ahead and ask you. Could you discuss the trajectory of love in its various dimensions?


Human love and emotions can be many things, but I’d have to say the most powerful love is unconditional love, where a person is loved regardless of their station in life or if people don’t quite understand them or what they’re about, yet they love them anyway.

This can be seen in family settings all across our wonderful world.

A personal example: I’m a Trans Woman and my parents don’t always understand the reasons why I’m Trans, but over time they’ve realised I’m still the same person after I transitioned and they still love me regardless.

Also, love isn’t a final destination and is a series of stops along the way. Our emotions change as we go along in life and what fits today might not fit in the future and this can be quite true, especially in regards to romantic love.

Still, there are many happily married couples – heterosexual and LGBTQIA – in the world and they survive the many trials and tribulations the world has to offer and they stay strong and united and this shows unconditional love can conquer all if people open their hearts and accept that none of us are perfect human beings.


Is this Queensland in the 20s?
What is the significance of Rainbow Beach? Why do you think it has turned into a tourist attraction?


Rainbow Beach is the town and gateway closest to Queensland’s beautiful island and holiday playground; the heritage listed Fraser Island.

Is this Queensland in the 20s?It has some significance on that score alone, but it also has many of its own beautiful features due to the Carlo sand blow and its rainbow coloured sands, hence the name Rainbow Beach. It also has beautiful scenery all around it.

Is this Queensland in the 20s?
As Phill Horne (another interviewee in ITQIN20s?) said in my documentary, “The Rainbow Stairs has added light and colour to the township and what was once bare concrete is now attracting tourists to it.”

Caroline Layt
So the stairs are an added tourism attraction through their being painted rainbow colours and many tourists do indeed go and have their photos taken on the stairs.


Why do you think this documentary is important today? How important would this documentary be tomorrow? What would it retain, you believe?


It’s very important as we’re still living in a world where discrimination is ever present in our society; racism, homophobia and transphobia among many other issues and these discrimination are magnified even more so in regional and rural societies as the support networks aren’t always there.

I’d like to think my documentary will be even more relevant, as we hopefully evolve into a fairer and more equitable society and populism wanes again, as this appears to be happening with the USA rejecting Trump and his populist ideology for another term.

Is this Queensland in the 20s?
LGBTQ+ issues face impediments left right and centre across the globe in varied proportions. How important is it for every individual to develop a flexible yet stable notion of love in general that transpires boundaries? Do you think it is time it is also developed inside the collective consciousness of every individual across the globe?


It’d be wonderful if it did, as we had Safe Schools rolled out nationwide here in Australia and the conservative Liberal/National Federal government rescinded it (it’s still going strongly in the state of Victoria and the the National Territory of the ACT by the way as their governments are still funding it) due to what they described as the Transgender agenda.

They sexualised being Transgender rather than it being a matter of gender identity and then they attacked being Trans as an ideology and didn’t attack the LGB section of being LGBTQIA as they know that ship has salied long ago, just like they know an individual can’t publicly use racist remarks anymore, so what I’m trying to convey is they went after what they saw as the lowest common denominator.


They said if they allow for Trans folks to be visible and equal; it’s somehow an attack on their everyday lives?


And the irony is Trans education was only a small part of LGBTQIA Safe Schools anyway and Trans folk don’t want anymore rights than anyone else and not forcing our who we are on anyone else as we know everyone has their own unique journey in life, but we just want to live full lives like everyone else and this includes the whole of society being educated on our issues, so they can indeed understand us.

Hopefully it’ll be rolled out again when our Government changes hands again and education will make discrimination for LGBTQIA people a thing of the past.


We must talk about Hannah Gadsby here. How important a figure has she been in Australia specifically? Her immense popularity across the globe certainly boosts your movement, Right?


Definitely. Hannah did a wonderful job with Nanette on educating people that not everyone is cisgender/heteronormative through her own wonderful story. She’s an Aussie superstar if I ever saw one and am immensely proud of her.

Just through her own visibility and telling of her own story, has she allowed for everyone to walk in not only her shoes, but given a glimpse into what it was like growing up for all LGBTQIA people in a not so understanding society.


In the end we’d like to know what do you think about the faculty of art? Is it possible for you to clearly establish the difference between an order and a suggestion? How do you get past the usual prejudices veiled in the guise of liberty?


We need art and it’s so important; all our stories and history goes out to the world in one art form or another.

As for the usual prejudices: It’s important to push on and push the boundaries otherwise everything stays the same and what maybe one person’s liberty is another person’s hell, so to address that issue and make it a better world for all, is why we do this in the first place.

Is this Queensland in the 20s?
As for an order or a suggestion, yes, it’s about letting people gently make up their own minds, but it’d be nice if the other (conservative) side did too?


We’re merely story tellers and don’t have the power like politicians do, but through our art we can change the world through the public’s consciousness and this in turn changes politicians’ view of the world through the popular vote and fairer laws over time get passed into law.

One only has to see how far we’ve come on indigenous rights (is still a way to go) to see how far we’ve come here in Australia.

It’s the same in the USA in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement.

One day hopefully it won’t be an issue and we’ll all just be humans; first and foremost!

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