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Yass queens: Aussie town’s quirky name breaks down barriers and drives tourism

April 16th, 2019 | | backpacker

The expression ‘Yass Queen’ conjures up images of pop star Lady Gaga, New York fashion, and divas.

But now, the New South Wales farming town of Yass, which has just 6,600 residents, is finding unexpected benefits from the phrase that might be endearingly hollered at gay bars in Sydney.

Key points:

  • Yass shot to international fame when featured in an episode of US series Queer Eye because of its likeness to the expression ‘Yass queen’
  • Businesses say it has attracted more people to the town, and has given the LGBTIQ community more confidence “to own their identity”
  • A social science researcher says the town’s exposure will make it safer for young people to be themselves

The town name’s similarity to a popular expression within the LGBTQI community — ‘Yass Queen’, for the uninitiated, is the flamboyant way of saying ‘yes, queen’ is bringing economic and social benefits to Yass, and locals are starting to cash in on it.

It shot to internet fame with millions of hits online after Netflix’s Queer Eye filmed a mini-makeover episode in the town last year.

“Because they have such a following [overseas], people actually come to Australia and come specifically to go to the town of Yass,” Yass Valley Council Mayor, Rowena Abbey, said.

Yass Tourism has described the new-found fame as a unique marketing opportunity, especially with its growing Rainbow market.

Cr Abbey said the town was not expecting the response it has had. 

“Since the Fab Five came to town we now have cafes open on a Sunday because people just take a day trip out here, they stand in front of the Yass sign, I still see it either end of town as they get a photo taken,” she said.

“Last count was over a million Youtube hits and 500,000 Instagram hits, which is great advertising as it costs us nothing but some time and energy and welcoming people to our town.”

The local council put a tour together to attract fans, known as the ‘Queer-eye-tinerary’ online, allowing people to follow the footsteps of the Fab Five.

Shops are opening longer on weekends, local tourism is taking advantage of the buzz, and the young queer community is also reaping benefits.

And the evidence lies in people’s geo-tagging on social media. 

“People are coming to Yass to have a look at the pub the boys did over, they are having a look at Yass, they are getting a photo of themselves outside the Yass sign and that stuff is fun and quirky, and it definitely translates to business,” Cr Abbey said.

Yass cafe owner and queer community member Sophie Peer said the town had embraced the quirky connection its name had with the rainbow community.

“Certainly seeing the young rainbow community of Yass walk with their head a little higher that week and in the weeks after [thinking] ‘We’re not the only fabulous ones, we can wear great clothes and own ourselves and own our identity’.”

Social science researcher from the Yass Valley, Saan Ecker, said the town’s exposure made it a safer place for the young rainbow community. 

“[They] are feeling their way through this journey and the more of this sort of visibility and LGBTQI-friendly stuff that happens, the safer those young people are going to be,” Dr Ecker said. 

She also helped with a study into the psychological impact of the marriage equality debate on LGBTQI people and their allies.

“There was a statistically significant increase in psychological distress during that time, particularly among young people,” Dr Ecker said. 

She said the stress was greater for people in rural areas, but that towns like Yass were a leading example of an accepting community.

Source: ABC Rural

Sourced by Mike Barrow





One Response

  1. The YHA members in Australia just elected a Director who lives in Yass… she has got instant street cred now thanks to this viral marketing campaign!