How the founder of Junkee Media helped give Australian LGBTQI youth a voice

- May 20, 2022 5 MIN READ
Tim Duggan Junkee Media

From humble beginnings as a music journalist to co-founding one of the most popular digital publishers in Australia, Junkee Media, Tim Duggan has long had his finger on the pulse of Aussie pop culture, particularly in the LGBTQI community. He joined editors Cec Busby and Adam Bub on the First Act podcast to share the ins, outs, ups and downs of his career.

Tim Duggan is an accomplished journalist and digital publisher with decades of experience in the industry. He is an event creator and author of two books, Cult Status: How to Build a Business People Adore and Killer Thinking: How to Turn Good Ideas into Brilliant Ones. And a little known fact:  Kochie’s Business Builders’ very own editor Cec Busby gave Tim his first break in the journalism space as dance music editor at Revolver magazine when he was just 20 years old.

Since then, he’s fundamentally changed Australia’s media landscape with Junkee Media – aimed squarely at millennials and the pop culture they love to consume. But did you know that Tim also played an instrumental role in bringing the Aussie LGBTQI community together in the early 2000s?

Books by Tim Duggan

The rise of LGBTQI events

“I’ve always been one to look at big macro trends and try and figure out how can I help that trend grow bigger, and how can I launch something into a rising tide that can make it go further than just myself,” says Tim.

“In 2004, my friends and I were part of this new generation coming through into the gay and lesbian scene. I wanted to create an event series that I jokingly called ‘Fag Tag’ – the idea was that we would get a big group of queer people and take over a traditionally ‘straight’ space. We would go to a big straight nightclub, and I would tell people to turn up on Saturday night with a password to use on the door for discounted entry.

“It was quite subversive – all of a sudden, everyone at this straight venue would start looking around and realise that there was something that felt a little bit different to a normal night. It took on a life of its own, so much so that within a few months of announcing it, I had thousands of people on a mailing list wanting to know where to go. If I said, ‘Let’s turn up at this venue on Friday night’, we’d have a thousand people turn up to a venue. So it then turned into a business for me, this little side hustle, where I would go to a venue and say, ‘Do you want a thousand people to come to your venue?’- they would, of course, say yes – and I would take a percentage of the bar when the event was on. It became this really interesting win, win, win business. For me, it was a nice side hustle, and it was amazing to get people moving around the city, but it also started to break down stereotypes and increase inclusion and visibility. It was a hell of a lot of fun, to be honest.

“I’m currently chatting to a crew in London who are looking at launching Fag Tag London,” Tim reveals. “So, this little idea that I had in my 20s about having more fun with my friends, here I am as a 40-something-year-old, still talking about this idea that just has these legs and can keep going.”

Tim also took his passion for LGBTQI-friendly events to the next level, organising Australia’s first ever gay and lesbian dance party at the now-demolished Sydney Entertainment Centre, which saw 4,000 Sydneysiders attend. While attendees were overwhelmingly happy with the event, it wasn’t all triumphant news – Tim reveals how this event cost him personally, to the tune of $80,000 – listen to the podcast ep or read Tim’s book Cult Status to find out how this impacted his business.

Listen to Tim Duggan on the First Act podcast:

From failure comes experience

“We often don’t talk as much about our failures,” says Tim. “And that’s why I loved being able to put that into Cult Status because yes, I’ve had events that have made that much, and I’ve had events that have lost that much, and it’s pretty bloody shit when it happens. It is really stressful, and it’s one of those moments when you learn to grow up pretty quickly. Now it’s just a lovely anecdote that I can look back on and smile, but I certainly wasn’t smiling at the time.”

Tim was also an integral part of another youth publisher, the Sound Alliance, which launched the viral LGBTQI community website, SameSame, in 2006. While the site has since been taken down after its new owners went into administration, SameSame remains one of Tim’s proudest accomplishments.

“My first baby will always be my favourite baby,” Tim admits. “SameSame was Australia’s first national gay and lesbian community website. I remember feeling a really great sense of responsibility – how could we lift the profile of queer Australia? It was a chance to combine some things that I loved – journalism, writing and building communities. I loved the event side and had a deep passion for the Australian gay and lesbian community.

“We launched SameSame at a time when the internet was starting to take off more and more in Australia. It was this wonderful time before social media when people would go to websites that they identified with and felt an affinity with. We had forums where tens of thousands of people would come and talk; we had the ability to message each other and create profiles – all these things that now exist through social media. In a way, we helped pioneer digital communities in Australia before social media did.”

A front row seat to change

“It was a really amazing time for our community, for the internet and for digital media,” says Tim. “The world had changed so much that I think SameSame existed at the moment in time when it needed to exist. I can be very sad thinking about how my first baby no longer exists, but I’m actually super thankful for all that it was able to create and the opportunities it gave everyone who was a part of it. I was just really glad that SameSame could be a part of so many peoples’ lives.

“I think it’s quite fascinating to have had a front-row seat to the change in digital media over the past 15 or 20 years,” says Tim. “It has been such a privilege and such a thrill, and also bloody scary at times.”

First Act Tim Duggan

To find out more about Tim Duggan’s work in the LGBTQI community and the phenomenal rise of Junkee Media, listen to the First Act podcast now.

Join us each Tuesday for a brand new episode of First Act, because every story has a beginning.

Listen and subscribe now:

Apple Podcasts - Flying Solo podcastListen on Google PodcastsListen on Spotify badge

Popular in the network

Qantas comp popup