For gay men living in Cairns, life probably remains very similar to how it was when the first “Out” on the Reef report was written in 2000. Men continue to be drawn there by the relaxed, tropical lifestyle, wilfully leaving behind the stress of larger urban gay communities. The men in these focus groups described differing levels of attachment to any gay community in Cairns, which generally matched their desire for it. For the most part, the wider community increasingly embraced the diverse nature of the expanding Cairns population.
- Participants’ ages ranged from 32 to 65, while the average age of participants was 49. A quarter of the men were in their thirties, a further quarter in their forties, nearly a third were in their fifties and a fifth were in their sixties.
- For some, the relentless pace of life in a larger city, career pressures and an unhealthy lifestyle had become too much. The sheer isolation of Cairns helped provide a sense of anonymity, a place where they could distance themselves from their old life and start again.
- Most of the men in the focus groups were not originally from Cairns: They had come to Cairns, usually with the intention of a short visit, and were so enamoured with it that they had decided to relocate there.
- Overwhelmingly, the men in the focus groups all believed Cairns to be a town where they felt safe and comfortable being gay. The men provided a variety of accounts of experiences of being gay in Cairns and for the most part their experiences had been positive.
- Many described vast differences between the experiences of younger men in Cairns compared to those of older men. While the relaxed lifestyle attracted men to Cairns later in life, after they had experienced gay life in larger cities, there is a substantial population of young gay men living in Cairns who have not yet had these experiences.