Kellie and Nicolette are The Rainbow Babes – a powerful same-sex couple due to be married in 2020 and currently undergoing IVF. While Kellie has a high-profile career in aviation marketing and Nicolette is a well known voice for diversity in healthcare, these profiles haven’t been built without challenges. Not least of which occured in the last few months, as their highly revered and influential Instagram account was hacked by an anti-LGBT hacker.
But The Rainbow Babes believe strongly in the power of representation, speaking up, and supporting your community. So these challenges haven’t deterred them. In fact, they quickly started a new Instagram account, have continued to speak out on issues important to them, and are determined to be visible role models for others.
- Also known as The Rainbow Babes, as a couple, you’re outspoken about being a professional same-sex couple. Why is it important to you to proactively promote the ‘rainbow’ side of your relationship?
Well firstly, who doesn’t love a bit of rainbow in their life! I think whatever we do we like to bring a bit of colour and personality to it, so the rainbow label was something that always came quite naturally to us both.
But most importantly, with any minority group, visibility and representation is so important. It’s that old adage, you can’t be what you can’t see! We honestly wouldn’t be where we are without the strong and inspiring LGBTQI+ role models, trail blazers and boss ladies who came before us, normalising same-sex love, paving the way for women, diversity, gender equality and showing us just what we could achieve in our lives and careers.
But there’s still a long way to go! And if we can pay it forward and provide that visibility or mentorship or support to other young professionals, then that would be pretty amazing. Long live the rainbow!
From the perspective of @TheRainbowPharmacist I think it’s important to see diversity (and someone visibly queer) in healthcare. Pharmacy is inherently conservative and leadership roles are driven mostly by men, despite 70% of pharmacists being female. Having a platform to be visible, and open, with an opinion and a personality is important! It’s an opportunity to echo what is interesting and topical for our community and support other people with common goals and interests.
2. Nicolette, you’re also known as The Rainbow Pramacist and are passionate about diversity and tackling discrimination in the healthcare industry.
i) How have your personal experiences impacted how you address and discuss these issues today?
Nicolette: I think my experience as not only a healthcare consumer, but a member of the rainbow community, has uncovered some insecurities in the healthcare profession in regard to skills, knowledge and education to adequately speak to and fulfil the needs of the LGBTQI+ community. For me as a pharmacist I found the LGBTQI+ education, and particularly around transgender members of our community, that treatment and management was really lacking.
Hearing awful stories from friends of mine, such as activist Johnny Valkyrie, on the treatment of transgender patients really opened my eyes to the ignorance and discrimination that can happen in healthcare. But there are so many colours in the healthcare rainbow, and that’s why I started the The Rainbow Pharmacist. Not just to bring a new perspective to my peers, but to give a voice to those that sometimes don’t have one.
On a personal level, the other thing that both Kel and I have discovered lately is how discrimination isn’t just found in the healthcare profession, but ingrained in legislation too. We recently started our IVF journey, and Kel has always been quite vocal about her long history with endometriosis. But despite her individual medical history, same sex couples undergoing IVF treatment are by default diagnosed as “socially infertile” rather than “medically infertile”. What this means is that under a diagnosis of social infertility you are not able to access medicare rebates and unable to access private health coverage for reproductive services. And let me tell you, IVF is not cheap!
ii) What sparked your passion for LGBTQI+ health? How has that passion evolved over time?
Nicolette: The inequality in health outcomes for those in the LGBTQI+ community has always deeply concerned me. Look at national statistics on mental health or pretty much any chronic condition, and LGBTQI+ seem to be an at risk population. And when I started to scratch beneath the surface I started to see why, and it didn’t sit well with me. So I had to something about it!
Unfortunately we still have discrimination that occurs from individual healthcare professionals denying healthcare services. Access to care can be challenging particularly in rural and regional areas. We also have things like the way Medicare funding works that sometimes isn’t geared towards the health and wellbeing of the rainbow community, e.g. the Government removing a type of testosterone injection off of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for gender affirming treatment for transgender men.
It’s a complex environment for our rainbow family, and I might not have the answers, but l think education, awareness and representation is a good start! And also rainbow is so much more interesting!
- Kellie, as a marketer in the aviation industry – an industry currently under enormous pressure due to COVID-19 – how are you planning ahead and how have your personal experiences impacted the way you’re approaching these tough times?
Kellie: How the world has changed in a mere few months! It’s crazy to think up until 8 weeks ago I was travelling interstate several times a week. With the whole aviation industry in pause I think the shift in focus has definitely been to human interaction. People are hurting right now and in these uncertain times they want honest, authentic, real and human communication right now.
As consumers, Nic and I have both been personally impacted by the pandemic too, and understand this more than ever. Our May 2020 wedding and European honeymoon plans may have been forced into postponement, but we also had a very real brush with COVID-19 when my brother (and our IVF sperm donor) became one of the first Queenslanders to test positive, after returning from a work trip to Aspen, Colorado in early March. Thank goodness he was one of the lucky ones who had a mild case! It’s still unknown what this will mean for our IVF journey, but in times like these you’ve just got to take stock of what you’ve got and go with the flow.
- Kellie, how do you see the marketing industry evolving in 2020, considering the dramatic changes to how everyone is interacting with brands before, during and presumably after quarantine?
Kellie: I think priorities will shift as more people move to the “new normal” of remote working and some form of ongoing social distancing. The fundamental needs of consumers, both physical and psychological, are changing in this new environment, and as marketers we need to adapt to that change.
Cyber security for instance is a huge issue as more people find themselves online for longer and subsequently vulnerable, so consumers will need brands and corporations to come to the party, make them feel safe, and assure them that their data and privacy are secure. Cyber crime is actually rife right now and we speak from experience! Even @TheRainbowBabes experienced a security breach recently, with our page hijacked and deleted by an anti-LGBT hacker.
We’ve had to start fresh with @TheRainbowBabe until we can claim our original handle again. So be sure to send us a “follow” and make sure you switch on two-factor authentication people, you won’t regret it.
About the experts
The Rainbow Babes chronical the adventures of Nicolette & Kellie – a professional same-sex couple and their two adorable pups Finnley & Rodrigo.
Nicolette (also known as The Rainbow Pharmacist) is a clinical pharmacist, key opinion leader and media personality within the healthcare industry. Kellie is a marketing professional that travels extensively in her high flying role in the aviation industry. With a love of the ocean, surfing and the active Burleigh beach lifestyle, both are passionate about outdoor adventure, travel, fine food and beverages, and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Their pooches Finnley (an adorable pomeranian with a personality that makes up for his small stature) and Rodrigo (a chilled out cavoodle) complete their small rainbow family – which they hope to expand on later in the year when they start their IVF journey.
Having recently announced their engagement on a surf trip to Rainbow Beach, The Rainbow Babes are currently planning their dream wedding which will take place in May 2021.