A pale pink truck rocks up in your driveway, red cursive letters and white block letters on its side read, “Queer Move.” It’s hard not to smile — the vehicle feels like the distant cousin of an ice-cream truck.
But instead of slinging scoops, Queer Move is a home removalists business based in Melbourne. From weekend jobs found through Facebook group Queer Housing Melbourne in 2018, Queer Move has grown into a six-person, full-time gig that’s growing and growing.
“I think a lot of queer people have a wariness of inviting men that they don't know who are very strong into their home, especially when it's a stressful time,” Camel Love, the co-founder of Queer Move tells me.
She’s right, and that’s exactly how customer Rose Mcalister felt when using its services in June. “It can be quite confronting having people in your house you don't know, or don't relate to, so knowing it was a safe space and they were safe people made me feel really safe. It also notified my neighbours [that I’m queer]!” Rose laughs. There’s nothing like a big queer van to announce yourself to a new neighbourhood — Rose agrees that it’s definitely a conversation starter.
While there are traditional businesses targeted towards underserved communities, queer-specific businesses often start and end with medical services. “We have had a lot of people hiring us saying it's their first time hiring removalists, and I don't think that's unrelated,” muses Camel.
As a trans woman in the world of manual labour, she understands more than most how intimidating (or “a lot” as she says) the environment can be.
“I just needed somewhere where I could go… to get money so I could pay my rent, and come home and still feel ok at the end of the day. And I've definitely found that with Queer Move,” Camel reflects. “If I was able to start working at Queer Move instead of the other place when I first started [removals], I think things would've been a bit different for me.”
But instead of leaving the industry as many people would when confronted with a hazardous workplace, she decided to stay and make it a safer place. "I guess that's partly because I'm very stubborn," she laughs. “[Working in removals] should be fine. I can do that work, I should be able to do that work and be fine."
From that stubbornness birthed a welcoming, non-judgmental, and safe service catering to queers and allies, servicing across Melbourne and occasionally regional Victoria. Queer Move is also, simply, just a great moving service.
Filling out a quote form for Queer Move goes like any typical furniture removal service. You put in your details and bits about your upcoming move, but at the end of the form, it asks for your pronouns. It’s a simple gesture, but one that’s impactful.
“I love that [the team] introduces themselves with their pronouns, and they asked me for my pronouns. I instantly I felt calm,” Rose says. “The booking process was really easy. I booked online, they turned up early, ready to go. [It was] smooth, quicker than I thought, and I would say even value for money compared to other moving companies. I didn't feel like I paid more for going with a company that aligns with my value.”
And this is exactly what Rose wants the future of queer safety to look like.
“We need more spaces where people can feel safe and validated. I felt like I was giving back to my community as well,” she says. “I think [the future] looks more present, more visible, and more accessible. It has to be accessible to the common person who wants more services, like a queer Uber company.”
And what does Camel want?
“For everyone to be ok,” she pauses. “That's all I really want. I don't think we really need anything else. So much would have to happen for that to be a thing — but anything and everything that can aim towards that is worth the time and effort.”