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Just a Mum


A mother’s fight for her son’s equality.

Shelley Argent’s love for her son, grit,  determination and persistence helped realise some of the biggest human rights reforms in Australian history.

This is her story.

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When Australian Human Rights Commissioner Graham Innes AM described Shelley Argent as “just a mother from the suburbs”, he paid her the greatest compliment. Don’t let the diamonds and pearls fool you. Shelley’s love for her son, grit, determination and persistence helped realise some of the biggest human rights reforms in Australian history.

Growing up in conservative 1950s Brisbane, in a poor and dysfunctional family, Shelley dreamt simply of a family of her own. With husband Don, she has faced situations no parent should ever have to face. Their love, determination and strength drew them closer than ever.

Then, when James came out as a teenager in 1995, the only legal right he held in Queensland was to be gay without fear of arrest. Fear, ignorance and stigma were rife. Shelley knew James faced a lifetime of discrimination through no fault of his own; a situation untenable to her.

Today, Shelley Argent OAM is recognized as one of the most successful educators, advocates and lobbyists for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Australia. As Queensland president and National Spokesperson for Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG), her decades of tireless work helped ensure state and federal policy and legislative reform, culminating with marriage equality in 2017.

This is her story.

ISBN: 978-0-646-80094-3
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Published: June 2019
Cover image: Rod Spark

Additional information

Weight 500 g
Dimensions 30 × 20 × 3 cm



Avid Reader
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State Library Queensland Shop
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Museum of Brisbane Shop
City Hall, 64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane CBD


The Darlinghurst Bookshop
207 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst


Hares & Hyenas
63 Johnston Street, Fitzroy


Fullers Bookshop
131 Collins Street, Hobart

The strength, courage and determination that lie within the pages of Shelley Argent’s life is absolutely undeniable. Shelley is the ultimate ‘accidental activist’, who, because of a genetic roll of dice, her own difficult childhood experiences and an undisputed love for her children, was able to face up to the challenges of an untenable societal and political situation, and make a positive difference for hundreds and thousands of people.

Reading Shelley’s story, co-authored by the hugely talented Leanne Edmistone, will have you asking yourself what you truly believe in, and then see you standing up to fight for it with all your might! Knowing what Shelley has overcome, and achieved, will give you the courage to face inequality, unfairness, or any unsatisfactory situation in your life that needs changing. This book will make you weep, shout and pump your fists, in frustration AND elation!”

– Caylie Jeffery, Author

I read Shelley Argent’s story and felt the full range of emotions – anger, disgust, dismay, disbelief. I laughed – she’s a crack that woman! And, I cried. Tears of absolute sorrow and tears of joy. How grateful I am there are people like Shelley and all of the wonderful people she has worked with and continues to work with, who ensure information and support is available for young people discovering their sexual identify. And, who stand up and speak out for a more inclusive and diverse society. Bravo”

– Jacinta Finger, The Word Girl

Your story is testament to your courage, perseverance, loyalty, inner strength, integrity, authenticity, loving kindness and compassion. I loved the mixture of personal history, local Brisbane history and gay history.

The story was full of intimate surprises and humour, and was really comprehensive in sharing a message of advocacy, anti-discrimination, vulnerability, compassion, hope and empowerment. I laughed out loud and also got choked up in sections.”

– Dr Kirsty Williamson, Clinical Psychologist

Shelley holds nothing back in the telling of her life story [and it] is a powerful story. Just a Mum is a great read, but it’s more. The book is an important accounting of important moments in our histories at LGBTIQ communities. And it provides important guides to future actions.”

Read more:

– Destiny Rogers, editor QNews

I have just finished reading Just a Mum. There were times, I felt Shelley was speaking directly to me with her humour and personalised way of writing.

And, then there were times I had tears flowing down my cheeks, because of how she was treated in her early years. Shelley is a real survivor who doesn’t seek sympathy. However, after reading the book it doesn’t surprise me how she has succeeded with her lobbying and activism.”

– Trish