Family and friends of gay and lesbian rights campaigner Erif Benham gather at Jiggi Hall on Saturday to celebrate her life and mourn her loss.
Family and friends of gay and lesbian rights campaigner Erif Benham gather at Jiggi Hall on Saturday to celebrate her life and mourn her loss. David Nielsen

No ordinary memorial

LIKE the woman herself, Erif Benham's memorial service was anything but ordinary.

From the moment you walked into Jiggi Public Hall on Saturday morning, you became part of the magic created by this local icon.

At the door the carnival atmosphere began with glitter dust handed out by a larger-than-life fairy.

The service commenced in a sombre fashion with a rendition of Amazing Grace

Erif Benham's mourners were teary as they celebrated the life of one of Lismore's most outspoken campaigners for gay and lesbian rights, a woman described as having a big, feisty heart and whose home was always open to others.

Sitting around Erif's hand-painted coffin topped with a mass of floral colour and glitter, they came in all their finery to say goodbye.

Tropical Fruits' Brett Paradise welcomed the congregation.

“When I first met Erif she scared me, she had so many opinions that couldn't possibly be all true, and she proved me wrong,” he said.

An open circle was declared for people wishing to celebrate Erif's life to come forward and do so. For two hours, Jiggi Hall was filled with tears, hilarity, and above all Erif's spirit, as friends and family shared songs, poems and stories about her rich life, humour and generosity.

Sr Mary Sit on My Face, from theSisters of Perpetual Indulgence (aka Peter Mitchell), conducted a saint-naming ceremony, declaring Erif to be St Fairy F---ing Godmother to a roar of approval.

Erif died last Wednesday at the age of 56, after a 12-month battle with brain cancer.

She is survived by daughters TeRina and Jese and her grandchildren.

One mourner described her as 'the bravest person I've ever known'.

Another shared Erif's life philosophies.

These included: 'Never do more than 50 per cent of the work in a relationship', 'Never assume someone is helpless unless they are unconscious', and 'Never be nasty - first!'



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