Dec 08

This feels like the end of a long journey.

Marriage equality is now a reality, and very shortly my marriage to Michael becomes a legal reality in Australia.

It’s not a same-sex marriage; it’s not a gay marriage, it’s not a civil union, it is a marriage. In the eyes of the law of the land, we are equal.

Not everyone will see it that way, of course. To some being non-heterosexual is still an abomination, detestable, immoral. Those that think that fought hard to ensure that the status quo remained and at the very least, they should maintain their right to believe that about their fellow humans.

Of course, they are free to think that.

Yesterday I saw an extraordinary sight. The whole of the Australian House of Representatives moved to one side of the chamber to vote yes for marriage equality. Those that couldn’t bear to bring themselves to vote yes left the chamber and just 4 of them voted no.

What a moment.

I recall the last time a vote happened on the floor. It was 2012. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard sat with the Opposition led by Tony Abbott to vote no. The division this time was very different.

We didn’t all make it to this point. Some of our community died waiting; some died because they couldn’t bear the strain. However, some of us did make it, and we can’t believe it.

So, yesterday with Tomas, my 23-year-old son, I sat in the State Library of Victoria watching the proceedings on my tablet. We had headphones plugged in and shared an earpiece. The day wore on. I’d sat there from 10.30 listening and watching and waiting for the magic words to be uttered.

It was a long time. I listened to many words of concern that somehow freedoms were about to disappear, somehow the ‘gay mafia’ would be coming after anyone who stood in our way of equality.

Then finally all the amendments and the delaying tactics were at an end. Not one single change was made to the bill. It was time for the final vote.

And there it was. I didn’t know what to think. I knew that I was happy and I knew that I wanted to be with my friends, those of us that have been on this journey. I knew I wanted Michael to share this moment.
I think I was in stunned silence. I packed up my things at the library and Tomas, and I made our way to The 86 Cabaret Bar, that’s where I was sure some of my friends would gather.

We got off the tram, right outside the bar, and sure enough, there was Antony and Ron. Anthony. Ali, Kirrily, Roxy, Chrissy, Menachem, .

We hugged.

We drank.

We looked at each other in disbelief.

I knew, however, that I was holding it in. I knew that I felt this great welling up of emotion deep within me. I needed Michael. He is the one person who I most wanted to see right now. We’d been in touch during the day chatting online, keeping up with the goings-on in Parliament. It was well after 6; he’d finished work and was on his way.

I desperately wanted to see him, so when he messaged me to say that he had arrived and parked the car, I went outside, onto the street to wait.

There he was, across the street, doing a little jog, although I’m not at all sure if that was to avoid the torrential downpour or to get to me quickly.

He pushed the buttons on the pedestrian crossing. We locked eyes with each other. Smiled.

I now moved towards him as he crossed the road and that pent-up emotion could be contained no longer. With him, in my arms, I gave him the biggest hug I could muster and began sobbing. I cried so much in his arms, uncontrollably.

It wasn’t just today’s anxiety and stress. There were 13 years of outpouring.

In August 2004 I stood next to a radio and listened as the Senate passed legislation to make marriage a discriminatory act. I felt a part of me die that day.

I’d only just come to terms with my sexuality. I was looking for acceptance. The greatest fear I had then was that of rejection. I had some friends I was out to, some I wasn’t. It was getting messy to keep the lines clear in my head.

Then the Howard Government, together with the Labor party amended the marriage act to exclude me specifically.

And now, that great wrong was undone.

The cost has been high.

My relationship with Michael was thrust to the front with the announcement of the plebiscite, then the postal survey. My mental health, already fragile, took another knock and I slipped into depression before I even knew it. My career suffered as I struggled to make sense of what was happening. I left my job to take the pressure off myself and to ensure that my workplace didn’t suffer because of my inability to function.

This is the real human cost of this whole process.

So, while our politicians congratulate themselves as they all gathered on the one side of the chamber, I’m here to tell you I won’t forgive you. Ever.

My life has been turned upside down. I have worn my heart on my sleeve. I’ve been out, gay and proud in an effort to right this gross wrong forced upon me, Michael and millions of other Australians.

I’ve marched, met, yelled, written letters, videos, audio, interviews, TV doco, news stories, podcasts and probably other ways of communicating how dreadful this has been.

To those who opposed this for vague religious reasons, you’re responsible. Instead of getting out of the way and letting a small section of society get on with their lives in a fair and reasonable manner, you made it about yourselves. As if you’re the victims. Now you want to be the oppressed.

There are apologies due from you. There are apologies due from our Parliament.

Now, I’m getting married. I will be able to say that Michael is my husband with no need to qualify that with ‘we got married in New Zealand in 2014’.

And, alas, it’s not over yet. We still can’t ease off as the defeated forces regroup and try to find a way to diminish the victory.

Thank you. I know lots of you from religious belief have been with me on the journey. Your willingness to support and love other people is outstanding. Thank you.

Thank you to the 6,800 members of our Facebook group, Second Class Australians. You guys are amazing, you’ve been on the journey, and it’s been rough.

Thanks to those of you that are my close friends. I needed you, and you were there.

Thanks to my family. In our way we have been there for each other.

Thank you to Michael. You are an amazing man. Together we did this. You are my activist, you are my lover, you are my man, you are my Mikey Bear, you are my husband.

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Sep 27

My posts of late have been videos about the marriage equality ‘vote’ here in Australia.

It really is a tough time for me right now.  I’ll never forgive the parliament of Australia, my government, for putting me through this ‘debate’.  It is completely unnecessary.

For me, this mess comes at a time when I’m trying to study, my daughter is preparing for her marriage, the mother of my children is at the sticky end of her long battle with cancer, I’m settling into a new house, my son is settling in a new life at uni, my husband is in full-on activist mode, the dog next door barks all day long, my savings are dwindling, my emotional well-being is at an all-time low.

So, pardon me while I take a big mind-fart and say fuck you.  Not you, the person over your shoulder who thinks I shouldn’t be allowed to get married for reasons that only they understand.

At this time my resilience is really low.  It’s easy to become hyper-sensitive to every little slight that floats across a social media feed.  I can feel the tension in the community.  We are all feeling it to some degree.

In all of this, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The colours of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by, I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do, they’re really saying I love you.

That’s my song.

Here’s a rendition that had tears running down my cheeks.

I will not stop fighting for my own personal human rights, and I will fight for the rights of those in the GLBTIQ community.  We are all human.

The world is wonderful.  I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, I have a right to be here.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

(no, I haven’t rediscovered god.  I don’t conceive a god at all, I’m at peace with that, relax)

The world is wonderful.

I don’t do this alone.  Michael is beside me.  Caitlin and Tomas are there.  My family is right behind me.  My friends are supportive.

The reason the world is wonderful is because of love.  All these people love me for who I am.

Thank you.

You make the world wonderful.

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Sep 22

I started out to do another video.

Didn’t get far.

 

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Sep 14

The box has been marked and we’ve sent our survey forms back.

I can’t begin to tell you how bad this makes me feel.

Maybe one day soon I’ll do that.

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Sep 09

The plebiscite was never a good idea.  However, here we are with this rather pathetic attempt at giving every Australian a say on my relationship with Michael.

We’ve gone from a compulsory plebiscite to a voluntary postal survey.  It’s just crazy.

Here are my latest two videos on the topic.

 

 

 

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Aug 10

There’s so much to think about because the government have moved to a postal vote for marriage equality in Australia. In this 10 minutes I share why I’m having trouble coming to terms with why people should vote on my right to get married.

Please share!

 

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Jul 23

It’s 11p.m. on a Saturday night, and as I’ve done so many times over the years, I’m sitting in front of a computer thinking about going to sleep.

For many years I sat here because I had two young children and I was unable to leave the house.  Tonight is different.  My two now grown up children have left home.  Tomas leaving just this last Wednesday.  Tonight we party.   As I sit here in my own space, a room just for me and my computer, I have the sound of a party happening behind me.  There is the hum of voices and I can hear Caitlin and Tomas talking eagerly with their friends.  Every now and then there’s a crescendo as the stories are told and the voices get excited before everyone breaks off into laughter.  It is truly a wonderful sound of happiness, friendship and unsaid love between friends.  Tonight’s a special night.  For tomorrow the house will be empty.  I will no longer need to live in a 3 bedroom house with room for Caitlin and Tomas.  So, Michael and I will live in a smaller house.

My mind goes back to when my parents left the family home.  The home where we all grew up, all 11 of us.  So many memories of this great house in McIntyre Street.  My parents sold up and moved to Queensland.  I was the last to leave home and remember the intense feeling of sadness as that phase of my life passed.

And here I am again, at the threshold of the start of a new phase.  A free man, without the worry of who is home for dinner and what I need to do.  Of whether or not I need to be aware of who needs to be out the front door in the morning. Of whether or not there is enough cheese, bread or milk in the fridge.

Tonight Caitlin and Tomas have their friends here.  There are people here who have been friends since the early 2000’s.  They have visited us so many times.  They have been to so many parties here in this house.  This place is as much a part of their lives as it has been ours.

They’ve gathered in a circle, about 20 young people.  Their eyes twinkle, their faces are alive with happiness.  They seem to all be talking at the same time.  All around is delight and joy.

The TV is showing photos of our lives in the house and the guests laugh as their younger selves make an appearance.

There’s birthday parties, celebrations and photos of everyday life.  Our home is chocker block full of memories.

Every birthday was had right here, at home.  Friends would come and we’d celebrate.  We would decorate the house for a mermaid theme, or a scary party.  We’ve had a space theme, Star Wars and a Knights theme.

The parties end with all of us standing outside with sparklers and delighting in the sparks flying off in all directions.

We’ve been happy here, we’ve laughed and cried together.  We’ve yelled and been angry.  We’ve broken things and fixed them.  We’ve measured our height on the door post and posted our artwork  to the walls.

Mostly what we have is great memories.  This has been our home.

Like the sparklers dimming and fading, now is the time for us to fade too.

We’re going to light up the world in different ways, and every now and then, we’ll come together to shine.

That’s what our family does.

 

 

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Jun 02

Recently I was on the tele talking about Margaret Court’s foray into the marriage equality debate.  Court is a tennis legend, won all sorts of games in the 60’s and 70’s.  She was good at watching a small green ball and hitting it with a stick with strings.  That’s my understanding of tennis.

 

And here’s Michael earlier in the day talking with Neil Mitchell on 3AW

Court has decided to say some very outdated things about GLBTIQ people over the last week.  There have been calls for the renaming of a court at the Melbourne Tennis Centre named in her honour, The Margaret Court Arena.

The debate has been raging between those who claim that Court is being bullied, those against renaming the court and those who think we should.  Everyone has an opinion.

At the heart of all of this is a single concept.  Free Speech.

Just what is it you’re allowed to say in public?  Of course, you can say anything you like.  Court has spoken in public,  she has used her legend status to be heard.  Now she is claiming that her free speech is being denied, despite having full access to the media and being able to further her ideas and still be heard.

What we’re really seeing here is important.  It’s about what’s acceptable topics in modern Australian society. We are deciding what our community standards.  Australians are struggling with that very notion.

The same as we’ve struggled with holocaust deniers, racist statements and misogyny.  We are witnessing an adjustment in attitude.

It’s simply no longer appropriate to use a public forum to express views that vilify the GLBTIQ community.  It’s not OK to call us products of the devil, say we can’t raise children, or even that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The days of saying those things in public are passing.  You can see it happening before your eyes.

Before those that will be upset by this notion cry about free speech.  The free speech has been flying for years, and society is saying enough is enough.  Modify your language if you want to have discussions in public.  You’re not being told that you can’t hold your views, you’re not being told to change your views.  You are perfectly entitled to believe whatever you like.

As a society the expectations of community engagement are undergoing an adjustment.  Just like there are the deniers, the racist and the misogynist still out there, they have mostly being told to shut up.

Bigotry around gender diversity and sexual orientation is next.

Our society will be better when that bigotry is added to the list of unacceptable talking points.

Time to adjust the attitudes.

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May 20

Recently the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has been attempting to cast themselves as being bullied into silence by the gay activists.  The suggestion being that somehow people like me, people like Michael and a whole gaggle of others, in using our voice, our free speech, somehow impinges on their rights.  They manage still to get their word out.  The ACL continues to spread misinformation about the reality of our lives, our families and our rights.

I think the reality is that they are the modern-day face of the bully.

Today, Michael and I, and a stack of other allies, supporters and our GLBTIQ community have been at another Equal Love Rally in Melbourne, where we stand around and people tell us that the government needs to let us get married.  We all yell and cheer, boo at times.  So many of these I’ve been to.

Michael has lovely eyes.

See.

He posted this to Facebook with this message:

Take a moment to think how lucky we are to be able to attend a Pride Rally and walk around with rainbow paint on our faces in Australia without fear of persecution or being sent to a concentration camp.

And he’s right.  Even as we protest the government’s inaction on equality for all Australians, we live in a civil society that lets everyone get on with their life.

Today, as I stood there, a man was handing out bibles.  There was also a group of muslims talking about their faith, and the Socialist Alliance were there too, milling about hoping to get a few signatures on their petitions.  Such a mixed bag of people with very different views.

Among the crowds mingle the Police.  Present to keep the peace and, more importantly to show their support.

And check out this Police badge on the back of a Police Officers hi-vis vest.  It’s in the rainbow colours.

She even had a smaller one on the front.  It’s a comforting picture.

It’s not too long ago when the GLBTIQ community could be subjected to murder, bashings and being locked up by the police.

I posted this image of the rainbow badge to Facebook and someone commented about how she’d been bashed in the last couple of years by the police.

That’s really horrible.

For some of us, being non-straight is still horrific, life threatening.  The person has little respect for the police and, it would appear, no trust.

During the week the hate-group the ACL published a blog with the headline:

Now The Queensland Police Uniform Is Being Used To Promote Rainbow Politics

Here’s a copy of the page, and here’s the link. (The ACL often delete their blog posts)

Wendy Francis, leader of the Queensland branch of the hate-group, says this:

“Of course no one wants to see any member of the community bullied or discriminated against for any reason,” ACL Queensland Director Wendy Francis said.
“And of course ‘phobia’ towards other people is irrational.
“But the rainbow political flag, adapted to police uniform lanyards represents a political agenda for marriage and re-shaping society’s understanding of gender.
“Exerting soft pressure on police to identify with the rainbow political agenda for redefining marriage and teaching children their gender is fluid through so-called ‘Safe Schools’ is not appropriate,” Ms Francis said.

The point of course has flown over her head like a cowshit hitting the grass in the paddock, splattered and leaving a smelly mess.

Police have long been known as being quite intolerant of the GLBTIQ community.  Even today we have stories of cover ups and bashings.

The rainbow vest badge seen today and the Queensland lanyards aren’t political statements.  They are however statements.  They say “Hey, you can trust me, I’m one of you, I won’t hurt you”.

It takes a modern-day bully to pretend that every time they see a rainbow that somehow it’s about gay marriage or a political statement.

Francis can talk about soft pressure, her pressure is more like she’s run her fingers through the cowshit and smeared it all over her face.

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May 12

This is my dog.  Was my dog.  He’s gone now.  Went a long time ago.

He was a Koolie, an Australian working dog.  He was also a little thick.  Still a wonderful dog that was devoted and happy as dogs tend to be.

We called him Waddley Archa.  Waddley for short.  It’s a name I picked up from a song that I learned in the USA in 1984.  I was working at an American summer camp with the Scouts for 6 weeks.   Every week we’d have a campfire as the grand finale of the week with that group of boys.  We’d sing lots of songs, I’d lead them in Waltzing Matilda.  It was a fun time.

I learned several new songs, as you do when you travel around.  I brought them back to Australia and taught my own Cub Scouts these new songs, Waddle-ee-ah-cha was one of them.  It was really just a nonsense song, no purpose to it, and it had a nice little tune, good to sing around a camp fire.  It may have had some actions, and I’ve been sitting here singing it and going through the actions, they don’t seem right, and I look a right dill waving my arms around poking my nose and kicking my feet up.

Here’s the lyrics as recorded in the song book from the summer camp:

 

Waddle-ee-ah-cha, waddle-ee-ah-cha

Doodle-ee-do, doodle-ee-do,

Waddle-ee-ah-cha, waddle-ee-ah-cha

Doodle-ee-do, doodle-ee-do,

Some folks say there ain’t nothing to it,

All you gotta do is doodle-ee-do it.

I like the rest but the part I like the best

Is doodle-ee-do doodle-ee-do, Oy!

So, nice story.  But wait, there’s more!

I was playing around on the net and found myself at archive.org, The Internet Archive.  It’s a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.  I saw that they had a bunch of music recorded from old 78rpm records.  I’ve got a few old 78’s in the cupboard, and an old gramophone to play them on.  So I began searching through the treasure of old music to see if there were any recordings that I knew.  And there was.

In amongst them was one called Doodle-Le-Do  by Harry Raby and the 3-D Valley Boys.  It’s not dated.  I almost went right on past it, then the words began to sing in my mind and I thought, no, it couldn’t be.  I hit play and there it was!  The song actually has music to it!

So, here’s to Waddley and Darcy, our two dogs.  Hit play and feel free to sing along.

Waddley and Darcy.

 

 

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