Jul 14

Ian Thorpe used an interview to come out to the world.

For years there has been much speculation about his sexuality. I’ve always thought that he can be whatever he wants.  It’s not for me to decide or speculate about the sexuality of another.  I’ve seen a very small snippet of the interview and have read plenty on the internet about it.

Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon – so, me too!

In the 80′s it was impossible for me to come out.  I was in a relationship with a man back then and I kept it so very well hidden.  We had to.

On many occasions I lied outright to hide my sexuality.   I went on to get married and have two kids.  I don’t regret any of my life at all.  It’s been a tough slog, and looking back I don’t know just how I managed to get to be 50 without killing myself, having a mental illness or addicted to alcohol or some other drug.

My life wasn’t a misery either, mind you.  Sure, I had a lot of pressures, a lot of stress but in amongst that I was a devoted husband to my first spouse and a loving father.

It seems that with all that pressure, the release valve was anger.  Tomas and Caitlin reminded me of this just the last week.

We have just returned from a fabulous holiday in Queensland.  One of the things we did was the theme parks.  I was reminded, when we holidayed here many years ago, how angry I got when Tomas didn’t want to take a ride with me, he was frightened of it.  Instead of taking the gentle approach I erupted, did some yelling, made everyone feel horrible and stormed off.  All a bit silly now.  At the time it was an outlet for my denial and frustrations and those closest to me got hurt.

I’m not looking to seek understanding or forgiveness, but I want to highlight just how toxic it is to not be who you are.  In my world I recall every homophobic slur and insult hurled my way.  Nobody could possibly know I was gay, I didn’t fit the stereo type.

im_gay_so_whatI recall being in Grade 4 and being teased because I had decided to do a school project on flowers.  I had cut out pictures of flowers and pasted them into a scrap-book and written an explanation under each image.  For this I earned the label poofter.  In Form 2 I was again labelled with that classification because I said my favourite song was “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” by Julie Covington.  The song was at the top of the charts, so there must have been a lot of poofters around enjoying it too.  In Form 4 I was taunted in the change room, accused of being the only one who liked to look at my classmates penises.  I was petrified and never looked at anyone in the locker room.  Mind you the boy who said it was running around the room with this fingers stretching his penis out trying to impress everyone with its size; and I’m the one being harassed.

Imaging growing up with my dad and having him fling around homophobic taunts and the impact that had on me.  My older brothers using gay slurs all the time.  It was terrifying and little wonder that a child of the 70′s and 80′s would go to great lengths to hide their sexuality.

I have to say, writing this and re-reading it.  It has been bad.  Really bad.  My life up until my 40′s was a mess.  It really shouldn’t be this way for anyone at all.  The internal battle that raged within me is way more than a quiet, shy country lad should ever have to endure.

I can only imagine the inner turmoil  that Thorpe had.  I don’t know his reasons for keeping his sexuality under wraps or why he has picked this moment to come out.  Nor do I really care.  It’s not my business and of little interest to me.  I do know that I can empathise with him and I can only hope that his feels better now.  People around Thorpe need to support and encourage him.

I have already written several blogs about how the media continues to use the gay angle to drive traffic and get noticed.  The major newspapers have been falling over themselves trying to be the first with the news.  One newspaper I saw said in big letters “I AM GAY”, I was rather amused to see men walking around with this tucked under their arm.

The media is still treating gay people as a play thing.  On the radio, the TV and in the press Thorpe is all around, along with everyone having a say.  You know, it really shouldn’t be newsworthy.  In a 90 minute interview was this all he said?

So let me move slightly now to talk about Brian Taylor, a football commentator.  On a TV show he called one of the footballers a ‘big poofter’.

If you want to know why sportsman don’t come out, there it is in two easy words for you.  Even in jest, the impact of being vilified and made fun of is no fun for anyone.  Taylor has sort of said sorry.  I’ve read comments on several sites that suggest we gay people are too sensitive, that we need to toughen up.  Someone even used the “sticks and stones” line.    Essentially what is being said is that if you can’t take being picked on or the language upsets you, it’s your own fault,not that of the person who was just having a laugh.

What’s not seen however, is the impact it has and it doesn’t matter if that impact was in the 70′s or now.  It’s the same.  Roll it together, I got picked on at school, at home, in the church, I read stories of gay men being jailed.  Everyone made poofter jokes and it had a huge impact on me.

I needed someone like Ian Thorpe to be a role model for me.  Even now, in his 30′s he is to be admired.  It takes courage to tell the world your secret.

The act of coming out is both a release and a new stress.  I didn’t have the luxury of saying it to the world, but I know that the uncertainty of telling those you love this very personal intimate piece of information is a challenge.  The question is will they still be friends after I tell them?

I do just want to also touch on the fact that he is being accused of lying and hiding his sexuality so that he could make some money.  That he also got paid to tell his story.  Good for him.  If I could make a few dollars from telling my story, I’d do it too.  The entertainment industry makes a stack of money off the back of Thorpe – I can’t see why you’d denying him the right to have share of that money.  I don’t know how he makes his money these days, but I’d be keen to understand why any sports person in the media spot light should do it for free.

Good on Ian Thorpe.  At his own choosing in his own moment he said what he needed to say.  I can only hope that it brings him some peace of mind.


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Jun 14

pray-away-the-gayJust a few days ago I blogged about the Gladstone Observer who clearly think it’s ok to generate news stories that use gay people as a play thing.

Seems like there’s a bit of nasty stuff in the Queensland water supply, for lo, the Toowoomba Chronicle has gone all out on reporting about a website of a local ministry that says it can cure the gayz.  It’s not so much a news story as just a bit of sensationalism to probably drive traffic to their site.  The last blog entry on the “Cure the Gayz” website is June 2013 – so hardly a new site and hardly a new story.  The website of the ‘ministry’ is really a front for selling books and CD’s.  Apparently her God wants so much to cure his people of the gayz that you have to pay for it.  There is no ‘church’ to attend or even an address to attend bible study courses.  There is only a website and a contact form.

For what reason would a newspaper publish such a story I wonder?

Then, just for good measure the Chronicle conducts a poll.  The question is really insulting.

“Can someone be healed of their homosexuality?”

No, it’s like a fucking terminal disease.  Oh, sorry, I swore, I’m a tad upset by the poll.  As if it’s not bad enough to create a news story about curing gay people, they then have to put the question to a poll.  I’m not even going to participate in that poll.  Yes and No answers are too simple – it really needs to be Yes, No and What are you, stupid?  Healed?  I mean really, what is this?

Despite all the information available about how to help people accept their sexuality, we are yet again subjected to another religious person showing intolerance.

I’m not broken, I’m not sick, I don’t need fixing or healing.  Nor do I ever need to see a poll worded in such a way.

Just to provide balance they ask the opinion of the local gay artist.  He is very dismissive of course.

Yet another regional newspaper that is drumming up business by making the gays their play thing.  They too, like the Gladstone Observer, need to hang their heads in shame.




You can make a complaint about the poll to the Press Council here.  The Council’s Advisory Guideline on Health and Medical matters says “The dangers of exciting unreasonable fears or hopes are far too great for anything but the most careful treatment.”

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Jun 12

It’s no secret that I’m in a wonderful relationship.  I tell everyone at every opportunity.  I struggled for ways to show Michael how important he was to me.  I couldn’t find that one thing needed to express my love for him, then I asked him to marry me.  He said yes.

Marriage is an important milestone for us.  We can’t do it in Australia.  Fundamentally we aren’t really changing anything about our relationship, we are simply publicly  expressing the importance of our lives together.

So when I yet again read something from the Australian Christian Lobby that attempts to undermine my relationship with Michael I get a bit upset.  Not just for me but for others who so desperately want to get married.

Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the ACL and he writes:

But the Greens, who cite changing the definition of marriage as one of their top priorities (along with euthanasia), are chipping away.

Recently they set up a Senate inquiry into a bill to recognise same-sex marriages conducted overseas.

This is clearly a tactic to put pressure on parliamentarians as part of the Greens’ misguided assault on the rights of  children to have their mum and dad, wherever possible.

Whether or not you think the Greens are misguided is a political judgement, they are doing what they should be doing in a democratically elected parliament, attempting to represent those that voted for them.  However, to suggest that somehow marriage equality is an assault on the rights of children is just insane.  This notion that somehow allowing Michael and me to get married will mean that kids won’t have a mother and father is madness.

The truth is there is no discrimination against same-sex couples in Australia. Keeping marriage between a man and a woman does not change this.

Well, lets test that, I assume Lyle is straight and married to a woman.  I assume that they love each other and the reason that they got married is because they love each other.  Lyle has married the person of his choice.  I love Michael.  I want to marry him.  Michael is my choice for the person I want to marry.  Yet, I’m not permitted under Australian law to do so.  Why not?  It’s because we are both men.  That, to me, sounds like discrimination.  Feels like it too.

But if Australia capitulates on the definition of marriage, our cultural assumption that a child has the right – wherever possible – to her or his biological mother and father, will be lost.

What is it with these guys that they continually place children as the central reason for marriage ignoring all those who decide to either have children out-of-wedlock or not have children at all.  There is no requirement to have children as part of a marriage and there is no requirement to be married to have children.  And just once it’d be great to see Lyle show us just where this right that apparently is a cultural assumption is written down.

A civil and unselfish society puts the rights of children first, no matter how emotive the arguments against this are.

I don’t know which society you live in Lyle, but our society is very selfish.  Sure, there are lots of great things happening and lots of selfless people about, but really, there are poor, hungry, homeless children living amongst us.  You could be working with those families that need support instead of picking on the gays.  The unsaid thing here, however, is this notion that somehow gay people have children as some sort of trophy or possession.  That we only want children so we can somehow show them off.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Every parent I’ve met, regardless of their sexuality, is a selfless parent who would do anything for their children.  Just because you’re gay doesn’t stop that fundamental biological urge to have children and raise them as your own.  It’s part of being human, and mostly our sexuality doesn’t diminish that drive any more than the rest of the population.  That same basic instinct is the same that drives straight couples to start families.

It’s easy to over look the role that Lyle Shelton as the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby plays in this debate.  We need to be taking that into account in all their lobbying.  Although Lyle makes no mention of it, religion is the driving factor here.  He pretends that it’s about the children, because for the ACL that’s the emotive argument.  The way they continue to justify their discrimination is to pretend that it’s not biblically based.  The reality is that the ACL is about forcing their version of Christian ethics on the rest of the population.  Their ethics are orthodox Christian values.  They believe that gay people are sinners, the work of demons and just plain evil.  The Chairman of the ACL, Tony McLellan said this in a report on Lateline in 2012:

TONY MCLELLAN: It’s against the kingdom of God by the Devil. The Devil doesn’t like God and doesn’t like everything God stands for. I would say that people who are trying to change the definition of marriage, which has its roots in Christianity, are obviously trying to deconstruct Christian’s views of what marriage should be. And they well may be motivated by the evil one to do that.

No doubt there are plenty of reasons to deconstruct Christian views in our society.  The churches have used and abused their position when it comes to the well-being of children.  Reality is that religion isn’t going away any time soon.  But then neither am I.  Nor are the hundreds of thousands of gay Australians and our supporters.

The ACL haNo Crossve tried to shift this ‘war’ to the well-being of the children.  For generations children have been raised in a variety of ways, through mothers only, through villages, through dads only, with the use of wet-nurses, adopted parents, orphanages and with both parents.  There should be no doubt in your mind that no matter what happens to marriage, people will continue to breed and raise the off-spring.  The way forward is not to tell us who can and can’t do it, but to support those who want to be parents.  As a society that is surely the way to do it.

The ACL in shifting the debate is being dishonest and disingenuous.  At the root of all their rhetoric only one thing matters to them, bringing about the kingdom of their god.  They honestly believe that it is their duty to push their ethics onto the rest of society because they think they’re right.  If we don’t agree with them we are deemed to be a demon, be influenced by a demon or just plain evil.

We don’t hear that sort of talk from them, it’s not going to win them any support.  The last thing that the ACL really cares about is your children, or the rights of the children.  They only care about their faith.  Nothing else matters.

How selfish of them.


You can voice your support for marriage equality by making a submission to the Senate Inquiry for the Recognition of Foreign Marriages Bill 2014 at the website for Australian Marriage Equality.

Join the Australian Equality Party, a new voice in Australian politics that aims to promote fairness, equality and human rights.

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Jun 07

nogays Want to whip up a controversy to drive people to your site or pick up your newspaper?

Then just publish a nasty letter about a marginalised group, that’ll get everyone worked up.  Which group – oh, how about the gays!

The media still views gay people as fair game and open to any sort of abuse under the guise of free speech.  While the media has moved on from vilifying people because of their ethnic origins, skin colour or religious views gay people remain the OK segment of the community to single out for nasty treatment.

The Gladstone Observer, from Gladstone, Queensland, 500km north of Brisbane published this letter in their paper on June 2nd.

More gay propaganda through the TV

I SEE another television show has appeared on our screens with the token homosexual character.  I want to remind readers that homosexuality is neither normal or natural.  Firstly, a “same sex” relationship can never produce offspring and this is the primary purpose of all species.  Secondly, homosexual intercourse is dangerous and very unhygienic.  Forget the warm fuzzy propaganda; homosexuality is a sexual perversion.

Carol Zussino

I don’t doubt for one minute that people like Carol Zussino hold this view and will take whatever platform they have to tell everyone else about their bigoted point of view.  There’s much in those few lines that is just so wrong.

My real issue is with the Gladstone Observer that actually gave Zussino space by publishing her letter.  In their defence they said:

But if we censored this letter by refusing to publish it, we would have taken a dangerous step onto a very slippery slope.

Rejecting this letter – which we agree is inflammatory but does not breach defamation and other legal areas – would set a nasty precedent.

Suddenly, the measure we use to say no to Ms Zussino’s argument could be applied across a range of topics.

And if we started doing that we would quash the chance to foster debate in our community – and that would be a dark day indeed.

Where to start?

Newspapers censor letters all the time.  They get hundreds of letters about all sorts of things and simply don’t publish them.  If the letter had said “I see another television show had appeared on our screens with the token Jewish character” would the newspaper have shined the light in that dark area?  If the letter had said “I want to remind readers that being in a wheel chair is neither normal or natural” would that be a dangerous step onto the slippery slope?  If the letter said “Firstly a “multi-racial” relationship can never produce (white) off-spring” would that set a nasty precedent?

The Editor wants to ‘foster debate’, as if my sexuality is something that should be up for debate.  Zussino uses ‘arguments’ that have been well settled and refuted many times.  The non-heterosexual community is here, we are an accepted part of society.  We know this because gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex and queer people are not locked up or fined for their sexuality. We move among the community.  We love our husbands, wives, partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, significant others.  We hold down jobs, pay taxes, have families.  We live to ripe old ages and want security in nursing homes to make sure we live out our last years with our life partner.

The suggestion that somehow the newspaper has an obligation to publish arguments because if they don’t they’d be accused of censoring debate is tenuous and tedious.

When you shine a light on the arguments of the likes of Zussino you soon discover that they are just plain silly, bigoted and out of step with modern society.

The Editor of the Gladstone Observer didn’t need to publish this letter at all.  The Editor has made a decision to inflame hatred and to bring the paper some publicity by controversy.  It took a section of its community and using the guise of free speech versus censorship vilified gay people.

That is disgusting.



Related Links:


Gladstone Observer Article 



Jun 01

Sometimes I think I live in a cocoon and I feel oblivious to what’s happening around me. I’ve always been good at railing against the world, in my 20′s I  fought city people for the rights of rural people.  City folk still have little comprehension of what its like over the Westgate bridge (and yes, I know some of you come from other directions)  In my 30′s I fought against the evils of religion, and in my 40′s I fought for the rights of gay people.

All these things are very dear to my heart and perhaps core to my being.

Being ‘homosexual’ I’m very aware of how awkward my sexuality makes me feel at times.  Last night a good friend had to remind me that I was in a safe place and it was OK to dance with Michael.  That was pretty amazing.  I think we were the only same-sex couple in the room, it happens a lot.  I am always self-conscious and careful about my actions and can feel quite uncomfortable when Michael wants to touch me or kiss me.

That fear is always there, I’ve heard the word ‘faggot’ more times than I care to recall.  Every time it scares the fuck out of me.  Australia is a pretty safe place and I can keep myself safe by not outwardly showing my sexuality, not touching my husband, not kissing him, not telling him how much I love him out loud.  I can suppress that.  I should, shouldn’t I?  I mean if I hold hands while walking down the St Kilda foreshore on a Sunday night and a bunch of guys follow along behind laughing, and I catch words like ‘homo’ and ‘faggot’ all I have to do is pretend not to be gay and I’ll be ok.

On the outside, if you see Michael and I getting around we just look like a couple of normal, regular blokes.  If you see me alone, you wouldn’t have any idea that I’m gay.  I don’t have any of the stereo-type traits.  Aren’t I lucky.

I am what appears to be to everyone else, a white, middle class Australian.  I fit in.  Mostly.

I continue the fight for equality however, because I’m still not fully fitting in.  I really just want what everyone else wants.  To be happy in my relationship and to express myself in a way that feels innate without living in fear.

Some of you have just read this and are supportive.  Thank you.  Please help me to continue to bring happiness and joy to all, we all have a right to live in an Australia, in a world, free of intolerance and abuse.

There’s another group of Australians that are constantly under threat.


Last year a work colleague was killed by her husband.  I don’t know the full story, a man killed a woman.  They were in a relationship.  It happens a lot more than we care to think about.

My daughter won’t walk home alone in the dark.

An American man goes on a killing spree because he’s a virgin at 22 and he’s going to make women ‘pay’.

Geoff Shaw in the Victorian state parliament wants to wind back abortion laws.

It feels a lot like misogyny.  It feels a lot like white male privilege.

Really, it doesn’t feel like that, it is misogyny based on white male privilege.

In her excellent article Clementine Ford said:

Why is it that one woman murdered every week in Australia by her partner or ex-partner is not considered a manifestation of the ongoing, ritualised hate crime that specifically targets women? Why must we be further insulted by having our anger explained away as irrational and misplaced? We know what pure, unadulterated misogyny is because we have felt its wrath; yet we’re once again being told our instincts are wrong by people for whom such hatred can never be anything more than theoretical.

Women should be angry and they should be outraged and they should fight back.  But wait – this isn’t just their problem.  It’s my problem.  It’s our problem and its your problem.

I am not a woman and I have no idea what it means to be a woman.  The thought however that women don’t feel safe means is unacceptable.

When I had a recent discussion with family about a taxi company running women only taxis, driven by women for women, some of the men folk thought this was a good idea.  It would keep them safe.  Keep them safe from men who might harm them.  Seriously?  This is our response to male violence?

One woman is murdered every week in Australia by her partner or ex-partner.

One a week.

Yep, violence happens against men too.

“where men were typically assaulted by a stranger, women most often experienced physical assault in the context of domestic violence.”

I’d like to stop all violent behaviour.  I don’t get the need to use violence to get something you want, and like it or not, it’s men who are doing the hitting.  (I should also point out that just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it – sometimes the answer is no and you simply have to respect that answer).

Victoria Police Minister Kim Wells is on to it.

Mr Wells backed the creation of more task forces targeting crimes such as family violence and organised crime, but disputed that this would result in fewer frontline police.

“When people say there’s going to be less police out on the frontline, that’s completely and utterly wrong,” he said.

“This is about putting more police out on the frontline dealing with crimes such as family violence.”

Dealing with…family violence.  Dealing with it?  Come on, it needs more than just dealing with.  Establishing a police task force is  great initiative, but it’s too little too late.  By the time the police are involved it’s already too late.  Ken Lay, Victoria’s Chief Commissioner of Police is on to it too:

Their multiple studies found that 1 in 3 women worldwide had been either physically or sexually assaulted. Linger on that statistic. It’s appalling. Violence against women everywhere is very, very common.

He goes on to say:

Now consider this: when we focus on the victim, there is an implicit suggestion that male violence is just something we should all put up with—that it’s some immovable cloud that hangs over society. Well, I don’t think so.

We’re never going to extinguish all violence. We can’t create a utopia. And I’m not suggesting that parents don’t talk to their children about safety. What I’m saying is that the emphasis on the victim is disproportionate and that’s damaging because men aren’t having hard conversations with each other.

Let me get this straight.  Violence is perpetrated  by men.  Men are causing harm to women because (some) men have a sense of entitlement to take what they want and expect women to provide it.  The top cop in the state says “Violence against women is very common” and “when we focus on the victim”.  We should have no doubt here, men are killing, hitting, bashing, causing harm, however you want to describe it.  One woman a week is dying because of a man.

Women live in fear.  Women have to put up with appalling behaviour of men because men have the privilege and they think they can get away with it, they think it is ok, society gives them approval.  We blame the victim.

Ever heard this sort of talk?

“she’s playing hard to get”

“she was begging for it”

“she started out saying it was ok and I couldn’t stop”

“she’s a bitch”

“she shouldn’t dress like that”

“what does she expect wearing that?”

I find it odd.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m gay, a SNAG (sensitive new age guy), a victim of childhood abuse or still reeling from the shock of my work mate’s violent death.  I think it’s more likely that I just see something in the world that’s not right and it’s gotta stop.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s an appalling statistic of death or someone like Geoff Shaw trying to wind back abortion laws, these are out-and-out attacks on the liberty of women in our society.  The attacks are based purely on their gender.  We are part of this society and we really shouldn’t stand back and watch it happen unchallenged.  This is not something that women alone need to deal with.  It’s something everyone needs to deal with. Its something that men need to address.

A few tweets, a few likes on Facebook or even writing a blog isn’t enough.  Places like my work are doing something positive to make a difference.  I’ll support the excellent work of Family Life.  Early intervention I think is the key.  Whether it’s through innovative programs or simply dads talking to their sons, we all have a role to play.  I’ll do more than write a blog post and re-tweet some words of others.

Just like not being gay makes it hard for people to understand how I feel or what they can do to help, so it is with the way women feel.  I just don’t know what that is like.  I do know that there is a real problem and I want to be part of the solution.  I do know that there are people, women and men, doing fantastic work and they need support.  My support, and your support.

It needs action, I don’t know what that means just now.  I do know that in my words, my conversations with others, I will not denigrate women, I will not explain behaviour based on gender.  Violence is unacceptable.

It needs to stop.



White Ribbon Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women

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May 17

Click the photo to see the kiss

Some guy kissed another guy and it made it to the telly.

Some guys don’t get the whole kissing thing and when two men do it they get all nervous.

The guy doing the kissing is an American football player, Michael Sam.  He’s gay and the first one of us to be drafted into the footy. One of us being a gay man, not just a man.  That’s significant as there are very few gay people who are out and in professional sports anywhere in the world.

The guys doing the nervous things are mostly christians.

The particular guy I want to highlight is Bernard Gaynor.  He’s a fundamentalist christian who thinks that gay people are sinners and we don’t have to be gay.  He blogs here.

He wrote about the President of the USA saying this:

The President congratulates Michael Sam, the St. Louis Rams, and the NFL for taking an important step forward in our nation’s journey.  From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove every day that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are, and certainly the fact that Michael Sam was drafted represents and reflects what he did on the field in his college career.

Gaynor says this:

On Sunday, the most important man in the world stopped whatever he was doing to #bringbackourgirls to talk about a gay man because he was gay and famous for promoting his proclivities for homosexuality across the length and breadth of the entire known universe.

Gaynor then goes on to ask why the President is congratulating Sam at all, as Sam wasn’t the 1st or 2nd pick in the draft, but the 249th pick.  He wants to know why the President didn’t congratulate all the other players who are clearly much more deserving.  The answer is of course, that the President loves gay people and Gaynor hates them.  Well, he hates the sin, he probably loves the sinner.

Then he gives us this little line:

Finally, let’s examine the context of Obama’s oft-commented statement.

Yes, let’s!!

Christians so love to have context, they always ensure that when they quote something from the bible it’s in context.  We’re told to read the line before and the line after to make sure that we have the correct context.

Here’s the line before the oft-commented statement:


Q Thanks, Jay. I don’t think this came up yesterday. Did the President express any thoughts about Michael Sam being the first gay player to be drafted by the NFL?

MR. CARNEY: What I can tell you is that

The Q at the start is short for Question.  Dave is the person asking the question, then a Mr. Carney says, “What I can tell you is that the President congratulates…. ” Now just for extra clarity, let me quote the line after the oft-commented statement:


Q Did the President think it was appropriate that the Miami Dolphins punished, fined, disciplined that player who tweeted –

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t spoken to him about that.

After that answer from Mr Carney the next question is about a US district court appointment, and just for context, the question before Dave asked his was about immigration reform.

You see, what the President said, he didn’t really say out loud to anyone but his Press Secretary, I know this because I’ve watched West Wing.  Therefore I’m an expert on US politics.

The question was ask at the Whitehouse in a press briefing, the briefing ran from 12.45 p.m to 1.36 p.m. on the 13 May 2014.  That’s 51 minutes, just after lunch time on a Tuesday afternoon.  The draft happened at around 10.00 a.m on 11 May, a few days earlier.

The way I see this happening is that the Press Secretary, Jay Carney, meets with the President early Tuesday morning and they have a talk about topics that the press is likely to ask.  Jay thinks that the press will probably ask about Michael Sam, and asks the President what he wants to say.  Barrack responds with something along the lines of:  “Oh just congratulate him and say something about how great it is that gay people are getting recognised.  He’s a sweet guy.”  Then they move on to the next topic.

So, all up about a minute long discussion.  The world didn’t stop, and the most important man in the world, according to Gaynor, didn’t devote too much time to it.  He didn’t call a press conference, or break into the regular Sunday night viewing.  No, what he did was leave it to his Press Secretary, and the only reason the President’s quote even got out there is that a journalist asked the question, between many other non-related questions, of what the President thought about the gay footballer making the draft.  If that question hadn’t been asked, the response would never have been forth-coming.

Whether it’s on the playing field or in the corporate boardroom, the LGBT bedroom has been thrust upon Americans by the man in charge of its state apparatus. This bedroom is now the US government’s business and it will make sure everyone gives adulation to those who lie therein.

Nothing was thrust upon us apart from Gaynor’s rabid imagination.  The media only gives us the quote that is relevant to a story.  The President has no concern for what’s happening in anyone’s bedroom but his own, and maybe his daughter’s.  He didn’t offer any adulation, he simply answered a question via his Press Secretary.

Gaynor has gone off half-cocked.  You’d reckon someone who is so clear about understanding moral issues in the world would take the time to find out what was really said and in what context.  The President at the time of the press briefing was meeting with law enforcement leaders to discuss immigration reform.  It took a few minutes for me to find the source of the quote, and then to discover what the President was actually doing.  It’s really pretty straight forward research.  Gaynor and those of his ilk will stop at nothing to demonise anyone who is at odds with their world view.

I’m sure there’s a line in the bible about not bearing false witness.  I’d have to go and check the context.

May 12

If that sounds like it’s from a song, you’re right.  Tim Freedman wrote “No Aphrodisiac” in 1997 about his girlfriend who was living in another city at the time, it was considered the breakthrough song of The Whitlams, an Australian rock band formed in the 1990′s.  The line from the song is the title of a new musical with music and lyrics by Freedman.

I have enjoyed his music for many years.  Michael has been an avid fan of The Whitlams and Freedman for just as long, we get along to as many of Tim Freedman’s performances as we can.

Several times now we have seen Freedman at Bennetts Lane in Melbourne, a jazz club.  He has a long playlist, and while he threads a narrative between his songs during his live performances they really aren’t related to each other in any way.

TBAPOY_BannerTruth, beauty and a picture of you is a musical performance based on the lyrics of Freedman and it picks up some of his key songs from The Whitlams.  At first glance it would seem an odd thing to try and weave a story from a bunch of songs from one band that don’t appear to have any obvious connections.

When Michael became aware of the upcoming performance by the Hayes Theatre Company he was eager to see the show.  It soon became obvious that the show wouldn’t be travelling outside of Sydney, so we booked tickets and headed to Sydney for the weekend.

The Hayes Theatre Company provides space for small-scale new musical theatre.  The venue is a rather intimate space for around 120 people.

The first thing that struck me as we went to our seats is just how tiny the performance space is.  Yet the stage was decorated with various props and seemed to be set up for a full-size band!  The lighting was subdued and we sat in eager anticipation amongst the foggy haze.  As the lights dimmed we were treated to a top-notch light and sound show.

The story put together by Alex Broun takes the music of Freedman and weaves a tale of a struggling band from the 90′s.  Three mates form the band and from the outset we get a sense of conflict between them.  We join them at a gig in the pub as they belt out their songs and then we get to join them backstage after the performance as the conflict between them becomes real and palpable.  The story line jumps forward 20 years when Tom, played by Ross Chisari, the son of one of the band members comes to the city to seek out the story of his now dead father.  Tom has idolised his father that he never knew and wants to connect his version of his dad with the real life version.  Who better to do it with than members of the band still alive.   Between the often funny and poignant lines mixed in with the music of Freedman the story takes us on a journey of discovery for Tom, as he tries to discover the truth about his father and the band he was once part of.

At first I wondered whether the story was about The Whitlams and during the intermission we tried to link the story with the facts we knew about the real band.  We gave up and decided that while there might be some vague connections, the story is really just a story of self-discovery for the character Tom and the ‘leader’ of the band Anton (Ian Stenlake).  All the characters in the play have something to find out about themselves, some puzzle between their younger selves of 20 years ago and where they are today.

Freedman’s music tells the tale for us and for the first time we get to hear the music sung by the cast as we join Tom on his journey of love and discovery.  In surprising ways new life is breathed into the music as the lyrics of the songs continue to move the storyline along.  Suddenly classic songs like “Blow up the Pokies” and “Fall For You” take on new meaning as we see them in new scenarios.  The fit between story and lyrics is a near perfect match.

The cast of 5 is joined by a musical ensemble that includes strings and percussion.  Broun’s use of the music and the story moves you forward in a parallel from the 1990′s to the modern-day and we see the band fall apart as Tom’s life seems to fall apart at the same time.  We end up at the top of the building as the life of one of the old band members hangs in the balance.  The cast create a real sense of tension in the theatre as we wait to see how it will work out.

The production is directed by Neil Gooding, the musical director is Andrew Worboys.  It’s based on an idea by Alex Broun and the music and lyrics are by Tim Freedman.

The show has a short season at The Hayes Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point from May 9 to June 1 2014.  It was a delight to watch, a good steady musical with a great cast and a fantastic script.

And just as an extra bonus, the night we attended, Tim Freedman sat right in front of us!


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May 06

I love to watch Q&A – sometimes I even tweet, and I’ve even written blogs about it.

On last night’s episode (2014-05-05) a group of protesters shut the show down for a couple of minutes. jones

The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne was on and taking questions from young people about funding of education.  The questioner kept interrupting the Minister’s answers, at which point Pyne would stop talking and look mournfully at Tony Jones, the host, for him to take some sort of action.

From the TV it’s hard to tell if Pyne was getting jacked off at the complete lack of respect that was being shown to him or if he was simply looking for a way to deliver his answer without the interruption.

The guy asking the question was being very impolite.  Proper manners would dictate that you ask your question and then shut up while the answer is delivered to you.  The format of Q&A doesn’t allow for a backwards and forwards debate style.  You ask a question and someone then gives an answer, then others on the panel throw in their ideas.

The trouble with asking a politician a question is that you rarely get an answer.  At least not an answer to the question asked.  That’s so frustrating, even as a viewer.  The pollie tends to avoid the direct question and that’s normally done by picking on the Opposition.  They all behave this way.

The next part of the show saw a bunch of students (I assume) drop a banner over the balcony and start a chant.  This essentially drowns out Tony Jones and his guests.

The video is embedded at this page.

I was horrified by such a bold display of rudeness.  The protesters were interrupting my TV viewing and making me cross.

The ABC then broke the live feed and played a bit of music.  I can only guess what was said while the program was off air.  A few minutes later it was back and normality was restored.

Was this the right way to handle the protests?  I’m not so sure.  Mind you, I’m not sure it’s the right way to launch a protest either.  However, simply silencing them without investigating the issue seems rather odd for a program that is trying to explore the issues and keep politicians accountable.

Maybe a better way would have been for Tony Jones to engage with them for a moment or two.  To get a question about the nature of the protest and direct that to the Minister instead of shutting it down and telling us how democracy works.

What do you do when you think the world is against you and you can’t get your message across?  How do you raise awareness and make your point if the conventional ways don’t work for you?

Are we moving to an area where you can’t protest, where you can’t stage an event to make your point.

Sure, what the students did was rude, disruptive and damn annoying.  I feel I should make some disparaging remark about their upbringing.  However, maybe they have a point.  Fund education, not planes.  Seems sensible to me and not enough is being said about the stupid situation we have in Australia where we seem to value the purchase of killing machines over education.  Where we seem to value the diesel rebate for huge mining companies over education.  The current government seems to think it’s better to make young people move to where the work is instead of keeping them close to their support networks.

Perhaps sometimes we should all do a little screaming to get our point across.  I don’t think it’s necessary for Tony Jones to apologise to Pyne.  Pyne should have listened to the frustration, he should have shown leadership by engaging, seeking to understand and then perhaps the world might just be a better place.

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May 01

You know I’ve dropped from about 120 kilos to 75kg.  I’m pretty happy with that.

Did you know that one of my sisters died of cancer?

Did you know that my one and only and former wife, mother of my children, is dying of cancer?

Why am I telling you this?

You see, now that I’m so fit I’m running.  This Saturday I’m going to run 10 kilometres, without stopping.

I’m running for two reason, one is I enjoy it.  It makes me feel good.

The other is that it’s in support of the Cancer Council Victoria.

I can give you all the stats and the reason that research is so important, but I won’t, you know that stuff.

What I can tell you is that a part of my heart is breaking because I have to watch those that are close to me die; way before their time.

That fucking hurts.  And I’m not even the one doing the dying too early.

Your support – whatever you can give – will help those that are still to come, find ways to help.

Go here, give money, make my run more funner.  Help someone in need.




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Apr 26

I’m a lad of Western Victoria, born and raised in Hamilton in the state’s Western District.

I lived there from 1963 until 1995. Then I moved to Melbourne.

Hamilton is the place I consider home.  Despite my 20 years in the big smoke, I still have a hankering for that small rural town.

This Easter weekend I spent my time in the area, it was a bit different this time around.

I visited those places that were important to me, well, those places that give me fond memories.

McIntyre StreetThe house where all thirteen of us lived is still there. It seems that no work has been done on it in the last twenty years, it’s starting to fall apart.  The gutters are covered in mould and moss, the windows looked dirty, it needs a paint job.  The roses that Mum and Dad pruned every year haven’t been touched in decades.

I thought that our back garden was huge.  It was divided into three areas, the dog’s yard, the vegetable garden and the other area that had a big round garden in it that didn’t really have a name.  Perhaps we just called that the back yard.  The reality in my adult years is that it is just a standard house block.  Many years we spent riding our bikes around the round garden and up the driveway, looking at the birds in the aviary, playing with the dog or getting the chook eggs.

TheTreeIn the dog’s yard was a tree that my brothers and sisters spent many hours in, climbing it and sitting in its branches, looking over the back yard and beyond to Portland Road and the empty paddocks.  Just on the outskirts of town was the abattoir and we had a clear view of the building and often we could hear the sheep carrying on in the paddocks having their last feed and then we were treated to the distinctive smell of death.  From the tree it felt like we could see all the way to Port Fairy.  We had special branches that we sat on that formed little seats for us.

corner fenceWhen I wanted to sneak out of the house, I would go to the rear corner of the vegetable garden and climb the fence, it was the only area that my mum couldn’t see from a window in the house, or so I thought, I doubt I ever really was sneaking, but it sort of gave me that impression.  I’d jump up on the fence, over the stump, land on a rock and be gone.

Once over the fence we could wander down the hill of Skene Street to the creek.  In the early days it wasn’t a concrete path, just a dirt track with a big open gutter.  When the foothpath was finally concreted we built billy carts and raced them down the path, holding on for dear life.  It must have annoyed the crap out of the neighbours.

oldbridgeThe creek, or more accurately, the Grange Burn, at the end of the street is ugly.  Still.  It should have character and charm.  Picnic tables and ducks.  It has a footbridge, the original bridge had some character, when Wags (the dog) ran across it the whole bridge would wobble much to the terror of us small ones.  My dad or older brothers would bounce on the bridge to get it swaying just to give us a fright.

both bridgesThere’s an historic sign there now that says the trees were planted in 1904 to beautify the area, 110 year later I’m still waiting to see the beauty.  From a childhood perspective though, the creek was an escape.  We would spend hours under the willow tree trying to catch the prickly-back yabby.  I spent hours with a fishing line in the water, I think I only ever caught two fish, but plenty of yabbies.  In the 70’s there was talk of beautifying the area again, that saw the Council go through and remove a bunch of bullrushes and Poplar trees, but it never really looked any good.

The other place that I spent my youth was at the local scout camp, it’s still there, called Mallangeeba.  It’s about 20 minutes out of town, close to the Wannon Falls.  I was there when the scouts first started using the site in the early 70’s.  I’m told that we scouts all got on a train at Hamilton and took the journey there and got off at Wannon.  We planted trees and camped the weekend.

I was there when the scouts bought the place from the Church of England.  We had to sell the land that we had a few kilometres down the road and I remember that being quite a fight, people threatening to resign if we sold Reed’s Park.  Years later it doesn’t seem so important.

As a lad we use to camp tMallangeebahere with the 3rd Hamilton Scout Group, I can still sing you the Group song, every now and then I find myself humming it.  It was a Catholic Group and because we were Catholic we had a strong commitment to Mary the Blessed Virgin and mother of God. Known as the BVM.  Every time we went camping we’d take this statue of the BVM with us. At Mallangeeba we’d put her in a tree hollow and say the rosary.  That’s one Our Father and ten Hail Mary’s.  At least the standard 5 decades, interspersed with a Glory Be to the Father and requesting St Francis to pray for us.
As a Leader I too took my young charges to camp at the Wannon.  We’d gather around the flag pole on the parade ground, I’d stretch out my arms and yell “Pack, Pack, Pack, Pack” and a bunch of cubs would respond with “Paaaaaaack” before squatting down at my signal and doing the Grand Howl.

FallsOver the road from the Scout Camp is the Wannon Falls, a spectacular fall when the water is flowing, at the moment however, it’s dry.  When I left in 1995 the Scouts gave me a photograph of the falls in full flood.

As we drove back into town we stopped at the cemetery.  I haven’t been back here since we buried Dad in August 2013.

Mum and DadI’m not sure what I was expecting, but I marched up to the graveside, my parents’ remains are in the same grave.  I read the plaque and stood in quiet contemplation.  There was nothing emotional about it.  I wasn’t talking to them, I wasn’t really remembering anything in particular I was more interested to see who was buried around them.  Some part of me needed to see this final resting place of my parents, the final resting place of my youth and the final resting place of my connection to this Western District home.

As I drove around the town for one last time, it occurred to me why I was here.

Hamilton is where I was born, I went to school, my first job the paper round, then years of working in the newsagency and then the City of Hamilton.  I was here when man landed on the moon, when the local member Malcolm Fraser became Prime Minister, when we won the America’s Cup, when the first Iraq war started.  It all unfolded in Hamilton.

When I was first married I lived in Hamilton, our two children were born here.  We went to play group and kindergarten together before we moved.

I was the City of Hamilton Young Citizen of the Year, received the WF Waters Award for my contribution to Scouting and a Certificate of Merit for Scouting.  I knew people, and they knew me.

Hamilton was my town.

As I drove out the Glenelg Highway back towards Melbourne, with a few tears rolling down my cheek, I realised that I was here to say goodbye.

Home isn’t here any more.

My folks are dead, buried with a bunch of other people I know, just another plaque on the ground.

Now there is no reason to call this home.

Michael and I drive back to Melbourne, we are going back to make a new home for us, the Western District lad has finally left home.mt baimbridge



*photos by Michael Barnett

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