Feb 06

Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby and he’s just written a rather nasty little piece about gay people.  Again.  He’s trying to be reasoned but ignores the reality of the world, as so many fundamentalist christians do.

Even the heading of his little spray is really very mean-spirited and sets the tone for the rest of the article.

Deep breath needed in rush to dismiss mum and dad parenting

Nobody but nobody is trying to dismiss mum and dad parenting.  Gay people having children doesn’t mean that somehow all the other children in the world will find themselves without a parent.  Lyle needs to take a deep breath.

Children miss out on a mum or a dad usually because of tragedy or desertion.

Where this occurs we as a society rightly provide financial and moral support to single parents.

Where children are orphaned the State usually seeks to provide a mother and father replacement family through adoption.

In all cases, the best interests of the child are paramount.

Hardly.  Single parents are very often left to struggle.  Poverty for these groups is rife.  Financial support is very limited.  For an organisation that bangs on about the importance of what’s in the best interest of the children do very little to acknowledge that what is important is that all families should be at the gold standard.  That should be what they strive for, not this fancy notion of moral support.

We have also rightly condemned and apologised for practices that led to the stolen generation and forced adoption practices of the past.

Here’s another nasty bit of text.  What Lyle isn’t saying is that often said rot that allowing same-sex parents to have children is akin to forcibly taking the child away from her parents. Forcibly being the key word.  No child in a same-sex relationship is being forcibly removed.  Lyle is warning you that if we allow people like me to have children, in thirty years time we’ll have to apologise to those children for screwing up their lives.  The stolen generation does not even begin to compare with same-sex parenting.

The recent debate about same-sex marriage has highlighted the issue of parenting by same-sex couples.

Hang on, so far you’ve talked about single parents and the children of the first Australians.  Now we jump into same-sex couples.  Whether the likes of Lyle know or understand, same-sex couples have been raising children since the start of time and the world continues to spin.  Marriage will not change that fact.

A number of studies have been conducted which seem to suggest that kids raised by same-sex couples fare no worse and possibly even fare better than kids raised by heterosexual parents.

Well no, the studies don’t seem to suggest.  The studies state that the kids are ok.

The most recent, a survey of existing studies from here and overseas, was conducted by sociologist Dr Deborah Dempsey on behalf of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

A key message of Dr Dempsey’s survey is that: “Overall, research to date considerably challenges the point of view that same-sex parented families are harmful to children. Children in such families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers from heterosexual families.”

The same-sex marriage lobby was quick to say that Dr Dempsey’s survey of the studies means the debate about same-sex parenting is over.

However, it is known that data for most of these studies has come from self-selecting samples and mainly from lesbians from a higher than average socio-economic demographic.

Oh no, all these studies have been done from self-selecting samples.  Let’s ignore that study after study finds the same thing that the children are OK.  It’s a pity that Lyle didn’t apply the same logic to the studies that he relies on, studies that have been debunked by so many people.

Lesbian parents who have high incomes and are well-educated unsurprisingly report that their kids are doing well and they most likely are.

How dare the lesbians have high incomes!  How dare the lesbians be well-educated.  With that statement it should be obvious to Lyle that he should be encouraging decent educational outcomes for all citizens regardless of their sexuality.

While increasing, the numbers of same-sex couples parenting children remain very small. Dr Dempsey says 33 per cent of lesbian women in Australia have children and 11 per cent of homosexual men have children.

Around two percent of the Australian population is homosexual or lesbian but not all are in couple relationships.

With such small numbers, particularly for male homosexual parenting, it is perhaps too early to be drawing  conclusions.

Indeed, it’s too early to draw conclusions, but you do anyway.  You are suggesting that it’s better to tell gay people not to have children, just in case they screw their kids up.  Again, the same standard is not applied to the children of people who aren’t as well-educated and earn high incomes just like those lesbians that are raising well-adjusted kids.

The overwhelming conclusion of the vast body of social science research is that kids do best when raised by their biological mother and father.

Except for the research that hasn’t been conducted by some christian funded organisation or doesn’t properly reflect the GLBTIQ community, or research that has serious flaws in its methodology.

Common sense and the evidence of past practices of child removal tell us that a child’s biological parents matter to the child, regardless of the love provided in alternative arrangements.

Yes two men can love a baby, but is it right to have removed that baby from her mother?

Are fathers an optional extra?

Common sense?  It’s a pity Lyle doesn’t use some.  You see the thinking of christian fundamentalists is along these lines.

1.  The bible says that gay people are an abomination.

2.  Being gay is a sin

3.  Sin is from the devil

4.  Therefore all gay people are evil and either want to eat your children or raise them to be gay or raise them to fail in life.

5.  If you disagree refer to 1.

These are important ethical questions that should be front and centre of the debate about redefining marriage.

Oh please, nobody is redefining marriage.  People will still get married, some will have children, some won’t.  Some people will have children and not get married.

Once a new definition of marriage is legislated, these questions become obsolete. In fact, they become inappropriate.

toddlerpink

As usual with a media release, we get broad statements with little about the driving motivation.  The ACL and Lyle have no time for anything that is gay and would like to wipe it off the face of the earth because jesus loves us all.   These discussions are inappropriate now.  Instead of trying to support all families, Lyle and the ACL focuses on a small section of the community and run around screaming that the gays are having children!  Won’t anyone listen to them!

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Dec 31

Not normally one for pondering the year that has been, I find myself doing just that.  Although, I’m pondering a lot more than just the last 12 months.

In the short-term I find myself in a state of bewilderment.   You see, I work with a small team of people at work and one of them was killed just before Christmas.  Her husband has been charged with homicide, and I just can’t find a spot in my mind where that makes sense.  The impact has been enormous and I’ve struggled to make sense of it.  At the same time I’ve had to give support, space and understanding to others, something that I’ve done quite willingly.  I can feel that part of me that needs to be busy in a crisis.  I work where I do because the people I work with do great work in a range of areas, including family violence.  I’ve seen reports, heard the stories and know that violence happens.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand why some men think this is a way to solve a problem.  I want this to stop.  When it touches you so close to home it becomes real, not just something you read about or see on the TV.

The last couple of years has also been sad with other deaths, my sister, my mother and earlier this year my father.  It’s been a tough time.  The thoughts of them intrude frequently as I remember, recall and see them in my mind. I have the photos, videos and memories of these people.  Despite everything, they are treasured memories.

The death of my parents in particular has been a relief too.  My greatest fear was being rejected by my parents.  Now without that worry I really do finally feel free.  How bad is that I wonder.  A 50-year-old gay man still fearful of what his dad thinks.  I’ll tell you what he thinks, he thinks that I’m a woolly woofter.

When it comes to the emotions of life, common sense has little to do with it.  In all likelihood my sexuality would probably not have been a concern to them at all.  Possibly they would be too polite to actually say anything about it.  Reality says two things – I’ll never know what they thought, and it no longer matters.

So, I have a new-found freedom.  This new-found freedom helped me one night in Bali to look into the eyes of my beautiful man and ask him to marry me.  He, with a tear in his eye, said yes.  Who’s the woolly woofter now?

He comes with a pre-arranged family, parents who accept and love him for who he is, a brother, sister-in-law, a niece and nephew, aunty, cousins and friends who just don’t give a single low-flying duck about his sexuality, oh, and they also love him. I’ve been accepted into the fold and have the deep sense of the family madness that comes with that.  I have to say, that’s wonderful.  Oh, they’re not really mad either, my lot has the madness refined to a much better level of insanity.

The last two years have also been an incredible deep personal journey for me too.  I’ve grown so much on the inside, mentally.  For years my brain has been a muddle.  I fully expect that to continue.  However, some of it has become unmuddled.  This release has seen me lose well over 30 kgs., and go from sitting on my arse to actually running, I did a 8 kilometre run this morning.  It’s also seen me grow into a new work role that quite frankly surprised me, I managed to achieve a Diploma in IT and quell the side of my personality that was up for a fight, mentally that is, not physically, although my mind rarely rests.  I guess that a dose of muddle comes with that.  I have started to talk to people, to connect face to face instead of by email.  That’s simply amazing for me, a man who wouldn’t approach you personally unless I absolutely had to.

It’s important to go back over more than the last two years to make sense of the journey that gets me to this point.  I don’t know how long it’s taken to get here.  I do know that the trip has been bad.  I’ve been married, for the wrong reasons, I’ve used my mind to shield and bury my sexuality.  You know, in denial.  I’ve used that same mind to keep people at a distance, to be argumentative and unwelcoming.  There’s a lot in that to undo.  I will always be in the undoing mode.  I want to understand me, I want to question and hopefully find the answers.  For the first time in years I really do feel free.

I’ve also moved positions on marriage.  I’ve gone from being married to Jennie, despite all, this was a great relationship.  When we broke up I didn’t want to get married ever again.  I’ve moved to fighting for the right to get married in Australia to now actually wanting to get married.  That alone is a big trip!

I still have battles to fight.  I can’t get married to Michael in Australia.  Some religious people still get up my nose.  There are still people who struggle to make ends meet.

In all of this world, we still have large sections of it that are opposed to my personal, private relationship with Michael.  It’s said to be harmful, wrong and the end of civilisation.  To me it just feels like love.  I know that what Michael and I have is not a threat to anyone, neither of us want to convert anyone to the ‘gay lifestyle’ (other than Hugh Jackman and a couple of other hunky types…).  In Russia the persecution of gay people is on the increase.  In Uganda homosexuality has been criminalised with prison time.  Evangelical Americans continue to spread misinformation about us (and therefore me) and continue to demonise and demoralise people for no good reason other than their interpretation of the bible that I reject outright.

People starve, people die from preventable disease.  Women are killed at the hands of men, children are abused by religious.  Gay people are vilified, racism continues, misogynists exist.  From this angle the world seems depressing and closed.

In my world, I have love.  I have acceptance.  I see my Tomas and Caitlin grown and developing into their own lives.  I feel my partner at my side, partners in life.  I have a great sense of family, which, I’ve discovered I can hand-pick.

I feel that it’s only right that in an act of defiance that I should say to the Australian Government, Fuck You!  If you won’t let me get married, then I will just nick off somewhere else and do it.

I love Michael, he loves me.  We are engaged.  The next step is to be married.  It’s what we do as a society.  Marriage brings with it a public commitment and recognition of the relationship we have to each other.  It says more than just a couple living together in a de-facto relationship.  It carries more weight to say, “Please meet Michael, my husband” and not “Please meet Michael, my partner”.

Sure, it’s not for everyone, but I now know that it’s for me.

Those of you that have been part of my journey, thank-you.  Buckle up, there’s more to do.

If I can go from one short fat lazy Australian to a 50-year-old, fit, slim bloke, then there is nothing we can’t do.   No matter where this ends up, you take care of yourself, never stop asking questions and always be willing to change.

So, I leave my ponderings now, I wish the world a happy New Year and I wish you well.

5 years between photos

5 years between photos

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Sep 12

Somewhere along the way my Dad died.  I knew he died.  It was completely unexpected, well, except that he was 84.

Brian Storer

Brian John Storer
13 December 1928 to 30 July 2013

It was 14 months between my mother dying and Dad dying.  The two deaths were so very different.  Mum’s was drawn out and painful to witness, it went on for months and the final 24 hours were horrifying beyond my expectations. Some day I’ll publish the blog I wrote about that, but it’s still pretty raw.  Dad on the other hand went at the end of a normal day.  Like so many others.  We have a photo of him, just hours before he died, he is alert and happy.  When his death came he literally sat down and simply died.  Oh for all of us to have it so easy.  He died his own way, on his own terms, no fuss, not bloody quacks, no hospital stay.  He was a stubborn man who didn’t need anyone else to help him.

I didn’t ever really connect with my dad.  To me in my growing up years he was an angry violent drunk.  He was vindictive and mean.  I guess I loved him anyway, but I feared him and wanted to be spared from his anger.  I didn’t want to be near him when he was drunk as he would often use me (or other siblings) for a cheap laugh or a joke. He thought it was funny to get drunk, wrestle me to the floor and proceed to tickle me.  It was horrifying and scary for at any moment he could erupt into a ball of anger.  I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of the belt or him trying to ‘knock my bloody block off’.

These memories last long into adulthood and it was years before I realised that I was outside his control and I no longer had to fear his anger.  It’s clear that he left a big scar on my psyche.

Do I have any fond memories of him?  I don’t think I have any great moments from childhood that spring to mind. I grew into adult hood and watched as he grew into old age.  He and Mum won Tattslotto and after years of struggling on ‘compo’ after a train accident that left him unable to work this was a fantastic thing to happen.

We sort of settled into an adult relationship.  He loved seeing my kids, he always took a keen interest in them and what they were up to.  Over the years he certainly mellowed.

Then the whole issue of my sexuality came up for me.  Dad was a devout catholic, he really believed in the stuff about jesus.  I did too, for a long time.  It was perhaps the only thing that kept us together. My fear of him rejecting me because I was gay was at the top of my mind.  I didn’t want him, or Mum to find out.  I kept it hidden in plain view.  Both of them met Michael as we always travelled together.  We never really spoke directly about who Michael was and I was always anxious that they might ask me.  I knew that if they did I would tell them that he was my partner and that I was gay.  I mostly keep to myself but when you ask a direct question I’ll give you a direct answer.  My parents would ask my other siblings about me, but never did they speak with me about it.

Is it a crying shame?  Maybe, I don’t know.  And now I’ll never know.

That’s OK.

Yes, there is some regret there, but I understand why I kept this away from them.  I didn’t want to be rejected and I didn’t want either of them thinking that somehow they’d failed me.  I didn’t want them thinking that I needed saving from the fires of hell, or when they worked out that there was no saving that somehow I was bound for the fires of hell.

And that’s what I think they thought about gay people. I can just about recall every nasty thing my dad ever said about gay people.  The ‘woolly woofters’ which I think is rhyming slang for bloody poofters.  I’m not sure.

I’ve shed a few tears about his passing.  I know that there is a spot somewhere in my heart for the love of my Dad.  I feel the sense of loss, a part of my life that has finished.  I feel the pang of that separation, even if it isn’t as powerful as I would have liked it to be. Then there’s a bit of envy as I interact with my siblings.  My brother Craig talking about calling Dad when their football teams played (Hawthorn and Richmond) or my sister Janine telling me about taking him out to lunch just days before he died.  My brother Larry telling me about the things he did for Dad.  My sister Angela visiting him with her children and developing a relationship with all of them.  Including him in their everyday life. I didn’t have that.  I stopped myself from having that sort of relationship with him.  Part of me didn’t want it because my childhood was marred with unpleasantness that I never got over.  Part of me was protecting myself against his rage and his rejection.

Did he know?  Yes, I think so.  I think both my parents knew I was gay, but we never spoke about it, it was a subject that none of us ever wanted to talk about. I can romanticise about my relationship with my dad.  It’s easy to do that.  I did have a relationship with him, it’s just not as I’d hoped for.  I think it’s mostly my fault for not addressing those issues with my folks, despite my straightforward and honest approach with people, the courage and bravery left me when it came to speaking with my folks.  And that’s ok.

It’s not easy to say to people that I didn’t like my dad too much.  Because I didn’t.  I’d do anything for him, but I didn’t like him.  Whether or not the strain of that relationship was felt by him I don’t know.

Have I done the right thing?  Yes.  I handled the relationship in a way that meant I never had to put either of us into a confrontation that would send my stress levels through the roof.  I did a bit of self-preservation.  I may regret that we never had that conversation, but I don’t think so.

I’m at peace with where we left things. Despite all of this, I did spend time with Dad, short amounts of it.  I’d visit and sit with him for a while, watch some TV, talk politics and about the latest news, catch up on stories from home. Then I’d leave.  Sometimes I’d call him.  I set up a computer for him, Dad was mostly blind so the computer needed to read to him, it brought him many hours of both pleasure and frustration!  I felt safest around him when others of his children where present. I was there when Mum died, I made sure that he got what he needed by way of his religious beliefs.  I stood next to him as she died and prayed with him.  I understood just what his religion meant to him and I think I helped him at the time.  I made sure we conducted Mum’s funeral in the true traditional catholic way.  For what it’s worth I also made sure that his final service was very catholic.

Now both my parents have died.  At times I have felt a great sense of loss.  It’s a little overwhelming.

My Dad called me Son.  He is the only person in all the world who called me that.  He may have forgotten my name, there were so many of us!  No, no, that’s a joke.  I called him Pop or Dad, he is the only person in the world who I used those titles with.  The name Son was what separated each of us from everyone else in the world.  Pop may not have had the knowledge on how to show his love for us, but the weight of a single word when addressed directly to you is sufficient to carry the full set of emotions and love.  It is a special bond, a link that only a father and son can share.

Until my own father died, I didn’t realise that I use Son a lot when I speak with Tomas, I call Caitlin Princess.  I’m not aware of whether or not our parents had special names for their daughters.

The value of family can never be under estimated.  The spontaneous hugs from Caitlin when I’m distressed or Tomas standing next to me at the graveside, hand on my shoulder, Michael my fiancé a hairs length away from me at all times, ready to embrace me when the grief strikes, these are the important moments when we pull together to take care of each other.

This is the love of my family that I value.

Mum has gone, Dad has gone, there is no one to call me Son.  The special connection to my birth has gone, the two people whose love for me was never in question have gone.

I feel alone.  I know I’m not, but the world has changed for me.

For me, I need to write this down.  The exploration of my feelings and the grief, the resentment, the anger and the love are a swirling mess of thoughts and emotions.  It helps me to write about it.  I’ve spent 4 weeks in Bali writing this blog.  My finger now hovers over the publish button.

I want to share this.

Everyone dies.  Maybe your dad already has.  Maybe it is yet to come.  Mine died, quickly.

If I’d had some warning, what would I have done differently?

Nothing.

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Sep 11

The stage was set.

Michael and I were at a fabulous restaurant, Bridges in Ubud, Bali.

We arrived to be welcomed back by the staff who remembered us from the lunch we’d had there a few days earlier.  The restaurant was romantically lit, the colour scheme cream and dark brown with pieces of metal and rope around mimicking the nearby bridge over the Campuhan River.  We stepped out into a terrace open to the world.  A verandah overhead with fans spinning and took up our seats on the balcony.  The waiters pulled our chairs out and pushed them in for us as we sat down and fluffed our napkins for us.

To my left was the valley with the river far below, I could see the bridge with its LED rope lights marking its span.  The lush growth of the forest is highlighted by huge spot lights. The long slender coconut tree with the orchids and ferns growing from its trunk.  The banana trees with vines dangling from the canopy towards the river, the tree with so many other plants growing on it it looks ready to fall over.  In the distance we could see Murni’s where we’d eaten a few times.  To my right an English couple, happily ordering their meal and a bottle of wine.  In their 60′s probably on holiday quietly chatting with each other.

In front of me Michael.  In his blue button up shirt only worn for dinner.  Two buttons open.  His hands and fingers moving as he talks, his brown eyes looking at me, his terrific smile, he’s happy and engaged with the staff and with me as we order our meal of fish and wine.

Our conversations are always far-ranging.  We start by talking about creating software for predictive election results and how that would work.  We talk a bit about How to Vote Cards, my children and what’s happening with them, my sister Angela, Jo and Rob arriving as we leave Bali.

20130811 Gregory and MikeyThe conversation now turns towards marriage.  We have many times spoken about getting married.  I have asked many times if Michael would like to get married, his answer a rather evasive ‘moot point’ response.  Even if we want to get married we can’t in Australia.  We will wait until the law is changed and then we can talk about it, along with the obvious retort from either of us “Is that a proposal?  Aren’t you suppose to be on one knee?”

As I’ve said to him many times I actually don’t need to get married to him.  I don’t need to have our relationship recognised by anyone else.  I understand what he means to me, I know that in my heart I have a deep love for him.  There is no part of me that needs independent recognition of our relationship.  I’m in this for life.

Then, it changes.  I don’t need to get married to Michael.  I want to.  I no longer have enough words to express how much I value him in my life, what it is that we have.  I sense that I now need something that takes us to the next level.  Something that is symbolic of that love we share and the unspoken commitment that we have to each other.  I need a way to express that to him, and to those I love that here is a man who is important to me.  A man who I want to spend my life with, that I want to love and be loved by in return. A man I want to share everything with.  A man who makes my heart sing.

The question is asked, like it has been asked so many times.  Michael tries to avoid an answer.  We talk about how this is about me needing to find something that expresses the way I feel about him, how important and valuable this relationship is. He talks about how all of that is mutual, Michael has already made a commitment to our relationship in his own mind.  I sit and look and wait, it slowly dawns on him that I’m actually asking a question that now needs a yes or no answer.  I ask him, putting aside the reality of not being able to marry in Australia, will he marry me.

With tears in our eyes he says yes.

Life goes on around us, plates and glasses come and go, people chat and laugh, we look at each other with a huge amount of love and emotion as we struggle to find a way to express what’s just happened.  We shed some tears, we smile at each other we struggle with the reality of going public.

The get away to Bali has been terrific, I’ve been able to see and do things outside my everyday life.  I’ve found a partner and friend in Michael who I want to be with.   We have five solid years together.  I’ve found a way to express the depth of my feeling towards another person.  We have found a way to share those feelings with our families and friends in our lives.  We have an understanding, we have an acceptance.  We have love.

 


Michael’s blog post

 

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Sep 04

Even in far flung Ubud, Bali I have heard the noise from Australia about the Prime Minister smacking down a chrisitan who had the tenacity to ask the PM about his back flip on marriage equality.

I can’t help but make a few comments on some of the stuff I’ve read from some christian quarters about Rudd’s comments.

And let me be really clear here. I don’t like Kevin Rudd, to me he is simply another man in a suit that is bent on keeping the job of Prime Minister and has little regard for anyone else because he knows best.

In a nutshell, a christian pastor asked the christian Prime Minister how he could now support marriage equality when Jesus himself made it clear that marriage was between a man and a woman.  Rudd in his response said:

I do not believe people, when they are born, choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay. You don’t decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is – it is how people are built and, therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong. I don’t get that. I think that is just a completely ill-founded view.

He went on to say other things, have a look at the video or read the transcript.

I want to focus on this particular statement about being born gay.  This is from my own personal journey.

Some other bloggers have taken to their blogs to object to the PM’s notion that people are born gay.

Bill Muelhenberg on his blog called “Culture Watch” said this:

He (Rudd) assured us that homosexuals are born that way and cannot change, thereby calling Jesus a liar for telling us he came to set people free from their sinful lifestyles.

…snip…

It (The Bible) is nothing of the sort. It is about the truth that we are condemned sinners heading to hell, and that Jesus died for our sin so that through faith and repentance we can be set free and made right with God.

Arnold Jago – Mildura doctor and devout Catholic says this on his blog called “The Real Mary Mackillop”:

Last night on ABC-TV, Prime Minster Kevin Rudd was applauded for claiming that same-sex “marriage” is compatible with Christian thought.
Based on two assumptions:
* that homosexuality is not abnormal because some people can’t help it. “They are gay if they are born gay,” he said.
Which is not factually correct. It’s far from being that simple.
* having hopefully got away with that dubious generalisation, Mr Rudd steered further off track.
“What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament…Loving your fellow man,” he said.
Well yes. But if, in fact, homosexuality is a disorder, the way to show a man love is to warn him of his problem and guide him towards a better way.

Out there on the net are plenty of other examples of christians being upset that Rudd claims that I was born gay.

Was I born gay?  I don’t know.  Does it matter?  Not to me.  Am I disordered?  I don’t think so.

I don’t know why I’m gay but I can tell you that from a very early stage in my life I knew that I was gay.  I may not have had the words to describe how I felt and I certainly didn’t know what it meant.  But from about the age of 8 there was a part of my brain that knew that boys were far more interesting to me than girls.

In my teens I had no interest in the opposite sex and my early sexual encounters and my first serious relationship was with a man.  Women didn’t figure at all.  By the time I was in my 20′s this was causing me angst thanks to religion.  I wasn’t ‘growing out of it’ as some people seemed to suggest.  The phase I was going through seemed to be rather long.

I don’t  know where my sexuality came from, but I do know how hard I tried to get rid of it.  Ask my siblings about me growing up.  An angry youngster.

There’s claims that my sexuality may have been caused by an absent father or lack of relationship with him, it may have been caused by sexual abuse from a man, or it might have been the devil.  However, there’s 11 children, my sisters and brothers either side of me don’t appear to be gay.  Our experience in growing up is very similar.  I can only think that I suffer from 8th child syndrome, well known for causing gayness.

Being gay is not something that I learned to be.  In fact the reverse is true.  I did my best to learn to be straight.  I even got married and had kids to prove that I was a true blue Aussie bloke able to scratch my nuts, spit, swear and make disgusting statements about sex.

Then for some strange reason that veneer broke down.  I was angry even though I thought god had answered my prayers and given me a wife and a family.  I was devout. I loved jesus and thanked him for my wonderful life.  My prayers had been answered, god had taken away the ‘sin of homosexuality’ from me.

At this stage christians will tell me that I wasn’t trying hard enough, I didn’t pray hard enough, I didn’t believe hard enough.  I gave in to temptation.  The devil made me do it.  I choose to be gay.

You’re joking, right?  Christians think I made a decision to be gay and to be subjected to a world of hatred and bigotry? Some christians think I picked a sexuality that would lead me to live in a world surrounded by homophobic believers.  I was a true catholic, I knew that sinners would go to hell.  That’s an eternity in torment.  I really believed that.  Why would I pick to spend all of time in the pits of hell?

I didn’t pick being gay, it was only when I made the decision to be who I really was, to accept that my sexuality was innate that I finally found peace.  It is only in a loving relationship with Michael that I have truly found myself.

1147590_10151828259870149_846076795_oThis is my world.  I’m not disordered or a sinner.  I don’t hate god (there is no god to hate) and I don’t need god.

I don’t need religion to define me.

I’m happy for people to believe whatever they want, go for it.

I’m not happy for other people’s belief systems to impact on me.  I reject that outright.  It’s not ok for a pastor from Queensland to suggest that there is something wrong with me, it’s  not ok for fundamentalist christians to continue the hate and the bigotry based on concepts that I have no belief in.  It’s not ok for some fundamentalists to pretend that they really love me and want me to know the truth according to them.

I am not asking anyone else to be gay, I’m not trying to change anyone’s sexuality (but if Matt Damon was interested…), I just want to get on with my life, I want to spend it with Michael, we love each other, we want to be together.

I am now happy.  Not because I’ve rejected religion or that I’ve taken the ‘easy path’ or given in to the sin of homosexuality.  I’m happy because I have accepted who I am and I’m no longer trying to be who others think I should be.

In the straight world after 5 years of being together people would ask me when the big day was.  When are we getting married.

That’s a really good question.  When am I getting married?

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Aug 31

I would consider myself to be sort of left-wing in my politics. A liberal but also a little conservative in some ways I guess.

ballotI thought Julia Gillard was a pretty good idea after she won the last election. I’m pretty impressed that she was able to lead a minority government and get so much done. Tony Abbott on the other hand isn’t such a good idea. His politics seem to me to be so negative and his incessant calls for an election was just maddening, considering that if he had won the support of the independents he would have also gone the full term.

The ousting of Rudd was bad enough, but for the same thing to happen to Gillard is just beyond the scope of all reason. It seems to me that Rudd was always working towards getting back into the PM’s job.  Rudd’s fellow MP’s ditched him for good reason.  They didn’t like him.  Am I to now accept that somehow he’s changed and that he will be better behaved this time?

I don’t like how it happened, I certainly don’t like how he then wanted the parliament to be a kinder and fairer place after his actions.  I’m not at all impressed by the actions of Rudd or the actions of those in the Labor Party.  This isn’t about anything other than them trying to retain power, it seems to me to be an unprincipled tactic and has ensured that it will be a very long time before I vote for Labor again.

That sort of leaves me in a bit of a quandary as it’s election time.  In the electorate of Higgins there are seven candidates.

1 O’DWYER, Kelly Liberal

2 BALDWIN, Jamie Family First Party

3 CHAU, Wesa Australian Labor Party

4 PRICE, Leanne Rise Up Australia Party

5 DALL, Phillip Leslie Palmer United Party

6 HARRISON, James The Greens

7 WEBER, Graeme B Independent

Voting time for me comes early as I’m in Bali on holiday.  I want to participate and have my say and I want my vote to actually mean something.

Michael and I visited the Australian Consulate in Denpasar to lodge our postal vote, that in itself was an interesting and eye-opening experience.  As I stood with my House of Representative ballot paper I still hadn’t decided who would get my 1st preference.

I’d met with Kelly O’Dwyer earlier in the year and that was sort of ok.  She changed her mind on marriage equality and that is important to me.  I’d also had the chance to interact with James Harrison from the Greens, he seems ok to me, but really didn’t greatly impress me.  Wesa Chau from the Labor party seems like an interesting woman based on her social media presence.  I didn’t get a chance to chat with her before we left for Bali.

It dawned on me as I stood there with the ballot.  I need to number them starting from my least preferred candidate.

So:

7 PRICE, Leanne Rise Up Australia Party (I loved putting that 7 next to these religious homophobes)

6 BALDWIN, Jamie Family First Party (More religious nutters)

5 DALL, Phillip Leslie Palmer United Party (A party named after a man who thinks he’d be a great PM – too big an ego)

4 WEBER, Graeme B Independent (Single issue candidate, wants to introduce nuclear power, I don’t think so!)

3 O’DWYER, Kelly Liberal (One word, Abbott!)

2 CHAU, Wesa Australian Labor Party (Not after the way Rudd has behaved)

1 HARRISON, James The Greens

And there you have it, voting by numbering in reverse ordered based on who I would least want to represent me.

I also voted below the line on the Senate paper.  For Victoria that’s numbering from 1 to 97.  I don’t want some party hack deciding how my preferences should be used.  And besides, I wanted to take great delight in putting Danny Nalliah from the Rise Up Australia Party down as number 97.  His running mate was 96.  It was like saving the last bit of tasty food on your plate for last.  It made the whole numbering below the line worth the effort.  It was the best formed 97 I’ve ever written, so neat and tidy.

At the top I placed the Greens and then the Secular Party.  I really want the Greens to have the balance of power, because no matter whether we have a Labor or Liberal party in office we need to keep them in check.  Any political party that has control of both houses is a bad thing for the country!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 13

50starmontage2Today I turn 50. 13th August 1963 was when it all started.

I’ve said before that birthday celebrations seem a bit odd to me.  Counting how many times we’ve been around the sun.  Still, it marks a point in time and 50 is one of those ‘important numbers’.  I have embraced it and gone all out to celebrate and mark the occasion with a dinner with my nearest and dearest and taken it to social media too.

I have spent my life thinking and communicating via a whole range of methods.  Today is a good a time as any to tell the story of how a little blonde boy from way out west came to be writing a blog and engaging with the world from the safety of a computer and a keyboard.  Of course, I do mix it with real people from time to time.  I’m one of the lucky people, I have a job that I love and it’s grown and changed around me.

My first attempt to communicate was clearly my voice from the moment I first uttered ‘mum’. Then in 1972 I began Storer’s Paper, a little newspaper that I wrote and circulated around the house. It was full of stories that you’d expect from a 10 year old.  I’ve attached a Storer’s Paper from my 13th birthday.  It’s really quite a hoot.  I went so far as to ‘employ’ my brother and sisters to write stories for me.  I also took great delight in firing them so I could write headlines about it.  I charged my mother 1¢ per edition and then I bumped the price up to 2¢ and then 5¢ so I could write headlines about it!

The paper for my little newspaper was supplied by my older brother Larry who worked in a print shop.  I loved printing.  I loved to visit his work.  He would show me how he put together print jobs.  It was fascinating.

archerIn 1977 from my paper round money I purchased a little intercom from Tandy and used it to play radio stations, I would drag the intercom to the record player and sitting there with the talk button pressed in while I played my father’s country music records to the receiver at the other end of 5 meters of cable.

It was about that time that I started earning money from my paper round and other jobs. With that money I started to buy microphones, record and tape players and then switches and speakers.  I wired the house with speakers and SP7 Radio Intercom began blasting music on a daily basis. I’d come home from school and from 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. every day I’d play radio stations.  It’s fair to say that school for me wasn’t a great experience.  Home life was fraught at times and escaping into my bedroom, putting on my headphones and playing the latest single was a great way for a young teenager to escape.

I taped just about every program I ever did, I would also tape shows off the radio and sometimes the TV.  The Muppet Show was one of my favourites.  As a youngster who was constantly bullied for being gay this enabled me to hide behind the microphone and pretend to be a big time media star that people loved to listen to.

Have a listen to a short sample of “The Greggie Show”  from 1st August 1982.

SP7 Radio Intercom gave way to ASP Radio and then 3SP and I had a number of ‘regional stations’ 3DR, dining room, 3LR, lounge room and 3SR, spare room.  It was simply wonderful fun and as I moved into employment I was able to buy a lot more equipment and refine my presentation.  I would have gone into radio, however I was never really pushed in that direction and I was a somewhat timid guy and very unsure of myself.  I was also shit frightened about having to go on a 6 week training course in the city.  I just couldn’t imagine doing that!

My home radio station stayed with me well into my twenties and as I formed close relationships with my friends and they moved away I would record letter tapes to send them.

3SCBWhen I moved to Melbourne in 1995 I replaced my home-grown studio with a real radio studio and spent many years at a community radio station Southern FM.  I started out reading the news during the drive program on Mondays and when the regular presenter failed to show up I applied for the slot and got it.  It gave me a chance to really play radio stations.  I revelled in it.  A normally shy person I was able to get behind a microphone and take charge.  I found myself interviewing all sorts of people from all walks of life.  This was the sort of radio I wanted to do.  I did Monday Drive for a few years and then with Helen Cook we did Tuesday Drive, it was a hoot!  Towards the end of our time at Southern FM, Helen and I had returned to full-time work and it got hard to organise interviews, we’d spend our time playing music and chatting more off air than on.  At the same time I was also doing a computer show  called “Cyber Café” with Andrew Le Clerq.  That was heaps of fun.  I did all the serious bits of work of button pushing and announcing while Andrew did the talking about topics, but mostly we just made fun of each other and meandered our way around various computer topics.  At least I think that’s what was going on.

Bozo Criminal of the Week on Cyber Cafe with “FW & GP” from April 2002  

I never really let the newspaper side of things go either. Storer’s Paper faded quickly once my siblings lost interest and I began doing the radio thing.  However, I was involved in Scouts and that gave me a chance to use my ‘newspaper’ skills.  With a small Olivetti typewriter and some carbon paper I would produce newsletters for the 3rd Hamilton Scout Group.  When that folded and I moved to 2nd Hamilton I took on the weekly newsletter job as part of by leadership role as a Cub Leader.  I loved creating documents using Letraset and a photocopier.  As I moved through the Scout movement I was always involved in producing newsletters, posters and other communications.

The Internet started to happen at about this time.  I had a computer of sorts since about 1982 and as I earned more money I upgraded.  When the internet really came along I was there, buying a modem and hooking in.  I loved it.  As it developed I taught myself how to design web pages.  I regularly engaged in the social media of the day, Internet Relay Chat, here I made some good solid friends, I found real people behind the nicknames.  We would chat for hours online and then meet in person.  I’ve found several boyfriends and many long-term friends on the internet.  Have a read of this (language warning!)

I wrote some computer programs and plenty of scripts to make my computer zing.  Web pages, chat programs and newsgroups where a natural extension of Storer’s Paper.  It was the Internet that soothed the transition of the straight man to the gay man.  I found plenty of people out there in the world who were on the same journey as me.  We connected.  That’s what the Internet still does today.  It helps us to connect and communicate.  If it doesn’t you’re doing it wrong.

So here we are, today.  You’ll find me on Facebook and Twitter.  You can read my blogs and you’ll even find a few YouTube videos of me.

I run my own servers at home, I love to play with them, tweak them and write code!  I’m not the world’s best geek but I have plenty of fun.  Using my self-taught skills I have helped my workplace adopt these new technologies, I designed our first website, I was there as 1999 rolled into 2000 and made sure we were compliant.  I was there when we networked and introduced email to everyone.  I have seen the gradual evolution of communication and I’ve helped establish it in my own little way.

Communicating is fantastic, I’ve learned much over many years and it’s been a constant theme that has run through my life.

And now I’ve communicated with you by telling you my little story to mark 50 years of me.

I don’t want much by way of material goods.  If you feel like you want to take me out for a coffee or have a drink with me, or if you want to send a card, stop now!  Help a charity instead, I know a good one.  Get this app Shout for Good and support Family Life.  They (that is we) are all about communicating with those that are struggling.  Every little bit helps.

Thanks for being on the journey with me and taking the time to read the 50th anniversary edition of Storer’s Paper.

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Jul 26

I just can’t believe that my government lead by Kevin Rudd and the opposition leader, Tony Abbott are so tied up in knots about asylum seekers.

aia_refugee_fbprofileIt seems to be crazy and I want them to know how bad I think their decisions are.  On one hand we have Rudd wanting to send them all to PNG and on the other we have Abbott claiming we have an emergency on our hands and that somehow our borders need protecting from unarmed people in leaky boats.

The real issue is people smugglers.  I don’t have the right answers, but I do know that treating asylum seekers as if they are a threat is simply inhumane and ridiculous.

There are plenty of ways to express the way I feel, and I’m starting with an email that I’ve sent to my local member.  Kelly O’Dwyer.

I know that Kelly is switched on to the rights of people after her recent support of marriage equality.  I’m hoping that she will have the courage to use that same sense of fair play when it comes to the rights of asylum seekers.

Here’s the letter, feel free to cut and paste and send off to your local member.  Remember, we need to let them know how we feel.

Hi Kelly,

I’ve been following the issue of asylum seekers as I’m keen to make sure that those fleeing danger in their often war-torn countries are able to to find somewhere in the world that will help them.

I’m rather dismayed at the Labor party policy to move these refugees to PNG.

I’m really very horrified by the Liberal Party policy called Operation Sovereign Borders.

I struggle with the notion that somehow unarmed people in leaky boats warrants such a heavy-handed response and I don’t think we have a national emergency either. It’s not like the 48,000 people who have arrived have posed a threat to Australian society by wanting to over throw the government or do anything other than have a better life.

If it’s people smugglers that are the real culprits here, then that should be our target, not punitive measure that seem designed to make life even harder for legitimate asylum seekers.

I hope that you will take a sensible approach and that you would encourage your party to be more compassionate towards those that are fleeing terror so that they aren’t coming to a greater terror of being completely dispossessed through no fault of their own.

I always sign letters to MPs with my full name, my address and mobile phone number.  I also CC’d Tony Abbott in.

Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party policy

Kevin Rudd on the Labor Party policy

Visit Amnesty International for some ideas on how to help.

 

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Jul 03

I’m simply outraged, enough to drag myself out of bed and write this blog while my levels of outrageousness are still really high.

I find it beyond my comprehension that two grown men adopted a child and then abused that child in a way that makes me feel sick.  I have no words that I would use here that begin to show my utter disgust and contempt for these two.  They play the perfect gay parents and hid their actions with a bunch of lies and fooled everyone for a very long time.

I’ve seen this behaviour before.  When I was in the Scouts back in Hamilton and we discovered a paedophile in our midst.  Someone that I had worked with for many years.  I had no idea.  His best friend had no idea and his wife had no idea.  He used his position of trust to abuse the young boys in his charge.  At the time, as we went through various debriefings, it became clear that this is the way that paedophiles operate, they get in on the trust of the parents and manipulate them to gain access to their children.

Just look at the Catholic Church and those priests that offend, they behave in exactly the same way.

I find it disgusting.  My experience meant that I was doubly cautious with my own children and barely left them alone with anyone else.

When coming to terms with my sexuality one of the big battles I had to overcome was my internal homophobia.  I was so frightened that beneath the public me I was a dirty paedophile.  That’s the scary shit that I was dealing with.  An attitude that had been embedded in my psyche by a homophobic society that thought if you are homosexual you must be a sexual deviant, a rapist, and a child-abusing paedophile.  It took me a few years to work out that I wasn’t any of those things, I am plainly and simply a man, father of two and gay.  I’m normal and the public me is really the internal me.

Can you imagine then how much it hurts to have to read the words of religious bigots who go out of their way to demonise me and all others like me simply because of my sexuality.  I’m talking of christian fundamentalist Bill Muehlenberg.

It is exactly his sort of attitude that led me in one of my counselling sessions to say to my counsellor “If I ever thought I would sexually abuse my children I would kill myself first”.  Because in the early days of my coming to terms with myself I was unable to make a distinction between the two.  In my mind they were linked.  I understand now just where that link comes from.

How wrong was I?  Never in my reality has sexual abuse of children been a consideration.  Not once.  But I know the impact of society’s homophobia and I’m so shocked and disappointed to find that its still out there, there are people so insidious that they continue to spread the lies and distrust around.

And why do they continue with this abuse?  Because I want to get married.  In his mind I’m evil because I’m gay and I want to destroy marriage, abuse children and bring society down so his view of Satan can rule the world.

I’ve placed the links to the relevant blog posts below from Bill Muehlenberg.  His blogs are full of hate, not love as he likes to pretend.  He never corrects himself or admits that he is wrong.

When the story first broke regarding the two gay men who abused their own adopted son, Muehlenberg posted this:

That is because it involves two things which sadly can often go together (homosexuality and paedophilia) – but things which the lamestream media usually refuses to be honest about. Our mainstream media outlets are dominated by homosexuals and those who are pro-homosexual, so they are loathe to report on anything other than absolutely positive coverage of all things homosexual.

Several things must be noted here. As mentioned, while some of the MSM did run with the story, it has been very squeamish to openly state what was actually going on here: homosexual paedophilia. Sadly we know that even though homosexuals are such a very small part of the general population, they have a substantial degree of involvement in child sexual abuse.

The story did break in several MSM – main stream media outlets (or the lamestream as he likes to call it) and none of them were particularly reserved.  There’s a long article in The Age, published twice, and covered on the ABC news.

Muehlenberg then went on to post a follow-up blog where he said this

While most people rightly condemn child abuse, there are in fact certain forms of child abuse which are now acceptable – at least by our secular left elites, and the activist lobby groups.

This is a truly vile statement.  Show me one secular left elite or an activist lobby group who says child abuse is OK.  They just don’t exist.  One of the paedophiles in this case has been jailed for 40 years.  40 years!  That doesn’t sound like a smack on the wrist punishment to me, it doesn’t sound like child abuse is acceptable.

One is obviously horrific and perverted abuse… The first case I have discussed before. It involves an Australian homosexual couple who bought a baby from Russian surrogates, and then not only sexually abused the toddler, but shared him around various paedophile networks in different countries.

The prolonged sexual abuse by these homosexual paedophiles was so utterly diabolical and monstrous that a judge did not want a jury to hear the case. One US state attorney said this about the case: ”For more than one year and across three continents, these men submitted this young child to some of the most heinous acts of exploitation that this office has ever seen.” Actually for the first six years of his poor life he was subject to repeated abuse.

The reason I discuss it again is quite simple: all over the Western world we are being told we must accept not only homosexuality, but homosexual adoption rights. The activists along with a fully duped media are pushing their agenda, without a bit of care about the consequences.

He makes the irrational and outrageous remark that somehow homosexuals are all child abusers.  He dismisses all the sexual abuse that happens in the home between a father and daughter, all the sexual abuse that clergy have inflicted upon boys and girls.  He simply says that we, the gay people, have duped everyone into accepting our agenda.  How grossly arrogant of him to say so without a care in the world.  He shows no concern as to the impact his type of bigotry has on young gay guys trying to find answers.  Let me tell you from my worldly experience of being a religious nutter – Jesus is not the answer.  Oh, and my gay agenda tomorrow includes getting up going to the gym, going to work, cooking dinner and before bedtime I may undertake a bit of world domination.

Indeed, consider this: our ABC actually strongly promoted this very same homosexual couple just a few years ago. The GayBC is among the most pro-homosexual media outlets in existence in this country. They gave this couple plenty of airplay and newsfeed.

Yes, that’s right.  These two gay dads pulled the wool over the eyes of the media by lying.  It’s not the first time the media has been fed the wrong information.  They simply made a mistake.  One that they have now corrected.

In typical lamestream media style, this story is designed to pull all the emotional heart strings, and make anyone opposed to it look like a callous and heartless ogre. Personal interest stories are always used by the activist MSM. Contrary facts and evidence can easily be overcome by simply showing a happy “family”. Emotive stories will always trump rational argument and evidence-based debate.

The ABC in particular and the MSM in general do this constantly. It is a way to short circuit debate, and put the homosexual activists in the best possible light. Of course they will never show the opposite. They will never feature lengthy stories with big colour pics about children who have been harmed in homosexual households. They will never do personal interest stories which may cast homosexuality in a bad light.

Tonight, the ABC’s 7.30 program showed us 8 minutes of these two abusers and what they did to their adopted son.  Nothing held back, we got the full story.  They even express dismay about their original story.  Contrary to the assertions of Muehlenberg they didn’t suggest that all gay guys are paedophiles, they did spend some time going over how they’d been fooled.  It was a very balanced report.

Muehlenberg is aware of the report on 7.30 – two comments as I write have been posted on his blog by him that shows he is aware.  But he’s not amended or taken his blog down.

In 2013 why must I still read and hear about these sort of outrageous comments?  All the research and science shows that he and his ilk are wrong.  They are wrong because they base their hatred purely on a few verses in the non-scientific bible.  His world view flows only from that and he ignores anything that isn’t somehow connected to a religious point of view.

His view is parroted by the many people who visit his pages and comment, those people have children or access to children where they continue to spread this misinformation.  This is where the real harm is caused.  To those young people trying to establish their identity and they are confronted with the wrong information about who they are.  That leads to depression, self-harm and sometimes death.

Muehlenberg often states that people like me are out to shut him down.  I’m not at all.  But he really does need to temper his language and catch up with where the world really is in relation to sexuality, paedophilia, religion and bigotry.   He needs to stop the vilification of the likes of me.

I am the gay dad of two children.  I am not a paedophile.  I resent the implication.

Now is the time that the Australian Government should be looking at vilification laws.  It’s great to have the recent amendments to the Sex Discriminations Act to include GLBTI rights, but it needs more.

Bill Muehlenberg’s Blog 1 and Blog 2

The news not at all hidden by the ABC

The news not at all hidden by the ABC

 

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Jun 24

qandaI’m a keen watcher of Q&A on the ABC.  I love the political discussion.  Michael and I fire up our laptops and tweet away.  I become fully engaged in the conversation and the questions.  We make comments to each other, interact with our Twitter and Facebook friends, at times I yell at the screen.  It’s a fun night all round.

Something has set me off on tonight’s show. There really was a lot there that I feel quite strongly about, Graeme Richardson telling us what the Labor Party should be doing, Judith Sloan calling Childcare workers ‘dimwitted’ and discussion on violence against women.  Those topics alone got me going, but I’m really quite disgusted.  I can’t believe what I heard and the sense of personal outrage in me was enormous.

Tonight’s show included this question:

DISCRIMINATION IN AGED CARE – Alastair Lawrie has asked: Senator Brandis: On Tuesday night, you stated the Opposition would block any anti-discrimination bill that does not allow religious organisations to discriminate against older LGBTI people in aged care facilities. You claimed that religious freedom trumps the right not to be discriminated against.

I’ll wait to see the transcript, but it seems to me that Brandis is perfectly happy to allow religious rights to trump sexuality rights.

He said that anti-discrimination laws should not be universal.  He said religious freedom trumps that of sexual freedom.

This is an outrageous position for a member of our Parliament to hold.  Brandis may well be the next Attorney-General.

You can change your religious afflictions, not so much your sexuality.  The only people who think you can change your sexuality, or even want you to change your sexuality are religious people.  Yet my rights, if Brandis got his way, need to be dictated by the rights of a religion because my unchangeable sexuality offends them.

Let’s see.  I can’t change my gayness.  Can’t even turn it down a notch or two.  Religion on the other hand changes all the time, indeed has shown itself to be changeable.

I am able to carry out my life and not impact on religion at all.  I made a choice to walk away from supernatural belief.  I am not evil, I am not out to bring society down, I am not gay because of some choice I made or because my father was absent, or whatever mumbo jumbo religion throws at me.

What next.  The right to vote is restricted to men?

Pretty sure I know which rights should be trumping here.

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Update: 25 June 2013 – 8.30 a.m.

The Q&A Question (From YouTube)

 

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