My name is Gregory Storer. You will probably call me Greg, I prefer Gregory, but you know what, whatever works for you. My preferences are often overlooked because they’re just too hard for people to deal with. At times I introduce myself as Gregory, other times as Greg. It’s hard to work it out in my own head.
Today I took part in a baby shower. Isn’t that great. One of the women at work is having a baby and we all celebrate. I can only wish her all the best.
We do it a lot, celebrating the important events in peoples lives. It’s all so normal. We celebrate the engagement, the marriage, the conception and the birth of children. We then celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and other major events in peoples lives.
I don’t have a problem with any of that. I celebrate too.
But, then, I’m not so normal. I don’t have a wife any more, I do have children, but they are adults. Some people like to tell me that I’m gay. Ok, let’s go with that. I don’t think you need to define my sexual preferences, because that’s what it means when you say I’m gay. It means I have sex with men. And you know what, that makes you feel uncomfortable. To be perfectly blunt, I have anal intercourse. Most people don’t even want to think about it. It’s not all I do, I enjoy a very full and rich sex life. It’s gratifying on so many levels. Deeply gratifying.
This isn’t about sex at all. I just wanted to get that out there. Perhaps you’d like to talk to me about it one day. I’m sure you’ve got questions. But in a polite society we don’t discuss it.
I listened today to a radio broadcast on Joy. The co-presenter said something along the lines of respecting people with religious beliefs. They think homosexuality is wrong, and I need to show respect to them.
You know what? I don’t respect them. You know why I don’t respect them? Because they don’t respect me, not even slightly. If they did they would remove the offending verses from the bible that refer to me as an abomination. They would remove the verses that call for my death. Don’t pretend that they don’t exist. Don’t pretend that they don’t matter, and don’t ever tell me that it’s about my actions and not about me. This is deeply personal. A large part of the community thinks I’m an abomination. They may not say so in so many words, but every time someone uses the word gay, fag or poof in a derogatory sense then that hurts me. Every time somebody says that homosexuality is immoral then that hurts me.
This is vilification, and it’s driven by religion, and driven by the horrible words used in a book. All sorts of readers of the book then use it as a weapon to ensure that I can’t live a happy and full life. They calmly sit there and tell me that I have to accept people’s beliefs. Even the Prime Minister uses the bible to defend antiquated notions of marriage and thinks it’s ok. If the bible said that people in wheel chairs where an abomination, would that be ok? If the bible called for death by stoning for adulterers, would that be ok? If the bible called for the death of anyone who worked on a Saturday, would that be ok? Sure, the moderates will say that the institution of marriage needs to be protected to preserve the family. Sure, they’ll say that I can change my sexuality, sometimes they’ll even claim that having a wife and two children is proof that I can change. The truth of these claims is that it is only driven by the notion that their god said being gay is bad.
I’m here to tell you that I can’t change. I tried and I really got messed up good and proper. Along the way I messed up the lives of some others too. Why did that happen? Because I was trying to be normal. What ever that means.
Would the world be different if the bible (and other religions) made no mention of sexuality? What reason would you tell me that I couldn’t marry Michael if the words “it is an abomination” didn’t exist?
You know what I want? I want to feel ok about going to a baby shower because I know that people don’t think twice about same sex partners having children. I want to rejoice in marriage because I can do it too. I want my life to be celebrated too. At the moment there is no celebration because there is no milestone that can be clearly waved around.
I want to walk down the street and hold my partners hand without fear of every shadow that comes up behind me. Without the smirks and raised eyebrows, or worse, those who avert there eyes, coming towards me.
The other night I had dinner with my sister and my partner in Hardware Lane, lovely. When Michael arrived I gave him a kiss and a hug. I do that with some trepidation because people don’t like it and you never know how they’re going to react. Then a friend, a long standing, best mate friend, appeared out of no where. He hugged me and I felt an overwhelming sense of joy at seeming him. But in our world we can’t express that feeling. He’s got a wife, it won’t do for others to think he might be gay. (Although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind)
You want to know why I don’t ask about your partner? Because you’ve got an opposite sex partner. You won’t ask about mine, because it might be awkward. Best to keep it all sort of superficial.
Every time some person makes excuses for the religious types that they are allowed to have their beliefs, then they hurt me. Sure, I defend your right to believe whatever you want, but don’t think you can believe that I’m an abomination and expect that I’ll let you get away with it, because with or without your belief, that’s vilification. When you defend the right of religious people to believe the bible as the word of god, then you defend their right to think I’m immoral, that I have no right to life. You defend their right to hide behind their religion as a way of making it some how more acceptable to harbour hatred and to openly abuse me.
Here’s a challenge for you, what are you doing about marriage equality? When did you last have the conversation about marriage equality with people who are happily married or the engaged couple? When did you last raise it as an issue when no gay people are about? I bet it doesn’t even matter to you unless I happen to be sitting there. When it comes to that, when did you last ask me about marriage equality? When did you check in with me to see if I was upset by Julia Gillard suggesting that marriage is between one man and one woman and that’s not going to change? Did you ask me what I thought about marriage equality in New York? Did you even hear about it?
My deep and personal thanks to my brothers and sisters, my extended family, all of those friends of mine that actually care about my life, care about my former wife, care about my partner, Michael, care about my children, care about finding those things that we want to celebrate. The respect you show me is wonderful and I hope to honour you with the same respect.
I celebrate my life with Michael, I celebrate the joy of children. Thank you for being you.