Aug 12

There are some days that I get to the end of and go wow.

Yesterday was one of those days that had a great many wow things for me that made me appreciate what I have and appreciate those whose lives I interact with.

The morning started with a meeting with Anna Burke, the Federal Member for Chisholm.  Anna is Michael’s representative, and she was doing a meet and greet with her constituents on the street.

Saturday was a cold, wet and windy day.  A few people braved the elements to have a chat with Anna, and it wasn’t long before our turn arrived.  In a couple of words Anna guessed that we where there to talk about ‘gay marriage’.  Well, not really.  We were there to talk about our families.    Anna was forthright and honest in her interaction with us.  She’s a very good politician.  She sympathised with us, told us about her stance and how in her electorate she has more christians talking to her about opposing marriage equality than she does have gay couples talking in favour of it.  It seems pretty clear in her mind that the majority of her constituents are not in favour of marriage equality, and that’s her stance.  The majority rules.  I did point out to her that it wouldn’t be the first time that the government did something that didn’t have majority support.  Be sure to check out Michael’s blog about the meeting.

Then it was on to brunch with our good friend Daniel.  Daniel has a 18 month old son, Rupert.  We sat and talked about our lives and what’s going on in them.  Rupert was gorgeous.  It’s great to see a dad and his son out together, sharing life.  It was all too short for my liking before we had to part ways and move on to the next part of the day.

It was the Equal Love Rally, starting at the State Library.  I’ve been to many of these over the past 8 years since the Federal Parliament changed the marriage act to say that marriage was between one man and one woman.  Both the major parties supported this change, the Liberals and the Labor party should hang their heads in shame.  There were all the standard speeches, Doug Pollard gave a great talk.

However, what made this one special was the people that were there.

DSC_5876.JPG Michael’s parents, Naomi and Merv came along as a show of support.  It was fantastic to have them with us, watching and listening.  Merv and Naomi are a great couple, to have them acknowledge not just their son Michael, but also me and our relationship in such a way makes me extremely happy.

Then there was Jim.  A Facebook friend who has seen the insanity of the discrimination against gay people and taken a stance.  He was at the rally with his son and his signs.  Jim, on the Facebook Group Proud to be a Second Class Citizen had this to say:

As a hetero bloke supporting the cause I was very well received, but I wasn’t there for kudos, I’m just an old left wing radical and love supporting the downtrodden.

DSC_5779.JPGWell kudos to you Jim.  Your support is well received.  I was delighted when I was standing there chatting to Jim when a man with a child on his hip approached Jim and expressed to him how great it was to have his support and how he wished there were more people like Jim in the world.  It was unexpected and deeply satisfying to hear those words spoken from one human to another.  The world needs more people just like this.

Jim goes on to say:

I met some wonderful people who helped to fulfill my life. And I hope I added a little to the cause.

Jim helps to make a difference by taking the time to be there.  He took the time to make a sign and proudly walked amongst the crowd.  He even did it despite the weather!  Now that’s dedication.

Thanks Jim.

You, Merv and Naomi help to make my day.

After the rally we made our way home.  Time for a nibble and a bit of a rest.  During that time my two children, Caitlin and Tomas were busy getting ready for a 21st party.  They both were dressed up and looking the part!  I can’t believe that my two adult children are grown up and taking charge of their lives.  Taking themselves off to celebrate with friends, looking very dapper, handsome and pretty.  Despite living with their gay dad and his gay partner in an unmarried household they turned out all right.  Although I’m a bit worried about Tomas’ need to wear braces.

It says Gregroy instead of Gregory

The next part of my wow day was my birthday dinner.  Michael had arranged a surprise dinner restaurant, and I happily followed him towards St Patrick’s catholic cathedral, thinking perhaps we had a dinner date with a bishop.  Luckily the Park Hyatt loomed before the church and I found myself sitting in the Radii Restaurant.  I was treated to some of the best food Melbourne has to offer in a wonderful surrounding.  We had the degustation menu, six courses with matching wines.  The highlight for me would have to me the sugar cured ocean trout and the tapenade crusted lamb.  The service was top notch and the food was melt in your mouth yummy.  The wine, well, what can I say.  I may have to reconsider my blanket ban on sauvignon blanc.  What really made the whole experience worth while was the company.  I was sitting with the man I love.  We were relaxed and engaged with each other.  Enjoying yet another experience together.  This man that has come into my life has really changed me.  To be with him is as good as it gets.

The final part of our night out together was a magical trip down Bennetts Lane.  I had no idea such places existed.  We walked from the restaurant to the Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.  Down Little Lonsdale Street and then down a narrow lane way.  We walked along with others into this deadend street, and there at the end is a sign pointing to a little doorway.  We went in to discover a club full of life and atmosphere.  There was excitement in the air and people enjoying each others company.  We found a seat in the crowed area and in a bit Tim Freedman appeared and started to sing.

The man and his piano.  Making music.  Such terrific entertainment from a very talented man.  Playing his music to a small and appreciative audience.  He interacted with us, made us laugh and allowed us to sing along with him.

That’s my wow day.  That’s why my life is worth living now, not waiting for something better.

I can’t finish this entry without thinking about my mother.  She died recently.  That happens to all of us.  As I sat with Michael enjoying a Huon salmon fillet it occurred to me that for the first time in my 49 years of life, my mother wouldn’t be wishing me a happy birthday. There would be no phone call and no card.  I can’t even type those words without a profound sense of loss.

That moment does not diminish the day I have, it adds to my wow day.  I have been surrounded by people who bring different things to my life.  Thanks people.

Michael and I ended the day perfectly.


The Equal Love Rally, Michael takes such wonder photographs.

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Jun 07

Well, now I’m all worked up.

This morning I got home from the gym, and over a cup of coffee I watched Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby and Kerryn Phelps, a gay rights activist have a debate on Seven’s Sunrise.

You can see it here:

During the debate Wallace begins to make a statement to compare the marriage equality movement to the Nazis of WWII, he says this:

I would like to just say that I think this whole campaign would do great credit to Joseph Goebbels, because what we’ve had, we’ve had the demonisation

To his credit, Kosh, Seven’s Sunrise presenter, prevents him from continuing that line of thought.  But it’s too late, the words have been released and we get a glimpse at the true thoughts of an organisation the purports to show true christian values.

It’s easy to say that I shouldn’t get upset by these comments.  However, the demonisation of gay people continues unabated in this country because the likes of Wallace are permitted to continue to speak out in such a reprehensible way.  That’s not to say that I think he or the ACL should be gagged.  However, the ACL does not represent all christians, in fact they probably represent very few christians.  The media continue to call upon them as though they represent the whole of christianity in Australia.  It’s near impossible to find out just how much support they have.  In these days of modern communication everyone can pretend to be a big organisation with hundreds of thousands of supporters.

The media make Wallace the ‘go to person’ for comment on these matters, it reminds me of how they always asked for Bruce Ruxton’s opinion.  You are always sure to upset people and drive your audience up.  However, the ACL deserve as much media attention as the likes of Muehlenberg or Nalliah.  That is, very little.

And it’s not just him.

Today Bob Katter on “The Circle” on Ten said that the whole issue of marriage equality was irrelevant, this is despite just 39% of his electorate being against marriage equality.  He said that in his 39 years in Parliament only one person had raised the issue with him, he seems to have forgotten the 70 people who protested outside his Mt Isa office last year.

It also seems to have slipped his mind that he didn’t think it was that irrelevant when he stood up before a bunch of christians at Parliament house in August 2011 and said that equality should be ridiculed.

I’ve always known about the Jews and how they were killed during World War II.  Until very recently, I didn’t know any Jews.  Now through Michael I have a much better understanding of what the Holocaust means.  The impact of it is still felt all these years later.   I’ve sat with my partner and read articles and felt his repulsion when the Nazi tag is applied.  I’ve seen how visibly upset and emotional he becomes when we see a movie about the Holocaust.  It’s real.  I can see it, I don’t fully comprehend, but I know.

extreme disappointment and dismay

Is Michael’s rather timid response on the Aleph website.

His personal Facebook pages says this:

Absolutely shattered by the news that Jim Wallace invoked Joseph Goebbels on Sunrise this morning. This is about love and marriage. We are not trying to kill anyone.

To read those words is cutting.  It breaks me up.  I don’t want to see anyone feel such a level of emotional discomfort, and while I can say all the right words, I can not change history.  I can’t change what has happened to all those gay and Jewish people killed for no good reason at the hand of Hitler and Goebbels.

This is sickening beyond belief.  For me, I struggle every time I read another news story that suggest that I’m evil, that I’m a pervert, that I’m not a good parent, all because I’m gay.  As I’ve said so many times, I am resilient.  Michael is also resilient.  He draws from a strength that I’ve seen him use to get himself through some of the most trying times in his ongoing battle with the Jewish establishment.  Others are not so lucky.

It’s for those others that I say to the likes of Wallace and Katter.  Enough is enough.  We are human, we hurt.

Express your point of view, but if your reason for objection is because you think I’m evil, or that Michael or myself are like a Nazi, then you’ve got a serious issue that needs checking.

Go get it checked.

 

 

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Jun 05

Today was the day that my family buried our mother.

In an emotional roller coaster we got through it.

It was terrific to be reunited with my brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces.

What a day.  I might blog about it later.

For now, here is the Eulogy that I gave about the life of my mum.

Eulogy:

Thanks to everyone for coming here today to celebrate the life of Evelyn, to some of us she was a sister, a mother, an aunty, a cousin, a friend.

To Brian she was the love of his life for over 60 years, a couple that were as close to each other as you could get.

Evelyn’s sister Eileen is also here today, there are many stories that Eileen and Evelyn shared over a cup of tea and a slice of a boston bun.

I wanted to acknowledge by name each and everyone one of the children, partners, grandchildren and great grand children, however, Father Pat said to keep this under seven minutes and there’s just so many of us…

Evelyn was born 1929, just down the road at Glenthompson, she was the 4th of 6 children born to Harold and Lena Hadden.

Her siblings, Eileen, Ada and George, Jimmy and Jeff moved about Western Victoria as their father was a blacksmith and he moved to wherever the work was.

Evelyn went to school in Glenthompson and Beaufort, and finished off at the high school in Hamilton.

After school she worked at the High Tone milk bar and then for a while at the Pixie Deli.

Her future father in law would always joke with her that he would bring in a box for her to stand on so she could see over the counter.

This was the time that Brian and Evelyn met.

They were both in a group of friends that knocked about together, made up of school and work mates.

Brian discovered that to win Evelyn’s heart he had to cut another bloke out of the picture to get to her.

The first time that they went out was to the Regent Theatre, Evelyn managed to get a free pass from the Deli where she worked.

It wasn’t a ticket to the regular seating, but to the upstairs area that was normally more expensive and something that neither of them would normally be able to afford.

It was in 1948 that Dad popped the question to Mum and then in this very church on September 24th 1949, they married.

The reception followed at the Hollywood Cafe and so began their lifelong marriage and love for each other.

It wasn’t too long before the first child was born, Evelyn quickly discovered that she relished the role of mother and she wanted more.

Over the next 17 years she was happy to stay at home and look after her expanding family, with a rest in hospital every 18 months or so.

When Dad’s sister Lois died, Evelyn also welcomed into the family Jack and Lois’s three children.  For a number of years she cared for them after school.

She never stopped doing things, Evelyn loved to sew, making clothes for all her children.

She had a Singer knitting machine that she would whip up many jumpers on.

She was keen on all manner of craft and for awhile was very keen on hobbytex, adorning almost every single hanging space in the house with her handiwork.

It was no mean feat to cook and feed that many mouths on a daily basis.

While we were sitting around talking about our mother during the last week, we tried to work out just how many dinners she put together for Brian and the 11 children.

Over a 17 year period we worked it out at about 155,000 individual meals that she served up, and on a roster basis that’s how many dinner plates we washed.

This never seemed to daunt Evelyn, not only did she prepare three meals a day, she also baked most days, there was always a constant supply of biscuits, slices and cakes.

She seemed to thrive at Christmas and for many years we had at least 75 mouths to feed over two shifts for Christmas Day.

With all the washing, ironing and mending going on, keeping us lot in line so that Brian could get his sleep for his shift work meant Mum had to be strong when it came to discipline.

In a motion faster than the speed of light she could take off a slipper and before we started to run away from her she could hurl that slipper with pinpoint accuracy.

Legend has it she perfected the curve throw,

and even though we might duck and weave

she could hit you on the back of the head even after you’d darted behind the green bush.

For most of our time growing up, we had no car.

It wasn’t until Mum turned 50 that she got her license.

And then only after Brian said he would buy her a car if she got her license.

Evelyn was your classic little lady driving a big car, barely able to see over the steering wheel.  But a marvellous achievement for someone who had never been behind the wheel.

With their family all grown up and gone from home, it gave her more free time, you’d expect her to relax, but no, she went out and got a job.  Cleaning.

It wasn’t long until she retired and her and Brian began to travel.

She would never miss a bit of an adventure, she would scramble over rocks, take walks and swim, she loved swimming.  Brian said she’d swim in a puddle in the back yard if she could.

A move to Queensland happened after they won Tattslotto, they had been making the trip north for several years, so it seemed like a good idea.

They lived there for about 8 years until Evelyn decided that she didn’t want to be buried on the Gold Coast, as she didn’t know anyone in the cemetery.

Back in Hamilton Evelyn and Brian made their home again, they continued to travel and they also welcomed their children and grandchildren into their home.

As the years went past they moved to Eventide, determined to live for as long as they could independently.

And here we are today, talking about the life of the Matriarch of our Family.

The woman from a family of 6, a mother to 11, grandmother to 30, great grandmother to 15.

She was our wife, our sister, our sister-in-law, our mother, our mother-in-law, our aunty, our cousin, our friend.

What a remarkable woman.

With a strong belief in her God she firmly believed He would look after her and Brian and her family.

Evelyn leaves behind a big legacy.

She loved her husband, loved each of her children and then their children and the great grand children.

She always took a great deal of interest in all of us, always keen for news about what was happening in our lives.

We can honour her life by remembering her.

Tell her story, the story of humble beginnings, the daughter of a blacksmith that raised 11 children, she maintained a family home and a family life.

From all of us, good job Mum, thank you.

May 29

I’ve lived in Melbourne for over 15 years now, I’ve become a suburban dweller, mostly leaving behind my rural lifestyle.   Michael often comments on the change in my personality as we drive over the Westgate bridge on the way out west to Hamilton.

My journey on a Tuesday morning is touched with a great sadness as we head home to be with my mother as she dies. A flurry of  communication yesterday says that she’s expected to die in the next day or two. Of course there is no certainty of when, but this advice from the professionals is never given lightly.

I can feel a change in my mood as we bypass Geelong and head into Western Victoria, it’s a pleasant feeling of fond memories in going home. The landscape becomes familiar and I recognise the buildings in the small towns as we drive through. I’m on the phone to my family in Western Australia, just checking in and seeing how things are going with them. We talk about their plans for coming home, flying and driving.

We go straight to the nursing home, it becomes a rallying point as my brothers and sisters, partners and aunties gather around the bed.

My mum is a frail shell, her eyes are partly open, her mouth closed with cheeks puffing with each exhale, her breathing is shallow.

What a life, this head strong woman that raised eleven children, supported them with numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her involvement in our lives and the great interest in each and everyone of us. Her obvious love for her husband, our dad for over 60 years.

We knew this was coming, and here we are now. Gathered around her bed, laughing, joking, sitting silently, but mostly we wait.

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May 08

Tonight Michael and I attended a debate run by the Wheeler Centre, held at the magnificent Melbourne Town Hall.  The topic was “Freedom of Speech is over-rated”, and was part of their IQ² Debate series.

On the For side were Marcia Langton, Catherine Deveny and Michael Gawenda, and Against Arnold Zable, Gretel Killeen and Julian Burnside.

There seemed to be no doubt from those on the stage that the notion of free speech is something that is valued, but as Deveny suggested, it’s really an illusion in Australia.  There were some really great points made, afterwards some great audience questions.  The cast spoke with passion and clear thoughts about free speech.

I’m all for free speech, I value it.  That means at times I have to agree that some people can say things that aren’t particularly pleasant and with which I disagree.  It also means that sometimes I get offended at the words that pour out of someone else’s mouth.  I’m fine with that, I understand that taking offence is my responsibility, and as much as I want them to shut up, I accept that they have a right to express their thoughts, opinions and ideas.

I think that there is a distinction between free speech and hate speech.  It’s not ok to make derogatory remarks in regards to race, sex, sexual identity or disability.  So we put limits on our right to say what we think, and with just cause.  Treating people with contempt just because they are different to you is not ok.

There’s been an interesting development following George Pell‘s appearance on Q and A recently.  During the course of the program, which also featured Richard Dawkins, Pell said the following:

We were preparing young English boys

Then he paused, the audience broke into laughter, Pell’s facial expression went from “What?  Oh! Not what I meant” followed by a look of  “Why don’t you lot grow up”, he sort of snarled and finished the sentence with:

for Holy Communion

So the full sentence, just so we’re clear on this:

Were preparing young english boys…. for Holy Communion

Of course, Twitter immediately lit up with those words and it bounded around very quickly, finally ending up as a graphic with Pell’s head and those words but without the holy communion bit.

Pell and the Catholic Church, the same church that is at odds with victims of child abuse perpetrated by their own priests,  in Victoria and indeed around the world, then started legal proceedings by demanding that Twitter remove the offending tweets and the graphic image from its servers.

The letter from the law firm, Corrs, Chambers, Westgarth, to Twitter says in part:

By intentionally and maliciously failing to include the words “for holy communion”, the publication (the tweet) ridicules Cardinal Pell and conveys to Australian readers the false and seriously defamatory imputation that Cardinal Pell is associated with the sexual abuse of young boys.

Yes, that’s exactly right.  The head of the church in Australia is held in ridicule.

Is this a step too far?  Yes, it is.  To suggest that someone is guilty of sexual abuse as a joke isn’t really funny.  I understand that priests and sex abuse sort of go together in plenty of comedic situations, but of course, those that abuse are few, those that don’t are no doubt in the majority.

I think that Pell and the church’s response, however, is over the top.  Sure, Pell can defend his reputation, he’s allowed.  I think the threat of legal action against Twitter and Deveny was unwarranted.

I can’t help but draw a comparison between the hatred and bigotry that is thrown out by the church with regards to gay people.  Over the years I’ve had to stand back and watch the friendships of my children ebb and flow as people found out about my sexuality.  Sometimes the kids knew the reason why a friend from the catholic primary school they attended suddenly stopped being a friend, sometimes they didn’t know why that friend couldn’t sleep over or come to their birthday party.  The reason is that some people equate being gay with being a pedophile.  That isn’t the slightest bit true, but that doesn’t stop people from thinking it.

Religions such as christianity have perpetrated the myth that if you’re gay you’re a pedophile.  In 2010, Ratzinger’s right hand man, Tarcisio Bertone, said, out loud:

But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.

Do you have any idea how offensive I find such remarks?

This from a church that still describes gay people as intrinsically disordered, and contrary to the natural order.1

It’s fine for Pell to defend his reputation and to take action against those who he perceives as trying to destroy it.  Quite frankly I think he’s got bigger problems than being offended by some public chatter.

In all fairness though, who’s holding the church accountable for the defamation that we gay people have been subjected to for the last two thousand years?  Where is our justice, where is our right to keep our reputations in tact?  The words of the church have no doubt contributed to the premature death of many young people over the years.  Kids that haven’t been able to find the right way to freely express what’s happening to them. Riddled with doubt because the faith they belong to considers them against the natural order.

Free speech is indeed a wonderful thing, but only when we all have the right and the access to easily address and redress the imbalance.  We can’t all launch legal action against comedians and international corporations when we feel hurt.

  1.  You can find that little gem in the official book of belief of the catholic church.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church–  #2357
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Apr 29

It wasn’t too long back when his sister, Caitlin celebrated her 18th birthday.

Tomas reach adulthood in March, and just like I’ve done for every party since their first, we had it at home. Tomas decided not to have a big theme, he wanted everyone just to dress up in formal gear and come along.

I’d prepared a BBQ and plenty to eat.

Tomas and friends

At the party

Tomas friends are quite the eccentric lot.  Perhaps that’s more to do with my perceptions than theirs.  His friends seem to hold Tomas in high regard, and this shows through the interaction between them.  I can see a lot of mutual respect for each other and an openness between them,which is really quite lovely.

We hung some balloons, blu-tacked streamers to the walls, displayed photos, found a suitable range of music, dimmed the lights, spread the food, and got the slide show running.

I’d scanned many images of Tomas from the last 18 years, he was born in that time just before the invention of the digital camera!  Before the party started we watched the slide show on the TV, we laughed a little.  The photos show a young lad that has always been ‘out there’. We passed over a shot of Tomas sitting naked on the toilet, talking on the telephone, everything in full view.  It was only just before the party started that Tomas thought better of actually having his 3-year-old bits on display, so we deleted that one.  I wanted to leave it in!  Perhaps I’ll keep it for his 21st.

Jennie was there, she has always set herself little goals of being at something. It’s her way of snubbing her cancer, she won’t let it kill her, she has too much to do.  She wants to be about for a birthday, a graduation or to simply see who wins the cooking show on TV.  It’s difficult for her to be there under a great deal of pain.  I admire her stoic approach and it’s good that we make the most of these shared times.

sucking the helium

Story Time

The speeches came and Tomas’ grandparents had a few words, Jennie and Caitlin and then me.  I then had Tomas sit on my knee and with one helium filled balloon each we read “Green Eggs and Ham”.

The party wore on and for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, the young people congregate in the hallway.  There’s a whole house built around that hallway, with big open spaces, but they insist on sitting with their backs to the wall and chatting there.

Now both my children are 18. Tomas has passed that magic date. I’m looking forward to this new era of our lives.  For awhile now my role as Dad has been to encourage Tomas (and Caitlin) to take charge of their own lives, to make their own decisions. I’ve tried to give subtle guidance, well, at times not so subtle.  Now it’s down to them.

Just last week Michael and I went to the 1st Birthday party of a friend’s son.  I see the journey ahead for Daniel and Sam, along with  Rupert, as they start out on this trip through life.  I’ve just been on that road.   During the speeches at the 1st birthday party I listened as the parents of Rupert explained their wishes and desires for their son as he grows up.  The values that they wish to develop within him, while at the same time leaving plenty of space for Rupert to be his own person.  My journey hasn’t ended, there is still a long way for Tomas and Caitlin to go.  For my part, I hope that I’ve been able to set them up in life with the skills to  take charge of their own lives and be  the person they want to be.

Unfortunately my skills haven’t been able to extend to dishwashing or bedroom cleaning.


More wonderful photos taken by Michael here

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Apr 21

April 21st is the day I married Jennie in 1990.

April 21st is the day I registered my relationship with Michael in 2010.

It’s now 2012, two years on.

Those two sentences are still miles apart.  I’m still not able to say I married Michael.

You can see my story of our registration here.

Gregory and Michael

All smiles

I started this blog to write about things in my life, and mostly that’s what I do.  I find that more and more I use it to express my views about equality.  Despite not wanting to marry again, it’s clear to me that I feel very passionately about the right to be treated equally.  I’m not a second class citizen because of my sexuality.

My relationship with Michael continues to grow and develop.  We maneuver our way around each other as we settle  in a life that brings me happiness, joy, frustration, anger, bliss and a deep sense of satisfaction.

It was only a week ago as I stood waiting for Michael that I discovered myself smiling broadly as he came into view.  What is it about the man that a mere five minutes apart makes me beam when I see him again?

I’m delighted to share life with Michael. It’s grouse.

Today only marks the second anniversary of our registration, it’s not a celebration.  If we mark an anniversary, it’s the day that we meet.  We’ll be four years in November.  That’s something to get excited about.

 

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Apr 21

A new experience recently, something different, which I always enjoy.

A couple of hours on Port Phillip Bay on 15 metre yacht with my friends and co-workers.  Seven of us from work.

Some of the other managers had decided that being on the water was a bit scary, so they decided not to join us.

There was an air of excitement as we stood at the allotted place at the allotted time.  The Sandringham Yacht Club is a large marina with plenty of activity and plenty of boats.

The Skipper of the Terra Firma arrived and took us out to the yacht, it wasn’t as big as I’d hoped, something more the size of the Queen Mary would have kept me happy.  We jumped on board and he took us through the safety briefing.  Nicholas Bartels, the skipper, was good humoured, making jokes and generally putting us at ease as he worked out who the strongest swimmer was, in case anyone should fall in! He showed us how the life jackets worked and gave us a bit of a run down on his boat.  He let us know that he was in charge, and that this wasn’t a democracy, no room for negotiation, if he asked us to do something, it should be done straight away.

on the boat

Aboard Terra Firma

Once he and a man called Bluey had everything in order, they untied the ropes and with a push off the pier, we were underway.  The engine fired up and we gently left the marina. It was a windy afternoon, but the sun was shining and there was an anticipation of excitement and chatter amongst the team as we made our way around the other yachts, boats and other sea-going vessels that you’d never sit in!

Once clear of the breakwater it was time to hoist the sail!  As it was so windy it was decided to just let the little sail at the front go up as opposed to the big one on the main mast, which I think Nicholas said was about 20 metres high.  Don’t you just love my nautical knowledge!  I was asked to give a hand, so Nicholas jumped up and ran towards the front of the yacht.  There was no way I was running anywhere!  I gingerly grabbed the wire that I assumed would keep me in the boat and sort of hunch over and shuffled my way forward.

As Bluey guided the sail up the mast I had to pull the rope.  At first it was no harder than raising a flag, but then as more of the sail rose, I found I hand to grab the rope and pull hard, bending my knees and almost kneeling.  I reckon I could do that once a day, great sailor I’d make.

Now the adventure started.  I discovered why people get drawn in to sailing.  The seven of us had our legs over the side of the boat, doing our bit to keep that side weighed down, and before we knew it we were hurtling through the water at 27 knots.  (Which I think is about 50 kph).  It was a thrill!  The waves saw us rise and fall, the spray stinging our faces and with cries of terror and delight we heading out into the bay.

Terra Firma Yatch

Not us!

Then it was time to tack, our job was to let go of the security of the wires that we were hanging on to for dear life, and make our way across the other side of the boat.  There was only a moment of panic as you look towards the other side and notice that it’s on a hell of an angle, and just below the wires on the other side is the water, it occurs to you that should you not time this just right you might end up in that water.  As Nicholas brings the boat around, it levels out a bit and we all scrambled across and ensconced ourselves on the other side, grabbing the wire that we are assured keeps in 14 burly blokes.  Now as the boat swings around we are again on the high-end and whipping through the waves.

We did this  a couple of times.  Then bang.  We stopped.  Just like that.  It wasn’t clear what was going on, but we certainly hit something.  I eagerly look towards shore.  Could I swim that far?  Resisting the temptation to go find a life vest, I sat as Bluey and Nicholas calmly talked to each other.  Seems we ended up on an unexpected sand bank.  Using the motor Nicholas gently rocked the boat backwards and forwards until we fell off the bank and were free!

A cheer went up!

A bit more speed before he turned the boat and headed for home.

Now that thrill was over, and the real thrill for the day was about to commence.  Out on the water, with a can of beer in my hand and some sandwiches we peacefully sailed through the waters of Port Phillip Bay.  Off in the distance I can see the Heads and Arthurs Seat.  I can see Half Moon Bay where I spend many of my lunch times looking out at the same spot.  Further around is the skyline of Melbourne.  I have my friends and colleagues with me as we chat and laugh.  Eat and drink.

I’m loving it.  The stresses and the strains of life float away on the water as I look at the crested terns flying off in search of food.  I see a gracious bird with a huge wing span sail off over head.  I hear laughter and delight as we gently sail back to the bay.

I’m in my element here.  Well, not the water as such, but outside, surrounded by nature.  There’s the gentle rocking of the boat, the sound of the wind, the bird life and the water.  The sun is brilliant and I’m here.  I soak up the moment, recalling how grateful I am that right now the universe has reached this place in history and how lucky I am to be here.

We slowly make our way back to the club and reluctantly disembarked.

Even the surly waitress failed to dampen the high we were on as we sat around the table having a quiet drink, re-living the adventure we’d just been a part of.

A time well spent.

 

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Apr 15

Gregory Storer (Left) Michael Barnett (right)

Michael and I spent the weekend a the Global Atheist Convention, our minds have been stimulated and pushed in all sorts of directions.  It was simply brilliant.

During the lunch break a small group of Islamic fundamentalist appeared to tell us that we were wrong, and atheism is a cancer.

The crowd responded with jeers and chants, surrounded the muslims and engaged in a change of ideas.

Security guards circled them creating a small barrier between the two groups. One woman threw her self against the protesters and was jostled away.

My partner Michael and I took advantage of the moment to kiss in front of the group. We understand that in some Islamic States gay people are persecuted and executed for their sexuality. It was an ideal opportunity to challenge the notion of acceptance and tolerance. As we began kissing, the muslims began chanting, burn in hell.

It’s crazy that in Australia such bigoted homophobia is allowed to exist. It amazes me that these men can hide behind their religion and use it as a weapon to victimise and condemn people without being challenged.

Michael’s blog on the kiss

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Mar 28

Tonight, on the television, Michael and I got married.

On the TV.  It’s not real.  There’s no legal standing.  I wrote about the TV Show, Adam Hills – In Gordon Street Tonight here.

The response from those around me has been simply amazing.  The amount of happiness and love thrown towards us, and all those with us that got married tonight, has simply been staggering and just a little bit humbling.  (It’s ok, ego still in tact)

Michael and GregoryAt the outset, let me say that I would marry Michael in a heartbeat.  He is the man I want to be with, the man I love and the man I want to share my life with.  I consider myself married already, in my heart I feel a bond that I honour, I really don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m not married, nor do I need anyone to give me their approval.  I simply want the opportunity to express my love for Michael, to show my commitment in anyway we feel best suits us.  Marriage Equality is denied to us for no good reason.

I went into this TV gay marriage thing because I have a point to make.  I’m simply not allowed to have a formal legal recognition to my relationship with Michael.  A relationship that is real, tangible and valid, just like those couples that can get married.

The outpouring of support and emotion that I’ve experienced in the last few weeks makes it pretty clear to me that there is much support. People see the value in allowing marriage equality.  Even though I explain to people that this is a mock wedding, they still see it as something that is desirable, worthy and clearly not under any threat simply because I want to join the ranks of being married.

Michael and I want the right to get married, who knows whether or not we would.  As it stands at present, we can’t.  That seems grossly unfair.

My thanks to everyone that has offered their support, that has shown me their desire to see marriage equality.  Your words, cards, emails, tweets and Facebook messages are very much gratefully accepted.

To the whole team at the ABC, I thank you.  I’ve felt respected and cared for every step of the way.  You’ve given the whole show a feeling of fun and a laugh, but at the same time showing great care and dignity to all of those couples involved.  Well done.

Before it’s too late, take that support and express it to the Government.  Don’t do it for me, but do it because you see the value in treating all Australians as First Class Citizens.  It’s time to click the link and make a submission about Marriage Equality to the Australian Senate Inquiry. This is important to me and to all those in Australia who wish for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect.

Marriage Equality is important. A huge part of the population is denied something for no good reason. I’m happy to stand up and say ‘if I want to get married, let me get married’. Stop telling me what to do.

The time has come.

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