Aug 01

I’m pretty cross.

Today some up-and-coming would-be politician has resigned from the Liberal party because he got caught.  A few years ago he tweeted some homophobic comments.  He was lining up to stand at the next Victorian State Election and had a pretty good chance of getting into Parliament.  He had been preselected to replace a retiring MP and his world was looking good.

Then, as if out of nowhere, in 2014, his tweets come back to bite him.  Never mind that he appears to have deleted and closed the account that the tweets came from.

The breaking news in the Australian is described as such:

The Australian has obtained a series of tweets by Institute of Public Affairs research fellow Aaron Lane, who is also an endorsed state Liberal candidate at the November 29 state election.  The tweets attack homosexuals, refer to former federal Labor leader Simon Crean as a “giant C’’ and refer to masturbation. Mr Lane is a religious member of the Victorian Liberal Right, who uses the derogatory term “faggots’’ and writes: “The problem is (IMO) many homos make their sexuality a defining aspect of their being.’’  He also tells a Twitter friend: “Just because he didn’t (ejaculate) doesn’t mean you’re still a virgin, sweetie.’’ Another tweet declares that “shirts are for faggots’’.

As the story unfolds we are treated to screen-shots of the tweets and Liberal party members rightly tripping over themselves to distance themselves from Lane.  Lane is called in to explain himself.  Lane is requested to resign, he’s asked to step down and finally he announces he is withdrawing his candidacy.

Good thing too.  He is another religious-right fundamentalist who shouldn’t be anywhere near positions of power and authority.

In a personal apology Lane says this:

I am sure everyone has said things that, on reflection, we wish we had not said – regardless of the context. I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of the language I used in these remarks. I am not a homophobic person. I regret using this juvenile language and understand the offense that it has caused. I apologise unreservedly.

This afternoon, I made the decision to resign as a Liberal candidate for Western Victoria region at the upcoming Victorian election. This was an extremely difficult decision. However, as a committed member for the Liberal Party for over a decade, I chose to put the Party’s interests above my own.

That’s an apology.  It’s never enough though.  The use of juvenile language and the offence are borne everyday by gay people the world over.  And I’m not at all sure about it being an extremely difficult decision.  Rather sounds like it was resign or be sacked.

On Melbourne’s 774 ABC he put some context around the tweets and it’s likely that he was messing around.  That may be the case.  It doesn’t excuse the behaviour.

Now all this is neither here nor there.  That’s not what makes me cross.

I’m cross because yet again the gayz have been used as a weapon to discredit someone.  We are yet again the pawn in some political fight.  We are yet again the plaything of the media. The Australian mysteriously getting copies of homophobic tweets on a political nobody, just months before an election has the hallmark of mud-slinging.  How to get rid of someone?  Easy, find a homophobic comment (that has been deleted) and use it as a weapon.

I’m really angry however about the double standard of the politicians.

Clem Newton-Brown is the Member for Prahran.  He had this to say about the incident:

The Premier Denis Napthine also says the right words.

Dr Napthine, speaking earlier today, savaged the comments.

“There is no place in my team or in the Coalition for this sort of behaviour and these sorts of comments,’’ Dr Napthine said.

Then why on one hand does the party move so quickly to distance themselves from homophobic tweets from a few years ago but do nothing about a sitting member of parliament attending a christian fundamentalist conference?

State Attorney-General Robert Clark is set to address a hardline pro-life event in Melbourne organised by a controversial US-based group dedicated to preventing abortion and the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Less than three months before the November 29 state election, Mr Clark will deliver a “welcome to Victoria” speech to the World Congress of Families – an event which also features an American doctor promoting a discredited link between abortion and breast cancer, a promoter of Russia’s “crusade” against homosexuality, and representatives from the hard-right Rise Up Australia Party.

Not just any MP – it’s the Attorney-General heading off to address a bunch of christians who think that homosexuals need to be locked up.

You can’t get any of the Liberals to condemn the behaviour – people like Rodney have been trying:

He’s still waiting for an answer from Clem.  That’s the very same Clem that was nearly tripping over his own fingers to tweet quick enough condemnation of Lane.

The Labor party is no better.  Quick to jump on the bandwagon today, but to date I’ve not heard of anyone condemning their Federal Leader, Bill Shorten for being the keynote speaker at this years Australian Christian Lobby conference.   Yet another bunch that would like to see gay people persecuted.

Both of our major parties are quick to condemn the would-be politician before he even gets to the inner circle, but are not able to weed out from their own membership the homophobes and bigots.  Shame on the lot of you.

So pardon me while I stamp my feet a little.






Jul 31

Dr David van Gend is a family doctor from Toowoomba.  He’s also the president of a group called Australian Marriage Forum. He’s written an open letter to the Australian Education Minister, Christopher Pyne. Van Gend is asking that Pyne reconsiders the decision to fund the Safe Schools program throughout Australia and goes on to quote a range of studies and provide information.   I understand that he is talking about Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), which the government is funding.  The program forms part of the National Safe Schools Framework and specifically the SSCA program is about creating safe and supportive school environments for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools.  I note that it’s about reducing and not eliminating.  The National Safe Schools Framework is described as  providing Australian schools with a vision and a set of guiding principles that assist school communities to develop positive and practical student safety and well-being policies.  A very noble cause indeed, and a clear recognition that bullying of students needs to be addressed, no matter what the cause. Reading van Gend’s letter isn’t much fun.  It’s the normal anti-gay stuff that I’ve seen a thousand times.  I’ve picked some of his more outrageous bits to think about:

The political justification for ‘Safe Schools’ programmes, or the associated ‘Gay-Straight Alliances’, is that there is a plague of gay-based bullying in our schools, and the only way to counter that is through celebrating homosexuality. That justification, however, is doubtful.

It’s not clear that there is a plague of gay-based bullying in schools, but the Growing Up Queer report released in February 2014 is reported in The Age (7/2/14):

A disturbing two-thirds of non-heterosexual young Australians have been bullied about their sexual orientation, according to a new report that reveals widespread homophobic harassment and violence in schools, at home, work and at sporting events. The Growing Up Queer report, to be released on Friday, also found 16 per cent of respondents had attempted suicide and 33 per cent had harmed themselves largely due to homophobic harassment – mostly verbal among students and, in some instances, teachers.

This is a current research paper with relevant Australian data based on a sample of  1,000 people.  The figures are disturbing and certainly not worthy of the being equalled to something of a plague.  If two-thirds of young gay people are being bullied then we need to address it. Van Gend goes on to quote a UK study, also of 1,000 people.  However, he attempts to use this study to minimise the impact of bullying on gay people.

In one large study comparing a thousand homosexual and heterosexual adults in the UK, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2003, the researchers found no increase in bullying of gay men compared to heterosexual men, whether at school or subsequently, whether verbally or physically. “Reports that gay and lesbian people are vulnerable to such experiences because of their sexuality are often taken at face value”, these researchers noted, with other studies failing to draw a comparison to heterosexual students. In other words, there are many reasons to be bullied at school – for being too smart, too dumb; too fat, too weak; or for being “gay” even when you are not gay. A report in the news only last week finds one-third of 10-year-olds in Australia report being bullied for various reasons. That is something many young people go through, and the claim that homosexual people suffer disproportionate bullying appears to be “taken at face value”.

He omits the following sentence from the report:

Bullying at school was reported no more often in gay than heterosexual men, but the gay men who had been bullied regarded their sexual orientation as the main provocation. Gay and lesbian participants were more likely than heterosexual participants to have consulted a mental health professional in the past, regardless of current mental state.

It is quite telling that he cherry-picks his information to support his contention.  He uses a study that is over 10 years old, well before marriage equality was a reality in the UK.  There are plenty of recent studies around, it doesn’t take much to find them. Van Gend then moves the subject from school bullying to illicit drug use by gay people.  He seems to be suggesting from a 2010 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that somehow gay people are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, but I’m not sure of the connection to bullying, nor does he really identifying why he is making that link.  A quick review of the 2013 AIHW report shows a decrease in the use of alcohol, specifically fewer 12–17 year olds are drinking alcohol and the proportion abstaining from alcohol increased significantly between 2010 and 2013 (from 64% to 72%). The misuse of alcohol and drugs is always disturbing, and van Gend is suggesting that it’s because gay people can’t cope and they turn to alcohol, when heterosexuals don’t cope perhaps they resort to letter writing instead of alcohol. Van Gend then makes some observations from his profession:

From my observations as a family doctor, the pressures that depress a young gay man are more intrinsic than extrinsic: the sense that something has gone wrong deep inside; the depressing and degrading effect of his compulsive sexual encounters; the unresolved anger at what he sees to be the cause of his sexual confusion, such as childhood abuse by a male.

I’m not sure about his qualifications, if he’s just a family doctor I hope that he is referring these young gay men to appropriate support.  I’d suggest with his reputation as a conservative doctor, that the only young gay men who visit him are taught from their religious background that something is wrong.  Van Gend is unlikely to reassure them that everything is ok or that they are normal.  He also then assumes that his patient is having compulsive sexual encounters and that he was abused by a man during his childhood.  None of which he supports.  No indication of numbers or resolutions. He then states:

It trivialises a homosexual person’s suffering to blame it primarily on the external environment – or alleged excess of bullying at schools. There are less insidious means to address the perennial problem of bullying — for all students — than by normalising homosexual behaviour in the curriculum.

There seems little room for doubt about the impact of bullying.  Homosexual people have no need to suffer.  It has been concisely demonstrated in the Growing Up Queer report that external factors do impact on the well-being of gay people.  We as a society should make every effort to minimise suffering for all of our citizens, not just those that he would classify as ‘normal’. He then uses information from The American College of Pediatricians, he acknowledges that they are a conservative medical group and claims that they are represented across 47 states.  He neglects to tell us that their membership is about 100 professionals and that they are a break-away group from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  They broke away after the AAP supported gay adoption.  Interestingly the AAP has around 60,000 members.  So, who are you going to trust? Van Gend then sets about suggesting that when left alone, young men will turn out heterosexual.  He considers homosexual feelings to be some type of confusion.  He’s suggesting that it’s just a phase that young men go through. Finally, after taking us through the standard rhetoric of what makes someone like me gay and how I shouldn’t be treated as a normal citizen he then talks about HIV and venereal disease.  As if this is the singular most important reason why we shouldn’t treat gay people as normal, because it’s bad for our health:

Even using the simplest, most objective measure of harm – the burden of venereal disease (and in Australia it remains the case now, as for the last 25 years, that around 85 percent of new cases of HIV/AIDS are in “men who have sex with men”) – it is obviously harmful to lock a young man into a lifestyle that he might have avoided, were it not for the assertion of homosexual normalcy, by programmes such as ‘Safe Schools’.

It’s so easy to carry that ‘warning’.  No doubt he still thinks that heterosexual people only have sex after they are married and then only have sex with one person.  He clearly demonstrates the need to educate young people about safe sex.  His method of abstinence has never worked.  History is full of tales of sex outside marriage.  We used to call those children bastards. I don’t understand this concept of locking someone into a lifestyle.  He is referring to the gay lifestyle, of course.  Sexuality is not something that you can pick.  Sure, there are some that don’t fit the mould of one or the other, but generally speaking once you’re happy with your life, why would you need to change?  The sort of lifestyle he is talking about is one I know well.  Pretending to be heterosexual.  There is a lot of pain in denial.  My advice is to avoid it at all costs. Van Gend also cherry picks the ‘venereal disease’ information.  I’m not sure of the percentage of men who have HIV in Australia.  However, he ignores the bigger picture.  50% of those with HIV worldwide are women.  Over 35 million people have died from AIDS related illness.  To suggest that we can make HIV/AIDS disappear by asserting that homosexuality isn’t normal is short-sighted and shows a complete disregard for the reality of our world.  Quite frankly it’s disturbing to have a family doctor practising with such a limited view of sexuality.  I’d be so bold as to suggest it’s just outright dangerous. Van Gend is perfectly entitled to express his opinions but when he takes those opinions into the public sphere and uses his profession as a way to lend it credibility then he needs to be scrutinized and held to account. The one thing missing from van Gend’s letter is his motivation.  Considering his faith background he is very likely catholic and still of the opinion that gay people are disordered and an abomination. While he might not actually stone people like me to death, he probably thinks that his god was on to something with that idea. stoning

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Jul 23

I have been hearing my voice booming around my home as I watch the TV for an upcoming documentary.

Stop using the rules of your religion to tell me how to live my life

The constant theme I hear from people about why I can’t get in married in Australia is mostly based on their religious view that homosexuality is an abomination.  The attitude from religious fundamentalist is the reason that we don’t yet have marriage equality in Australia.

There is a shift going on, slowly but surely.  I read this article in the Washington Post from a Christian who believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.  David Jolly is a conservative politician, but he gets it:

I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage.

My request is simple and can be echoed by everyone who agrees that personal liberty is important.

Stop using the rules of your religion to tell me how to live my life.

The other objection that I hear a lot is along the lines of ‘think of the children’ and the use of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which states (amongst a lot of other things that are often ignored)

…the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

It’s interesting to note the use of the word parents here is left undefined.  It’s also interesting to note that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

It’s right up there at the top – Article 1.

So get out of my way and let me marry him.

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Jul 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Jun 14

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

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

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

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

“Can someone be healed of their homosexuality?”

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

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

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

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

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




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

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Jun 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How selfish of them.


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

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

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Jun 07

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

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

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

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

More gay propaganda through the TV

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

Carol Zussino

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to start?

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

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

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

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

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

That is disgusting.



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Gladstone Observer Article 



Jun 01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

In her excellent article Clementine Ford said:

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

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

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

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

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

One a week.

Yep, violence happens against men too.

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

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

Victoria Police Minister Kim Wells is on to it.

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

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

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

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

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

He goes on to say:

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

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

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

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

Ever heard this sort of talk?

“she’s playing hard to get”

“she was begging for it”

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

“she’s a bitch”

“she shouldn’t dress like that”

“what does she expect wearing that?”

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

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

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

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

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

It needs to stop.



White Ribbon Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women

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May 17

Click the photo to see the kiss

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

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

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

The guys doing the nervous things are mostly christians.

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

He wrote about the President of the USA saying this:

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

Gaynor says this:

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

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

Then he gives us this little line:

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

Yes, let’s!!

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

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


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

MR. CARNEY: What I can tell you is that

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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