Sep 21

It was a simple request.

Did I know of any prominent Australian’s prepared to sign their name to a letter to stop the plebiscite.

Yes.  Yes, I do know some.  I began to make a mental list.

Then I started crying.

On a day when one of Australia’s newspapers publishes a derogatory cartoon depicting Nazi SS officers in ‘gay apparel’ and a day that saw the GLBTIQ radio station, Joy 94.9, receive a bomb threat, I was about to email people I know to ask for their support.

Ask?  Beg?  Feels like begging.

This is so deeply personal while the hate war rages around me I feel compelled to make a stand for a simple, basic, human right.

I have to ask others for their support.

Sometimes I’m not at all sure I’ll last the distance.  I will, of course.  It’s hard.

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Sep 20

I’m tired at the end of a long day, and as I sit down to read my daily emails and look for what the other side is saying, I come across Lyle Shelton’s latest blog on the ACL website.

It’s titled “SSM Leaders’ Failure To Condemn Violence Endangers Everyone’s Safety”

That should be enough to ward you off the rest of the blog, however, I need to call bullshit on this.  Turn away now…

OK, you’re still here, here goes:

Australians got a glimpse this week of what the ACL team has been living with for years.

Since some whacker wrote in the bible that I was worthy of death because I’m gay people like me have endured discrimination and vilification on a daily basis, and some of us continue to be the victims of hate crimes.  Up until quite recently GLBTIQ people have been incarcerated and some hanged for simply being gay.  So pardon me while I laugh at the claim of his religious sect being a little persecuted for a few years.  This pitching of the ACL and therefore Australian Christians as victims just doesn’t ring true for me.

They also got a glimpse of what will happen to their freedom of speech and freedom of association should marriage ever be redefined in law.

There is nothing to indicate that freedom of speech or freedom of association is at risk and this is nothing more than a standard scare tactic designed to make Lyle and his team seem like the real victims.

It simply will not be possible to publicly hold a dissenting view without facing demonisation at best and legal action at worst.

You do hold a dissenting view and you will continue to hold it after we have marriage equality.  What you won’t be able to do is to use your dissenting view to break the law.  You can’t do that now, I know this because I haven’t been stoned in a legal way.

The viscous intimidation of staff at the Sydney Airport Mercure Hotel brought to light one of the long-standing and key tactics of same-sex marriage advocates for shutting down debate.

He may have meant vicious, I’m not sure.

There has been no indication about the nature of the calls, and those expressing their disgust about the hotel allowing this meeting to be held on their premises is a legitimate way to protest.  I’m certain that there were plenty of calls, and some of them over the top.  The debate is not being shutdown, we get to voice our disgust, the same as you do Lyle when you go after organisations that display ads you don’t approve of or TV shows that you find reprehensible.  I’m pretty sure your side has its ratbags too.  You can’t have it both ways.  I’d also suggest that as we don’t know the names of the activists you alleged made the calls we have no way of verifying your information.  It’s also a stretch to imply that all activists are somehow connected.  We’re a diverse group and there’s no way for you or me to control the rage and anger for some.

The Mercure Hotel said that their staff were “rattled” by the phone calls and abuse they copped when activists started targeting them for hosting a pro-marriage event.

I’m sure that hotel staff often get rattled by nasty customers.  However, this seems to mostly be hearsay, mostly Lyle and his right-wing media buddies beating it up.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the advocacy group Marriage Alliance and ACL had booked a meeting room to hold a campaign briefing for more than 100 coalition partner groups.

The meeting was scheduled for tonight and is going ahead at a different location.

Sadly, we have to meet in secret.

The world is a big place and yet you let everyone know that you and your mates will be meeting in a Sydney hotel, you’re surprised when that attracts attention and will result in the action that you’ve seen?  Why didn’t you hold it in secret in the first place?  Are you setting this up?

I don’t think this is the sort of Australia most people want created by the push to redefine marriage in law.

These tactics are not something new, it is the way the people protest to companies when they do something they don’t like.  Try and be a chicken farmer at the end of animal activists or a company providing pregnancy termination at the end of christian activists.

Australians feel uncomfortable with the situation where fellow Australians, who hold to the Millennia-old idea that marriage is between a man and a woman and that children, wherever possible, deserve their mum and dad, are having to meet in secret because of safety concerns.

Seriously, did you just make that appeal to mass approval without evidence?  Since when did you get to decide what Australians feel?  Aren’t those who oppose you also your fellow Australian?  The current version of marriage is not millennia-old.  The scurrilous claim that children ‘deserve’ something is emotive and a dirty play on words,  you don’t have to meet in secret, you could simply not advertise.  There is nothing to indicate that your safety was at risk.

ACL has, of course, faced this may times before but we have never lost a venue.

Until now.

People have often protested your venues, you know it and it was only a matter of time before one of your venues cancelled on you. This isn’t new or unusual.

The threats of violence have escalated and we were forced to leave the Mercure out of concern for the safety of staff and guests.

They are the innocent bystanders in this debate – simply doing their job in helping a client hold a meeting. Australia is now no longer safe, even for non-combatants.

Yep, threats of violence are not nice.  What were those threats and where are the records of them?  At times regretfully hotels make decisions based on credible threats.   This is probably more about the reputation of the hotel and less about you.

What the Mercure staff faced last week is what ACL’s staff face on a regular basis.

Our receptionist regularly fields threatening calls and has even had death threats and threats of physical violence.

We report these to the police.

I have no doubt that you do get those phone calls, you seem to think that you’re the only ones.  I recently was told that gay people should be rounded up and shot.

We also reported to the police instances of our female staff being emailed homosexual pornography.

One image contained what looked like a minor. The police have not been able to action this.

I was sent some pretty disturbing photos during the week.  I found the delete button.  Of course, you should report anything you find threatening, that’s common sense.  It doesn’t matter how hard any of us try, there will always be someone who doesn’t know how to behave.  Adding this to the ‘debate’ is a straw-man addition.

Last week a same-sex marriage activist, who is on a speaking tour for a same sex marriage organisation, entered our Canberra office and bizarrely made a mess in the women’s toilet.

The activist was peering through our downstairs windows.

With the memory of Senator Cory Bernardi’s Adelaide Office trashing fresh in our memories, our team was unnerved.

Why is this even in here?  It sounds like to me that you’re making an unsubstantiated accusation and equating that to all ‘same-sex marriage activist’ which is simply untrue and quite frankly pretty low.

Yesterday, when leaders of the same-sex marriage movement were asked by the media to condemn the activists who targeted the Mercure, they declined to do so.

In fact, they implied that groups like ACL had it coming.

When leaders fail to condemn this sort of activity, it only further emboldens the extremists in their movement.

*Yawn* You really are making this a bigger issue than it really is, and you know it.

Rodney Croome is quoted in the Australian:

Veteran marriage equality ­advocate Rodney Croome indicated his sympathy for the Christian groups was limited. “Threats, discrimination and refusal of service are painful, demeaning and completely unacceptable, as most LGBTI people know all too well, so I hope having had this experience the ACL will now reconsider its demand to roll back anti-­discrimination and anti-hate laws,” he said.

“The two sides of the marriage equality debate should be talking to each other to find common ground, but instead we face a divisive and unnecessary plebiscite that will only escalate these kinds of tensions and hostilities.”

So, his sympathy is limited, but not absent, he said that it was completely unacceptable and says that we’ve been putting up with it for years.  Also, this is The Australian, right-wing and one-sided.  Not sure why we have to take it at anything other than face value.

This has made me very worried for the safety of ACL office staff who bear the brunt of vitriol on a regular basis.

If people from our side were ringing the offices of Australian Marriage Equality or trying to shut down their events with threats of violence, I would be the first to condemn this.

Uhuh.  Aren’t you just the shining light of reasonableness!

Yet politicians like Labor’s Stephen Jones smear us by saying both sides are guilty of bad behaviour.

You are.

But he and others who lump us all in together provide no evidence.

It’s a bit rich that you would lump all ‘activists’ in the same bucket.  Has Rodney Croome ever called your office and been offensive?  No, I didn’t think so.  Has a christian who supports the ACL ever called a gay person and told them that they are scum and burn in hell forever?  Yes.

ACL is used to the double standards.

Of course you are.  You think somehow you are above this behaviour, but you have a history of abuse towards GLBTI people.

The rest of the nation is now beginning to wake up to this.

What exactly is it?  That people have double standards?  I’m pretty sure we’re used to that already.  Look at the mess we’re in now.  Malcolm Turnbull wants marriage equality but is taking us through this horrible process.   You’re also the picture of double standards, you bear false witness.  The reason you don’t want marriage equality has naught to do with children and everything to do with your belief that your version of god has said that marriage is between opposite sex couples and that sex should only happen inside marriage.  Why do you hide what you’re really after?  A world where women remain silent and simply provide babies inside marriage only.  Don’t you lecture us on double standards.

We will continue to speak about the consequences of taking gender out of marriage which lead to “Safe Schools”, where our children are taught their gender is fluid.

This has nothing to do with marriage equality.

We will continue to speak about the rights of children, wherever possible, to be loved and nurtured by their own mother and father – something same-sex marriage makes impossible.

This is simply naive and emotive.  Next you’ll be showing us pictures of Bambi.

We will continue to speak about the loss of freedom that same-sex marriage law creates.

There is no loss of freedom.

The same-sex marriage debate is a proxy for a radical re-ordering of our society’s understanding of gender and freedom of speech.

It’s not a proxy for anything.  It’s really very easy, I want to get married to the person I love, just like you.  Not that I want to marry you, well, I don’t.

I mentioned legal action earlier.

Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous recently spent six months tied up in legal action before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal simply for distributing Christian teaching on marriage.

This is serious folks.

Context?  You make it sound too simple, which it isn’t.

It is naïve to think it will get better once the law is changed and State-based Anti-Discrimination Law stands ready to condemn as hateful bigots any of us who publicly seek to teach our view of  marriage.

It will get better.  We function as a society a whole lot better when everyone is treated with respect and dignity.  This is lacking at present.  You won’t be prosecuted for being a bigot, in fact I’m confident that this won’t change your bigotry.  What you won’t be able to do is break the law.

We must not let intimidatory tactics stop us from participating in the debate.

Yes.  You’re not being intimidated really are you? You’re still out there participating in the debate.  You’re so big and brave.

Make no mistake, tonight’s meeting is going ahead. But I look forward to the day when we don’t have to meet in secret.

You don’t have to do it in secret.  It’s not like the Catholic Church hasn’t got space to host 100 people and not receive a single call of protest.  Stop going to businesses and thinking that we won’t complain.  I like to spend my money with supportive organisations and I will call and complain if they do something that I don’t like.  Then I’ll go somewhere else.   You need to do a proper risk assesment before picking a public venue to hold your secret society meetings.

To achieve this, we must persuade our fellow Australians to preserve marriage at the plebiscite or face continued persecution.

It is as simple as that.

You’ve made a convoluted argument where you’ve attempted to scare people into thinking that something really terrible is happening, overlooking that you regularly appear in the media and have political supporters who can and do speak openly and freely.  You will always be able to do that.

As someone said to me this week, if we are not allowed to have the debate we should not be making the change.

You are having the debate.  You and the ACL are leading the charge, as someone said to me this week, get over it.

 

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Sep 13

I reflect on the last week or so and ponder the huge cost this attention on me and my fellow queers across the nation is having. I get a sense of deep anger, resentment and bewilderment.

I am angry, resentful and bewildered by the actions of all of our politicians. It’s a constant barrage of political games as the to and fro between the Government and Opposition plays out.

I’m hurting, Michael is hurting, I’ve seen and read plenty of comments from my friends to see them hurting.

I’ve read the comments from parents about the impact that this is having on their children. Its distressing. I was in tears tonight reading about the school ground antics.

I’ve also see the community rally and support each other. I’ve got the support from allies who are stepping up and calling this for what it is.

There may not be evidence of an increase in self-harm and suicide, there is however evidence of emotional stress and mental health issues, and that’s just me.

This to me is really simple. My human rights may be voted on by the rest of the nation. That’s so wrong.

All I want is to marry Michael. That’s not so hard.

Thanks friends, be you straight or queer. I need you and your support, and I know that there are plenty of others that need it too.

I’ll continue to do my bit, I’m not sure how I’ll go as its overwhelming at times.

Now the wait while the plebiscite plays out.

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Sep 03

Just recently I re-connected with a fellow student from school.  We both grew up in Hamilton and went to St. Mary’s and Monivae College – I have no idea what happened to her after that.

The re-connection came about on Facebook when I found myself in a group for former students from Year 12.  I struggle to remember my school days and I struggle to remember most of my fellow students.  School for me was not a great experience.

As I sit here on a Saturday morning I’m reading this great article by Lane Sainty.  She is reporting on how difficult it is for non-straight kids in regional Australia to find support in their schools with all the bad press around the Safe School’s program.  In Queensland and NSW real queer kids are struggling with their sexual or gender identity.  The attacks on the program by the likes of the Australian Christian Lobby have made parents weary of the program.  So much so that those that most need the support are just not getting it.

One student who left the school was so distressed by the negative media that his mother was also referred to a psychologist as she struggled to support him.

“He believes the things he hears – he says ‘I’m a freak, nobody wants me’,” the student welfare worker said.

“He’s attempted suicide several times in the past few years.”

As I read this I recall my time in a small country town in the 1970’s.  I was at school and fighting with my re-connected friend.  I don’t recall the details, but the words she used I haven’t forgotten.

schooldoor

St. Mary’s school classroom corridor.

She was standing in the class room door – I was in the corridor.  The door was wooden with a frosted glass insert at head height.  The nun who was the principal used to knock on the glass with her ring.  I assume it was the wedding ring that meant she was married to Jesus.  He had quite the harem.

As my friend stood in the class room, she was trying to keep the door closed to prevent me from getting into the room.  I was crying and quite angry.  I was lashing out at her, hitting her arm I think, because she delivered this line, “Don’t let him in he’s a poof and we don’t want him in here”.

Memory is a tricky thing.  At this point I was stopped by one of the women teachers, that’d be Mrs Phillips or Mrs Peters and I got into trouble for hitting a girl.

No amount of my protesting would cut it.  It didn’t matter that I’d just been called a poof and that was why I was upset.  Nobody wanted to address why I found that upsetting, and indeed I had been hitting a girl.  That’s what the teacher saw.  I was then the bully.

There’s a lived lifetime between then and now.  I’m not looking for an apology, that isn’t needed.  We were both young and didn’t have a much of a clue about the words.  I don’t hold her responsible now, that’d be a crazy thing to do.  We’re both 50 something adults, that would be a long time to hold a grudge!  While at the time it was quite homophobic and I was quite violent, we’ve both changed.

You know what we both needed in the 1970’s?  A program that would help us understand each other.  I lashed out and caused physical harm to a girl.  She lashed out and caused emotional distress to a boy.  Very likely we both felt vindicated for our actions.   We needed the Safe Schools program.  Even in Grade 5 I knew I liked boys.  I knew I was different.  I don’t know whether she somehow knew or was simply calling me names.

After all these years, with all that we know as a society, we still have people trying to deny the reality of growing up.  Putting obstacles in the way to prevent kids just like me from getting help.

How different my life would have been if I didn’t have to contend with the negative images around my sexuality.  So much so that when I finally got to Form 6, Year 12, all I wanted to do was get out of there.  I was isolated and in despair because I carried with me the baggage from Grade 5 of lashing out and being identified as a poofter.

Those against the Safe Schools program think that the program will somehow be harmful to the kids.  It brings the issue of sexuality up before the child can cope with it.  That’s just a load of rubbish.  What I needed was a society that didn’t care if I was gay.  I had no positive words to describe the way I was.  I was surrounded by a world that used derogatory words to describe my sexuality.  I didn’t know what sex was, I had no idea about the mechanics of attraction, what I did know was that I wasn’t like the other boys and my fellow students knew this too.  I don’t think 40 years makes any difference to those now growing up.

At least now we can and do let our young people know that it’s ok to be yourself and to protect them from the phobias that other people have.

A footnote:  I did speak with my friend about this blog.  We agree that we need Safe Schools.  It strikes me that we just did what Safe School needs to do, a free exchange of thoughts communicated with humility and respect, we both came away with a better understanding of each other.

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Aug 23

The question for the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality was leaked over the weekend.

“Do you approve of a law that would permit two people of the same-sex to get married”

FFS.  Seriously.

There’s plenty written about this out there already, feel free to go and read it.

I don’t need the approval of anyone but the person I want to marry.  I don’t need the permission of my fellow citizens.  Oh, and he’s already said yes and we already did it.

I don’t need your permission or approval.  I’m not about to ask for it.  I didn’t ask the first time and I’m not asking the second time.

Yet, here I am feeling like my relationship needs the authorisation of every single citizen in the country.

A plebiscite is not a good idea.  The question sucks, and what about the rest of the queer community?   I won’t vote for my rights and have the rights of the trans and intersex communities ignored.  I’m standing for marriage equality not for whatever this is.

Marriage is about 2 people – who cares what their gender is.

I’m not sure I have enough left in me to fight this one.

It’s one thing to fight for equality, it’s another to fight against a plebiscite that is unjust, unneeded and outright stupid.

I don’t want a long drawn out campaign where I have to listen to others telling me that my relationship isn’t equal to theirs.  Having them pretend to justify their bigotry by hiding behind questionable research.  Having the No party pretending that it has nothing to do with their religion.

Already it isn’t nice.

I’m just… oh…

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Jun 14

handholding
Another mass shooting in the USA hardly seems surprising. Each one is horrific and I look at the senseless deaths and the grief of those who have lost their loved ones.

I am detached from the violence. I think the answer to end massacres like this is easy, putting it into action is proving somewhat harder for the USA.

The shooting in an Orlando gay night club is frightening for me because it specifically targeted the GLBTI community.

As I understand it, the murderer saw two men kissing and thought this an appropriate response.  That is simply beyond my comprehension.

Last night we had a minute’s silence at the Laird Hotel.  Michael and I went there for a karaoke night.  The pub is men only and it is crowded.  It was uncanny when the silence became real.  A noisy pub with loud music, singing, the sound of laughter, the loud conversations all ceased.

A poignant moment as the hush descends and my mind turns to the reality of what has happened.  A bunch of people, just like me, out for a good night’s entertainment.  Enjoying the company of our community, having a good time.  Then terror.  Tears roll down my cheeks.   I hug Michael in one of the few places where I feel safe to do so.  Now, for a moment that too seems dangerous, I have an irrational moment of angst.

In the sorting out that will follow my community will be sidelined.  Yet again the focus will shift away from the real reason for this and we will settle on the individual and hold him accountable.  Little focus will be on the root cause.  That root cause is what is loosely called holy texts.  The bible, the koran, the torah or whatever other ancient text.

In the version I grew up with it says this:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.

As much as this is down played with the notion that somehow I can be saved, the real issue is not addressed.  There it is in everyday English, ‘abomination’ , ‘death’ and ‘blood’.  The catholic church builds on this to claim that I am intrinsically disordered.

Want to fix it?  Get over your ‘sacred’ text and strike out those phrases.  Its time for a rewrite – we can call it the expurgated version.  It’s not the first time it’s been re-written.

People are dying.  That needs to stop.

We all need to feel secure in our world.  You know what, I want to personalise this.  I need to feel secure and I don’t.

The Premier of Victoria says that Victoria is a safe place.  He has encouraged couples like Michael and me to hold hands in public.  I feel mostly safe, but yet here again is a reason that makes me nervous.  There are organisations, politicians and the media who continue to exist to undermine my security and continue to want me to climb back into the closet and lock the door.

I want to feel safe.

Thank you to all my family and friends who provide that security.

Just maybe love will win.

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Mar 23

I’m back from a quick break!  Michael and I spent a week at Ocean Grove.  A relatively quite seaside town on the Bellarine Peninsula.

For the first time in many years, I abandoned technology and took only my mobile phone.  No laptop or tablet within sight.  On my mobile I stopped all Facebook and Twitter alerts, removed the auto sync on my email and put it on Do Not Disturb for all incoming calls (I also used a natty feature to allow SMS and calls from family only)

When we went out somewhere I left my phone at home.  I remember the old days when you could only call people when they were actually at home.  And if you were away you’d have to call them on a public telephone, you even had to put coins into it.

In sharp focus too was the benefit of running two mobiles – I have one for work and one for private.  A different mobile for work is such a wonderful idea.

After about 10 days of living like this I quickly came to understand just how my communication methods have changed in the last 10 years.  Emails are constantly checked, every time a new one arrives my phone makes a noise.  Facebook notifications alert me to new postings in groups and from close friends with a green flashing light, breaking news from Twitter comes with my phone vibrating with excitement.

The other new and exciting advance is TV on demand.   Streaming TV means I can watch shows whenever I want.  I’m currently up to Season 3 of The West Wing, watched all the Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister episode, have Star Trek whenever I like and Faulty Towers is always worth watching for the 100th time.  Just as well I left my laptop and Google Chrome Cast at home too then, sitting watching TV all day when the weather is a bit bad is tempting…

That leaves me with three things, walking, listening to music, and reading (and listening to) books.   Sometimes I combined all three.  Although reading and walking will get you into trouble pretty quickly.

It was a bit disconcerting to start with to feel out of the loop with current news around marriage equality.  I quickly got over that.  There’s plenty of others to be outraged while I take a break!

On a fairly bleak morning, with light drizzle I pulled on my walking shoes, stuck my Akurba on my head, raincoat on my back, plugged the earphones in my ears, because that’s the most effective place to put them, and went for a 5 hour walk.

There’s a fantastic walking/cycling track that runs from Ocean Grove, around to Barwon Heads, then onto the Barwon Heads Bluff.  With the audio book “The Martians” by Andy Weir being read to me by R. C. Bray, I headed off on the beach track.  The day was overcast and drizzling.  I could hear the rain falling on the brim of my hat.  The water would gather and form a droplet that would sit on the brim just between my eyes until finally dropping off.  With the Southern Ocean on my left and the bushland on my right (and sometimes the road) I listened to the story of a man stranded on Mars and how he survived (yes, it’s fiction, I know).  While soaking in the fresh wet air and looking at the rolling waves, I was entertained and given the weather it felt like I was stranded in a far away place, the only human within 1000’s of kilometres.

It doesn’t take long to get to the iconic bridge that spans the Barwon River, as I walked across it I can see a cafe built right on the river bank, that looks like an ideal place to have my lunch.

Reluctantly I remove my Martian tale from my ears, take off my wet coat and hat at sit at a table that overlooks the mouth of the river and back across to the bridge I’ve just walked over.  A quick look at the menu of At the Heads I settle on “Ancient grain superfood salad”  with its kale, brocollini, pumpkin, pomegranate and more quinoa than you can poke a stick at.  Anything with kale in it must be good for you!  I take my time savouring the flavours of the salad with nothing to distract me but the wonderful view.

From here I continue around the walk track to the top of the bluff, taking plenty of time to stop and admire the view set out before me.  The river splits the land with its wide banks and snakes its way around before opening up to the ocean.  Small boats and a few people fishing are the only ones out, the rest are probably sitting in the cafe watching them.  The track takes me through the low scrub that grows along the coastal area.  It must be way too windy for anything significant to grow.  Small New Holland honey eaters, wattle birds and wrens flit about.  Along the road way I can see the local tradesman driving their utes and slowing down to look at the surf.  Later in the day they’ll descend upon the beaches with their surfboards for their afternoon surf.  All part of the coastal lifestyle.

I wander around the track and it leads me along the coast before crossing the road and skirts around the local golf course and back into Barwon Heads.  I then head back to the house, but this time I walk along the beach.  Slower going but very rewarding.

Michael and I did a 10k run one night, running along the coast, around the back of a caravan park and through a wonderfully green pasture, that actually turned out to be a golf course, luckily nobody was hitting their balls.  The other run I did was 7k, in the early morning with a fog sitting at ground level. I ran along the beach, the tide was out and just off at the edge of visibility I could see the waves crashing, it looked like the fog was rolling over on itself and then draining away to nothing.  A little eerie.

I read five books, three of then actually real paper books, reviews below.  I enjoyed getting up early in the morning, making a coffee in my little espresso coffee pot and sitting outside with a book for a couple of hours, nibbling on some fruit and making copious cups of delightfully black coffee.  Mixing it up sometimes, I’d spend time listening to music that I had dumped onto a memory stick, and some podcasts that I had downloaded.  As well as the audio book.

I enjoy the ABC’s Science Show, 99% Invisible, Serial, The Allusionist.  A big hit however was The Goon Show all the way from the 1950’s and on my memory stick.

Disconnecting from the world is at first daunting for someone who is well-connected and an active user of technology.  I enjoy having access to a world of information at my finger tips.  However, I see the real life benefit to me to remove the distraction of the brave new world.

Give it a go on your next break.

Books:

The Life of Every Party – Noel Tennison.  2014, Primrose Hall Publishing Group. (ebook here)

Noel is a personal friend and a man of many talents.  This is his second book.  The first called “My Spin in PR”.  This is an engaging tale of his life, funny, witty and an eye opener into the back story of Australian politics in Queensland and Victoria.  Noel has a history in the trade union movement, and from there launched himself into running political campaigns.  He tells the story of his early years in Brisbane growing up without his parents, and landing job after job.  It’s a nostalgic view of a different time of 1940’s & 50’s Australia.  He tells stories about his time as an illegal SP bookmaker.  Noel worked for many different political parties, he seems to have been able to separate his personal politics from his professional politics.  How else do you explain how this Queensland left-wing Shop Steward was able to take a contract with the Victorian Liberal party to get Dick Hamer elected, while also working for the National Party.  Knowing the author personally, and having spent many hours with Noel hearing some of these stories straight from the horses mouth,  I could see him waving his hands around, one with a glass of red as he warms to the story telling.

The Inimitable Mr Meek – Joan Luxemburg, 2015, Art Gallery of Ballarat (Exhibition page here)

James McKain Meek came to Australia from England in 1838.  He made his way to the Ballarat  and tried his hands at many different occupations.  What he is most known for is his intricate microwriting artwork.  He never really made it to the big time, so to speak, and his passion was his microwriting, even though he tried his hand at many things.   A well travelled man, who loved to gather knowledge and share it.  He died in poverty and is mostly forgotten.   I saw some of his work at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, and could have spent days just looking at it.  The book is full of examples of his work, some of it blown up so you can see the fine penmanship.  If you do find the book, make sure you’ve got a magnifying glass.

Alice in Wonderland including Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll, 1865 (ebook)

A classic tale that I haven’t read since my childhood.  However, as we were driving to Ocean Grove we listened to a Science Show from May 2015, it included a story about the book to celebrate it’s 150 anniversary.  The line that grabbed my attention was when the reporter, Stephanie Pradier, said this:

As a young woman with degrees in both physics and philosophy, re-reading Alice I have discovered so much more, and it means so much more. The play on words, the puns, the homophones, the mathematical inverses, the nonsensical logic hidden throughout. Alice is just as entertaining in my late-20s as she was in early childhood.

It’s worth listening to the story and picking the book up for another read.

Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell, 2006, Penguin Books Ltd (ebook)

I had read one of his other books, Outliers – The Story of Success and enjoyed it.  Blink takes a different angle and talks about how we make decisions.  From a professional point of view, I found the book invaluable as it gave me plenty of information and detail about how I come to make decisions.  I understand that sometimes my ‘gut reaction’ is the right decision, however, it takes time for my brain to catch up with an initial impression.  I’m not suggesting you just go with your gut feelings, because sometimes we do get it wrong.  Having an understanding of the inner workings of a brain is helpful both professionally and personally.

The best read for the week was Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, a present from my daughter.  Dr. Seuss, 1948.  It tells the story of Thidwick and his horns.  Just go read it.

Thidwick

 

 

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Mar 20

It’s not every day you get to run under and over the Yarra River.

Run For the Kids is an annual event, and Michael and I signed up to run 16kms.

We arrived bright and early, before dawn, with 45,000 of our best mates.  Venus was high in the sky, shining like a gem.  The horizon over the MCG a golden hue.

IMAG0662

We did our warm up and joined everyone else in the Orange Zone to await our start time of 7.40 a.m.

I set my timer and tracker going, and with the sounds of Bruce Springsteen singing Dancing in the Dark I ran into the rising sun.  Michael and I started together, along with all of our other new best friends, but within moments he was lost from sight.  All of us bunched together heading in the same direction.  The sounds of thousands of shoes hitting the pavement.  The eager voices of both excitement and trepidation fill the air as we head off.

It doesn’t take too long before we head downwards into the Domain Tunnel – the road under the Yarra.  The sight of all the heads ahead of me bobbing up and down as they descend into the dark.  It’s really quite warm in there, at least 10° higher.   My tracker looses its GPS signal along the way.  Out the other side back into the bright daylight and on towards the Bolte Bridge.

But let tunnel… Hot and stinky #r4k #r4k2016 #runforthekids #melbourne

A photo posted by ?????? Sarah Purches ?????? (@seratori) on

A fairly gentle slope takes us up the bridge for a sight of Melbourne only ever seen from the confines of the car.  I love the view out over the Yarra as it winds its way into the bay.  There are people slowing down, walking up the bridge, taking in the scenic view, stopping to take the selfie.  All along the way, people are stopping, pointing their device at their head and snapping a photo.  It’s great that they’re enjoying the run and not in it for their personal best!

We wind our way down the other side, back along South Wharf and head back towards Alexandra Gardens, our starting, and now our finishing point. As we all head under the Arts Centre, a Flock of Seagulls sing in my ears I Ran.  I let out a little smirk as I listen to my last 80’s disco track as I round the corner and run through the finish line.  16 kilometres in 1 hour and 46 minutes.

That would be my longest run to date.

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Mar 04

I went to school in the 1970’s and was bullied because I was gay.

It was horrible.  It should never have been like that.

I’ve found it really upsetting to watch the furore around the Safe School program.

When Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby appeared on the ABC’s Q and A program I listened as he used his stock standard approach, which is essentially along the  lines of “I don’t mean to be rude, but you stink” mentality.

Again and again he talks about nobody wants to see anyone being hurt, then leaps in to hurting people.

In my 20 minute video I talk about some of the arguments being used by Shelton, and I reflect on the bullying that I was subjected to during my school years.

 

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Feb 01

Yesterday I wrote about how I wasn’t reading so much from those who oppose marriage equality in Australia, and here I am with another blog about it!

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton manages to do his very best to look like a dick, he doesn’t need my help.  Let me just run through his latest media announcement following an essay written by Penny Wong where she writes:

“The ‘think of the children’ argument is among the most hurtful in the marriage equality debate,” Senator Wong has written in an essay in The Monthly magazine.

“It posits that gay and lesbian relationships harm children, that gay and lesbian parents are bad parents.”

Queue the waaambulance rider Lyle to tell us all just how silly Penny Wong is and how it’s not about her parenting skills, but it is really:

Kids’ rights to wherever possible be raised by their mother and father cannot be left out of the marriage debate, the Australian Christian Lobby said today.

This is simply a bold-faced assertion that has no merit.  It’s an attempt to create division in the community where none actually exits.  The christian thinking on this can be summarised in 10 points:

  1.  God made Adam and Eve.
  2. Adam and Eve got married by God and had kids
  3. God makes it clear that this is his plan for parenthood.
  4. God made gay people and told the straight people that the gays are an abomination.
  5. God told the straight people to kill the gay people by stoning them to death.
  6. Christians aren’t allowed to stone anyone, not even adulterers, any more.
  7. Christians still think gay people are evil and deserve death but don’t say so out loud.
  8. Because gays are evil, they want to convert kids, therefore they pretend the only way to have a family is to get married and have kids.
  9. They don’t like to be reminded that same-sex couples already have kids and their families do just as well, if not better than other families.
  10. Gays must not ever be given any rights, and if they are we must still make suggestions that they are trying to recruit children into their ranks.

Mr Shelton was responding to comments by Labor frontbencher Penny Wong implying that the child-centred argument should not be used in the debate about redefining marriage.

That’s right, it shouldn’t.  It’s not relevant.  Same-sex parents already have children, have done for as long as there has been same-sex relationships.   They are doing really well.

“We all know that kids sometimes miss out on a mother or father because of tragedy or desertion, but same-sex marriage causes this as a result of government policy,” ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said.

Well no, marriage equality does no such thing.  It simply allows everyone to have equality before the law, and those couples that already have children will continue to have them.  Nothing really changes.  He is also more or less saying that kids who are missing one parent are better off than those with two parents of the same-sex.

“Our objection to the state redefining marriage is not that same-sex parents cannot be good parents – of course they can be.

hypocrisyThen why are you using it as an objection?  Seems counter-intuitive.  We all know that the real reason, never stated, is that you view homosexuality as a sin, therefore known sinners can not be in charge of children as they will corrupt the children, and that can’t be a good thing.  Keep the evil sinners away from children!

“The concern is that no matter how great a mum is, she is not a father. And however great a dad is, he is not a mother.

This is just a nonsense sentence.  What does it even mean?  This is probably some creepy stereo-typing, you know, fathers can’t talk to their daughters about sex stuff.

“If this view is wrong then we need to tell the scores of people out there who lament having grown up without either a mother or a father that they really didn’t miss out on anything.

More nonsense.  Who is writing this stuff?  Scores of children?  Is that similar to the scores of people who already hate their father, but love their mother?  How do you tell them that they missed out on something?  Why are you so sure that children of same-sex parents lament not having one of the sexes represented?  What about those that keep close relationships with biological parents?

“We would have to tell them that their regret is irrational and false.”

Or perhaps you tell them, oh I don’t know, the truth?  You were adopted, we had a surrogate mother, and then maybe, here’s you dad’s phone number, shall we call him?

Mr Shelton said there are many children that are brought up in alternative family structures, including those whose parents have divorced.

“But when making public policy we should have the very best intentions for our children and aim for what is ideal,” Mr Shelton said.

So, you’re saying Lyle, that same-sex parents don’t have the very best intentions for their children?  Is that it?  That two dads don’t really have the best intention for their children?  That’s quite a statement to make.  You are also claiming that my friends who are same-sex parents have no idea about what is ideal for their very happy and well-adjusted children.  Have you noticed, Lyle, in the world all the children growing up in opposite-sex households who are not doing very well at all?

Mr Shelton said that policy debates must be had even when they deal with hard subjects.

Of course.  This isn’t a debate from you though, is it?  It’s more a string of words and stereo-types that has no rational basis.  You really believe that people should grant you a platform to say outrageous things and not defend them or provide a basis for your objections.

“If the opportunity to make these arguments in a respectful way is not allowed, then the issue of same-sex marriage will not be openly discussed and debated in the lead-up to the plebiscite. Everything must be on the table for open discussion as the Australian people work through the merits of this policy proposal.

There are plenty of discussions going on.  And when you talk about respect, you just said that same-sex parents don’t have the best intentions of their children at heart, that they shouldn’t have children and that they are lousy parents.

“It is not possible to provide the benefits of so-called marriage equality without lifting Australia’s prohibition on commercial surrogacy and again allowing anonymous sperm donation.”

‘Provide the benefits’?  You don’t need marriage to ‘provide the benefit’ of being a parent.  Also, marriage equality is not ‘so-called’.  It just is.  And why not allow more children in the world.  Isn’t that what you want?

Mr Shelton said it was good that there was to be a people’s vote on changing the definition of marriage because there were big consequences for children.

That’s just another bold-face assertion that has no basis in anything other than the list of 10 things above.

Nothing much will change for families when we allow all parents to have their relationship formally recognised by the State.  In fact, a lot more love will happen, families will be happier, children will be healthier. Life will be better for everyone, except maybe for people who think same-sex attracted people are detestable.

 

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