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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Jan 31

I’ve spent the last 10 years reading widely the thoughts on what the christian right has to say about homosexuality, discrimination, marriage equality and the way they think the world should be.  Last year I pulled back, I unsubscribed from various blogs and newsletters and turned my back on the intolerance and hatred coming from those that would dearly love to return to the basic tenets of their religion, where they were right, homosexuals should be stoned to death and women are nothing more than their personal servants.  I can’t say I’ve missed them.

consequencesEvery now and then I like to check in, as I did with Lyle Shelton the head priest at the Australian Christian Lobby.  He does this sort of pretend radio spot and puts it up on the website, so I had a listen, as he was talking to David Van Gend, a bloke who thinks he has authority because he’s catholic and a doctor.

I’ve written about Shelton and Van Gend before.

I love to flex my mind and listen to their reasons why I shouldn’t be allowed to get married, here I’m unpacking some of what they have to say.   You’ll find the full audio and transcript linked at the bottom.

The blog is pretty long, sorry about that.

We start with Lyle doing the intro.

Ever since the Greens member from Melbourne Adam Bandt stood up in the Federal Parliament in December 2010 and moved a motion that MPs consult with their constituents about changing the definition of marriage. The so called gay marriage debate has been on in earnest.

It’s been happening since the Australian Government changed the marriage act in 2004, and it has been earnest, that bit is right.

It’s been five long years as a small minority of activist urged by a willing media have kept this issue alive in the public square and in politics, despite opinion polls seemingly showing majority support for the idea of changing the definition of marriage. The polls also show it’s a very low order issue with voters. It is well down the list of people’s priorities that they think politician should be focusing on.

By defining the group agitating for change as a ‘small minority’ is to suggest that because it’s a small group it’s unimportant, put that in with the idea that people think there are more important things to worry about is saying just how unimportant the whole debate is.  The easy answer is then to simply change it as most people think the change should happen, gets it off the table to focus on more important things.  It’s also important to remember that Lyle thinks that he his being denied his right to free speech, somehow the small minority is the only voice that is being heard by the willing media.

We should also note that the Australian Christian Lobby is a small minority, he is suggesting that they are somehow significant.

The same-sex political juggernaut has seemingly been unstoppable

Oh good, a small minority that is a political juggernaut!  Such power that doesn’t seem to have been successful yet.

…last week in London the same-sex political agenda suffered a significant setback. Anglican Primates from around the globe met to consider the issue because leaders of their church in the United States and Canada have accepted same-sex marriage in defiance of the bible’s teaching. Instead of endorsing the North American’s capitulation to the culture, the 27 of the 36 voting Primates voted to actually censure the North American Church for straying from Christian teaching on marriage.

Perhaps he could define how this is significant.  The anglicans did just what they are supposed to do.  Play by the rules of their religion.  You’ll note that this ‘significant setback’ has not got the United States or Canada governments rushing legislation through to comply with the Anglican Primates biblical teaching.  Nothing has changed really, just a bunch of men (are there any women here today?) in silly hats telling another bunch of men in silly hats that they can’t play with each other for a couple of years.

This is very, very significant. It just goes to show that with courage and conviction this agenda can be turned.

Umm…..

One man who has been showing great courage for many years in this battle is Toowoomba GP and president of the Australian Marriage Forum Doctor David Van Gend. Last year Dr. Van Gend had his doctor surgery spray painted with the word bigot and television advertisements that he produced refused broadcast by the tax payer funded SBS. Dr. Van Gend joins me on the line now, welcome to the program David.

Oh the man is a hero, someone sprayed bigot on his surgery and SBS refused to show his ads on the tele.  Give the man a medal!

Lyle Shelton: David, this meeting of Anglican Primates. I made much of that in that in the introduction because I do think it’s significant that when people stand up, this agenda can be resisted and can be turned around and that’s something you’ve been doing in your work and private capacity as president of the Australian Marriage Forum.

Doctor David Van Gend: I think so because a lot of people understand that there’s something enormous at stake with marriage.

Seriously?  Like what, the end of civilisation perhaps.  Everyone agrees that Ireland is heading towards full destruction, New Zealanders are all turning gay and that the US has found the hand-basket and now slipping on the slope to the pits of hell.

It’s not a religious issue so much with Anglican or with people have every right to weigh in on this.

The anglicans seem to think it’s about what’s in the bible, that sounds like a religious issue.  But Van Gend is right, it’s not a religious issue, it’s a civil issue and people from everywhere are weighing in on it.

It’s about the truth of nature that marriage is a man, woman thing in our culture because it’s a male, female thing in nature.

This is just a nonsense.  There is no marriage in nature, when was the last time you saw a moose priest preside over the marriage of a buck and a doe?  Do they sign their certificate with the horns?  Marriage is a human construct, probably an extension of the males desire to lord it over the woman and be the boss.

It only exists doesn’t it because male, female relations typically have been momentous consequence of creating children and children need the love and protection of a mother and father.

So now it only exists because of children? Before it was a natural thing.  Just a reminder, there is actually nothing momentous about having children.  Have a look around, the whole of our biodiversity rests on our ability to reproduce.  It’s pretty commonplace and happens all the time without marriage.  While we’re talking about love and protection, sadly that’s not actually the case.  This is a fanciful notion that once married you live happily ever after.  We all know the reality of filicide, familicide, mariticide and suicide.

They need the identity and the belonging that goes with being bound to their real mum and dad. That is what marriage achieves. For every child marriage gives them a mum and dad and so-called homosexual marriage makes that impossible. Impossible and that’s the injustice mate.

Mate, listen up, there are plenty of kids out there growing up in families with same-sex parents.  They actually don’t have identity issues.   The injustice is trying to make the world fit your flawed model.  Families are made up of many different types of formations, your ideal is just one of many.  Each have their own merit, none is the best.

Lyle Shelton: Now. This isn’t about being anti any people you just very eloquently said what marriage is and why it’s a justice issue for children

Good Lyle, it’s not about being anti-gay, despite the fact that Van Gend just said gay people can’t really have children.  It’s impossible.

but you’re a doctor and you see people from all walks of life including same-sex attracted people and your advocacy for marriage is not in any way motivated by any animus towards people.

He’s a doctor!  He sees gay people!  He has no animus towards people like me.  Keep that in mind.  The good doctor from Toowoomba sees gay people.  And note this sideways move now, he moves to talking about sexuality and connecting people’s same-sex attraction with marriage.  The two really aren’t connected.

Doctor David Van Gend: I don’t think it’s possible, yeah, I don’t think it’s possible to know especially young gay people but older ones too, I don’t think it’s possible to know them and not just want to put your arm around them and say, “Look, it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay.” Something’s happened, something’s happened to put you in a position of, to these patients I see, of considerable suffering and anguish. They don’t know where this attraction came from. They don’t know why they go it, they don’t know what to do with it and a number of them have a conflict between those feelings and their own convictions about what marriage and parenting and family is. This is sets up a terrible tension and I think that tension can be resolved. I think we need to get to a very clear position in Australia. Where gay couples have all the liberties and all the equality of any other couple, any other couples married or defacto that as you know Lyle, they already have all that liberty and called.

Where to even start.  Now the GP is a psychologist, I’d like to see his qualifications. He wants to hug gay people and tell them everything is ok, as if that will somehow help people come to terms with their sexuality.  People like me, he suggests, don’t know where this attraction comes from, but that’s ok, because he has the answers.  It’s because something has happened to put me in this position, therefore it can un-happen.  Oh, and he sees a lot to these patients, a lot!  In Toowoomba!  They have considerable suffering and anguish.  Sounds like they’re all rushing to his surgery because it’s got bigot painted on the outside.  But that’s ok, he can resolve the tension, no doubt by telling you that god loves you. attaching electrodes to your testicles and zapping you with 1,000 volts while showing you pictures of an erect penis.   Oh, and that’s ok, because when you go back to the real world, you’ll be treated like everyone else because you have all the liberties and the equality you’ll ever need, just like real couples.  On one hand we are suffering and in anguish, on the other hand we are treated equally.

Lyle Shelton: That’s right 85 laws were changed in 2008 and state governments have allowed relationship registers. There is no discrimination in Australian law against same-sex couples.

You know Lyle, when you tell someone that they can’t do something because of who they are, that’s called discrimination.  You can get married to the partner of your choice (at least, I’m assuming it was a choice), but I can’t.

Doctor David Van Gend: Perfect. That’s it, they have full relationship equality and that is what a liberal society should achieve.

Perfect?  I don’t have full relationship equality.  I can’t get married.

That’s where we’re at but you’ve got to also let children have the one institution in society that exists for them. Marriage exists for children, they’ve build around mother and child.

Rubbish.  Marriage is between two adults, has nothing to do with children.  This is really easy to test, plenty of kids are born without their parents being married, plenty of them live with one parent, plenty with same-sex parents, plenty of them without parents.  Marriage exists because we want it, not because we have kids.

The very word matrimony is broken into two words, mother and the state of. It’s the state of motherhood is matrimony and marriage exist to serve the interest of mother and child. It serves to bind men, feral by nature men to their mate so that both of them can be bound to their child. That’s the whole purpose of it and gay people get this.

Excuse me, I’m not feral.  I don’t need to be bound to a woman to be tamed.  I’m not sure how it works in your part of the world.  And the binding doesn’t work, men and women still have sex outside their marriage, they still have children outside their marriage, and they still break up.

You’re going to listen to Christopher Pearson used to write about marriage needing to be a to man, woman thing, or Dolce & Gabbana, the great fashion gays what they said about it or Doug Mannering, all these other serious principal gay guys who say we got what we want. We got the liberty and benefits that we want. Don’t take marriage away from children, it’s their only structural institutional possession and that’s where we’re at Lyle. We can all get to this point of saying, yes, yes our fellow citizen who are same-sex attracted must have all the liberty and equality of any of us, and they do. Now that is enough do not let them usurp the one child sense of institution that there is and remake it in their own adult centered image. That is an injustice against child and that’s where we draw the line.

Ho hum.  A few gay people don’t want to get married, or have the jesus bug, therefore all gay people should listen to them.  In their minds this also works for chrisitans.  David and Lyle are good mates and christian, therefore the whole world should agree with them because they have jesus and they are right.  Between them they have worked out where to draw the line and you’re not allowed to cross their line because… well because jesus!

Doctor David Van Gend: It breaks all marriages because I was sitting in America couple of months after their definition of marriage was changed. I looked around this restaurant. None of those married men and women, none of them have the same marriage they used to have because marriage has now become purely an adult romantic affair. A relationship between any two adults of any sex was no further meaning than that.

This sort of makes my brain hurt.  It’s a huge assumption to say that everyone in the restaurant is married, and if they are, that they are sitting at the table with their spouse.  So because the US now has marriage equality, people already married don’t have the same marriage as before because same-sex marriages exist?  SMH (that’s shaking my head)  And…. their marriages have now become purely adult romantic affairs!  So before it was what?  A child’s romantic affair?  No romance at all?  Marriage is not romantic?  Well at least us gay guys have put the romance back into marriage, you’ve gotta be happy with that.

What they signed up to is marriage being the vocation of a man and woman given by nature itself to undertake the great task of creating a home, a new family and new generation. That great vocation, that great honorable life task has been degraded into a mere romantic association between any two people.

This is it!  The world is ending!  Straight people lives have been wrecked by two lesbians calling each other wife and setting up  a home and a family and a new generation!  You should see my face right now, I’m simply horrified!  I had no idea that getting married to Michael in New Zealand would change the world so much.  Why didn’t someone stop me?  (I’ll leave the answer hanging…)

So that’s gone but more importantly Lyle, the relationship between all parents and all children is redefined when you change marriage as the great lawyer Margaret Somerville pointed out when Canada brought in gay marriage. They changed all of the legal reference to natural parents and made it legal parents. Now, a natural parent is a fundamental, natural relationship which government has to respect, has to stand back and let natural parenthood prevail but once you abolish natural parents because you got rid of natural marriage. All parents and all children are related by a government definition which the government can damn well change whenever it likes. It’s a legal fiction and no parents and children any longer have a natural relationship. They have a legal fiction for a relationship. Be like profound, you’re playing into the hands of big government. People have no idea …

Adoption.  That’s where the old parents have their rights removed and have them assigned to another parent(s)  You know, the government damn well changed the legal fiction.  The relationship is established by law.  Has nothing to do with nature really.  If want you are saying, Davo, is that every child has a mother and a father, then you are right.   What happens after that, nature doesn’t give a rats arse about.

Doctor David Van Gend: …It was an article in Courier Mail and they had for and against forum. I was asked to write the case against gay marriage and someone else wrote the other one. … this is what I’d said, I’d said, yes, yes, it is discrimination to prohibit the marriage of two men but it is a far worse case of discrimination to allow this and thereby abolish a mother from the life of any child created within that marriage or words that effect….Of course we discriminate against two men by saying they can’t marry because they can’t.

Remember, they told us that there is no discrimination.  Remember that they have no animus towards gay people.  Remember, Michael and I are married, even though he says we can’t.  We have a marriage certificate with both our names on it.

It’s not possible because marriage is by definition a natural institution of male and female

It is possible, nature doesn’t define marriage, humans do.

but more importantly they can’t because that would impose a far worse injustice on children who will be created by surrogacy or adoption or whatever under this new institution not by tragic circumstance law but this kids won’t miss out on their mum because their mum’s died or there’s a divorce. These kids in the future will miss out on their mother because an act of parliament today decreed that they will miss out.

I have two children, neither of them have missed out on their mother or father.  Michael and I will not have children, therefore we can get married.  Or wait, nobody else can have children because Michael and I are married, but if a straight couple do have children one of them must leave so the other can marry a person of the same-sex.  And this is ok, because it’s not tragic.  At least that’s what I think he is saying.

Doctor David Van Gend: Actually Lyle, from a wide reading into the activist literature on gay marriage and gay issue.

He reads widely apparently, he reads activist literature on gay marriage.  Excellent, it’s good to have a well-rounded view.

That’s actually the main objective. Gay thinkers, gay activist don’t really care about gay marriage, they actually despise it.

This is right, however, reading as widely as you do Davey, you surely understand that this is but one of many, many views.

They always have despised marriage. It’s a bourgeois, hetero normative, slightly religious patriarchal repressive thing that cramps your gay style.

I have never despised marriage, I’m gay, I’m an activist.  However, I understand that Julia Gillard, who is a woman, not gay and probably not an activist had some thoughts about marriage and it being repressive.  Perhaps I’m not reading widely enough.

They despise it, they always have but in the mid ‘90s, they realize that there’s this new thing in town called antidiscrimination law

Well no, I think you need to wind it back about 20 years when gay people starting saying stop beating us up, stop putting us in jail.  Stop telling us who to have sex with.

and if you normalise homosexual marriage in law, you have normalise homosexual behaviour in all its manifestations with the force of the law and that gives you two things.

Homosexuality has been normalised as you say.  It’s actually not considered abnormal for people to be not straight.  Remember that he has no animus towards gay people.

It gives you control of the curriculum so that all children with gay marriage bought in. All children must be taught the homosexual behavior is no different to the relationship of their mum and dad. That it is normal and natural and right and if parents disagree to bad it’s the law of the land.

Children must be taught?  The sub-text of this is that he still considers homosexuality unnatural, and something to be ashamed of.   Just below the surface here is that vague notion that gay people are recruiting children to be gay.

You’ve missed your chance, it’s gone and the second thing is they the big stick of antidiscrimination law to beat the churches and other conscientiousness objectors into submission and that is what they are trying to do now but we can resist it now. We will not be able to resist it when gay marriage is the law of the land and they know that and this is why they want it.

And here in lies the real reason, at the end of the interview.  He really doesn’t want gay people telling him what to believe.  He really wants to maintain his right to discriminate against whomever he wants.  He sincerely believes that once gay people are allowed to get married that they will set about dismantling society and force him to get gay married, or something.  While he admits that marriage equality is inevitable, he is attempting to frighten people into thinking that their world will change so much that civilisation itself will come crushing down, and the people who are not currently being discriminated against and those that he bares no animus towards will be fully responsible.

Despite what these two white men with their wealth and privilege say, this is about power and control.  This is about their rank as men, head of the household, rulers of the world.  It’s bad enough that women want to do things other than be mothers and dedicated wives, now they have to contend with same-sex couples wanting to get married.  And when they go back to the basis of this power and privilege – the bible – it says that homosexuality is an abomination, that those that participate in it are worthy of death, women should not be heard, that there is no divorce and children should be seen only.  This is the world they want, where they are the centre of the power, so the small town doctor and the pretend high priest are treated as demi-gods.

PolicitalSpotTranscript-Jan2016

Part 1

Part 2

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Jan 16

Michael and I were interviewed in December by William Brougham about our activism.  I always enjoy an opportunity to express my thoughts about where things are with equal rights and the GLBTI community.

William has a good selection of interviews on his YouTube Channel that is worth working your way through.  Many though provoking topics from a range of people.

Be sure to watch the whole 28 minutes here, for me I think one of the key points is the topic of the day, a plebiscite.  This is Malcolm Turnbull’s deal with the right from the Abbott Regime.  He seems determined to leave Abbott’s ill thought out concept in place at present, I think the whole notion is quite appalling and in the interview I explain why.

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Dec 24

In November Michael and I celebrated 7 years together.

What can I say.  It didn’t take me very long to discover that Michael is a wonderful man, and after this short space of time, I understood that I wanted him in my life.  I love him.

Like all relationships I need to give care and attention to it.  I don’t always get it right, but I’m willing to change, adapt and learn from the experience of sharing our lives.

vowsWe are a married couple.  He is my husband.  For me it was important that I find a way to say to my family, my friends, and the rest of the world how important this relationship is to me.  What better way to share the way I feel about Michael than a public declaration of my love for him.  What better way than marriage to say to this key person what he means to me.

We traveled to New Zealand to get married.  It was a quick trip, part of a TV documentary called Living With the Enemy.

That meant we had to share our special event with a fundamentalist priest from the Anglican sect of christianity.  I remember him, Father David, many times asking us to explain why it was that we wanted to get married.  Michael and I had to let him into our little secret.  That we wanted to change the world!  We wanted everyone to get gay married.  As that seems unlikely it would seem that the reason for our marriage is based upon a mutual love for each other, the desire to share that with our family and community at large, and to say to each other just how important we are in each others lives.

That seems perfectly sensible.

 

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