Mar 29

It all starts with a tweet:

That’d be my activist husband.  He calls himself on his Twitter profile:

Campaigner for human rights and equality.

Not gay rights, not marriage equality rights, human rights and equality.  For everyone.

Of course, it’s not so simple to say it all starts with this tweet.  Michael had already piqued the interest of The Australian following the Coopers Brewery debacle with the Bible Society and a couple of right-wing Liberal party members.

The misinterpretation and bad reporting by just about everyone starts with this tweet:

Sure, Michael gets sweary.  Some people find that challenging.  I myself try to limit my swearing to private conversations, I’m not always successful.  I don’t find tweets with ‘fuck’ in them much of a problem.  It’s easy to pick up on public swearing as some sort of measure of a person’s moral standing.  Or, you could use it as a measure of the stress and frustration by Michael when a section of society sees non-heterosexuals as deviants, perverts, sinners and plain and simply evil.  They play nice, say nice things, they mean really mean things.

As an aside, as I don’t want to dwell on the Coopers Brewery situation too much.  My objection to this was simply that the Bible Society thought it suitable to have a light-hearted conversation about marriage equality.  That is, my right to have my marriage to Michael recognised by the State.  Human rights are not something our politicians should be having a light-hearted conversation about over a beer.

The Australian has led the charge in indignation following Michael’s tweets.  They’ve splashed his name across the front page of their newspaper and generated quite the media storm with various outlets making assumptions. Most of those assumptions are incorrect.

I can categorically say that Michael has not asked for anyone to be sacked.  I can also say that he has not made a connection between the current marriage equality quest and people belonging to the Australian Christian Lobby’s board or the Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board.  It is so much more than that.

So, the background.  Michael has tweeted about Mark Allaby from IBM and Steven Chavura from Macquarie University.  IBM and Macquarie University are part of Pride in Diversity.  These men also sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

Pride in Diversity runs the Australian Workplace Equality Index.  Organisations undertake the bench-marking for a variety of reasons, at the crux of the work is the value that they see in ensuring that their employees are happy in their workplace and that managers are supportive of the diverse workforce they have.

IBM is considered a silver tier employer in 2016 benchmarks.  That is, they have undertaken a significant amount of work in the area of GLBTI inclusion and are currently very active in the space.  Macquarie University are on the bronze tier, they have provided sufficient evidence of work in the space to be considered to have GLBTI inclusive workplace.  Both organisations take their workforce seriously in relation to inclusiveness and diversity with respect to the non-heterosexuals amongst them.  The Pride in Diversity participation is voluntary, and I would guess seen as important to these workplaces, it’s a lot of work to get to the top rankings.

I’m sure that IBM and Macquarie University have staff ethics statements and codes of conduct that talk to this diversity.    One of the sections in the benchmarks is about policy and practice.  Like all workplaces you would be expected to sign these codes and statements in good faith and agree to abide by them.

Lachlan Macquarie Institute is attempting to train up-and-coming leaders of the future.  They would like them to carry the Christian message into their public lives.  They are guided by a board, and that board is very similar to the board of the Australian Christian Lobby.  The ACL has been going out of its way to make life for people like me difficult.  The Institute’s director writes this on the web site:

What we seek to achieve by this programme is the transformation of the nature of politics and governance in Australia. By helping develop the character and intellectual foundations of future politicians, journalists, advisors and public policy influencers before they step into public life.  The hope is that  we  will see more decisions based on a solid understanding of what is good, true and beautiful in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”

– 2 Corinthians 5:20

Nick Jensen – Director – Lachlan Macquarie Institute

In a nutshell, they want to train people to carry the hard-right religious message into the world.  That message that says the only good thing in the world is heterosexuals, white and middle class.

How then is it possible for Allaby and Chavura to sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute while at the same time working in organisations that actively work to attain status in the Pride In Diversity Program?

This is the question that is being asked.  The evidence of the staff at both organisations would appear to be at odds.  Further questions I think that are worth asking is do the organisation really want to belong to Pride in Diversity or is it just lip service?  Is it possible to shield your faith from your work when that faith actually requires you to influence your work place?  What protection do the GLBTI community have from those that consider them to be second class citizens?

In part two I’ll take a look at the media-shit-storm that is raging from inaccurate reporting.

Tagged with:
Jan 29

I am a man.  I’m pretty complex, I think we all are.  As it happens I’m gay.  Which is just as well, because I got married to a man.

I’m a proud gay man.  It took years to get here.  To take ownership of the sort of man I am, to recognise who I am and to accept it.

That’s pride.

Today is Melbourne’s Pride March, I have attended every year for the last 10 years.  This year I’m not marching and I’m not watching.  I’m boycotting.

As I’ve often said in this here blog of mine, people like me, you know, the non-hetero-normative types, are often the media’s play things.  That’s certainly the case with News Limited publications.  They have some key contributors that continually vilify people not like them.

Regrettably Midsumma have a sponsorship arrangement with News Ltd.    An organisation that runs the Midsumma Festival and Pride March for the queer community has a deal with a media company that uses gay as a way to drive division in our community.

The right thing for Midsumma to do was to walk away from the deal as soon as it was pointed out to them. They didn’t.

I can’t support that.

Tagged with:
Jan 09

Somewhere in the distant future humanity settles another planet and private enterprise manages to run passenger ships between the two planets.  5,000 people sign up to be transported in suspended animation for the 120 year journey.  By the time they arrive on their new home everyone they know back on Earth is probably dead.  Some days I’d like to sleep for 120 years.

The ship is fantastic, it is a big loopy thing with spinning rings and a long pointy nose that generates a protective shield or something, that pushes small objects out-of-the-way or burns them up.

Everyone is having a snooze, the 259 person crew too.  So the machine is fully automated.  For the sake of the movie the ship has lighting on for the 120 years and the computer systems continue to display vital information on big screens although there is nobody there to see it.  You’d probably trim a few years off the journey if you turned it all off and re-routed the power to propulsion, which is displayed as a lovely blue ring of burning stuff.

This is why I come to see science fiction movies.  I love to imagine the future and what it might be like.  I love the special effects and the thinking behind the devices of the future.

As you’d expect, something goes wrong on the Titanic, the iceberg hits and one of the passengers wakes up.  He’s a mechanic, James Preston, although he quickly tells the automated wake-up routine that he likes to be called Jim and every automated system throughout the ships address him as such from then on.  Clearly the original sign-up form didn’t have ‘Preferred Name’ or Jim forgot to fill it in, names can be so difficult.  Trillions of dollars on space travel, still can’t get a simple form right.

Jim is played by Hollywood heart-throb Chris Pratt.  We’d all love to spend a few years with Chris travelling the universe.  He has dreamy eyes, a cheeky smile and a body to die for.  Sexy.

For the rest of you that aren’t gay, bi or a straight woman you have to look at Aurora, played by Jennifer Lawrence.  She’s a delight to look at too, although I’m not expert on that.

Aurora, which is a wonderfully futuristic name, is also woken up.

So, Aurora and Jim wake up 90 years early, which is a problem.

Jumping to the end of the movie, Aurora the writer and Jim the mechanic manage to plug the hole in the ship using nothing but a few manuals that are printed on laminated cards and some high-tech devices.  The final part is, as you’d expect, full of impossible things and keeps you on the edge of the seat.  However, the mechanic and the writer save the Titanic from sinking.

The middle of the movie is appalling and is the reason I’m writing this review.  Jim spends a year by himself, his only company an android bartender named Arthur.  Arthur has been programmed with cheesy bartender type advice and is always polishing glasses.  The non-human becomes the confidante of Jim.  Jim tries to wake the crew, break into the bridge and send a distress call, all to no avail, and of course, goes mad.  During his many travels around the ship and presumably looking at 4,999 sleeping passengers, he discovers Aurora’s hibernation pod.  Helpfully the ship still has all its displays lit up giving full details of who is in the pod.  Not only can he gaze upon her beauty, he can glean basic information from the pod about her.

In the stalker of the future he manages to tap into her ‘Facebook’ type account, read everything she has ever written and become quite fixated on her.

In the ultimate Genesis moment of the entire history of everything, the voice of god thunders out “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”  And so Jim sets upon a plan to wake up Eve, sorry, Aurora.  That’s right.  This super sexy man is going to wake up the super sexy woman, not one of the other 4,998 passengers who may have a useful skill like hibernation pod repair or a degree in astrophysics.  No, no, Jim thinking with his waggly bits wants the woman, because she is beautiful.  It’s OK though, he struggles for months trying to decide whether or not to wake her up. He knows that she will face certain death because he also knows that there is still 89 years to go and they’ll both die.  He even talks to Arthur about it.  He knows it’s wrong, he struggles with the decision, and for a man who has spent 12 months looking at all the other options, he sets upon this as a course of action.

His waggly bits win out, he cuts his hair, removes his beard and he wakes her up and promptly lies to her and sets about spending the middle bit of the movie trying to win her heart, because she’s beautiful, he’s a man and he has needs.  She’s a woman and we have sexual tension.  We would all fall in love with him, even though he is a creep, a stalker, a murderer, a liar and a complete dickhead.  But it’s OK, he has eyes that beg forgiveness.  When Aurora finally works it all out she is, as you’d expect, very upset and yells a lot.  She even takes to breaking into his room and hitting him in the dead of night.  Predictably she then spends her time ignoring him and he spends his time trying to win her back.  He is not called to account for his actions, yet he is redeemed because he alone, the big brave man with the brown eyes puts his life on the line saves the day and Woman swoons.  Ugh.

Who writes this crap?  Who writes a really good beginning, a really good ending and stuffs up the middle bit?  There are thousands of ways to write the story.  The sexy woman could have been a mechanic that specialises in hibernation pod repairs, or an astrophysicist or an amateur astronomer or leader of the free world or a company executive able to give him access to the First Class passengers privileges.  Instead, we get a writer, nothing wrong with writers, perhaps not first choice in a crisis.  He didn’t wake her to write the story of what was happening, or to draft a stern memo to the company to give them a jolly good telling off.  He woke her because he was ‘in love’ with her.  He stalked her.  He then decided that it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, to take the life of another human as it’s not good for the man to be alone.  Woman is swept off her feet by the bad boy who saves the day.

She forgives him, of course, and they live happily ever after.

His character is a creepy arsehole.

The writers should hang their heads in collective shame.

Tagged with:
Dec 10

An evening walk with Michael provokes memories of a blonde hair, freckle face boy from the country.

In the cool of the evening, we’re walking along the Gardiners Creek track in Glen Iris, listening to the bird life settling down for the night, the frogs starting to croak and the insects making their noises.

The crickets in particular cast my mind back to long hot summers day in Hamilton.  The day spent in the local swimming pool with little sun protection, getting sun-burned.  We would wander home and eat our dinner of limp lettuce and fresh home-grown tomatoes with whatever cold meat was on special that week.  As the cool of the night sets in Mum would take to watering the garden and grass.  In those days a sprinkler was left on for spraying its water everywhere, every now and then she’d wander out and drag it along the grass a little by pulling on the hose.  Those were the days, plenty of water, no thought for running the reservoir  dry.   We would be wearing only our togs on those balmy evenings.  The doors and windows of the old weatherboard house would be flung wide open hoping to catch any whisper of a cool breeze.  The big old water cooler would be regularly topped up with a bucket of water, pointed to Mum and Dad.  Mum in her light dress, dad in his white singlet and shorts.  He’d be drinking beer, pouring glass after glass from his long-necked bottle, Mum taking her time with her glass.  Him smoking, she knitting.

As darkness sets in the ground comes alive with the sounds of crickets.  Not cicadas, but the chirpy sounds of black crickets buried under the wet soil.

We’d rush outside when the chorus arose and jump up and down on the soggy lawn to silence then.  As quick as one would go silent under our earth tremor another would start and we’d dart about the lawn with laughter and a sense of duty to bring silence to the world.

Pepper Daisies along the Gardiners Creek track

Tonight as I walked along I heard those crickets under the lawn, in a flashback to my childhood I was about to turn around and jump on the spot when Michael walked over them and silenced them.

We walked on, my memory of a time long ago faded and a sense of relief that I didn’t have to explain to him why I was jumping up and down.   Still, I was left with a longing for a simpler time.

 

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.

Tagged with:
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.

 

Tagged with:
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.

Tagged with:
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.

Tagged with:
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…

Tagged with:
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.

Tagged with:
preload preload preload