Jul 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Jun 14

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

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

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

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

“Can someone be healed of their homosexuality?”

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

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

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

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

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

Healed.

Indeed.

—-

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

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Jun 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How selfish of them.

——

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

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

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Feb 06

Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby and he’s just written a rather nasty little piece about gay people.  Again.  He’s trying to be reasoned but ignores the reality of the world, as so many fundamentalist christians do.

Even the heading of his little spray is really very mean-spirited and sets the tone for the rest of the article.

Deep breath needed in rush to dismiss mum and dad parenting

Nobody but nobody is trying to dismiss mum and dad parenting.  Gay people having children doesn’t mean that somehow all the other children in the world will find themselves without a parent.  Lyle needs to take a deep breath.

Children miss out on a mum or a dad usually because of tragedy or desertion.

Where this occurs we as a society rightly provide financial and moral support to single parents.

Where children are orphaned the State usually seeks to provide a mother and father replacement family through adoption.

In all cases, the best interests of the child are paramount.

Hardly.  Single parents are very often left to struggle.  Poverty for these groups is rife.  Financial support is very limited.  For an organisation that bangs on about the importance of what’s in the best interest of the children do very little to acknowledge that what is important is that all families should be at the gold standard.  That should be what they strive for, not this fancy notion of moral support.

We have also rightly condemned and apologised for practices that led to the stolen generation and forced adoption practices of the past.

Here’s another nasty bit of text.  What Lyle isn’t saying is that often said rot that allowing same-sex parents to have children is akin to forcibly taking the child away from her parents. Forcibly being the key word.  No child in a same-sex relationship is being forcibly removed.  Lyle is warning you that if we allow people like me to have children, in thirty years time we’ll have to apologise to those children for screwing up their lives.  The stolen generation does not even begin to compare with same-sex parenting.

The recent debate about same-sex marriage has highlighted the issue of parenting by same-sex couples.

Hang on, so far you’ve talked about single parents and the children of the first Australians.  Now we jump into same-sex couples.  Whether the likes of Lyle know or understand, same-sex couples have been raising children since the start of time and the world continues to spin.  Marriage will not change that fact.

A number of studies have been conducted which seem to suggest that kids raised by same-sex couples fare no worse and possibly even fare better than kids raised by heterosexual parents.

Well no, the studies don’t seem to suggest.  The studies state that the kids are ok.

The most recent, a survey of existing studies from here and overseas, was conducted by sociologist Dr Deborah Dempsey on behalf of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

A key message of Dr Dempsey’s survey is that: “Overall, research to date considerably challenges the point of view that same-sex parented families are harmful to children. Children in such families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers from heterosexual families.”

The same-sex marriage lobby was quick to say that Dr Dempsey’s survey of the studies means the debate about same-sex parenting is over.

However, it is known that data for most of these studies has come from self-selecting samples and mainly from lesbians from a higher than average socio-economic demographic.

Oh no, all these studies have been done from self-selecting samples.  Let’s ignore that study after study finds the same thing that the children are OK.  It’s a pity that Lyle didn’t apply the same logic to the studies that he relies on, studies that have been debunked by so many people.

Lesbian parents who have high incomes and are well-educated unsurprisingly report that their kids are doing well and they most likely are.

How dare the lesbians have high incomes!  How dare the lesbians be well-educated.  With that statement it should be obvious to Lyle that he should be encouraging decent educational outcomes for all citizens regardless of their sexuality.

While increasing, the numbers of same-sex couples parenting children remain very small. Dr Dempsey says 33 per cent of lesbian women in Australia have children and 11 per cent of homosexual men have children.

Around two percent of the Australian population is homosexual or lesbian but not all are in couple relationships.

With such small numbers, particularly for male homosexual parenting, it is perhaps too early to be drawing  conclusions.

Indeed, it’s too early to draw conclusions, but you do anyway.  You are suggesting that it’s better to tell gay people not to have children, just in case they screw their kids up.  Again, the same standard is not applied to the children of people who aren’t as well-educated and earn high incomes just like those lesbians that are raising well-adjusted kids.

The overwhelming conclusion of the vast body of social science research is that kids do best when raised by their biological mother and father.

Except for the research that hasn’t been conducted by some christian funded organisation or doesn’t properly reflect the GLBTIQ community, or research that has serious flaws in its methodology.

Common sense and the evidence of past practices of child removal tell us that a child’s biological parents matter to the child, regardless of the love provided in alternative arrangements.

Yes two men can love a baby, but is it right to have removed that baby from her mother?

Are fathers an optional extra?

Common sense?  It’s a pity Lyle doesn’t use some.  You see the thinking of christian fundamentalists is along these lines.

1.  The bible says that gay people are an abomination.

2.  Being gay is a sin

3.  Sin is from the devil

4.  Therefore all gay people are evil and either want to eat your children or raise them to be gay or raise them to fail in life.

5.  If you disagree refer to 1.

These are important ethical questions that should be front and centre of the debate about redefining marriage.

Oh please, nobody is redefining marriage.  People will still get married, some will have children, some won’t.  Some people will have children and not get married.

Once a new definition of marriage is legislated, these questions become obsolete. In fact, they become inappropriate.

toddlerpink

As usual with a media release, we get broad statements with little about the driving motivation.  The ACL and Lyle have no time for anything that is gay and would like to wipe it off the face of the earth because jesus loves us all.   These discussions are inappropriate now.  Instead of trying to support all families, Lyle and the ACL focuses on a small section of the community and run around screaming that the gays are having children!  Won’t anyone listen to them!

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Dec 31

Not normally one for pondering the year that has been, I find myself doing just that.  Although, I’m pondering a lot more than just the last 12 months.

In the short-term I find myself in a state of bewilderment.   You see, I work with a small team of people at work and one of them was killed just before Christmas.  Her husband has been charged with homicide, and I just can’t find a spot in my mind where that makes sense.  The impact has been enormous and I’ve struggled to make sense of it.  At the same time I’ve had to give support, space and understanding to others, something that I’ve done quite willingly.  I can feel that part of me that needs to be busy in a crisis.  I work where I do because the people I work with do great work in a range of areas, including family violence.  I’ve seen reports, heard the stories and know that violence happens.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand why some men think this is a way to solve a problem.  I want this to stop.  When it touches you so close to home it becomes real, not just something you read about or see on the TV.

The last couple of years has also been sad with other deaths, my sister, my mother and earlier this year my father.  It’s been a tough time.  The thoughts of them intrude frequently as I remember, recall and see them in my mind. I have the photos, videos and memories of these people.  Despite everything, they are treasured memories.

The death of my parents in particular has been a relief too.  My greatest fear was being rejected by my parents.  Now without that worry I really do finally feel free.  How bad is that I wonder.  A 50-year-old gay man still fearful of what his dad thinks.  I’ll tell you what he thinks, he thinks that I’m a woolly woofter.

When it comes to the emotions of life, common sense has little to do with it.  In all likelihood my sexuality would probably not have been a concern to them at all.  Possibly they would be too polite to actually say anything about it.  Reality says two things – I’ll never know what they thought, and it no longer matters.

So, I have a new-found freedom.  This new-found freedom helped me one night in Bali to look into the eyes of my beautiful man and ask him to marry me.  He, with a tear in his eye, said yes.  Who’s the woolly woofter now?

He comes with a pre-arranged family, parents who accept and love him for who he is, a brother, sister-in-law, a niece and nephew, aunty, cousins and friends who just don’t give a single low-flying duck about his sexuality, oh, and they also love him. I’ve been accepted into the fold and have the deep sense of the family madness that comes with that.  I have to say, that’s wonderful.  Oh, they’re not really mad either, my lot has the madness refined to a much better level of insanity.

The last two years have also been an incredible deep personal journey for me too.  I’ve grown so much on the inside, mentally.  For years my brain has been a muddle.  I fully expect that to continue.  However, some of it has become unmuddled.  This release has seen me lose well over 30 kgs., and go from sitting on my arse to actually running, I did a 8 kilometre run this morning.  It’s also seen me grow into a new work role that quite frankly surprised me, I managed to achieve a Diploma in IT and quell the side of my personality that was up for a fight, mentally that is, not physically, although my mind rarely rests.  I guess that a dose of muddle comes with that.  I have started to talk to people, to connect face to face instead of by email.  That’s simply amazing for me, a man who wouldn’t approach you personally unless I absolutely had to.

It’s important to go back over more than the last two years to make sense of the journey that gets me to this point.  I don’t know how long it’s taken to get here.  I do know that the trip has been bad.  I’ve been married, for the wrong reasons, I’ve used my mind to shield and bury my sexuality.  You know, in denial.  I’ve used that same mind to keep people at a distance, to be argumentative and unwelcoming.  There’s a lot in that to undo.  I will always be in the undoing mode.  I want to understand me, I want to question and hopefully find the answers.  For the first time in years I really do feel free.

I’ve also moved positions on marriage.  I’ve gone from being married to Jennie, despite all, this was a great relationship.  When we broke up I didn’t want to get married ever again.  I’ve moved to fighting for the right to get married in Australia to now actually wanting to get married.  That alone is a big trip!

I still have battles to fight.  I can’t get married to Michael in Australia.  Some religious people still get up my nose.  There are still people who struggle to make ends meet.

In all of this world, we still have large sections of it that are opposed to my personal, private relationship with Michael.  It’s said to be harmful, wrong and the end of civilisation.  To me it just feels like love.  I know that what Michael and I have is not a threat to anyone, neither of us want to convert anyone to the ‘gay lifestyle’ (other than Hugh Jackman and a couple of other hunky types…).  In Russia the persecution of gay people is on the increase.  In Uganda homosexuality has been criminalised with prison time.  Evangelical Americans continue to spread misinformation about us (and therefore me) and continue to demonise and demoralise people for no good reason other than their interpretation of the bible that I reject outright.

People starve, people die from preventable disease.  Women are killed at the hands of men, children are abused by religious.  Gay people are vilified, racism continues, misogynists exist.  From this angle the world seems depressing and closed.

In my world, I have love.  I have acceptance.  I see my Tomas and Caitlin grown and developing into their own lives.  I feel my partner at my side, partners in life.  I have a great sense of family, which, I’ve discovered I can hand-pick.

I feel that it’s only right that in an act of defiance that I should say to the Australian Government, Fuck You!  If you won’t let me get married, then I will just nick off somewhere else and do it.

I love Michael, he loves me.  We are engaged.  The next step is to be married.  It’s what we do as a society.  Marriage brings with it a public commitment and recognition of the relationship we have to each other.  It says more than just a couple living together in a de-facto relationship.  It carries more weight to say, “Please meet Michael, my husband” and not “Please meet Michael, my partner”.

Sure, it’s not for everyone, but I now know that it’s for me.

Those of you that have been part of my journey, thank-you.  Buckle up, there’s more to do.

If I can go from one short fat lazy Australian to a 50-year-old, fit, slim bloke, then there is nothing we can’t do.   No matter where this ends up, you take care of yourself, never stop asking questions and always be willing to change.

So, I leave my ponderings now, I wish the world a happy New Year and I wish you well.

5 years between photos

5 years between photos

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Sep 11

The stage was set.

Michael and I were at a fabulous restaurant, Bridges in Ubud, Bali.

We arrived to be welcomed back by the staff who remembered us from the lunch we’d had there a few days earlier.  The restaurant was romantically lit, the colour scheme cream and dark brown with pieces of metal and rope around mimicking the nearby bridge over the Campuhan River.  We stepped out into a terrace open to the world.  A verandah overhead with fans spinning and took up our seats on the balcony.  The waiters pulled our chairs out and pushed them in for us as we sat down and fluffed our napkins for us.

To my left was the valley with the river far below, I could see the bridge with its LED rope lights marking its span.  The lush growth of the forest is highlighted by huge spot lights. The long slender coconut tree with the orchids and ferns growing from its trunk.  The banana trees with vines dangling from the canopy towards the river, the tree with so many other plants growing on it it looks ready to fall over.  In the distance we could see Murni’s where we’d eaten a few times.  To my right an English couple, happily ordering their meal and a bottle of wine.  In their 60′s probably on holiday quietly chatting with each other.

In front of me Michael.  In his blue button up shirt only worn for dinner.  Two buttons open.  His hands and fingers moving as he talks, his brown eyes looking at me, his terrific smile, he’s happy and engaged with the staff and with me as we order our meal of fish and wine.

Our conversations are always far-ranging.  We start by talking about creating software for predictive election results and how that would work.  We talk a bit about How to Vote Cards, my children and what’s happening with them, my sister Angela, Jo and Rob arriving as we leave Bali.

20130811 Gregory and MikeyThe conversation now turns towards marriage.  We have many times spoken about getting married.  I have asked many times if Michael would like to get married, his answer a rather evasive ‘moot point’ response.  Even if we want to get married we can’t in Australia.  We will wait until the law is changed and then we can talk about it, along with the obvious retort from either of us “Is that a proposal?  Aren’t you suppose to be on one knee?”

As I’ve said to him many times I actually don’t need to get married to him.  I don’t need to have our relationship recognised by anyone else.  I understand what he means to me, I know that in my heart I have a deep love for him.  There is no part of me that needs independent recognition of our relationship.  I’m in this for life.

Then, it changes.  I don’t need to get married to Michael.  I want to.  I no longer have enough words to express how much I value him in my life, what it is that we have.  I sense that I now need something that takes us to the next level.  Something that is symbolic of that love we share and the unspoken commitment that we have to each other.  I need a way to express that to him, and to those I love that here is a man who is important to me.  A man who I want to spend my life with, that I want to love and be loved by in return. A man I want to share everything with.  A man who makes my heart sing.

The question is asked, like it has been asked so many times.  Michael tries to avoid an answer.  We talk about how this is about me needing to find something that expresses the way I feel about him, how important and valuable this relationship is. He talks about how all of that is mutual, Michael has already made a commitment to our relationship in his own mind.  I sit and look and wait, it slowly dawns on him that I’m actually asking a question that now needs a yes or no answer.  I ask him, putting aside the reality of not being able to marry in Australia, will he marry me.

With tears in our eyes he says yes.

Life goes on around us, plates and glasses come and go, people chat and laugh, we look at each other with a huge amount of love and emotion as we struggle to find a way to express what’s just happened.  We shed some tears, we smile at each other we struggle with the reality of going public.

The get away to Bali has been terrific, I’ve been able to see and do things outside my everyday life.  I’ve found a partner and friend in Michael who I want to be with.   We have five solid years together.  I’ve found a way to express the depth of my feeling towards another person.  We have found a way to share those feelings with our families and friends in our lives.  We have an understanding, we have an acceptance.  We have love.

 


Michael’s blog post

 

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Sep 04

Even in far flung Ubud, Bali I have heard the noise from Australia about the Prime Minister smacking down a chrisitan who had the tenacity to ask the PM about his back flip on marriage equality.

I can’t help but make a few comments on some of the stuff I’ve read from some christian quarters about Rudd’s comments.

And let me be really clear here. I don’t like Kevin Rudd, to me he is simply another man in a suit that is bent on keeping the job of Prime Minister and has little regard for anyone else because he knows best.

In a nutshell, a christian pastor asked the christian Prime Minister how he could now support marriage equality when Jesus himself made it clear that marriage was between a man and a woman.  Rudd in his response said:

I do not believe people, when they are born, choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay. You don’t decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is – it is how people are built and, therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong. I don’t get that. I think that is just a completely ill-founded view.

He went on to say other things, have a look at the video or read the transcript.

I want to focus on this particular statement about being born gay.  This is from my own personal journey.

Some other bloggers have taken to their blogs to object to the PM’s notion that people are born gay.

Bill Muelhenberg on his blog called “Culture Watch” said this:

He (Rudd) assured us that homosexuals are born that way and cannot change, thereby calling Jesus a liar for telling us he came to set people free from their sinful lifestyles.

…snip…

It (The Bible) is nothing of the sort. It is about the truth that we are condemned sinners heading to hell, and that Jesus died for our sin so that through faith and repentance we can be set free and made right with God.

Arnold Jago – Mildura doctor and devout Catholic says this on his blog called “The Real Mary Mackillop”:

Last night on ABC-TV, Prime Minster Kevin Rudd was applauded for claiming that same-sex “marriage” is compatible with Christian thought.
Based on two assumptions:
* that homosexuality is not abnormal because some people can’t help it. “They are gay if they are born gay,” he said.
Which is not factually correct. It’s far from being that simple.
* having hopefully got away with that dubious generalisation, Mr Rudd steered further off track.
“What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament…Loving your fellow man,” he said.
Well yes. But if, in fact, homosexuality is a disorder, the way to show a man love is to warn him of his problem and guide him towards a better way.

Out there on the net are plenty of other examples of christians being upset that Rudd claims that I was born gay.

Was I born gay?  I don’t know.  Does it matter?  Not to me.  Am I disordered?  I don’t think so.

I don’t know why I’m gay but I can tell you that from a very early stage in my life I knew that I was gay.  I may not have had the words to describe how I felt and I certainly didn’t know what it meant.  But from about the age of 8 there was a part of my brain that knew that boys were far more interesting to me than girls.

In my teens I had no interest in the opposite sex and my early sexual encounters and my first serious relationship was with a man.  Women didn’t figure at all.  By the time I was in my 20′s this was causing me angst thanks to religion.  I wasn’t ‘growing out of it’ as some people seemed to suggest.  The phase I was going through seemed to be rather long.

I don’t  know where my sexuality came from, but I do know how hard I tried to get rid of it.  Ask my siblings about me growing up.  An angry youngster.

There’s claims that my sexuality may have been caused by an absent father or lack of relationship with him, it may have been caused by sexual abuse from a man, or it might have been the devil.  However, there’s 11 children, my sisters and brothers either side of me don’t appear to be gay.  Our experience in growing up is very similar.  I can only think that I suffer from 8th child syndrome, well known for causing gayness.

Being gay is not something that I learned to be.  In fact the reverse is true.  I did my best to learn to be straight.  I even got married and had kids to prove that I was a true blue Aussie bloke able to scratch my nuts, spit, swear and make disgusting statements about sex.

Then for some strange reason that veneer broke down.  I was angry even though I thought god had answered my prayers and given me a wife and a family.  I was devout. I loved jesus and thanked him for my wonderful life.  My prayers had been answered, god had taken away the ‘sin of homosexuality’ from me.

At this stage christians will tell me that I wasn’t trying hard enough, I didn’t pray hard enough, I didn’t believe hard enough.  I gave in to temptation.  The devil made me do it.  I choose to be gay.

You’re joking, right?  Christians think I made a decision to be gay and to be subjected to a world of hatred and bigotry? Some christians think I picked a sexuality that would lead me to live in a world surrounded by homophobic believers.  I was a true catholic, I knew that sinners would go to hell.  That’s an eternity in torment.  I really believed that.  Why would I pick to spend all of time in the pits of hell?

I didn’t pick being gay, it was only when I made the decision to be who I really was, to accept that my sexuality was innate that I finally found peace.  It is only in a loving relationship with Michael that I have truly found myself.

1147590_10151828259870149_846076795_oThis is my world.  I’m not disordered or a sinner.  I don’t hate god (there is no god to hate) and I don’t need god.

I don’t need religion to define me.

I’m happy for people to believe whatever they want, go for it.

I’m not happy for other people’s belief systems to impact on me.  I reject that outright.  It’s not ok for a pastor from Queensland to suggest that there is something wrong with me, it’s  not ok for fundamentalist christians to continue the hate and the bigotry based on concepts that I have no belief in.  It’s not ok for some fundamentalists to pretend that they really love me and want me to know the truth according to them.

I am not asking anyone else to be gay, I’m not trying to change anyone’s sexuality (but if Matt Damon was interested…), I just want to get on with my life, I want to spend it with Michael, we love each other, we want to be together.

I am now happy.  Not because I’ve rejected religion or that I’ve taken the ‘easy path’ or given in to the sin of homosexuality.  I’m happy because I have accepted who I am and I’m no longer trying to be who others think I should be.

In the straight world after 5 years of being together people would ask me when the big day was.  When are we getting married.

That’s a really good question.  When am I getting married?

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Jul 03

I’m simply outraged, enough to drag myself out of bed and write this blog while my levels of outrageousness are still really high.

I find it beyond my comprehension that two grown men adopted a child and then abused that child in a way that makes me feel sick.  I have no words that I would use here that begin to show my utter disgust and contempt for these two.  They play the perfect gay parents and hid their actions with a bunch of lies and fooled everyone for a very long time.

I’ve seen this behaviour before.  When I was in the Scouts back in Hamilton and we discovered a paedophile in our midst.  Someone that I had worked with for many years.  I had no idea.  His best friend had no idea and his wife had no idea.  He used his position of trust to abuse the young boys in his charge.  At the time, as we went through various debriefings, it became clear that this is the way that paedophiles operate, they get in on the trust of the parents and manipulate them to gain access to their children.

Just look at the Catholic Church and those priests that offend, they behave in exactly the same way.

I find it disgusting.  My experience meant that I was doubly cautious with my own children and barely left them alone with anyone else.

When coming to terms with my sexuality one of the big battles I had to overcome was my internal homophobia.  I was so frightened that beneath the public me I was a dirty paedophile.  That’s the scary shit that I was dealing with.  An attitude that had been embedded in my psyche by a homophobic society that thought if you are homosexual you must be a sexual deviant, a rapist, and a child-abusing paedophile.  It took me a few years to work out that I wasn’t any of those things, I am plainly and simply a man, father of two and gay.  I’m normal and the public me is really the internal me.

Can you imagine then how much it hurts to have to read the words of religious bigots who go out of their way to demonise me and all others like me simply because of my sexuality.  I’m talking of christian fundamentalist Bill Muehlenberg.

It is exactly his sort of attitude that led me in one of my counselling sessions to say to my counsellor “If I ever thought I would sexually abuse my children I would kill myself first”.  Because in the early days of my coming to terms with myself I was unable to make a distinction between the two.  In my mind they were linked.  I understand now just where that link comes from.

How wrong was I?  Never in my reality has sexual abuse of children been a consideration.  Not once.  But I know the impact of society’s homophobia and I’m so shocked and disappointed to find that its still out there, there are people so insidious that they continue to spread the lies and distrust around.

And why do they continue with this abuse?  Because I want to get married.  In his mind I’m evil because I’m gay and I want to destroy marriage, abuse children and bring society down so his view of Satan can rule the world.

I’ve placed the links to the relevant blog posts below from Bill Muehlenberg.  His blogs are full of hate, not love as he likes to pretend.  He never corrects himself or admits that he is wrong.

When the story first broke regarding the two gay men who abused their own adopted son, Muehlenberg posted this:

That is because it involves two things which sadly can often go together (homosexuality and paedophilia) – but things which the lamestream media usually refuses to be honest about. Our mainstream media outlets are dominated by homosexuals and those who are pro-homosexual, so they are loathe to report on anything other than absolutely positive coverage of all things homosexual.

Several things must be noted here. As mentioned, while some of the MSM did run with the story, it has been very squeamish to openly state what was actually going on here: homosexual paedophilia. Sadly we know that even though homosexuals are such a very small part of the general population, they have a substantial degree of involvement in child sexual abuse.

The story did break in several MSM – main stream media outlets (or the lamestream as he likes to call it) and none of them were particularly reserved.  There’s a long article in The Age, published twice, and covered on the ABC news.

Muehlenberg then went on to post a follow-up blog where he said this

While most people rightly condemn child abuse, there are in fact certain forms of child abuse which are now acceptable – at least by our secular left elites, and the activist lobby groups.

This is a truly vile statement.  Show me one secular left elite or an activist lobby group who says child abuse is OK.  They just don’t exist.  One of the paedophiles in this case has been jailed for 40 years.  40 years!  That doesn’t sound like a smack on the wrist punishment to me, it doesn’t sound like child abuse is acceptable.

One is obviously horrific and perverted abuse… The first case I have discussed before. It involves an Australian homosexual couple who bought a baby from Russian surrogates, and then not only sexually abused the toddler, but shared him around various paedophile networks in different countries.

The prolonged sexual abuse by these homosexual paedophiles was so utterly diabolical and monstrous that a judge did not want a jury to hear the case. One US state attorney said this about the case: ”For more than one year and across three continents, these men submitted this young child to some of the most heinous acts of exploitation that this office has ever seen.” Actually for the first six years of his poor life he was subject to repeated abuse.

The reason I discuss it again is quite simple: all over the Western world we are being told we must accept not only homosexuality, but homosexual adoption rights. The activists along with a fully duped media are pushing their agenda, without a bit of care about the consequences.

He makes the irrational and outrageous remark that somehow homosexuals are all child abusers.  He dismisses all the sexual abuse that happens in the home between a father and daughter, all the sexual abuse that clergy have inflicted upon boys and girls.  He simply says that we, the gay people, have duped everyone into accepting our agenda.  How grossly arrogant of him to say so without a care in the world.  He shows no concern as to the impact his type of bigotry has on young gay guys trying to find answers.  Let me tell you from my worldly experience of being a religious nutter – Jesus is not the answer.  Oh, and my gay agenda tomorrow includes getting up going to the gym, going to work, cooking dinner and before bedtime I may undertake a bit of world domination.

Indeed, consider this: our ABC actually strongly promoted this very same homosexual couple just a few years ago. The GayBC is among the most pro-homosexual media outlets in existence in this country. They gave this couple plenty of airplay and newsfeed.

Yes, that’s right.  These two gay dads pulled the wool over the eyes of the media by lying.  It’s not the first time the media has been fed the wrong information.  They simply made a mistake.  One that they have now corrected.

In typical lamestream media style, this story is designed to pull all the emotional heart strings, and make anyone opposed to it look like a callous and heartless ogre. Personal interest stories are always used by the activist MSM. Contrary facts and evidence can easily be overcome by simply showing a happy “family”. Emotive stories will always trump rational argument and evidence-based debate.

The ABC in particular and the MSM in general do this constantly. It is a way to short circuit debate, and put the homosexual activists in the best possible light. Of course they will never show the opposite. They will never feature lengthy stories with big colour pics about children who have been harmed in homosexual households. They will never do personal interest stories which may cast homosexuality in a bad light.

Tonight, the ABC’s 7.30 program showed us 8 minutes of these two abusers and what they did to their adopted son.  Nothing held back, we got the full story.  They even express dismay about their original story.  Contrary to the assertions of Muehlenberg they didn’t suggest that all gay guys are paedophiles, they did spend some time going over how they’d been fooled.  It was a very balanced report.

Muehlenberg is aware of the report on 7.30 – two comments as I write have been posted on his blog by him that shows he is aware.  But he’s not amended or taken his blog down.

In 2013 why must I still read and hear about these sort of outrageous comments?  All the research and science shows that he and his ilk are wrong.  They are wrong because they base their hatred purely on a few verses in the non-scientific bible.  His world view flows only from that and he ignores anything that isn’t somehow connected to a religious point of view.

His view is parroted by the many people who visit his pages and comment, those people have children or access to children where they continue to spread this misinformation.  This is where the real harm is caused.  To those young people trying to establish their identity and they are confronted with the wrong information about who they are.  That leads to depression, self-harm and sometimes death.

Muehlenberg often states that people like me are out to shut him down.  I’m not at all.  But he really does need to temper his language and catch up with where the world really is in relation to sexuality, paedophilia, religion and bigotry.   He needs to stop the vilification of the likes of me.

I am the gay dad of two children.  I am not a paedophile.  I resent the implication.

Now is the time that the Australian Government should be looking at vilification laws.  It’s great to have the recent amendments to the Sex Discriminations Act to include GLBTI rights, but it needs more.

Bill Muehlenberg’s Blog 1 and Blog 2

The news not at all hidden by the ABC

The news not at all hidden by the ABC

 

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Jun 24

qandaI’m a keen watcher of Q&A on the ABC.  I love the political discussion.  Michael and I fire up our laptops and tweet away.  I become fully engaged in the conversation and the questions.  We make comments to each other, interact with our Twitter and Facebook friends, at times I yell at the screen.  It’s a fun night all round.

Something has set me off on tonight’s show. There really was a lot there that I feel quite strongly about, Graeme Richardson telling us what the Labor Party should be doing, Judith Sloan calling Childcare workers ‘dimwitted’ and discussion on violence against women.  Those topics alone got me going, but I’m really quite disgusted.  I can’t believe what I heard and the sense of personal outrage in me was enormous.

Tonight’s show included this question:

DISCRIMINATION IN AGED CARE – Alastair Lawrie has asked: Senator Brandis: On Tuesday night, you stated the Opposition would block any anti-discrimination bill that does not allow religious organisations to discriminate against older LGBTI people in aged care facilities. You claimed that religious freedom trumps the right not to be discriminated against.

I’ll wait to see the transcript, but it seems to me that Brandis is perfectly happy to allow religious rights to trump sexuality rights.

He said that anti-discrimination laws should not be universal.  He said religious freedom trumps that of sexual freedom.

This is an outrageous position for a member of our Parliament to hold.  Brandis may well be the next Attorney-General.

You can change your religious afflictions, not so much your sexuality.  The only people who think you can change your sexuality, or even want you to change your sexuality are religious people.  Yet my rights, if Brandis got his way, need to be dictated by the rights of a religion because my unchangeable sexuality offends them.

Let’s see.  I can’t change my gayness.  Can’t even turn it down a notch or two.  Religion on the other hand changes all the time, indeed has shown itself to be changeable.

I am able to carry out my life and not impact on religion at all.  I made a choice to walk away from supernatural belief.  I am not evil, I am not out to bring society down, I am not gay because of some choice I made or because my father was absent, or whatever mumbo jumbo religion throws at me.

What next.  The right to vote is restricted to men?

Pretty sure I know which rights should be trumping here.

________________________________________

Update: 25 June 2013 – 8.30 a.m.

The Q&A Question (From YouTube)

 

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