Jun 02

Recently I was on the tele talking about Margaret Court’s foray into the marriage equality debate.  Court is a tennis legend, won all sorts of games in the 60’s and 70’s.  She was good at watching a small green ball and hitting it with a stick with strings.  That’s my understanding of tennis.

 

And here’s Michael earlier in the day talking with Neil Mitchell on 3AW

Court has decided to say some very outdated things about GLBTIQ people over the last week.  There have been calls for the renaming of a court at the Melbourne Tennis Centre named in her honour, The Margaret Court Arena.

The debate has been raging between those who claim that Court is being bullied, those against renaming the court and those who think we should.  Everyone has an opinion.

At the heart of all of this is a single concept.  Free Speech.

Just what is it you’re allowed to say in public?  Of course, you can say anything you like.  Court has spoken in public,  she has used her legend status to be heard.  Now she is claiming that her free speech is being denied, despite having full access to the media and being able to further her ideas and still be heard.

What we’re really seeing here is important.  It’s about what’s acceptable topics in modern Australian society. We are deciding what our community standards.  Australians are struggling with that very notion.

The same as we’ve struggled with holocaust deniers, racist statements and misogyny.  We are witnessing an adjustment in attitude.

It’s simply no longer appropriate to use a public forum to express views that vilify the GLBTIQ community.  It’s not OK to call us products of the devil, say we can’t raise children, or even that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The days of saying those things in public are passing.  You can see it happening before your eyes.

Before those that will be upset by this notion cry about free speech.  The free speech has been flying for years, and society is saying enough is enough.  Modify your language if you want to have discussions in public.  You’re not being told that you can’t hold your views, you’re not being told to change your views.  You are perfectly entitled to believe whatever you like.

As a society the expectations of community engagement are undergoing an adjustment.  Just like there are the deniers, the racist and the misogynist still out there, they have mostly being told to shut up.

Bigotry around gender diversity and sexual orientation is next.

Our society will be better when that bigotry is added to the list of unacceptable talking points.

Time to adjust the attitudes.

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Jun 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the version I grew up with it says this:

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

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

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

People are dying.  That needs to stop.

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

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

I want to feel safe.

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

Just maybe love will win.

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Oct 08

It’s Mental Health week this week.  It seems an opportune moment to press the Publish button on this blog that’s been waiting for a while.

This is from my hand written diary from 1982 and documents the trial I underwent in making the decision to leave school.  Malcolm Fraser was the Prime Minister and What About Me by Moving Pictures was at the top of the charts.

Year 11The entry is written in 1982 about events a year earlier.  I was 17 in 1981, barely coping with my sexuality that I was trying so hard to repress, I don’t mention it directly, but I can see it’s impact in my own words.  I wasn’t letting anyone in to see the real me.  My close friends had left school at the end of Year 10 and Year 11, I was isolated, a few of the students in Year 12 had grown up with me and we’d been through primary and secondary school together – they were my enemies!

It’s clear to me, looking back, that I was struggling with my life, my religion and my sexuality.  I wasn’t in a good place.  The isolation was horrendous and I couldn’t see a way out.  What I didn’t see or understand until some 12 months later is that people really did care, they wanted to help me.  It took an enormous amount of courage for me to reach out and ask for help.

My life did get better.  I have not regretted the decisions I made back then, I’m glad that I went on to bigger and better things.  The adults in my life did want to help me out, they did see my struggles and tried to get me to open up, the real blockage for me was my sexuality.  This internal battle is why I want the world to see the damage that is caused when homophobia isn’t stopped and challenged.  The anguish I went through should not have happened.  It’s hard enough growing up without having an unmentionable and important part of your life that you feel needs to be hidden.

Here’s the entry, I’ve fixed the spelling (apparently I though my peers where piers and I still can’t spell unfortantely without a spell checker) but not changed the wording.

12 Jan 1982

Today I seem to have quite a few entries in the diary – perhaps because I have been neglecting writing things in it.  I think the main reason for this is trying to get motivated.  This attitude seems to be one that is common amongst my peers.  This is I feel is one reason why I failed at having a go at Year 12.  Yet, I, at the moment, don’t regret it.  I often think that had I become motivated in the early stages of ’81 I might have done a lot better than I did, never the less I didn’t, so I have no one else to blame but myself.  My only hope (in fact one of my many hopes) is that I never live to regret my actions.  At the moment this seems unlikely.  As I can’t see into the future it is a hard thing to say it won’t have some repercussions in later life.

School seemed a place that I just didn’t fit.  None of my peers particularly liked me and often was called a poof, suck and many other things.  Such name calling never seemed right to me and I assumed that such things would fizzle out as we (me and my peers) got older and more mature, I think I was kidding myself.1  The name calling continued, perhaps not as much, but it certainly didn’t stop.  I returned to school in Feb. 81 feeling perhaps just a little frightened, like a child and his first day at school, I think I was more frightened of attempting H.S.C., and of course the reaction of my peers2 who I thought might have grown up.  They had a bit, at least the name calling had perhaps stopped a bit.  But NO-ONE bothered to talk to me, unless I spoke to them first, even then a conversation was brief and abrupt.  Then again I didn’t really try to become overly involved with my peers. (As you can see there seems to be contradictions in this entry.  Yet it really was like this – Here are even more contradictions).  But I did try very hard to become a bit more involved in school activities.  I was a quiet sort of force behind the Social Services, in starting that.  I was involved in the school newspaper “The Dolphin” in which I wrote some news and so on.  Nevertheless this didn’t seem to me to be enough to keep me interested in the academic side of school.

The Year 12 retreat3 proved to be a very interesting one.4  I stopped and reflected on my life and what I was doing.5  I think that perhaps I then made a decision to leave school.  The next thing to do was to get enough courage to make a move as there was so much to consider before I made such a decision.  Meanwhile things at school were still pretty useless.  I had enrolled in correspondence school to do music, a subject I enjoyed and one that I looked forward to.  Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, along the line ballsed the whole thing up.  So when my papers did come through I was about five weeks behind.  Trying desperately to catch up, my other school work seemed to be falling behind, as I was more interested in Music.  Finally the pressures of school caught up with me, and depression soon came.  I couldn’t keep up with my fellow students, as I became more and more depressed I began to think about leaving school, a thought which had been on the back of my mind since the start of the year.  I started to miss morning classes because I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I was frightened, (then again I really didn’t try to make an effort) frightened of school because I was behind, frightened of my peers for their harassment.6  I really did become more and more depressed, and I believe that I was on the verge of suicide, something that nobody else could even see, I myself couldn’t see what was happening, and I did want so much to reach out and talk to someone, but the courage to do so was never there so I just closed myself off…. to think.

I lay awake many nights just thinking about what I was going to do, and then finally I set a date to leave school.7  Friday April 3rd 1981 – I wrote in my pocket diary – “THE END – ON THIS DAY I HOPE TO LEAVE SCHOOL FOREVER”

I have no idea when I set that date, but I did, and I missed it.  It was another week before I left school.  Why?  Perhaps I, again, didn’t have the courage, perhaps I wanted another chance, perhaps I was confused about what I wanted or perhaps I don’t know.  Nevertheless I did try and hack it for another week but to no avail, so on Friday April tenth 1981 (exactly seven days after) I went to school to say to the Studies Master “I no longer wish to continue my education” (That’s a quote!)  So Mr. Shaw (my Studies Master) talked to me about it, and finally agreed that he believed I was doing the best thing, which made me feel a whole lot better.  I then realised that there really are people who care, and people who are willing to help.  The trouble was to find the right person.  Mr. Shaw helped me a lot that day.8  He rang the Commonwealth Employment Service and made an appointment for me for two o’clock in the afternoon.  So that was it, after twelve or thirteen years of school I was finished.

I cried as I rode my bike out of the gates of Monivae College, knowing that something that had been a big part of my life for six years was now finished.  Perhaps I cried because I again was frightened of being in the BIG WORLD by myself, perhaps I cried because I was ashamed of myself for being gutless and feeling useless that I couldn’t succeed in life because I was no good at school.  I was also very happy.9

I went home and told the folks that I did have an appointment at the C.E.S. at two, so they helped me prepare.10

So at about five to two I rolled up outside, stood for a minute before walking in.  I asked for the right man, only to discover that no one at all knew about my appointment.  But all were pleasant, and I filled out the right forms applying for the dole, and registering myself us unemployed.

After a discussion the nice young (married) lady suggested that I approach Mr. McNaughton and enquire about a job there as I already had a part-time job there.11  I told Mr. Mac. that I had left school and asked him if he was willing to employ me.  He said he would have to think about it, and told me to come back on Tuesday 14th April 1981 – So I did.

At eleven o’clock I showed up, and Mr. Mac. said that he was willing to employ me but only under the following hours.  Monday to Thursday 12.00 noon till 5.30 p.m.  Fridays 10-12, 1-5, 6-8 (in winter 12-5, 6-9) Saturday’s 5.30 – 8.00, 9-12 noon.

I agreed to these hours, and although I wasn’t crash hot on them, thought it was better than going on the dole.

So on Tuesday 21st of April 1981 I started working at P.R. & L.A. McNaughtons Authorised Newsagents, 150-152 Gray St.  Hamilton.

Here ends my true story of the hassle I had in 1981 – and if you think how long all this took only twelve weeks, and I am pleased of the decisions I made, and I hope that I will never live to regret April 10 1981 – A day which will long live in my memory.

I am grateful to Mr. & Mrs. McNaughton, to Monivae College, and most of all my parents who tried so hard to support me and help me, a job which they did and will always do so well.


 

Sane Australia is a good place to start if my blog raises any issues for you and you’d like some help.

 

  1. I could never understand why people thought I was a ‘poof’ as I wasn’t ‘camp’ in the slightest
  2.  Code for someone might work out that I really am gay
  3. This is mostly a lot of prayers and team building
  4.  I was sleeping in a dorm with 15 other guys, some of them I fancied, this was a real challenge for a 17-year-old gay guy
  5. How could I stop being gay?
  6.  Fear of being outed as gay was a huge concern
  7.  I was begging god to take this ‘poof’ stuff away from me
  8.  We later went on to be friends when his son was in my Cub Pack
  9.  The relief of not being found out caused the tears, the freedom to start over and be free of the name calling made me happy
  10.  This was perhaps the first time my father let me make a decision about my life.  He sat on my bed and told me that if I didn’t want to go to school that was ok, but that I had to get a job.  He then asked what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted to be a teacher, he said I wasn’t smart enough to be a teacher – that was devastating and had long-lasting implications for me.
  11.  It was a Newsagency.  I was doing fill-in paper rounds and working Saturday mornings
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Jan 11

Last night Michael and I along with Andrew, a friend, went out for dinner to a lovely Vietnamese restaurant in Fitzroy.

Michael dropped me off and drove off to find a car park.  Andrew was waiting on the street for me.  We greeted each other with a smile and a hello.  I would have like to have kissed him on the cheek.  A small gesture of friendship.  The right way for me to greet him.  But I didn’t.  Nor did I shake his hand, because that just felt too formal and business like.

We three sat at a table and after a time the table next to us was taken by 4 men, clearly a couple of couples out for a similar night of good food and company.

Here we are, a group of homosexual men surrounded by straight people.  All enjoying the company of our friends, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, looking.

handholdingI sit next to Michael because I like to be near to him.  I rarely touch him in public.  When I do there’s a risk analysis that my mind runs through before I reach out and place my hand on his knee or around his shoulder.  I’m looking around me to see potential threats.  Is that bearded bloke behind me with the tattoos of a skull on his elbow ok?  Will that mother over there try to shield her daughter from me?  Will the staff treat me differently?

Then I have to remind myself where I am.  I’m in funky Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.  It’s a pretty happening crowd with all sorts of people from all walks of life.  Surely they’re all gay friendly?  This won’t be an issue for anyone.

Only after that do I reach my arm out and place it around Michael’s shoulder.  Michael responds to my touch by either touching my hand or relaxing into my arm and moving closer to me.  It’s a natural, normal response.  A shared intimacy that I love.  Mind you, it only last a minute when I realise that he’s sitting to my right and my right shoulder aches too much for me to sustain it.  I wonder if I always sit with him to my right as an unthinking way of protecting my perceptions of threats.

Nothing happens, of course, apart from my shoulder aching.

When I walk down the street, I never simply slip my hand into to his.  Holding hands requires me to do another assessment of my surrounds.  I’ve had the looks of both support and scorn from others.  I’ve heard the phrase ‘faggot’ muttered when people pass me by.  That, quite frankly, scares the fuck out of me.

When Michael visits me at work we always kiss each other on the cheek.  What I really want is to be able to do that without thinking about it.  The same way I don’t give a second thought to that goodbye kiss in the morning, or the hello kiss at the end of the day in the safety of our own home.  I work in a wonderful diverse environment, and nobody raises an eyebrow about my sexuality.  Yet, I still do a scan of where we are before and after a kiss.

Why don’t I feel safe in my own country?

The ongoing threat to safety is there for me.  Real or perceived it doesn’t matter.  Years of growing up in a world where gay people have been derided and despised takes it toll.  Reports of gay bashing, discrimination and verbal abuse are presented to me on a daily basis.

I want to walk down the street and hold his hand.

I want to put my arm around him.

More than anything, I want him to sit to my left.

Take 20 minutes now and watch Panti speak at TED in Dublin.

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Oct 07

I’ve been in a very reflective mood today as I mull over the events of yesterday.

Two things happened.  Bob Katter appeared on Q&A and as expected more or less said that there are no gay people in his electorate.

Ivan Hinton-Teoh returned to his home town to confront the past.  He was a victim of homophobia in his small rural town.

Ivan is an online friend, we both have an interest in marriage equality, Ivan is the Deputy National Director of Australian Marriage Equality.  His story is powerful and emotional.  A story that needed to be told.  It made me think about my own small town experience.  It has awakened in me just how much I hated growing up.  I felt I was surrounded by bullies and vilified on a constant basis at home and at school.

The home stuff was a lot about being teased.  I was pretty good at teasing too and would wind my brothers and sisters up as much as they did me.  What we didn’t know at the time was that I was gay. The best way to niggle at me was to tell me I was a poof.  At one time my name was Gregory Elizabeth Storer. For a young lad trying to come to terms with his sexuality that sort of teasing had a lasting impact on me.  There was no intent from my siblings to cause any damage other than normal sibling rivalry.  I’m not trying to lay blame at all.  I want to highlight just how easy it is to damage the young mind and how long it can take to undo that damage.

School was just horrible.  From Grade Four I was labelled a poofter, well before I even knew what any of that meant.  I was often the victim of playground taunts and bullying.  That only escalated in Secondary School.  By the time I reached adulthood I was doing everything I could to appear heterosexual.  I lived a double life.  I had a boyfriend and we would sneak away as much as we could. I would pretend to be straight for my family, my work, the scouts and the church.

I knew how bad it was to be gay, how we spoke about gay people.  Religion, the community, my friends, they all despised homosexuals.

I suffered from my own personal homophobia.  I hated the gay in me.  I felt a cheat, a liar, dishonourable, fake and a freak.  My personal integrity is key to my sense of self-worth, so being fake and dishonourable weighed heavily on my mind.

At times I wanted to die.  Often.

I was well-regarded in my small town.  I was even made Young Citizen of the Year.  On the inside I would be arguing about how much I would be hated if only they knew that I was really a homo.

It took a long time, a lot of money, a shitload of personal reflection for me to work out that the public me and the inside me could be joined together.  I didn’t need two sides of me.

In fact, if you don’t mind me stroking my own ego, I am honourable, reliable, decent bloke.  And I am that because my key value is honesty.  Above all else I hold that to be significantly important to me.

I was devastated last night watching Q&A to witness the blatant disregard that Bob Katter has towards gay people.

As Josh Thomas was taking him to task Katter was unable to even look at him.  Here is Katter talking about the importance of mental health for farmers and he is completely unable to acknowledge that gay people exist and at times suffer great mental anguish, something that he has had a hand in creating.

It is his attitude and those of people like him that allows him and our society to marginalise and vilify people just like me.  It is people like him that I went to school with that picked on me and thought it was all in good fun.

It is people like him that even now cause me uncertainty.  Every day I have to deal with what I tell people.  Will they treat me differently if they know I’m gay?  Do I tell them?  What would the ramifications be?  I’m trying to do a job here and it shouldn’t be an issue.  Do I come out to that contractor?  How much of a friendship do I want with that supplier?  Is that a look of contempt from a colleague because I’m gay?

More and more now I simply don’t care, people can like it or lump it.  But a lifetime of checking oneself is hard to simply give up in 10 short years.  How much of it is in my head?  How much is real?

So that’s me.  I have resilience and support.  I have a great well of support, my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my work-mates.  Despite the odd bit of insecurity, I know who I am, I’m not afraid to tell you and will even take you to task at the drop of a hat.  But imagine being young, searching, unsure.  If you are gay and trying to understand yourself and how you fit into this society then last night’s program may have had a negative impact on you.

If you’re a Bob Katter then you need to watch what Ivan has to say.  You need to feel his raw emotions on display for the world to see.  You need to see his vulnerability.  Because Ivan is the young gay kid in every rural community struggling to make sense of himself in a world created for heterosexuals.

Thanks Ivan.

This is mental health week – take care of your mental health.  Be aware of other people’s mental health.

You never know where your homophobic attitudes will land.


If you need to talk to someone about mental health, please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

montage2

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Oct 01

I’m reliably informed that the AFL grand-final was held very recently.  Apparently somebody called Hawthorn won.  I’m delighted for them.

Clearly my interest in the footy is as close to 0 as possible.

After the game, a famous person, Rob Mills tweeted a photo of a two plastic Lego type toys, a Sydney player bent at the waist, while a Hawthorn player stands behind him, it’s meant to represent them engaged in a sexual activity.

I saw it and sort of laughed at it, juvenile humour and really not very funny.

Other people saw something else in it.  Calling Mills homophobic.

I don’t think he’s homophobic.  I think he got a bit carried away and didn’t think it through.

There’s such a wide-ranging debate going on about what he did and how we respond.  As with any conversation about behaviour, the community, that’s all of us, need to work out what our standards are and have a frank and open conversation about it.

I’m inclined to think that there is an undertone to the image that needs further exploring to understand its meaning.

The use of the toys really represents the victorious team humiliating the vanquished.  This is represented in a sexual manner.  That is a representation of power over the weak. Domination through sex.  It is implied that this is not a consensual act.

And there is the problem.  While this was probably the furthest thing from Mills mind, he has essentially made a rape reference.

The homophobic slur comes into play because that ‘power’ is demonstrated through a forced homosexual act.

I sort of resent that.  The implication that sex is a way to ‘celebrate’ the win by forcing the loser into a ‘detestable’ sexual act as a further way to obtain dominance and gratification.

Mills has done the right thing, he deleted the tweet and he has apologised.  A decent apology with meaning and understanding. He knows he made a mistake.

I certainly don’t feel vilified.  I’m not upset.  But rape is not a laughing matter. No matter what the joke is.

Sex is fun, I know, I’ve tried it a few times.  Everyone has a different standard when it comes to behaviour, jokes and ethics.  But what do we as a community think the standard should be?  Where is that line between humour and offence?  That’s the topic of conversation, not whether we can hound somebody who made a mistake.  The error has been pointed out and make good has been done.

Let’s keep the conversation going, this representation of domination through sex is important as we deal with family violence, rape and the victimisation of women.

We owe it to all of us to stand up for a good decent human standard that means all people are respected and treated with respect.  We owe it to those that are in abusive situations and victims of violence to say that it’s unacceptable.

We need to be decent human beings.

 

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Jul 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

He omits the following sentence from the report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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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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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