Jun 18


Today is the day my sister Helen was born.  1960.  She died in 2010.  I wrote about it here.

Birthdays always strike me as a puzzling thing.  Celebrating the passage of one rotation around the sun just seems odd to me.  I get that we like to mark the passage of time, so as a marker then I guess that’s what we’re left with.

In any case, that’s not why I’m writing right now.

I’m writing about my sister who is no longer with us.

I miss her.

We didn’t see each other a lot in the last 10 years.  But in years past I frequently dropped into her house in Ballarat on my many trips to and from Melbourne.  Sometimes just for a cuppa, sometimes for a meal.

I had a relationship with her two children, my nephew and niece.  I kept up to date with the latest in their lives.  We spoke on the phone often.

Then I got married, had my own family, moved to Melbourne and saw much less of her.

I miss her because she’s just not here any more.

I think of her often, but on her birthday I know that I’m not going to make a phone call or send a silly card or send that email.

It doesn’t matter how many times we fling around the sun, I won’t forget.

Happy birthday Helen.

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May 16

This Friday, May 17th is IDAHO, changing to IDAHOBIT, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.  Established in 2004 IDAHO aims to raise awareness about homophobia.  In almost 80 countries around the world, loving someone of the same-sex is still considered illegal, at times involving lifetime imprisonment and, in nine countries, it is even punishable by death!  When I think about that I think how lucky I am that I live in a country where being discriminated against means I can’t get married or if I worked for a church I might get fired.

Homophobia comes in all shapes and sizes and while it may mean a fear of homosexuals the reality is that homophobia is used to cover so much more these days.  It’s more about how people react and behave in relation to others sexuality and if that reaction is negative then the use of the word seems appropriate.  Julia Gillard is a really good example, she isn’t really scared of gay people, but her stance on marriage equality means she’s labelled a homophobe.  I think that’s fitting.

Much work is being done by No to Homophobia in Victoria and their website is worth a visit.

Homophobia can also happen when people are completely unaware of your sexuality, as I came to grapple with who I was I was acutely aware of the attitudes of those around me.

I started working in 1999 at a non-profit counselling agency. Not that long ago all things considered. When I started there I was still pretending to be a happy heterosexual.  I had started on my journey to embracing my sexuality and it was slow and at times very painful.

IDAHO-rr_tcm7-115931The Agency was very welcoming, I wasn’t ‘out at work’ but I was working towards being honest with those around me.  There was no outward homophobia within the Agency.  That’s a good thing. There was however plenty of little things that to someone struggling with their sexuality can be quite confronting.  And it’s the small things that made me squirm.  There was the payroll joke about Michael Fitzpatrick something along the lines of “Must be gay, Michael Fitzpartick and Patrick Fitzmichael” or when I won a competition of a weekends accommodation.  It was known I was single and people teasingly asked who the lucky lady would be.

As I began to get more comfortable in my relationships and started dating I had a few boyfriends, looking for Mr. Right.  I had to keep track in my mind about whom I had told about my sexuality and who I hadn’t.  It was always a decision to make about whether or not to share it with someone.  In my mind I imagined some people would reject me, I don’t like to feel rejected.  When I bought a footy hat from the Op Shop, it was well-known that I wasn’t a fan and when I said it was for my partner I surprised the fellow staff member who asked what her name was.  At times I’d use gender neutral language “My partner and I went away for the weekend” instead of “My partner, Michael”.  Using this language at times makes it really difficult to maintain conversations.  “Oh, did she like it?” to which the response is “Well, yes, my partner did like it”.  Just sounds crazy!

Then there is the expectation that everyone you know is a heterosexual, this for me was compounded because I was married and I had children.  People would often say things like “You don’t bat for the other side” or even worse when I finally do say “I’m gay” the response is “No you’re not”

Times have changed, over the years I’ve become more confident and able to talk about my relationship.  Now I make the assumption that everyone knows.  (Apologies to those who just went – “He’s gay?”)

My point here is that I was struggling to come to terms with a new world with a new me.  It was really stressful.  It takes a lot of energy to contain and hide yourself.

It wasn’t that work had an entrenched homophobia.  In fact, it was and is very diverse.  This was my personal struggle.

Imagine how hard it is to come to terms with something as innate as your sexuality when those around you are making assumptions that you’re a heterosexual.  It’s not intentional and even I have to challenge my perceptions about people, because underneath you just don’t know how life is for someone else or what their life is like away from your limited interactions.

For me, the Agency has been a safe haven.  Jo the CEO was quick to twig that things were happening and showed her support and quietly helped in her own way by making sure that things like our code of ethics included mentions of sexual orientation and would deflect people’s questions such as the weekends accommodation by saying “I don’t think we need to ask if he’s taking anyone”.

 If you’re looking for the impact you have on people, here it is.  I remember conversations about sexuality.  I have lots of conversations every day and hardly recall most of them.  But I do remember every single conversation about sexuality I’ve had with people in my ‘pre-out days’.  I think I remember them because they didn’t sit well with me and made me uncomfortable.  I remember the slurs and jokes, the assumptions and the denials.

Words matter.  But, I guess you already knew that.



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Apr 29

My latest blog becomes a video!  A vlog


marriage equality 1Election Campaign 2010 – Media release about Danby and Marriage Equality

Interview with Michael Danby from C31 – The Shtick, 14th April 2013

Presenter: Gregory Storer

Voice over: Michael Barnett

Vlog produced by Michael Barnett and Gregory Storer

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Images:  Sourced from Wikimedia Commons.  Michael Danby, Star of David, Rainbow Flag

Map from the Australian Electoral Commission

Music from Incompetech 

Made using Open Source Software:  Blender, OpenShot, Gimp and Ubuntu

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Apr 25

I’ve been married.  To a woman.  We had two children.  We had a great life together.  Our wedding day was one of the most outstanding days of my life.  Jennie and I had many good years together.

Recently I’ve been going through my old stuff.  We both corresponded with each other in the late eighties by writing letters.  I actually put pen to paper and Jennie did the same.  We lived in different cities.  Her in Melbourne, me in Hamilton.

We made phone calls, regularly.  Most phones in the late 80’s were connected to a wall via a cable.  So you didn’t really carry them about.  Jennie would call me at work, so I couldn’t escape to another room or step outside, I had to take the call at my desk, wide open to the public.

Then we’d call at night.  Jennie worked nights so sometimes I could call her at work.  We’d tie the phone up for awhile, that would make my mother mad.  My dad complained about the bill a lot.  (Strange, I complain about the bill now too).

And yeah, even when we were married I was gay.  There were a lot of strange things going on in my head at the time and it took many years to put all that right.  But as my friends and family would tell you Jennie and I were clearly in love.  And we were clearly in love.  The early days of our relationship were fantastic.  I had a deep love her.

That’s really important.  It is that love that lead me to marry her.  I foolishly thought it would last forever, but things don’t always work out the way you expect.

I’ve moved on now.  My life has changed, but Jennie is still in it, and I do whatever I can to make sure she is OK.  I’m determined to make sure that she’s taken care of because somewhere I still have feelings for her.  Sure, they’re mixed up at times, but let’s face it, our marriage was important and we shared something very meaningful.  We also share the parentage of two children.

On April 21st 1990 we got married.  The Australian Government sanctioned our marriage, I have the certificate to prove it.

certificate of marriage

As I said, I’ve moved on.  Michael is in my life now.  I love him.  I want to spend the rest of my life with him.  We keep in touch during the day, we regularly say “I love you” to each other.  We share just about every aspect of our lives together.  I foolishly think it will last forever!  What can I say.  He makes me melt.  It’s true that we don’t have children together, we do live with two (and sometimes 3) adult children.  Our relationship is important.  What we share is something very meaningful.

Just three years ago on April 21st 2010 we got registered.  The Australian Government didn’t sanction our relationship.  The state of Victoria did, I have the registration slip to prove it.


There is no difference in the way I feel now.  I’m in love. I know what that feels like.

New Zealand, France and other places allow people just like me to get married.  I seem to be living in a backwater.  People come to me wide-eye and make positive comments about New Zealand and want to know if I’m going there to get married.

Well no.  I’m Australian.  If I want to get married again I want to do it here.  I don’t want to go to New Zealand, nice as it is I’m sure.  The Australian Government wouldn’t even acknowledge my marriage.

Say what you like about marriage.  You can believe it to be whatever you want.  To me it’s about love.  To me it’s about a public commitment to another person.  Who cares what the sex of that person is?

I know what love is, I know what marriage is, I have been married to the woman I loved.  I now want to be married to the man I love.

From where I stand my Government is preventing me from doing it.  There is no good reason to deny me and my partner the right to call each other husband.

We are not second class citizens.  We are Australian men, in love and living together as a couple.

The only people in the marriage are the couple.  The rest of it is no one’s  business.

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Mar 09


The Weekend Australian Magazine this week has an article on kids raised by gay parents.  It showcases three young adults who have been raised in same-sex households.

One of those is my very own Tomas Storer!  It’s good to see that Greg Bearup from the Australian managed to get the spelling of Tomas right, not so good with the surname.  So it isn’t Tomas Storier or Gregory Storier there are no Storier in the household.  Although we may name our pet moose Bruce the Loose Moose Storier.  We’re all very good models of Storer.

Tomas told his story from his point of view, and as a parent it’s most gratifying to be the parent of a young man who is confident and happy.  The telling of the story took a number of hours, but it boils down to a couple of paragraphs:

Tomas Storier, 18, greets me at the door of his house in Carnegie, in Melbourne’s south-east, dressed in a Batman and Joker T-shirt.

We sit down at a dining table to pick over the details of Tomas’s complicated family history.

His father, Gregory, was born into a large Catholic family in the rural Victorian town of Hamilton. Gregory married young, had two kids in quick succession, and the family moved to Melbourne.

When Tomas was two or three his father came out and his parents’ marriage ended. Tomas and his sister, Caitlin, moved in with their father and have lived with him ever since.

In that time his father has had three long-term relationships with men and has been with his current partner for the past three years. Having a gay dad has never been a “big deal”, Tomas tells me. It was something he was never ashamed of, but during his primary school years he was careful whom he revealed it to, fearful of how they might react.

He told his closest friends, and soon everyone knew. When they did, it wasn’t an issue. “I was teased and bullied in primary school, but never about my dad being gay,” he says.

He was a bright kid, into computers, dinosaurs and trains, and he was teased for being a nerd.

His family arrangement had no effect on his sexual preference – he likes girls. “I am relatively happy with the life I’ve led so far,” he says. “It would have been nice if mum and dad could have stayed together, but in that respect I am hardly unusual, to have parents who have separated.”

The next part of the article is from Jim Wallace, he is described as “one of Australia’s most vehement opponents of gay parenting” and he attempts to show the short comings of children raised in same-sex families.  He rabbits on about nature and compares same-sex parenting to the Stolen Generation.  The Stolen Generation was the forced separation of aboriginal children from their parents, it’s nothing short of disgusting to make such a comparison.  Wallace again shows himself to be the bigot.  He dismisses all the evidence that shows how the sexuality of the parents has nothing to do with the well-being of the children.  He’s ignores the countless ‘straight’ families that are in turmoil and in dire need of assistance and help.

I’m proud of both of my children.  Tomas has shown himself to be a clear-headed articulate young man who knows who he is and he bursts with confidence.

Caitlin, Tomas, Gregory and Michael.  The image that appeared in the Australian

Caitlin, Tomas, Gregory and Michael. The image that appeared in the Australian


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