Feb 26

I thought that telling people I was gay was a tough gig. It still makes me nervous at times. The stigma around being gay is fading out, like a farmhand on a horse riding off into the sunset. Not that I’ve ever been a farmhand or ridden into the sunset. I have, however, been on a horse

Working in the 80s and 90s would have been so much harder for me if I was out. I well recall the homophobic jokes and teasing that I laughed along with. Being gay was not ok.

Until now. Being gay is ok for me.

The stigma around mental illness still exists. I know plenty of people who have an illness.

So, big breath, I too have a mental illness. I’ve been fretting about telling you. In some ways it feels like coming out. The stigma associated with a mental illness feels the same.

The same questions pop into my head

  • How to tell you?
  • What will you think of me?
  • What if you don’t want to be my friend anymore?
  • What if you change how you treat me?

And that’s just the start.

The answer to the first question is easy – “I wanted to let you know that I have a mental illness”. The real work is then afterwards, that’s when the stigma rolls in, or more importantly, that’s the perception. My perceptions, as I have often observed, are not always spot on, and like coming out, it’s an internal stigma, so the only logical answer to the next lot of questions is “Fuck you” if your answer is anything other than “OK, no probs” to question 1.

I have had depression for more years than I care to remember. For many of those years I have worked with my GP and psychologist to understand the nature of my illness and find ways to mitigate it. The last thing I have ever wanted to do is tell others. I didn’t even want to admit it to myself.

When I left Family Life in March 2017 it was after a long stressful period at work. There was so much going on at the same time, and this became a real turning point for me. I was there for 18 years, and I always enjoyed the job. As my mental health declined, so did my work, so did my mood and so did my interactions with others.

When I made my farewell speech then, I said to the staff that part of the reason for my leaving was my well-being. My mental health. I explained how I was trying to look after it, I had begun some medication, and need to stop and rest for a while.

I didn’t tell anyone else about my reasons, I said that I was leaving to complete my studies.

Work out of the way, I could focus on studying better. I muddled through, I really did. I don’t know how I actually passed. There were many dark days and while medication took the edge off, I was still not very well at all.

It was two years later when I started a new job. I was onto my 2nd medication, and it seemed to work, I was reaching a better equilibrium and felt ready to take on the next challenge.

And I love my job, I love the work we do, and the people who do it. It ticks all my social justice boxes.

Eighteen months into the job and I could feel the wheels falling off again. I tried hard to keep things under control, but I was slipping.

For a reason I don’t really understand, I came off the medication. While the medication helped, it really made me exhausted, to the point that my brain would just shut down by around 6 every night. I’d have to go to bed, which is just ridiculous, so I’d stay and watch telly for a couple of hours while snarling at Michael for chatting to me.

Initially, when I came off the meds, I actually was pretty good, for a little while. The crash sort of sneaked up on me. Little things at first. It was easy to say the pandemic was causing me stress, and it did, it kept me awake at night, trying to work out how to look after our teams and the people we support. I could put my mood down to that stress.

After I was particularly snappy in one of the leadership team meetings, not rude mind you, just snarky, Kon, the CEO, took me aside and asked me if I was ok. That’s an outrageous question to ask! Indignantly I said, “Yes, of course I’m OK”. The next words out of his mouth are the single most important he has ever uttered to me.

“No, you’re not ok”

Weak knees, tears welling up, head down and a slight stutter as I finally acknowledged the truth. “You’re right”.

What a precious moment. Another person cared enough, not just about my job performance, but me as a person, to tell me he was worried about me, to ask why my responses and actions were out of sync, to check in with me, really check in on a professional and personal level.

There are others too, of course, who have been trying to tell me. My husband, Michael, more on that soon.

I have to say that I love my job, I want to throw myself into it and work hard. I felt like I was working with a team that is making real change for people, and I find that important and rewarding. Furthermore, I didn’t want to mess this up, that’s an anxiety all on its own. The guilt of walking away in the middle of a pandemic was gut-wrenching for me.

Walk away I did, and this time, I thought, I’m pulling out all stops. First stop to the GP – I wanted a real diagnosis, not that his diagnosis wasn’t real. I wanted a psychiatrist to give me the once-over. I really wanted to put a plan in place to help me manage. I knew I could live with depression, I just knew I couldn’t do it by myself.

What’s essential to me in my leadership role is modelling behaviours. Over the course of the pandemic, I was aware of the huge impact it was having on the well-being of the staff. It was really a tough gig for all of us, locked up at home, trying to help some of the most vulnerable people in Victoria and struggling to make sure we could make ends meet.

It felt so wrong at the time to have to take leave. It is what I have been saying, though to the staff, if you’re unwell, take the time off. We’ve got this, and we need you back, so go heal.

Here was an opportunity for me to model a bit of self-care, and there’s little point in doing that if I don’t tell people what’s going on. So I did. I was quite upfront with people. I told them that I’m not well, and I’m taking a mental health break to look after my depression.

I hated taking the time off. I’m glad I did. I think it’s difficult for some people to do this. We’re so caught up in our bullshit that we forget we are only human. There should be no shame in not being at the top of your game. Nobody batted an eyelid when I had time off to have my skin cancers removed. Nobody cared I took time off to have my wisdom teeth removed. Nobody should care that I need time off to have my depression removed, or mitigated, or managed. I don’t know the right word.

So, I did take some extended leave, during a pandemic, where I got to sit at home and do nothing. A dose of mountains, trees, kangaroos and small goats would have been ideal, but impossible. So, home I stayed. Taught myself how to program in Python. Set up a Raspberry Pi, bought some lenses to take photos with it and read.

Diagnosis came when I sat with the psychiatrist who ran me through a series of questions about life. Mild to severe depression he proclaimed. Oh yes, he proclaimed, we had full trumpets, the unrolling of a parchment and the tolling of bells before the big announcement. Well, that’s what it felt like. At last, I had some words. I hadn’t realised just how important this was for me. I think that just popping a few pills wasn’t enough, I needed to know just what I was dealing with. The psychiatrist prescribed a bunch of blood tests and from that my third medication was introduced.

And this time the changes in my mood were so much better. The time off, seeing my psychologist weekly, the psychiatric assessment and a treatment course all helped me to get back on track. It was about a month before I returned to work, raring to go.

Now some months later, I’ve taken a couple of weeks off for an intensive program of TMS. Again, it was important for me to let the leadership team know, and the staff too.

I don’t feel mighty, I’m hoping that my little blog will help someone, I’m hoping that letting my team know they’ll know it’s ok to take care of themselves.

I feel like this is tough for me. Everyone’s journey and experience is very different to mine. I don’t want for a minute to undermine yours.

What I do want, is a world free of stigma. Stigma creates trauma, and we need to let go of the things that cause said stigma. It’s a nice way of saying, if you’re a misogynist, a homophobe, a transphobe, a mental health phobe (is there a word?) to pull your head out of your arse. Stigma sucks and has real life impacts for those at the other end, and you have no excuse for being phobic.

Finally, you know what’s vital to me? Michael. I have told him he is the love of my life. We have been on this journey together, and this wonderful man has waited for me, he has put up with so much while I’ve been to the bottom and slowly back to something near normal. He sees in me something that keeps him here. As I do in him. My relationship with him is an important part of my happiness. I just want to be with him. I want us to be happy. I’m grateful, happy, pleased, thrilled, I don’t know how to express it. I’m rapt that he is in my life.

You, you take care of yourself.

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Oct 03

Today’s adventure is at the end of a very potholey road, somewhere between Mallacoota and the edge of the world. You can either walk to Shipwreck Creek along the foreshore or drive around the long way on an 8km stretch of sandy road that has potholes that I’m sure lead all the way to the other side of the world. However, the day is lovely, it’s bright and sunny, in the mid 20s and simply glorious!

Michael navigates our little blue car between the holes, although at times I’m sure he’s driving towards them rather than around them, still, we arrive at the day area of the Shipcreek Creek camping ground in once piece with both axles still attached to a wheel at each end.

Click to see more detail

Our destination is Seal Creek, and it’s only 3km away.

The first part of the walk takes us from the camping ground down to the beach and then back into the bush. It’s mostly tea tree, fairly dense and little sunlight hitting the ground. It’s not too long before we exit the scrubby bush and find ourselves in a heathland. This low-level bush allows us to see to the sea. The other thing it allows is the blooming of flowers.

In our modern era, I want all the flowers to be available to me right now. However, what I discover is that the flowers have a cycle that is only known to themselves. Some flowers are still budding, waiting for the perfect time to bloom, others have already had their time in the sun and are now browning petals dangling uncomfortably from stems.

I was hoping for much more colour, the 500 shades of blue, red, yellow and pink isn’t quite enough!

It’s true that we don’t see huge flowers, there are no dahlias, roses or tulips here to tiptoe through. Just delicate little things bursting with colour. We really have to slow down. Our normal quick pace becomes less than a stroll. Every few steps I stop, squint at a flower, bend at the hips, adjust the multi-focals to get a better view. If it’s something I haven’t seen before, I’ll point it out to Michael, we’ll muse for a minute together, I’ll move on few steps and Michael will stop to take some photos.

It’s a lovely walk in the late afternoon sun. There’s a little breeze and sometimes the faint calls of birds. The heathland continues to astound us as we get in good and close to the flowers. When we inspect the photos afterwards we often see a little spider or insect sitting on it.

We again walk into open woodland for awhile before out again on the heathland. The final part of our walk takes us again through the woods and down towards Seal Creek. This final bit is quite steep. We can see the creek in front of us, and it’s a tanninn colour water. The creek is blocked from entering the ocean, so it pools into a smallish lake.

We stop for a bit and watch a few birds fly around. Eat some food, drink a little water.

It’s now 5.45pm. It’s taken quite awhile to walk the 3k to get here. However, if we leave now, don’t dilly-dally too much, we should be back at the car just before night-fall.

Off we head! Up the steep incline and back on to the open heathland. But now it’s all changed. Whereas before we had bright sunshine, now we have dusk. The sun has dipped below a ridge to our west and given us a wonderful soft light. Michael is delighted as he snaps photos in this perfect light. He plays with his camera’s settings and gets some good shots.

The final part of the walk is almost in the dark. The tea trees kept the direct sunlight out earlier, now they bring an early night time. I find myself tripping on roots and rocks.

We get to the car and start the drive back home. It’s easier to drive on the pothole road now, as we can clearly see the shadows of the holes and avoid them.

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Sep 26

Put me on the top of a mountain and happiness happens by default.

Setting: Happiness (Default)
It looms!

The old days of leaping a mountain in a single day seems like such a distant memory. As does climbing Mt. Imlay, the first time was in 2011. I remember the dirt road, the logged forest and this huge mountain in front of me. Mountains like this are said to loom. And here it is, a looming mountain. Begging to be climbed. As looming mountains are want to do.

Any notion that you simply lob up to a looming mountain to loom it is foolhardy, to say the least. However, that didn’t stop Michael and me, for lobbed we did. We quickly stopped the car, got out, applied our sunscreen, went to the toilet, read the information board, prepared our backpacks, changed our socks, put on our hiking boots, adjusted our hats and left. This sort of lobbing takes proper preparation.

The day was glorious. The sun was out and bright, which isn’t surprising as it was daytime, just before lunch, so therefore morning. There was a distinct lack of clouds, and this helps for a bright day and the sun being out. It was coolish, but not cold.

Legs not quite fallen off yet

The first part of the walk is steep, as it the second part and the third part. In between the steep bits, it’s steep, but a little less steep. Still, when it’s steep your legs scream at you. When it’s a little less steep, your legs make you stop.

So, with my screaming legs, we made our way upwards, go down for a little bit, and then the final stretch to the top. My heart beats to match the upwards and down movement of my legs. In those days of yore, I knew when my heartbeat was at maximum because my teeth would start to rattle in my head. These days I have an app.

Last time we hiked this at the start of September, this time, we’re at the other end of the month. We have wanted to return over all these years to see more flowers! In particular, we wanted to see the Mount Imlay Boronia (Boronia imlayensis). First however, to the top!

It took us 1 hour and 57 minutes and 14 seconds to get there, I have an app. Luckily the last bit of the upward is pretty flat, but steep. We sat on the ground in a sort of collapsed fashion, like a drying bean bag that has been unpegged from the clothesline.

After we recovered enough we chewed on some food and then looked around the site, admired the view, took a selfie, posted to social media, made a phone call, transferred money from my account to someone else’s and drank some water.

Then, the easy bit, we started down. It is also steep but in the other direction. Luckily we are more interested in taking photos of wonderful things. This means that the down trip takes 2 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds. If you’re astute, and I’m sure you are, then you will notice that it takes us 43 minutes longer to descend. That’s pretty amazing, as the declination is enough that you could probably slide all the way down in half the time.

And this is why we are here. The amazing and wonderfully delightful Mount Imlay Boronia. This rare plant only grows on this mountain in an area of about 500 meters x 50 meters. It’s clear that it wants to make the most of the space, everywhere we turn is another blossom.

Once we drop off the top, that would be about 50 meters, the boronias disappear and we are back into the rough rocky ground. Everywhere around me life abounds. The silver ashes gracefully reach upwards, the grass trees sway in the gentle breeze and the flowers just look gorgeous.

Leaves turning

The balance to the lovely whites, yellows and pink of the flowers, the balance to the thousands of shades of green, are the shades of decay. The newly fallen leaves that turn from dark green to a pastel shade before going brown. The bright silver trunks of the gum trees that shed and turns grey and breaks down into a non-descript colour that sits on the forest floor. The bright red leaves that darken and turn to black. All breaks down into a rich black soil that helps the colours grow all over again.

Even though the mountain will be here long here after all of us, it’s not immune to change. The very rocks themselves have to contend with lichen that will leech them to soil. Bit by bit the rocks break down into stones, I know this because I put my feet on them and they slip, causing me to throw my arms out like Jesus on a Friday. The leaves and the bark work with the stones to create a path that is laden with trip hazards and a quick way down, if not to the bottom of the mountain, at least to the bottom of your spine.

That said, you can’t stand or sit, on this looming mountain and not be taken by the whole package. The wind, the sounds, the colours. The smells, the taste on the air, from the smallest noise to the largest rock, every single part of the mountain comes together to deliver an experience that makes me want to come back for more.

Mt Imlay has every reason to loom.

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Dec 08

This feels like the end of a long journey.

Marriage equality is now a reality, and very shortly my marriage to Michael becomes a legal reality in Australia.

It’s not a same-sex marriage; it’s not a gay marriage, it’s not a civil union, it is a marriage. In the eyes of the law of the land, we are equal.

Not everyone will see it that way, of course. To some being non-heterosexual is still an abomination, detestable, immoral. Those that think that fought hard to ensure that the status quo remained and at the very least, they should maintain their right to believe that about their fellow humans.

Of course, they are free to think that.

Yesterday I saw an extraordinary sight. The whole of the Australian House of Representatives moved to one side of the chamber to vote yes for marriage equality. Those that couldn’t bear to bring themselves to vote yes left the chamber and just 4 of them voted no.

What a moment.

I recall the last time a vote happened on the floor. It was 2012. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard sat with the Opposition led by Tony Abbott to vote no. The division this time was very different.

We didn’t all make it to this point. Some of our community died waiting; some died because they couldn’t bear the strain. However, some of us did make it, and we can’t believe it.

So, yesterday with Tomas, my 23-year-old son, I sat in the State Library of Victoria watching the proceedings on my tablet. We had headphones plugged in and shared an earpiece. The day wore on. I’d sat there from 10.30 listening and watching and waiting for the magic words to be uttered.

It was a long time. I listened to many words of concern that somehow freedoms were about to disappear, somehow the ‘gay mafia’ would be coming after anyone who stood in our way of equality.

Then finally all the amendments and the delaying tactics were at an end. Not one single change was made to the bill. It was time for the final vote.

And there it was. I didn’t know what to think. I knew that I was happy and I knew that I wanted to be with my friends, those of us that have been on this journey. I knew I wanted Michael to share this moment.
I think I was in stunned silence. I packed up my things at the library and Tomas, and I made our way to The 86 Cabaret Bar, that’s where I was sure some of my friends would gather.

We got off the tram, right outside the bar, and sure enough, there was Antony and Ron. Anthony. Ali, Kirrily, Roxy, Chrissy, Menachem, .

We hugged.

We drank.

We looked at each other in disbelief.

I knew, however, that I was holding it in. I knew that I felt this great welling up of emotion deep within me. I needed Michael. He is the one person who I most wanted to see right now. We’d been in touch during the day chatting online, keeping up with the goings-on in Parliament. It was well after 6; he’d finished work and was on his way.

I desperately wanted to see him, so when he messaged me to say that he had arrived and parked the car, I went outside, onto the street to wait.

There he was, across the street, doing a little jog, although I’m not at all sure if that was to avoid the torrential downpour or to get to me quickly.

He pushed the buttons on the pedestrian crossing. We locked eyes with each other. Smiled.

I now moved towards him as he crossed the road and that pent-up emotion could be contained no longer. With him, in my arms, I gave him the biggest hug I could muster and began sobbing. I cried so much in his arms, uncontrollably.

It wasn’t just today’s anxiety and stress. There were 13 years of outpouring.

In August 2004 I stood next to a radio and listened as the Senate passed legislation to make marriage a discriminatory act. I felt a part of me die that day.

I’d only just come to terms with my sexuality. I was looking for acceptance. The greatest fear I had then was that of rejection. I had some friends I was out to, some I wasn’t. It was getting messy to keep the lines clear in my head.

Then the Howard Government, together with the Labor party amended the marriage act to exclude me specifically.

And now, that great wrong was undone.

The cost has been high.

My relationship with Michael was thrust to the front with the announcement of the plebiscite, then the postal survey. My mental health, already fragile, took another knock and I slipped into depression before I even knew it. My career suffered as I struggled to make sense of what was happening. I left my job to take the pressure off myself and to ensure that my workplace didn’t suffer because of my inability to function.

This is the real human cost of this whole process.

So, while our politicians congratulate themselves as they all gathered on the one side of the chamber, I’m here to tell you I won’t forgive you. Ever.

My life has been turned upside down. I have worn my heart on my sleeve. I’ve been out, gay and proud in an effort to right this gross wrong forced upon me, Michael and millions of other Australians.

I’ve marched, met, yelled, written letters, videos, audio, interviews, TV doco, news stories, podcasts and probably other ways of communicating how dreadful this has been.

To those who opposed this for vague religious reasons, you’re responsible. Instead of getting out of the way and letting a small section of society get on with their lives in a fair and reasonable manner, you made it about yourselves. As if you’re the victims. Now you want to be the oppressed.

There are apologies due from you. There are apologies due from our Parliament.

Now, I’m getting married. I will be able to say that Michael is my husband with no need to qualify that with ‘we got married in New Zealand in 2014’.

And, alas, it’s not over yet. We still can’t ease off as the defeated forces regroup and try to find a way to diminish the victory.

Thank you. I know lots of you from religious belief have been with me on the journey. Your willingness to support and love other people is outstanding. Thank you.

Thank you to the 6,800 members of our Facebook group, Second Class Australians. You guys are amazing, you’ve been on the journey, and it’s been rough.

Thanks to those of you that are my close friends. I needed you, and you were there.

Thanks to my family. In our way we have been there for each other.

Thank you to Michael. You are an amazing man. Together we did this. You are my activist, you are my lover, you are my man, you are my Mikey Bear, you are my husband.

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Sep 27

My posts of late have been videos about the marriage equality ‘vote’ here in Australia.

It really is a tough time for me right now.  I’ll never forgive the parliament of Australia, my government, for putting me through this ‘debate’.  It is completely unnecessary.

For me, this mess comes at a time when I’m trying to study, my daughter is preparing for her marriage, the mother of my children is at the sticky end of her long battle with cancer, I’m settling into a new house, my son is settling in a new life at uni, my husband is in full-on activist mode, the dog next door barks all day long, my savings are dwindling, my emotional well-being is at an all-time low.

So, pardon me while I take a big mind-fart and say fuck you.  Not you, the person over your shoulder who thinks I shouldn’t be allowed to get married for reasons that only they understand.

At this time my resilience is really low.  It’s easy to become hyper-sensitive to every little slight that floats across a social media feed.  I can feel the tension in the community.  We are all feeling it to some degree.

In all of this, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The colours of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by, I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do, they’re really saying I love you.

That’s my song.

Here’s a rendition that had tears running down my cheeks.

I will not stop fighting for my own personal human rights, and I will fight for the rights of those in the GLBTIQ community.  We are all human.

The world is wonderful.  I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, I have a right to be here.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

(no, I haven’t rediscovered god.  I don’t conceive a god at all, I’m at peace with that, relax)

The world is wonderful.

I don’t do this alone.  Michael is beside me.  Caitlin and Tomas are there.  My family is right behind me.  My friends are supportive.

The reason the world is wonderful is because of love.  All these people love me for who I am.

Thank you.

You make the world wonderful.

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Sep 14

The box has been marked and we’ve sent our survey forms back.

I can’t begin to tell you how bad this makes me feel.

Maybe one day soon I’ll do that.

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Aug 10

There’s so much to think about because the government have moved to a postal vote for marriage equality in Australia. In this 10 minutes I share why I’m having trouble coming to terms with why people should vote on my right to get married.

Please share!

 

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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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Apr 02

News Ltd continues its unwarranted attack on Michael, ignoring the substance of his activism.  Piers Akerman is the latest bully to make shit up.

IT’S a sad truth that those who so recently claimed to be the bullied are now among the world’s greatest bullies.

Great way to start an article, an assertion, without any substance.  Essentially saying that we, the GLBTIQ activists, that are being bullied by the media, are in fact the bullies.  And we’re really good at it, we’re up there with the greatest of the world’s bullies.

None more so than the ­alphabetical jumble of the ­gender confused in their pursuit of the destruction of the ancient and revered traditional form of marriage.

Straight into it then, lets insult the GLBTIQ community, call it a jumble and tell us were confused and want to end the world!  This notion that we want to destroy marriage is plainly and clearly stupid.  Marriage will continue once marriage equality is here.  How then will it be destroyed?  Simply, it won’t.  People will get married, some will have children, some will stay together, some will divorce, some will be happy, some won’t.  There will just be more of us doing it.

To his great credit, Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, called out the thugs running the so-called marriage equality and diversity campaigns and exposed them and their brutish standover tactics in an unequivocal article in The Australian on Friday.

Thugs? Brutish stand-over tactics?  Davies is kicking up that some folk dare to challenge the status quo and question the authority of the church to set the tone of the debate.  Apparently we should all just shut the fuck up and let archbishops tell us what to do.  Davies uses this antiquated church office of privilege to tell the rest of us what to think and say.  It’s been a long time since the church had any moral authority.

“Not only has this minority view tried to swamp the public debate with its introspective, authoritarian denial of free speech, it has struck at the heart of Australian democracy and the freedoms that we all cherish,” he wrote.

I really want to laugh.  However, I think he is serious.  For centuries the church has been claiming that we are deviants.  We had no way to combat this absurd claim.  We have been killed, locked up, vilified and abused.  We are finding a voice, using it to point out that our treatment is not fair.  For this he claims that we are swamping the debate!  We are denying free speech.  We are undermining democracy and freedoms.  Like we somehow have superpowers to overturn our political system.

Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies spoke out against the “same-sex marriage campaign”.

The use of quotes around same-sex marriage campaign here tries to minimise the reality of the campaign.  It isn’t something that is marginal or unbelievable.  It’s real and happening, right now.

“This narrow-minded, freedom-restricting carping is what the same-sex marriage campaign has come to.

“At the beginning, the promise seemed to be innocent enough — change one word in the marriage legislation and there would be equality for all.

“Now, as people start to ­digest the magnitude of such a social change and the ramifications that would follow for families and the rest of the community when marriage is cut adrift from the significance of gender distinctiveness (the Safe Schools Coalition program is only one of these side effects), other voices are starting to speak up.”

Sigh.  So much to do, so little time.  We start by getting married, then we will begin on the social ramifications, we’ll make sure that your children will understand that they don’t need to be restricted to the narrow-minded version of the world that archbishops see, but that the world is truly diverse and you can be who you want to be and the world won’t end.

The archbishop cited ­numerous examples of the manner in which the homosexual marriage lobby had threatened its opponents and attempted to block debate on this issue with putrid campaigns designed to target Christians, in particular, but discourage all those who refused to fall into line.

Who on the homosexual marriage lobby has threatened anyone?  We’re not blocking debate, we are leading it.  Nobody is being shut down.  That is such a laughable statement.  Here are the archbishop, Akerman, the ACL and the whole of News Ltd speaking out.  Just how are you being blocked?  You wanted a debate?  You got it.  No longer does this debate have to be on the terms you want.  I for one am sick of playing by your rules where you get to tell me how to do it.

He mentioned the forced cancellation of a meeting of church leaders last year in Sydney after staff at the planned venue were subjected to an ­extremely ugly campaign of harassment and threats.

Please refer to the centuries of harassment and threats perpetrated on the GLBTIQ community that still goes on today.  The church leaders meet in a public place to discuss strategy on how to block our efforts for equality and we should just stand back and let it happen.  Use Skype.

He pointed to the case brought against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous before the Tasmanian Anti-­Discrimination Tribunal when that archbishop merely supported the current laws on marriage, which also happen to be the view of his church — all churches — and that held by civilised nations for millennia.

The key word here is merely.  It was so much more than that.  It’s a clear example of the church flexing its control and trying to shut down debate.

Archbishop Davies also drew attention to the manner in which some so-called leaders in the corporate world had folded before social media­ attacks of online pests like serial protester Michael Barnett, whose vile Twitter feed opposing views contrary to his own gives the lie to his claim to be a supporter of “diversity”.

They’re not so-called leaders, they are the top management, CEOs and managers.  You know, leaders.  They don’t fold because someone sent a tweet.  Seriously, you don’t get to be at the top by folding every time someone sends a tweet.

Our ABC showed its own weakness in this debate by posting an apology to Barnett on Thursday which said its program The Drum had “incorrectly” drawn a connection between the marriage equality debate and Barnett’s references to corporate commitments to “Pride and Diversity”, an employer program that campaigns for inclusion for the ­alphabet soup of gender iden­tity.

Or… they realised they made a mistake.  Go figure.

There is not the clichéd cigarette paper’s separation from the issues, they are indivisible, just two sides of the same coin, but the ABC hand-wringers, signed up members to the homosexual marriage and diversity push, rushed to collapse and apologise rather than simply telling Barnett it had fully embraced his ­agenda, even if it may not have agreed with his more abhorrent tweets.

They are very different issues, however, because both issues, diversity and marriage equality, are about the alphabet soup of gender identity I can see why you’re confused.  It’s all to do with the gayz, so therefore all the same issue.  We are just a single body of people who are all in the same soup bowl.

The Barnetts of the world have adopted the bullying tactics used by the climate change lobbyists, formerly known as the global warmists.

What?  As far as a rift to change keys go, this is more like the band leaving the stage and being replaced by some kids with xylophones.  I’ll have to cut a few paragraphs where he attacks climate change, racial discrimination and the colour of black.

Confronting ideas with ideas was once the goal of great universities and the foundation of the great civilising ideas that enabled the growth of the West.

Yeah, so here we are confronting your ideas of how the world should work. Just like it’s been happening.  The world is round, it spins around the sun, around the huge galactic central point.  It doesn’t spin around you and your keyboard.  We’re busy pointing out that ideas are bigger than just doing things the way we’ve always done them.  People are more diverse than you would like to acknowledge and they too have a place in our society to be recognised as fully-fledged citizens.

You know, we’re enabling the growth of the West.  Whatever the fuck that is in a globalised world.

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Mar 30

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

I wasn’t going to write a Part 3 – I thought I’d covered it all.  However, this has taken on a life all of its own and is a good example of how the media has its own agenda and will use their strength to steamroll anyone who doesn’t meet their criteria.

Today The Australian, and I won’t link to them any more, ran another article on Michael and his activism.  They go digging into the past, give little snippets and avoid the whole story.  This tactic enables them to paint a less-than-rosy picture of Michael’s activism.

The headline screams, well, that’s a bit much, it doesn’t scream at all, it is a headline.  There in big letters it says:

Twitter troll who bullies brewers has little love for LGBTI peers

Now Michael has a bunch of new labels.  His name badge is getting quite large.  He is now a Twitter Troll and a Bully and  a Little Love.  I consider him to be my big love.  That’s all he needs on a badge.  I shall get one made up.  He isn’t a Twitter Troll.  You want to see trolls, go look on the Internet, there’s plenty of real trolls.  Michael has raised concerns with people in positions of authority over conflicts of interest.  Hardly trolling.

It’s true of Michael that for some of his peers he has little love.  I have little love for some of my peers too – I guess you probably do too.  You know, just because we’re all part of humanity doesn’t mean that we have to love everyone.  Just because we’re all part of this rather odd bunch of GLBTI people doesn’t mean we all get along.

I want to go through this article sentence by sentence, but I won’t.  Let me be selective, fill in some gaps and leave out a bunch of stuff.  After all, that seems to be the way the media operates.  They have all this essentially unlimited space online and still leave stuff out.  Go figure.

Having pressured Coopers, IBM and PwC and their senior staff to sever links with Christian associations, gay rights activist Michael Barnett has turned his sights on academia, demanding Macquarie University force one of its lecturers to renounce a Christian educational organisation.

He didn’t pressure Coopers any more than the hundreds of other people did.  Likewise there has been no pressure on IBM, PwC or Macquarie University.  It’s about as much pressure as you’d apply to a leaky balloon with a bit of sticky tape, not the weight of an elephant stepping on your head.  As for ‘force’ and ‘demanding’ and ‘renounce’ I mean, really?  

Barnett doesn’t want to talk about how Aleph members tried to sack him? Star Observer, April 15, 2010:

A growing rift in Melbourne’s Jewish gay community saw a war of words via email last week, with members of gay Jewish support group Aleph accusing current convener Michael Barnett for being too hostile.

Sack him?  I was at the meeting, no mention of sacking at all.  People were very cross and expressed themselves.  Of course, what is missing here is the background as to how it came about.  It’s easy to create a picture of division when you only part tell the story.

Melbourne’s LGBTI Jews were not happy with Barnett’s bullyboy act. Star Observer, continued:

… other members of the 80-strong group had been “embarrassed” by Barnett’s constant “angry” emails and the group is now discussing ways to establish a new executive committee which may or may not include Barnett.

Yeah, that’s right.  The 80-strong group, they talked a lot.  Offered little support before they were embarrassed, made a lot of noise and disappeared up their own clackers never to be seen again.  In the long run, Michael’s ‘angry’ emails paid huge dividends in the community.

Barnett hasn’t changed his spots. Aleph’s official Twitter account, Nov­ember 25 last year:

We have cancelled our registration in the 2017 Pride March due to @midsumma accepting @newscorpaus sponsorship. First absence since 1997.

What do you mean spots?  Clearly you don’t know him very well.  Michael has remained steadfast in his commitment to diversity, celebration and acceptance of people over all the years I’ve known him.  We, he and I, continue to learn and modify our approach to how we engage.  Boycotting Pride March and Midsumma this year was because of  The Australian and other News Limited media sponsorship arrangement with Midsumma.  It was a reaction to the ongoing vilification that these media outlets engage in on a regular basis.   I still can’t believe that Midsumma didn’t give up this sponsorship.  Again, Michael’s actions are vindicated by this continuing unwarranted attack on him.

The smear campaign is supported by the Letters to the Editor in The Australian.  They show just how the influence of the media can skew the intent and influence the reader.  Here’s a smattering.

Activists are engaging in systematic persecution

A provocative headline to the letters, and simply untrue.  

I thought we lived in a democratic society where freedom of speech, religion and association were protected (“Gay rights activist turns on Christian academic”, 29/3), so I find the actions of these LGBTI campaigners disturbing. They are doing to others what they have suffered in history.

Somehow we aren’t entitled to enjoy freedom of speech?  So, others have suffered in history.  I’m here to tell you, Vita Mezzatesta from Pascoe Vale, Vic, we are suffering right now, and we are kicking back.  Using our free speech and pointing out what’s wrong with the world.

These activist groups can’t touch me directly, and so I write to express my displeasure with all the self-centred, self-serving, intolerant minorities that now attempt to control our lives. There was a time that you could just say bugger off and that was the end of it, but now they have this need to force feed their views on everyone.

You make me laugh Richard Thomson from Kent Town, SA.  Michael is not self-centred or self-serving.  Control your life?  You’d like to tell us to bugger off?  Get back in the closet perhaps?  Force their views on everyone?  Come on.  Perhaps you simply don’t like having your attitudes and beliefs so directly challenged.  Perhaps those beliefs are outdated and wrong.

Then we hear from Alex Greenwich from the lobby group, Australian Marriage Equality.  Alex is a key player in the group and a NSW MP.  This is what I’d call the lead group from our community that is leading the charge to achieve equality for us in marriage rights.  They are self-appointed.  It’s unclear as to how they are funded or how they decide what to do.  

Here’s Alex’s letter.

Our campaign for marriage equality has always been and always will be based on positive, respectful and inclusive conversations to win over the hearts and minds of Australians. The national conversation about marriage equality will only be won if people can have conversations and are allowed to ask any genuine questions they may have.

For many people, same-sex couples having access to civil marriage is a straightforward reform that takes from no one but provides a profound positive change to the lives of lesbian and gay Australians, their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends.

However, there are still people who have genuine questions and it’s important that we continue to listen and engage respectfully. It is because of our respect for the institution of marriage that we will keep engaging until we can join millions of Australians in marrying the person we love in the country we love.

As we continue along the journey to achieving marriage equality, we must do it through uniting, not dividing, and being respectful of everyone’s views along the way.

Alex Greenwich, Australian Marriage Equality, Darlinghurst, NSW

Alex has really let the side down on this one.  He has an ideal opportunity to reset the debate, but instead goes on the sneaky attack.  Essentially Michael’s activism around Pride in Diversity is thrown under the bus by AME.  Michael has supportively pushed, promoted, encouraged and engaged with AME for many, many years.  Not one of them so much as picked up the phone for a chat with him.  Not a Facebook message, an SMS or even an email.  It’s not like they don’t know who he is.  Alex says that we must achieve marriage equality through uniting, not dividing and being respectful.

Michael’s current concern has zero to do with marriage equality.  Alex could have discovered that quite easily.  He could have distanced himself by saying that Michael isn’t talking about marriage equality, he’s talking about Pride in Diversity and members of the ACL employed by organisations that pride themselves on the diversity.

Let me put this as clearly as I can.  The ACL is not the church, they don’t represent a denomination.  They exist to promote their version of christianity, and in that version there are no gay people, no lesbians and no transgender people.  They might tolerate the bisexuals if you only have married sex with the opposite sex, and intersex people if you have surgery to conform to either male or female.  The Lachlan Macquarie Institute is wholly owned by the ACL.  

These two organisation are intolerant of anyone that isn’t heterosexual.  They pretend to be nice, but underneath the facade is a real desire to spread their version of Christianity far and wide.  They are not our friends.  They seek only to have it their way.  They represent a very small part of our society, even smaller than the GLBTI community.

They are not our friends.

Alex had the chance here to give them a kick in the nuts, instead he plays the nice gay boy who doesn’t want to upset the apple cart.  The News Limited media support the ACL.  They don’t play nice and need to make Michael out to be the bad boy, hold him up as an example of what is wrong with the ‘gay lobby’.  Make their readership, that already hates us, justify that hatred.  We play into their hands, and to the hands of the ACL when we, the activist, the ‘gay’ lobby groups and the ordinary GLBTI folk placate them, pretend we are being inclusive when in fact the media is driving the wedge between us and the rest of society.

That is a missed opportunity.

 

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