Conversion therapy still happens in Australia

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Buzzfeed exposed ex gay or “conversion therapy” still being practised in Australia. This is despite the practice being condemned by all the major health bodies around the world, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Fortunately, some States, including Victoria have started to clamp down on the unscientific practice. Health services will have a complaints commission. They will have greater powers to investigate any suspect health professionals. Anyone will be able to lodge a complaint, not just a client.

However, the article exposes an underground where the practice takes place and is fairly widespread, especially in evangelical Pentecostal circles. Buzzfeed Oz Politics posted a video on their Facebook page where an Australian Christian Lobby member refused to condemn ex – gay therapy during a debate concerning the “Marriage Amendment (Same – sex Marriage) Bill.

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I actually find this infuriating. I’m furious that some Christians are so hell – bent (no pun intended), to hold on to their theology that they are willing to cause damage to someone’s life as  a result. I’m more furious that a major political force, the Australian Christian Lobby, refuses to condemn the debunked and unethical practice, which is shown to cause unimaginable pain and suffering to many LGBTQ+ people and their friends and families around the world. Regardless of what you think about same – sex relationships, no one has the right to destroy someone’s life. Ever. I’m going to put it very bluntly and this may offend some people. Those who continually insist on conversion therapy have blood on their hands. The Human Rights Campaign in the U.S. mentions the harmful effects of such “therapy” including depression, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. Live Science has also highlighted how harmful the so – called “therapy” is.

I get that people want to hold on to their beliefs and some people have genuine beliefs about whether same – sex relationships are moral. Some still hold the view that it isn’t. What I can’t believe is that people still insist that LGBTQ people change their orientation or gender identity when all evidence suggests that it doesn’t work. I can’ t believe how the Australian Government can watch idly as this goes on.

The U.S. is slowly clamping down on the practice, with New Jersey being the first state to ban the “therapy” for minors. Could it ever be outlawed outright? Even survivors of “ex gay therapy”, such as Samuel Brinton admitted that legally, there is a limit that should be done as to not clamp on people’s freedom of choice and beliefs if they are over eighteen. (Watch his speech at Google  on YouTube. For some reason I can’t embed it here. Sorry about that).

I’ll add to that sentiment. Laws, regardless of how strict they are, can only do so much. It’s the culture in some organisations that needs to change. There needs to be a belief that LGBTQ+ have enough value to have a right to dignity and well – being. There needs to be a willingness for people to drop the stereotypes and caricatures that have given people licence to dehumanise and harm the LGBTQ+ community for so long. We need to change thinking on gender and sexuality. Organisations need to be willing to treat people in a way that protects their mental health and overall well – being, rather than use power to abuse people spiritually and psychologically.

Some people may have found this post hard to read. It was hard for me to write. Frankly, I was initially reluctant to write it. But I felt like I can’t let this go on and not say something. Too many lives have already been damaged or destroyed by this. I can’t let another life be ruined without speaking up.

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Finally a sane article on Melania Trump

Michelle Andrews wrote an article on Mamamia calling for an end to fake news and misrepresentations of Melania Trump on – line.. Andrews has slammed the “Free Melania” hashtag with no evidence except some opportunistic photos and GIFs.

Finally, a progressive wanting FACTS rather than sensationalism on this.

She is right. We DON’T KNOW what goes on behind closed doors between President Donald Trump and Melania. I wrote on another blog that some of the treatment of Melania had been unfair and wouldn’t be tolerated if it was Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton – especially by the left/ progressive media.

So, what do we really know about Melania? Well I can tell you what I’ve heard that is quite common knowledge:

  1. She’s Slovenian
  2. She is fluent in five languages
  3. Her and Trump have a ten – year – old son.

That’s all I can think of at the top of my head. Can’t even think of the son’s name… starts with B.

 

I hope that the next four years isn’t full of endless rumours and false victim narrative of Melania. C’mon, we may be troubled about Trump (I have my concerns), but portraying his wife in a false light is not going to help progressives/ left, feminists or anyone else. In fact, it will be another thing that will backfire completely.

The “fake news” phenomena over the last couple of months in the lead up to and in the aftermath of the U.S. Election has been pathetic. Some researchers argue that fake news didn’t affect the election result, but it’s still not a good look. Alleged fake hate crimes will NOT help the migrants, Muslims or the LGBT community. It will only embolden vocal opponents.

Be concerned about what’s happening or what will likely happen. Like the bill that Trump was photographed signing. Some people worry about what it’s going to mean for reproductive health for women in other countries that the U.S. sends aid to. I must admit, I think I’ve jumped the gun, especially including on Vice President Mike Pence on LGBTQ+ rights. I’ll try not to do that in the future.

I agree with what Sky’s Janine Perett said a couple of nights ago on Paul Murray Live – wait until President Trump and other Republicans make their first move and something becomes (or is likely to become) law. If you don’t like the policies the Republicans put forward and its made law then protest. If you’re a journalist focus on facts. Don’t journalists have an ethical responsibility to be accurate. Of course, if you are an opinion writer, then, you can afford to be biased. But again, if the biases are based on complete fabrications and things taken out of context, then that doesn’t help your cause or reputation.

 

Back to Melania. Why don’t we treat her like most progressives would’ve treated Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton – with respect. And show respect for their son, like many did with Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia. Treat Barron (I found the name just before) Trump with courtesy. And remember he’s only ten – still in school.

As for fake memes, GIFs and whatnot, can we stop being so pathetic? People – both from the left and conservative post satirical memes and GIFs featuring famous people on social media all the time. That’s fine. But deliberately creating deliberately fake news/ campaigns out of it does not do anyone any good and only make progressives look spiteful and hypocritical.

 

We’re all edgy about what’s happened. Many are concerned about what the future holds, especially progressives/ those that lean to the left. But step back and let truth trump lies (no pun intended). Because, quite frankly, lies, as well as demonising people unfairly is what has gotten us into here in the first place.

Progressives, it’s time we change tactic

‘The Specator’s’ Brendan O’Neill offered an analysis on what was behind Trump’s victory.

I think the self – described Marxist may have a point. Maybe a Trump win as U.S.’s 45th President is a warning to politicians, and also cultural progressives. People don’t like to be told to shut up. They don’t like to see the next generation of adults treated as precious petals. They are sick of the double standards people practice when they criticise Christianity (which is sometimes justified, I must say), but are deathly silent on Islam.

People are tired of being told they can’t do what they want to their own bodies. When it comes to issues like smoking, the possible effects of passive smoking and littering do need to be considered, but people argue it’s gone too far.

Also, people are sick of being abused. And conservatives cop some revolting abuse, including here in Australia. A number of Trump supporters were violently assaulted in the lead up to the election. Even after the election, riots have still occurred. Then, there was the torture of an 18 – year – old disabled man by an African American gang in Chicago. The ordeal lasted between 24 and 48 hours.

While things in Australia haven’t been as extreme, many causes has been hijacked by the far – Left, leaving scores of people disillusioned. This is where Safe Schools lost the plot. I agree that LGBTQ+ students and families should be supported. I also applaud how resources like ‘All of Us’ acknowledged other identities in the LGBTQ+ community and how it went beyond the gay/ straight dichotomy. Unfortunately, much of the ‘information’ in the program was deemed age inappropriate and was based on far – Left gender and feminist theory, rather than up –  to – date psychology and research. Not to mention founder, Roz Ward’s conference where she revealed that Safe Schools was not intended to be an anti – bullying program. To make matters even worse, the ‘Herald Sun’ and ‘The Australian’ published photos of its founder, Roz Ward assaulting an Australian Trump supporter.

 

People are worried. People have been hurt by institutions and systematic injustices have gone on for way too long. Homophobia, bi – phobia and racism destroys lives, but this isn’t the way to fight it. It only scares off would – be allies and only confirms to the Right what they already think.

 

Enough’s enough. Time for change. We need to stop the abuse and the hypocrisy. We need to allow others to speak without fear of being howled down. Should we tolerate homophobia, racism and the like? No. But we shouldn’t guilt people for having genuine concerns, either. If people are out of line, then offer a counter argument – with facts, statistics, logic and so on. Also, condemn violence/ abuse when committed by other members of the Left. If you look at any of Secular Talk videos on YouTube, Kyle Kulinski does this very well. David Rubin isn’t too bad either. They aren’t closed to debate – in fact, they’re all for it. Kulinski, in particular, is a hardcore libertarian. While I don’t agree with all of what Kulinski says, it’s what the modern Left needs – someone who encourages debate and someone with enough conviction that they are willing to call out wrongdoing when they see/ hear it. I think if we progressives do that, then maybe things may turn around.

 

What do you think about what’s going to happen in the next few years? What do you think about the result of the U.S. Election?

Media hype about same – sex relationships – help or hindrance to the LGBTQ+ community?

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Trigger warning: homophobic violence

I feel like there is a bit of disparity here. It seems all the rage for mainstream media – especially magazines – to write about same – sex relationships or – more often – same – sex relations that rarely last more than one night. Yet, LGBTQ+ youth still face untold struggles around the world – something much of the media doesn’t talk about.

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about homophobia, transphobia and how LGBTQ+ youth are over – represented in youth homelessness statistics in the U.S. LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times more likely to experience homelessness. That’s only if you go by the “10%” figure which is widely criticised.

Also, around the world, many LGBTQ+ people face the risk of violence and not just in the countries where homosexuality is punishable by death in the penal code.

Pink News wrote a story of Brazilian mother, Tatiana Lozano Pereira was charged with murder after stabbing her 17 – year – old son Itaberli after a row on Christmas Day. The 32 – year – old had her son bashed before stabbing him to death. I have also pointed out in Brazil, there has been a violent backlash against the LGBTQ+ community after same – sex marriage was legalised in 2013.

Closer to home, the story of 13 – year – old Tyrone Unsworth made news after he committed suicide after facing violent homophobia due to this perceived sexuality. Unsworth isn’t alone in being victimised because of his perceived or actual sexuality. NOBullying.com reveals that studies conducted by Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that:

  • 82% of students were bullied over their sexual orientation during the previous year (2015)
  • 64% of LGBTQ students surveyed felt unsafe at school
  • 44% of students felt unsafe at school due to their gender identity
  • 32% of students avoided going to school for at least one day in fear of being bullied
  • 44% experienced physical harassment
  • 22% experienced more serious violence
  • 61% never reported abuse
  • 31% said that the school made no effort in combating abusive behaviour.

As for adults, as I research this, I’m having a hard time finding data on present or very recent anti – LGBTQ violence against adults. There’s a lot of historical stuff – the 1980’s and 1990’s were particularly bad for gays and lesbians. But I can’t find something significant in the past two or so years. This is, frankly, concerning in itself. Why isn’t this monitored and studied more regularly to keep up with current rates of homophobic or transphobic violence so it can be combated? I don’t doubt that over the past thirty or so years, attitudes about gays and lesbians have greatly improved. Still, some actual stats wouldn’t go astray.

Despite this, magazines, like Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire (Australia) are more frequently featuring women who admit to having sex and/ or relationships with other women. Very few, of the women, however, identify – or end up identifying – as LGBTQ+ – some foregoing labels altogether and most going back to having relationships with men. Now I do believe that there are some people who can’t put a label on their sexuality. Some may forego them because they are too scared to admit they’re gay or bi. Some may say their bi, only to identify as gay later on. I’m not knocking anyone who identifies as LGBTQ or foregoes labels. Sexuality can be – and sometimes is – more complex than a simple label.

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What I’m wondering is: does the media’s constant portrayal of same – sex/ non – heterosexual relationships help or hinder the LGBTQ+ community, especially when the person doesn’t identify as such? Does it enforce common myths about bisexual people? To be fair, many of these magazines do occasionally do proper articles on bisexual people and their experiences. Articles like the ones above seem to be more frequent though.

Does the media’s constant portrayal of WSW (women who have sex with women) unintentionally give people the impression that bisexuality is a phase or diminish the experience of lesbians, even enforce a theory that lesbians don’t exist.

 

In my opinion I think it could be all the above. Yes, sexuality can be complex and fluid for both men and women. It is kind of good that the media and people admit that. But bi – erasure is a problem faced by many bisexual people. There also needs to be emphasis that some women are attracted to women and only women, the same as that some men are attracted only to men. If we can be frank about all people’s experiences with their sexuality without erasing LGB people or diminishing other people’s experiences, then I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

 

What do you think? Does this portrayal of same – sex relationships help or hinder the LGBTQ+ community? Does more of this help gain acceptance or increase myths and stigma? Let me know what you think in  the comments below. 

Vegemite is Australian owned again

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“Australians all let us rejoice… for Vegemite is back!”

Good news everyone! A major part of Australia’s staple diet, Vegemite, will be Australian – owned and produced again!

Sky News Australia reports that the iconic staple of the Aussie diet will be bought by cheese company, Bega Cheese. It’s said that deal will cost $460 million. Bega will also have right to the Kraft brand for other products, including their widely popular, peanut butter.

The decision has delighted Australian entrepreneur, Dick Smith, who’s been a strong advocate for buying Australian – made and grown products. In 2014, he slammed Australians for buying “cheap” foreign imports instead. I get why. So many jobs in manufacturing are either eliminated, or at least on its knees in the Western world, partly because scores of people wanting the cheapest they can possibly get. Recently, this mentality has been scrutinised after companies like Apple had been exposed for using cheap labour from impoverished parts of the world. Too often their working conditions would be condemned if they occurred in places like Australia or the U.S.

Kraft came under fire in 2014 when they changed the recipe and added wheat malt. This infuriated Vegemite lovers across the country. It sparked a a petition, and although that gained very little traction, Kraft did go back to the original recipe. So they should’ve. Why change something that has nothing wrong?

 

Vegemite has been a staple in Australia for many years and has been a staple in the Australian diet since its launch in 1923 after being created by Dr. Cyril P. Callister in 1922. To get a name for the product, he asked Fred Walker to name it. Walker ran a competition for the public to come up with the name. Fifty (Australian) pounds was the prize. Walker’s own daughter won the prize after picking the name, Vegemite. For more information on the history of Vegemite, go here.

If it wasn’t for Vegemite, I probably wouldn’t eat as a kid, ha ha! It was such a staple in our house. I used to have it on toast and on sandwiches all the time. I like it thick! Probably a lot thicker than what other people do. If you could taste the butter or margarine, (especially butter), than it wasn’t thick enough. I’m more moderate now. I still have it reasonably thick, but too much can be too strong. But if you have so little that you can barely taste it, then it’s not worth it. I still have it on toast in the mornings. On sandwiches, not so much anymore, but I did have it a few days ago. It was nice. And it was reasonably thick!

 

Now, to a debate featured on Paul Murray Live last night, can you have Vegemite with cheese? Sliced cheese, yes. Tasty, not so much. That’s a bit too strong. For years, I always thought that they (Vegemite and sliced cheese) went together beautifully. Probably not the best combination when you are watching your weight though. Vegemite is just fine by itself, with a little bit of butter or margarine. The Vegemite still needs to be able to be tasted or what’s the point? And sometimes with sliced cheese.

Now, when we buy Vegemite and have it on our toast, sandwiches, Saladas, etc, we can rest assured that we are buying an Australia – made product and supporting Australian jobs. We can also be assured that the workers’ conditions are satisfactory – a standard that we expect of any workers.

Now, let us all rejoice!

 

Do you like Vegemite? How? Thick? Thin? What do you like it on? 

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Daryl Braithwaite cancels tour due to health scare

Former Sherbet front man, Daryl  Braithwaite has cancelled performances at the Australian Open and the annual Red Hot Summer Tour after a health scare left him hospitalised on the 17 January. He left an apology on his Facebook page:

Good morning,

I unfortunately and regrettably have had to cancel this week’s shows due to illness and sudden admission into Hospital (sic). I am disappointed that I won’t be able to perform at the Australian Open Tennis tonight nor the Mornington Peninsula RHST (Red Hot Summer Tour) shows this weekend.

I am hoping to make a speedy recovery and be back doing shows very soon.

Regards Daryl. (sic)

His condition has not been made public.

 

Braithwaite has touched multiple generations of fans, both as a part of Sherbet in the 1970’s and 1980’s with songs like Summer Love” and “Howzat” and in the 1990’s with a cover (yep, you read that right), of “The Horses”. It was written by Rickie Lee Jones and Walter Becker. Jones sung it in 1989, a year before Braithwaite. Over 25 years after it’s release by Braithwaite, it remains a classic song loved by many Australians.

The Sherbet hit, “Howzat” – written by Tony Mitchell and Garth Porter has become an unofficial cricket anthem since its release in 1976. However the song is about a man who’s found out his wife has had an affair.

Sherbet was a staple part of the ABC music show “Countdown”. Braithwaite even co – hosted an episode with John Paul Young when Ian “Molly Meldrum” failed to turn up to the filming.

 

I really feel for the people who bought tickets to see Braithwaite at the Australian Open or Red Hot Summer Tour. I can imagine your disappointment. Back in 2012 or 2013, I bought tickets to go and see the British metal band, “The Darkness” and the iconic “Joan Jett and the Blackhearts” at Hisense Arena, Melbourne, only to hear that the show was cancelled allegedly because one of the members of “The Darkness” had  health issues due to a car accident. Hope Joan Jett and the Blackhearts come back to Australia one day.

 

Anyway, Braithwaite fans on Facebook have been understanding and have seen him well – wishes and hope for a speedy recovery. They can add me to the list of well – wishers. I do hope it gets well soon and can continue doing what he loves – performing.

 

Here’s a bit of Daryl Braithwaite trivia for you. Did you know that he’s a twin? He has a twin brother, Glenn. They were born in Melbourne on the 11 January 1949.

 

Do you have a favourite The Sherbet or solo song from Daryl Braithwaite?

Possible word for 2017

Mamamia publisher, Mia Freedman came up with an idea last year. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, Freedan came up with having a word for a year. The word is a theme that you want to live by to make your life and the lives of those around you better. Sounds great. For the last couple of days, I ummed and ahhed, thinking of a word to come up with. The one that immediately came to mind was ‘writing’ – keeping up with this blog and the Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing. I thought of ‘discipline’ in both professional and personal life in all areas. Then, an unexpected word came up to me on the weekend.

Acceptance.

Acceptance of myself and life in general. Acceptance that life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect, (far from it). I’m a work in progress and always will be. See, over the years, I’ ve always expected things to go a certain way. I always had visions of where I should be. New Year’s Eve was a day when I expected almost everything to change  – and change immediately at the stroke of midnight.

 

I always had expectations in my professional life that were so rigid that when I couldn’t finish the Diploma because I couldn’t find a place to do Work Placement, it left lost. My plan was so rigid and straight forward – finish the Diploma of Community Services at 24, do a Bachelor of Human Services/ Masters in Social Work, having them done at 27, (which meant I would have finished itvlast year have finished it last year), then work, and live a life and be a person I thought I should be. When that didn’t go ahead, to say I felt lost is an understatement. I felt worthless, a failure. My self -esteem was like the Tooth Fairy – it was non – existent. For a year or so afterwards, even when I started Diploma in Early Childhood Education  and Care, I still felt like I’d failed. I was more desperate. I often found myself in tears for no apparent reason. It wasn’t until the third day of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) in 2015, that things started looking up and I had a sense that I was OK. It was OK that life didn’t fit a rigid schedule. I was OK with who I was. Fast forward almost two years, while I haven’t gone down such a dark path since the end of RYLA, I have worried about where I’d be in my life, especially as I approach 30, (in just over two years, which is pretty close to me).

 

This word – – acceptance- a word that hit me out of the blue – should I accept it? I should probably try relaxing a bit. Just a tad. Sure, I’ll continue to work hard and work on what needs to be worked on, but maybe with a little bit of grace and not to expect perfection, because… well, it ain’t gonna happen in this life is it? I feel weird, even as I admit that. This word thing might be worth a try.

Have you given up on New Year’s resolutions and adopted a word to live by in 2017? If so, what is it?