We will rise: Episode of Gaycation offers LGBTQ+ people hope

Screen shot of image of Gaycation: United We Stand
Despite fear about the win of Trump last year, the LGBTQ+ people and their allies’ unity was touching and something Australian LGBTQ+ people can take strength from.

I won’t lie, the last few months haven’t been easy for many in the Australian LGBTQ+ community. That includes me. I’ve been quite strong and have offered my own support to LGBTQ+ family and friends but on and off for the past couple of weeks, it’s finally got me. Old insecurities and worries about how others viewed me came back. And I’m not even in a same – sex relationship. I feel for those who are.

On Wednesday, I saw the end of a repeat of Gaycation: United We stand  on SBS Viceland. It was about the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. Many people were worried about the President’s Cabinet and their links with organisations and political parties that had been opposed to LGBTQ+ rights, including Vice President, Mike Pence, who was responsible for the Religion Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, which permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the grounds of personal belief. (Apparently, he did backpedal in legalising discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, despite anger from conservatives). There was also worry about the rights of trans people and their ability to access medical care.

While the backdrop of the documentary was quite grim, the end of the documentary was surprisingly uplifting. It gave me hope for Australia in the postal vote process. I took strength from the fact that the LGBTQ+ community and allies were determined to stand together and not allow things to backslide to where they’d been in the past. They were not going to let those with homophobic or trans – phobic views win. Caucasian and people of colour were willing to stand together. They seemed to believe in the cause and their right to, not just exist, but live freely, love and express their gender that they saw fit.

It was heartening to see parents of LGBTQ+ people, including co – host Ian Daniel’s father, who were willing to stand by their children and fight for them. I truly think that these people don’t get enough credit. They are such a great source of love and strength. You have seen the same thing with the postal vote process. I’ve been heartened at the number of straight people; including parents and grandparents, who are willing to have their LGBTQ+ children’s and grandchildren’s back.  If you are a parent, friend, family member, educator, who’s been a shoulder for LGBTQ+ family or friends to cry on, on behalf of members of the LGBTQ+ community, can I just say, thank you. You’re love, support and contribution in our lives will never be forgotten. To LGBTQ+ people, please, give these people in your lives a massive hug! They deserve it.

Can I please implore Australian LGBTQ+ people to take heart. It will be OK. If we can stick together, we can get through this and more (if the US is anything to go by, this won’t be the last fight).

If we keep going, we will win this. We will gain the right to love, to be safe and express our gender authentically. To quote Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy: We Will Rise. To quote them again: “United we stand!”

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Older people are being left out of discussions… until now

Old woman with flowers wearing hat
Older people need to be included in current social and political debates. (mage: iStock).

 

Actress and activist, Jane Fonda along with Robert Redford is starring in a new movie, Our Souls at Night. According to Studio 10 on Wednesday, the movie is about Addie Moore  and Louis Waters, who fall in love with each other in their senior years.

I have no intentions of seeing the movie, to be honest, (might one day. who knows), but it got me thinking about how society is just starting to add older people in discussions about social issues.

Mental health is one. In 2016, Mindframe reported that the age demographic with the highest suicide rate was men over 85. To his credit, Sky News’ Australia’s Paul Murray has raise this issue on Paul Murray Live. Other than that, you don’t hear much about it in the media.

Also to do with mental health is the impact that becoming widowed can have on the spouse left behind. Loneliness and often abandonment from family are also issues that too many elderly people face.

 

Then there are the social issues like same – sex marriage (I know everyone’s sick of the topic, but please hear me out).

When the issue of same – sex marriage is raised, it’s often young LGBTQ people that are the point of the discussion. It’s the mental health of young LGBTQ+ that cause commentators to worry and for politicians to attack. What isn’t talked about as often is how it affects LGBTQ people over fifty. On Monday, a man, probably in his fifties or sixties, rang up Sydney’s 2GB, saying that the marriage debate had brought back bad memories from when the Australian LGBTQ community started demanding rights, including the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The 1978 protest, the first Mardi Gras in Taylor Square started peacefully, but turned into a violent clash between gay, lesbian and transgender people and the police, which saw a number of the protesters were arrested.

One day, I was reading a Facebook post from a counselor who said that he had an increase in the number of LGBTQ+ clients contacting him for help during the same – sex marriage debate. A number of these were same – sex couples over fifty; those who lived through the period when homosexuality was criminalised. These debates were deja vu for them.

Older gay couple
Older people tend to be left out of the same – sex marriage debate, despite the affects that the 1978 clash with police might have had on them. (Image: iStock)

 

Poverty is another dire issue that many elderly people, especially women, face. One of the reasons for this is a lack of super, due to having time off to have a baby. This is a reason why I do support some sort of adequate paid parental leave scheme for new parents. Also, this is why the energy debate in Australia is so heated (no pun intended) at the moment. Of course, people should be able to live comfortably in their homes during the range of weather conditions that Australia is well – known for!

 

I’m certain that there are multiple other issues I can add. I’ll just leave you with this. People over fifty need and deserve our love and support. They should be a part of our national debates. They need to be heard.

I’d ask people too, if you have elderly people in your life, grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, friends, that you check up on them. Keep them in your mind and (if your religious/ spiritual), in your prayers.

Frances Abbott has made an advertisement campaigning for same – sex marriage

Yes!!!!

Daughter of former Australian Prime Minister, Frances Abbott, has vocally supported the legalisation of same – sex marriage in Australia, notably on Instagram. Now, Australian Marriage Equality has launched an ad featuring her. It’s brilliant!

Abbott did a brilliant job at explaining why she supports same – sex marriage. Her reason? Love and family. She spoke so fondly of her aunt Tony Abbott’s younger sister), Sydney Liberal Councillor, Christine Forster, who is in a long – term same – sex relationship.

This is what the same – sex marriage campaign should have been about from the start — love and family! Finally, there’s no ideological cat fight. Not left versus right. Just love. And LGBTQ+ people.

This is what about the “Yes” campaign should have been about all along! Instead, it’s been hijacked by ideologues, who’ve, lets’ honest, made the rate of favour for same – sex marriage has slipped to just over fifty percent. It’s become a left versus right issue. For too long, the campaign has been divisive and not something that some supporters of the LGBTQ+ community want to be associated with.

Is it too late, though? We’ll have to wait another month and see. There are no guarantees, but, as I wrote above, the “Yes” are still in front. Just. Hopefully, this advertisement can curb a further decline in support.

A few months ago, Australian Marriage Equality launched another advertisement, featuring former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and author, Professor Kerryn Phelps.

While it isn’t a bad advertisement, I feel that it combated ideology, rather than dealing with just dealing with LGBTQ+ people. It was about countering the Coalition for Marriage advertisement, rather than aiming at people’s hearts. How many people really care about the politics, especially those who really don’t care either way (the people that need to be convinced)?

This is what made Frances Abbott’s advertisement so great. She has even said that she doesn’t care about politics. So, she talked about someone she obviously loves very much, her aunt. She said that she wanted to see her aunt happy and equal under Australian law. Again, this is what the  “Yes” campaign should’ve been about from the start.

What’s more, Abbott didn’t attack anyone; not her father, not Coalition for Marriage, no one. This is great, in my view.

 

Last night, Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson told Andrew Bolt (who was impressed by the advertisement), that it was good that Professor Kerryn Phelps did one of the “Yes” advertisement as it may encourage older people to support the campaign, where as Abbott’s campaign advertisement would likely preach to the converted. Maybe Markson has a point. I still think that Abbott’s focus on love and family, rather than combating the  Coalition for Marriage and the like may have won more hearts. It’s just a pity it was made so late in the campaign.

In regard to the vote, do whatever you think is fair. If you do feel strongly about the issue one way or another, vote and have your survey in by November 7.

 

 

The AFL has every right to support the LGBTQ+ community, including same – sex marriage

Screenshot of Herald Sun opinion piece "Praise AFL for its social conscience' by Justin Quil 25 September, 2017
Herald Sun’s acting media lawyer, Justin Quill has praised AFL’s corporate stance on same – sex marriage

I was going to criticise the AFL’s stance on same – sex marriage. My argument was that they shouldn’t it’s a hot – button issue and they may alienate spectators. Reading Justin Quill’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Herald Sun gave me a new perspective.

Companies DO have a right to express a view on social issues. As Quill pointed out, this is not the first time that the AFL has supported social causes. The AFL has had a reputation of trying to combat racism in the game, starting with former St. Kilda player, Nicky Winmar, who lifted up his Guernsey to defy racism back in 1993.

Now, the AFL has turned it’s attention to supporting LGBTQ+ people.

Over the past two years, the AFL has had the “Pride Round” between St. Kilda and the Sydney Swans. As I wrote last year in another one of my blogs, I supported this as I though it was good that the AFL were taking a stance against discrimination. I still hold that view.

While there are no openly gay or bi men in the AFL, there are two AFLW players in long – term same – sex relationships. It’s great that these women have gotten so much support, both from the media and the AFL.

 

Having said that, the AFL hasn’t been without controversy when it comes to homophobia, or at least, a lack of acceptance. In 2010, former Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions player Jason Akermanis controversially suggested that gay players should stay in the closet to avoid making other players uncomfortable. Maybe Akermanis’ comment revealed that, at the time, the AFL wasn’t openly embracing of gay and bi players.  Last week on ABC’s The Drum, former footballer – turned LGBTQ advocate, Jason Ball highlighted how hard it was to be gay in football. This was largely due to the prevalence of homophobic slurs and jokes in the game.

Screenshot of Jason Ball on ABC's the Drum
Jason Ball talks about how hard it has been for gay footballers when talking about the AFL’s controversial change in their logo in support of same – sex marriage.

The AFL has worked to tackle racism in the AFL and now turns it’s attention to homophobia and bi – phobia. This is great, as players, regardless of background, religion or sexuality should be able to play the game they love.

Likewise, LGBTQ+ spectators, should be free from discrimination and any that does occur will be condemned. LGBTQ+ who want attend a AFL game should be able to without fear of having slurs hurled at them or worse. Same – sex couples should be able to attend and enjoy the football like any straight couple. To be honest, it’s a shame that this still seems to be a controversial idea.

Regarding the criticism that the AFL is trying to enforce same – sex marriage on  the spectators and players, Quill made the point that no same – sex marriage opponent was being thrown out because of their stance. If that was the case, it’d be wrong. What the AFL are trying to do is make LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and that discrimination won’t be tolerated. That’s not a bad thing. Is it?

What are your thoughts on the AFL’s stance on gay marriage or the Pride Round? Let me know in the comments below. 

Madeline should not have been let off for opposing same – sex marriage

18 – year – old, only known as Madeline, was let go from her contract at Capital Kids Parties, Canberra, after putting ‘It’s OK to Vote No’ filter on her Facebook profile.

Her contractor, Madlin Sims made a Facebook post saying that she let go of Madeline because she thought her views were “hate speech”.

There are feelings that there is more to this story, but I’ll go with purely the issue of unfair dismissal and anti – discrimination.

I don’t think people like Madeline should be let off purely because of their political or religious beliefs. And, as long as they are not advocating for the killing of LGBTQ+ people or they are openly hostile towards people because of sexuality, gender, race, etc, they shouldn’t be sacked/ lose their contract.

However, I’ve got a funny feeling that some people who defend Madeline also want businesses to be legally be able to discriminate against people based on their relationships, gender or sexuality. It should be all or nothing. Sims should be able to discrminate against conservative Christians, or it should be unlawful for a business or servicecto refuse to employ or serve LGBTQ+ people. All of one or the other.

 

There is something that I think has been left out of this discussion. Madeline is only eighteen. She’s probably just finished Year 12. She still needs time to grow and I do feel for her. She’s had her work and her beliefs scrutinised in the most public way. Her character has already been debated,bsparked by Sims’ Facebook post. Regardless of who you agree with in this, Madeline is still so young. She has her whole life ahead of her and she’s been subject to public scrutiny already. All over a Facebook filter. That to me, is extreme.

 

I feel for Madlin Sims, too. By the look at her Instagram picture, which supince has been taken down, apparentky,bshe’s also incredibly young. And the abuse she and her brother have allegedly suffered must be condemned. Why this hasn’t been talked about and condemned by mainstream and independent media, I don’t know. (You already know how I feel about the whole ‘debate’ and ommissions,bso Ivwon’t repeat them here).

 

Unfortunateky, I think this case has put a bad light on the ‘Yes’ side, again. It’s also exposed my worst feears about same – sex marriage; a values clash between the Left and conservatives that I believe needs to be sorted before (if) same – sex marriage becomes legal in Australia.

 

What are your thoughts on anti – discrimination laws? Should there be any exemptions on moral grounds?

 

 

 

 

The misreporting and omissions in the media on same – sex marriage need to stop

Sunday Herald Sun17 September2017
I think the media plays a role in what side of the same – sex marriage wins or loses.

The debate on same – sex marriage is still going on as the postal surveys are being sent out nationwide.

A win for the ‘Yes’ side is not guaranteed.

Yesterday in Sunday’s Herald Sun a study by ‘No’ campaigners predicted that there was a million vote swing against the ‘Yes’ vote. According to the stats, if that’s the case, the ‘Yes’ vote will still get up, but only just. Only a few hundred thousand less, then it’s gone.

Million vote swing claim in same - sex polls article Sunday Herald Sun
Story in ‘Sunday’s Herald Sun’ reports that poll estimates that there is up to a million vote swing to oppose same – sex marriage

If the ‘Yes’ side doesn’t get up, I’ll personally blame the media.

The liberal/ Left and conservative media have been pathetic during this campaign. Commentary, for the most part, have been deliberately skewed and extremely selective on what they are willing to report, condemn and support.

The earliest example of poor journalism (or in this case ‘interviewing’), that saw the demise of the ‘Yes’ campaign in my view, was The Project’s ‘interview’ with former tennis champion, Margaret Court.

This was the first of a number of extreme media biases that ended up painting the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters in a bad light.

More recently, ABC’s Insiders allegedly promoted Tim Minchin’s parody of Peter Allen’s I still call Australia home, titled I still call Australia home -o – phobic (look it up on YouTube if you want. I won’t post it here). While opit got some praise in the media and elsewhere, there was a fair bit of backlash on social media due to it’s crudeness.

On a more serious note, is the misreporting of incidents between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners. One example is Channel 9’s coverage of a standoff between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners in Brisbane, in which, a meeting attendee was falsely accused of deliberately using his car as a weapon to mow down ‘Yes’ campaigners, in which protester Jessica Payne — who Today Show interviewed. Andrew Bolt pointed out that Payne was not injured by the driver, but tripping on a gutter.

There was more misreporting by the media on another confrontation happened at a barbeque set by a group of ‘It’s OK to say no’ campaigners. Contrary to the media reports, it was members of  the ‘Yes’ side that was causing the trouble, not ‘No’ campaigners.

Talking about ‘No’ side causing trouble, I’ve been incredibly disappointed about the lack of reporting and condemnation when the shoe is on the other foot. I noticed this for the first time last year when bomb threats were made against Melbourne’s LGBT radio station, Joy 94.9FM. At the time, I looked up multiple Facebook and news sites. There was no article ddon Mamamia, nothing on The Project and, most disappointingly, Andrew Bolt did not mention itvat all, on his TV show, on radio, in the papers or his blog.

There have been other events that haven’t been reported or condemned, for example, a Greek Orthodox priest saying that gays should be shot on Fatger’s Day this year. Another, more frightening example happened in Dubbo, New South Wales where a man was arrested after he threatened a 14 – year – old girl after she posted her support for same – sex marriage. Plus, very few from the mainstream media is pointing out that Madeline’s former contractor, Madlin Sims,  has faced abuse over  the incident with Madeline.

Plus, I’ve also read that parents of LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ celebrities, like Magda Szubanski have been abused on social media. The abuse has been vile, including the false link that LGBTQ+ people are paedophiles. Author, Anthony Venn – Brown recently put his foot down and took to his Facebook page, warning that anyone who suggested a link between being LGBTQ+ and paedophilia were at risk of being permanently banned from his pages.

Screenshot of warning from author, Anthony Venn - Brown
Anthony Venn – Brown often takes criticism and insults on the chin, but has put his foot down when LGBTQ+ people are compared to paedophiles

 

So, from now on, can I make a plea to both sides of the media, please report factually. And please condemn ‘Yes’ supporters when it’s due and don’t ignore when it’s the ‘No’ side. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he wants respectful debate. A bit of accurate reporting and fair commentary might help.

Can we talk about LGBTQ+ mental health?

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

 

CW: suicide, mental illness, homophobia

It’s ironic that World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day came in the height of the same – sex marriage debate. I think there has been a lack of genuine discussion on the issue of mental health of LGBTQ+ people throughout these past few months. Organisations who have brought up the issue like the Australian Medical Association and have been slammed for suggesting that the same – sex marriage debate is deemed a health risk to the LGBTQ+ community.

Couple embracing
Image: iStock

I don’t know how these findings came about and I’m always skeptical of data when the sample size used is particularly small.

However,  Canberra Times reported that counsellors did see a spike in calls from LGBTQ+ people as the debate raged.

 

I’m not saying that those who are going to or have already voted ‘no’ in this survey are responsible for any suicide or mental health crisis that an LGBTQ+ person may experience. However, I am disappointed that sections of the media has quickly dismissed suggestions that some may be affected.

 

While I support a debate and a vote — to be frank I think it’ll be better later on — I’d be lying if I said it has been a walk in the park for a number of LGBTQ+ people. To their credit, Canberra Times, Huffington Post Australia and SBS have brought this up. I’ve also seen a number of Facebook posts giving coping tips to LGBTQ+ people who are finding it hard. Kudos to those who made those posts.

All I ask from the public is this: regardless of your views on same – sex marriage or how you’ve voted, please, please look out for LGBTQ+ you’re close to. Be a soft place to fall. If you think they need it, encourage your loved ones to get professional help.

For those who do need help, contact Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

QLife