“No person should ever feel compelled to live a lie; to put on a brave public face to hide private anguish; to feel judged and rejected by society; to doubt their own feelings and self-medicate to cope; or to hide their sexuality for fear of the consequences of being discovered.”
– SMH editorial of 4/03/17, commenting on the NRL’s Ian Roberts’ interview with the Herald’s sportswriter, Andrew Webster re the NRL’s float in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 2017.
The editorial also states:
“The Mardi Gras is an annual celebration of survival, a show of force in the face of doubters, a display of how much the homosexual community has achieved…The Herald believes same-sex marriage must come, so as to afford Australian homosexuals in love the same compassion, legal status and social acceptance as enjoyed by heterosexuals…We just need politicians to have the courage. Legalised same-sex marriage would send a signal to critics and offer reassurance to those who feel demonised for their sexuality.”
We were privileged to have June Smythe, founder of PFLAG in Australia, and her daughter as part of our PFLAG NSW contingent in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras on March 4.
June was over here from Perth for the Australian LGBT Awards at the Sydney Opera House on March 2. June was nominated along with our National Spokesperson, Shelley Argent, amongst others, for the Australia Post Hero of the Year Award. June was the first person in Australia to contact and register with the US PFLAG Federation in 1986, then tried for 2 years to get other parents involved. In 1989, she met up with John & Margaret Pugh and Heather Horntvedt and held the first PFLAG meeting in December in Perth. The award category of “Australia Post Hero of the Year” was won by Rowena Allen, Victoria’s Gender & Sexuality Commissioner.
Mardi Gras was again a very moving experience for the 100 people in our PFLAG NSW contingent and the 70 people in the combined PFLAG Capital Region/ just.equal float. It was a particularly poignant experience for those participating for the first time and for those walking with close family members. It is commonly reported that PFLAG gets the biggest cheer from the audience and I think this was particularly noticeable this year. Participants are always instructed that we shouldn’t deviate from the float to engage with audience members, as this holds up the flow of the parade for the television cameras. However, I feel, even more so than other years, that audience members had their arms outstretched to hug or high five PFLAG people and to thank them for their ongoing support. It was great to see increased crowds, despite the threat of bad weather. I would like to thank Les & Sue Mico for again assuming the responsibility of the ute hire for our “float” and Les for driving it, which can often prove to be a stressful experience. Thanks also to Narelle for her amazing assistance traversing Hyde Park to collect our wristbands, to the members for their assistance in registration in the park and in decorating the ute.
Thanks again to Jeff for the impressive way that he marshalls our float and ensures that we are always secure from any possible threat. Thank you to Geoff Thomas, who brought along his friend Max, a professional photographer , to chronicle the parade in pictures and to all the wonderful people who walked with us. Thank you to those who came from afar to join us in the parade. We had members from Forster/Tuncurry, Wollongong, Qld., Victoria, NT & WA. It was great to have Universal Pictures join us this year and we were very fortunate to have Benjamin Law from “The Family Law” walk with us and to also give PFLAG such brilliant publicity in his interview with SBS in the Mardi Gras presentation. It helped balance the fact that SBS went to an ad break just as the PFLAG contingent approached. It was nice that PFLAG got a mention in the Sun-Herald TV guide on Sunday, March 5.
Fair Day on February 19 was again a very busy day for PFLAG. This year it was held at a different venue, Camperdown Memorial Park, Newtown. Although Fair Day is our biggest fundraising event, I feel our most important reason for being there is for people seeking support. It was an extremely successful day in this regard, as we were kept busy up to half an hour after our usual pack-up time. It was also very effective for networking with the many other LGBTI service and support organisations. I would like to thank everyone who assisted on the day – Geoff Thomas who arrived in the early hours to transport the goods and Ray to & from the venue, Narelle, who accompanied me in early and assisted on the stall, Neil, Keiran & Geoff Davey, who arrived early to set up with Deb, who helped out most of the day, Adela, Les & Sue, who worked tirelessly and Susana and Jeff, who assisted with packing up and transport. Adela’s knitted goods proved to be popular.
Thanks to Jason Lancett and SEIKO Australia for their generous donation of the beautiful watch as 1st Prize in our raffle and to Vanessa Rodriguez from “Vdraws Tattooing”, for her very kind donation of the beautiful set of 9 Superhero prints as 2nd Prize. I’d like to thank Gaspar Rodriguez for his generosity in asking for a redraw of the raffle, when his ticket was drawn out first, enabling an excited Toby from Camperdown to win the watch and an ecstatic Brenda from Blaxland to win the Superhero prints. We raised almost $900 on the day.
Thank you to Lord Mayor Clover Moore for inviting us to take part in the Rainbow Flag raising ceremony, reception and presentation at Sydney Town Hall on Friday, February 17. Narelle, Natalie and I enjoyed the evening, catching up with friends from other agencies and witnessing the Presentation of the Key to the City of Sydney to the Kirby Institute UNSW in recognition of their outstanding service to communities affected by HIV and AIDS.
Thanks to Pam and Arthur, who spoke to a packed auditorium of students at Baulkham Hills High School on Tuesday, March 14. PFLAG was chosen to speak along with Headspace and other agencies as part of Anti-bullying week. Pam and Arthur were very well-received in telling their personal story and have been booked up for next year.
Thank you to Molly Taylor for offering some complimentary tickets to PFLAG to attend the Mardi Gras Comedy Festival. It was great that Gillian & Jean-Pierre & Maree Lau were able to take advantage of the generous offer and enjoy the shows.
Thank you to Geoff Thomas, who has agreed to once again be a part of ACON’s Start Making Sense panel, speaking to a group of 12 young gay men, at Surry Hills on Wednesday, March 22. ACON’s Tim Wark commented that the last time Geoff took part, he was absolutely fantastic. Thanks also to Geoff for agreeing to be interviewed for the Qantas Inflight magazine.
Thank you to Lisa Wilson for inviting PFLAG to speak on May 17, IDAHOT day, at State Street Global Services in George Street. State Street is holding a combined Mothers’ Day/IDAHOT day event for the staff. Thank you to Narelle who has agreed to represent PFLAG on the day.
I would like to thank everyone who attended our Family Meeting on February 25 and Ruth for facilitating the meeting for us. I hope to see many of you at our next Family Meeting on March 25.
Remember Rudy’s adage:
“When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs YOU to help others!”
Congratulations Ron & Ruth Green!
PFLAG NSW sends a huge Congratulations to Ron and Ruth Green, who received a letter from Blue Mountains City Council on 17th March, to inform them that they will be presented with a Seniors' Week award for their contributions to the Blue Mountains community.
Among many other involvements. Ron & Ruth actively support the LGBTIQ events and communities, including IDAHOT, World AIDS Day commemorations, Alphabet Soup Cinema and Pink Mountains.
The Hon Michael Kirby to launch Equal Voices
Equal Voices is a national, grassroots and cross-denominational movement of Australian Christians working to end homophobia, transphobia and intersex exclusion in the church and society.
The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG will officially launch Equal Voices on Monday 3rd April at Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt St Sydney. Arrival at 6.30pm for 7pm.
RSVP: https://equalvoices.org.au and follow the link on the home page.
At the launch, the Apology will be offered to LGBTIQ+ people for the many ways in which the church has (and continues) to harm. The Apology itself was recently 'commissioned' at St James King Street, a very supportive church, at a special service on Friday 24th February.
At the Apology service, we were so honoured to have Peter Bonsall-Boone (Bon) and Peter de Waal, a couple of 50 years, join us. Their presence meant so much, especially with Bon being in very poor health. Bon spoke some beautiful words about what an apology meant to them personally.
Thank you to Ron and Ruth Green who made the trip down from the Blue Mountains for this special event. Thank you for representing PFLAG on this occasion.
If you would like to attend the official Equal Voices launch on Monday 3rd April, either reply via the link on our home page (above), or call Natalie Cooper (0406 124 239) and I'll reserve your tickets.
- Natalie (PFLAG NSW Secretary; Co-chair, Equal Voices)
LGBTI Health Alliance Survey: NDIS
The National Disability Insurance Agency [NDIA] is currently developing an LGBTIQ Inclusion and Access Strategy. This Strategy will guide their work in the coming years and help to ensure that LGBTIQ people and communities can access and benefit from the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS].
This Survey is an important and urgent opportunity to ensure that the wisdom of lived experience is incorporated into this new Strategy. Your input will contribute to the development of an LGBTIQ Strategy and guide the work of the NDIA into the future.
This Survey is also one part of a nationwide consultation conducted by the Alliance on behalf of the National Disability Insurance Agency. This consultation also includes a Lived Experience Forum to be hosted in Melbourne on March 31st. Full details of the consultation are available at www.lgbtihealth.org.au/disabilitystrategy
This survey will take between 15-30 minutes to complete. All information that you provide is confidential and anonymous.
If you know someone who is LGBTIQ+ or the carer of someone from the community, please ask them to contribute their voice to the survey to help make the NDIS more LGBTIQ+ inclusive: