8th July 1938 - 19 May 2017
The life and extraordinary contribution of Peter Bonsall-Boone (Bon) was celebrated on Saturday 17th June. Ashfield Uniting Church was packed by many from a wide cross-section of the community, with family, friends and community elders sharing just how much Bon gave of himself in the area of LGBTIQ equality.
Partner of 50 years, Peter de Waal, jokingly said that Bon's giving of himself "nearly made us financially broke!"
The couple first came to national attention in 1972 on the ABC program, Chequerboard. At a time when homosexuality was illegal in Australia, Bon lost first his place as a student for Anglican ministry, then his job as secretary at St Clement's, Mosman. Both 78ers, Bon was also arrested and charged for his participation in that first Mardi Gras.
Peter and Bon went on to set up the LGBT helpline, Phone-a-Friend, now the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service. They ran the helpline at their own cost, from their Balmain home; later, they were founding members of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP).
The ABC revisited the couple in 2001, with Peter speaking about their decision to be open:
“I think we were very naive in a sense. But more-so I think we were so committed to the liberation of homosexual people, as we were called then, and I think that commitment sort of overruled everything else.”
In later years, Peter and Bon campaigned tirelessly for the right of same-sex couples to marry, and to be afforded the dignity and protection of marriage. Just prior to Bon's passing from cancer, they wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to pass legislation as "our time is running out". Sadly, that time has run out.
Bon was recognised posthumously with the Order of Australia (AM). His citation reads: "For significant service to the community as a LGBTIQ advocate and supporter, and through a range of volunteer roles".
“It is a stark reality for those of us who come out as LGBTQI that some people take longer than others to accept and embrace our identities. But the most galling part is that there is an onus on the LGBTQI person to put up with insults, discomfort, invasive questions and anger until that person and society more broadly catches up and starts treating us with humanity, respect and dignity” – Dale Sheridan, lawyer, who happens to be transgender inSMH.com.au/commentJune 9, 2017.
Dale goes on to say:
“Cate McGregor, in her recent rebuke of Margaret Court’s comments about the LGBTQI community, hit the nail on the head – that the LGBTQI community is held to an impossible double-standard to take the high road in the face of abuse and ridicule.”
Dale then comments: “It is a pity that certain people are systematically allowed to continue peddling hate in the name of religion…Some will call me selfish for daring to transition and live my life openly in an authentic manner. I would agree with this assertion: I did it for myself and nobody else. But I also contend there isn’t any other way to live.”
Thank you to our Vice-President, Ruth Green, who put the following post on our PFLAG website: “It’s not enough our families are expected to tolerate Margaret Court’s offensive comments regarding the equality of our loved ones, now she has chosen to demonise the parents and families of children who are transgender - parents and families who are supportive, understanding, knowledgeable, caring, inclusive and loving. You are a very sad person Margaret.”
The Icelandic Band, Sigur Ros, will be playing at the Margaret Court Arena on July 27th and wish to add their voice to the call for Marriage Equality in Australia. The band has commissioned a special T-shirt, which they will sell at their concerts, with proceeds going to Australian Marriage Equality. The band says: “Let’s make July 27th Margaret Court Arena’s most inclusive night ever and call for every Australian to have the same dignity and respect right here on Centre Court.”
It was good to see Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, awarded the honour of a companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia, not just for his eminent service to the aviation transport industry and the development of the national and international tourism sectors, but also for his eminent service to gender equity, inclusion and diversity and to the community, particularly as a supporter of Indigenous education. As the SMH reports, after the pie attack, Mr Joyce said he felt “reinvigorated” and vowed to step up his campaign and “express my views even more strongly”.
It was also heartening to see in the Star Observer that the late marriage equality activist Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone has been posthumously awarded the Order of Australia. Earlier this year, he and his partner of 50 years, Peter de Waal (who was also awarded the Order of Australia) urged the government to pass marriage equality, so they could have their relationship recognised with a marriage equality certificate. The couple had been open about their sexuality when being homosexual was still illegal in Australia and lead to their ground-breaking appearance on ABC’s Chequerboard in 1972.
In the face of the lack of acceptance of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or gender diverse across certain areas in society, it is understandable that may people are still afraid to come out of the closet. On the ABC website of June 13th, 2017, there is a feature on an Australian website “DALE – Digital Acceptance Learning & Empowerment”, which is giving men, who are gay, but living in heterosexual relationships or lifestyles, a safe place to share their feelings and get help from others – particularly those from regional areas or ethnic minorities. Beyond Blue is heading the project with $200,000 of funding over 2 years from the annual Movember fundraising campaign to improve men’s health. Caleb Hawk, from Victorian AIDS council, said there was a knowledge gap when it came to same-sex attracted men, living with wives or girlfriends – they were difficult to reach and few services have kept going. The only one standing is GAMMA (Gay & Married Men’s Association) NSW providing face-to-face services. Modelling suggests that there are 17,000 men in Australia, who are same-sex attracted, but living in heterosexual relationships. DALE website visitors are being surveyed about their experiences of anxiety and depression as part of a broader research project at the UNSW.
“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice”. – Bob Marley. This quote is one of many that appears on the extensive photo gallery on Faye & Mark Leveson’s Facebook page. I feel the quote is a most appropriate one to describe this remarkable couple and their family, who never gave up their relentless search for the remains of their much loved son and brother, Matthew. Our hearts go out to Faye & Mark and their family, who, after almost 10 years of searching, were given the news last week that the remains found in the Royal National Park on May 31st did belong to their missing son, Matthew. They will now be able to bring him back home and lay him to rest.
Ray & I attended the Surry Hills Police Community Engagement Meeting held at Darlington on June 1st. This gives an opportunity for the organisations working with the LGBTI community to network and express any concerns. Superintendent Tony Crandell was very excited to announce that NSW Police had been ranked in the top 10 in the Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards. NSW Police also received the honour of being the first organisation to receive an award for the inclusion of intersex people. The other 9 organisations in the top 10 were ANZ (Employer of the Year), AGL, Australian Federal Police, ATO, Bankwest, Clayton UTZ, Commonwealth Bank, EY and Macquarie Bank.
Geoff Thomas has been busy advocating to Mayor Frank Carbone and the councillors of Fairfield City Council on behalf of the city’s LGBTI community. Fairfield City Council has a very public policy on “Celebrating Diversity”, with associated signage over the LGA, but it appears that its LGBTI citizens are not recognised or accepted in their own city. The Fairfield City Champion has also taken up the cause in support of Geoff’s efforts. Ruth & I penned a respectful letter to the mayor & councillors, suggesting that Fairfield City Council might consider following the lead of many other councils and raise the rainbow flag on appropriate dates as a gesture of acceptance and inclusion of its LGBTI community members.
Ruth & Ron have had an active long weekend in the Blue Mountains, representing PFLAG. Ruth attended the Bent Art exhibition in Wentworth Falls on Friday night, then both she & Ron attended the Three Sisters Ball at the Fairmont on Sunday night and followed it up with the Singalong Sound of Music at the Alphabet Soup cinema at the Mount Vic Flicks on Monday. Ruth reported that they had a most enjoyable weekend, but were feeling a tad tired by Monday night.
Thanks to Sue & Les, who were recently featured in a Marriage Equality video and also attended the Marriage Equality “Celebrating Across Cultures” Morning Tea event at Parramatta on May 20.
Thanks to Pam & Arthur & Sue & Les, who have agreed to join Ray & I at Galston on July 11, speaking to a group of 20-25 youth workers.
Thank you to the members who came along to our Special General Meeting to vote in our new constitution on May 27 and to all who came to the Family Meeting afterwards. It was great to see such a good turnout to help support the new parents.
I hope that many of you will be able to attend our Family Meeting on June 24, for, as Rudy always says: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs YOU to help others!
How can health services better meet the needs of older LBT women?
A new study is seeking older lesbian, bisexual and transgender women to discuss their experiences accessing and using health, social and aged care services.
Accessing and finding supportive health and social services can be difficult for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women of all ages. Often health practitioners do not feel equipped to address the needs of gender and sexuality diverse women, and some women avoid health services for fear of discrimination.
This concern is heightened for older women – particularly those over 55 years of age. These women may be interacting with aged care services and supports on behalf of their parents. In the process of managing their parents’ ageing needs, as well as their own, they often find that many of these services are not supportive of sexuality and gender diverse people. Given that ageing can often bring health and social limitations requiring additional supports there is a clear need for appropriate services for these women as they age. More information is required to influence change; hence, the perspectives and experiences of older women are the focus of an innovative research project being undertaken by researchers at Western Sydney University.
The link to the survey is here:
Alternatively, you may wish to join a private, online forum:
The research team may be contacted with any questions at:
PFLAG friends and members were busy at many events around the nation to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17. Featured below are a three of the events we attended in Lithgow, Wollongong and Blue Mountains.
Tony Sutton writes:
PFLAG Bathurst was contacted by Ali King of Rainbow Lithgow and invited to the inaugural IDAHOT event in the Lithgow library; around 150 people attended. First speaker was Pastor Mat Trounce from Lithgow Uniting Church, who revealed the supportive, accepting & inclusive community in their local church. Next up: a marvellous musical/vocal bracket from a Ukulele group, followed by a woman telling of her life struggle, to finally accepting her sexuality.
Our next surprise came from a man telling us of his school-day difficulties, being ‘different’, his travels to escape and finally finding Lithgow where he has now settled with his partner. They are both active within the local Catholic church, to the point that his partner is the chairman of the local parish council. Wow, Lithgow is full of surprises! A poetry recital was next by a young high school student with a very provocative topic of discrimination & exclusion. Finally, a lawyer from the Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre supplied information about the services they can offer.