“Well, that’s the world in which I grew up. Schools were not the place to discuss it. Universities were not the place to discuss it. The workplace wasn’t the place to discuss it. So just keep it quiet, keep it to yourself. Don’t discuss it. And that’s the formula for continuation of the prejudice that existed. That’s the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ philosophy. I think we’ve moved beyond that in Australia.”
- Former High Court Judge Michael Kirby, responding to the ABC’s “Lateline” presenter Emma Alberici on August 26 re a petition of 17,000 signatures tabled in the NSW Parliament from the Australian Chinese Community against the Safe Schools Program.
Safe Schools is a federally funded anti-bullying program aimed at helping LGBTI school students and is administered by state and territory education departments. Mr Kirby said his childhood was an incredibly lonely time and the support offered by the Safe Schools Program would have been welcomed.
“In the big assembly at my school, no-one spoke to me, no-one spoke of my sexuality and that was a very lonely time in my life and I’ve got to this point in my life and I’m speaking up for those who are sitting in those assemblies. The Australian Chinese Community should know that Australia has moved on from not discussing homosexuality”
August 26, of course, was “Wear It Purple” day, the day where young LGBTI people can celebrate who they are, educate their peers and challenge societal attitudes. Thanks to Geoff Thomas, who represented PFLAG at the Wear It Purple Mini Fair Day @ the Hub in Newtown, where NSW Police were out in force to show their support, along with many of the LGBTI service organisations. Geoff said that he really enjoyed the day and a number of people stopped to ask him about PFLAG. He also mentioned that he learned a lot about the Safe Schools Program.
Thanks also to Geoff who represented us on the “Start Making Sense” panel , speaking to young gay men at ACON on September 8 and thanks to Tim Wark, ACON’s Community Health Promotion Officer , for inviting PFLAG to be involved. Geoff said that he spoke to a group of about 18 young men and many approached him afterwards to ask questions.
Thank you to Ruth and Ron, who addressed a lunchtime meeting of KPMG staff in the city on August 24 as part of their “Wear It Purple” celebrations that week. Ray and I were in the UK, visiting our daughter and family, but noticed very positive feedback to their talk on the PFLAG email. Ruth reported that their talk went very well and that the participants asked very good questions. The KPMG staff presented them with a lovely bunch of flowers. Ruth and Ron have also been welcomed on to the committee of “Pink Mountains”, as representatives of PFLAG in the Blue Mountains. Pink Mountains is an online community information guide and pink pages business directory for LGBTI people, their friends and supporters living or visiting in the Blue Mountains.
Congratulations to Neil Phipps, Narelle’s son, who recently performed in “Off the Record” at Carriageworks. It was great that Neil could make use of his Auslan interpreting skills as well as his acting prowess in this unique performance.
Good news this week from Queensland. Couples in same-sex relationships will now be able to adopt children. Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman announced the government would overturn discriminatory laws following a wide-ranging review of the state’s Adoption Act 2009. “As a society we do not tolerate discrimination. It is only fair that members of the LGBTI community have the same rights as any other Queenslander and that includes the right to raise a family with an adopted child,” she said. The reforms will bring Queensland in line with NSW, the ACT and WA in allowing adoption by same-sex couples and single people.
There has been quite a bit of media attention this week on the Coalition’s proposal to hold a plebiscite on Marriage Equality in February next year. As I have mentioned before, we at PFLAG are very concerned about the negative impact that holding this plebiscite will have on the LGBTI community, especially the young, and their families and friends. We received a very nasty and abusive email message this week through our PFLAG website from a person, who had gone to the trouble of creating a discrete email address for the sole purpose of anonymously deriding the LGBTI community using the worst language you could imagine. I forwarded it on to our local Federal member, John Alexander, to alert him to the kind of rhetoric to which we and the LGBTI community are to be exposed if this divisive plebiscite goes ahead. I asked him to convey our grave concerns to the PM and to implore him to hold a free vote to resolve the issue.
Our National Spokesperson, Shelley Argent, sent this message to us in August: “I have been National Spokesperson since 2007 and have been travelling to Canberra since 2005 on a regular basis. Governments have constantly changed the goalposts for many years now on LGBTIQ concerns. Complying with their wishes to hold a plebiscite is no guarantee at all that Marriage Equality will happen. There are too many MPs and senators who have worked very hard to put road blocks in our way and will continue to do so. Shelley listed her concerns below.
Concerns about a Plebiscite are:
It will be divisive
It will encourage anger and hatred from both sides
It will be a waste of taxpayers’ money
It will negatively impact on families generally with LGBT loved ones and their own.
The survey reveals that the large majority of LGBTIQ people prefer to wait for a Free Vote
We don't know who will write the question!
When the date will be set?
Will there be only one question?
Will the vote be compulsory?
Will it set up the Plebiscite for failure?
Will it be electorate by electorate or State by State?
Will MPs be compelled to pass legislation?
Will both sides get public funding?
If so, what groups from either side will get funding and how will it be decided?
Tell your MP and senators to vote against a Marriage Equality plebiscite. You can convey this message easily, if you are able to go to the website “makeitlaw.com.au” that has been set up on behalf of PFLAG.
Thanks to all who attended our Family Meeting on August 27 in order to offer support to new families, while we were away in the UK. Thanks also to Ruth, Narelle, Natalie and all the wonderful committee members who held the fort in our absence. It was very much appreciated. I hope to see many of you at our upcoming Family Meeting on September 24, for as Rudy says:
“When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs You!”
Media Release: Alphabet Soup 1st Birthday!
Alphabet Soup Cinema – the Blue Mountains’ monthly film club for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people and their friends – is turning one. And to mark the occasion, the group is planning its biggest event yet.
On Saturday, September 24, the movie club will hold its first birthday film night and party at the Baroque Bar and Nightclub, Katoomba.
The event will kick off at 7.30pm with a screening of Between a Frock and a Hard Place, the acclaimed documentary about Australian film classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – the movie Alphabet Soup launched with last year.
The documentary’s producer, Katoomba resident JO-ANNE MCGOWAN, will be on hand to introduce the 58-minute film, which was screened nationally on ABC-TV in March.
Between a Frock and a Hard Place – billed as “the true story behind one of the world’s most loved films” – is narrated by iconic British actor TERENCE STAMP, who played the character of Bernadette in Priscilla.
The documentary was recently nominated for a prestigious AWGIE Award by the Australian Writers’ Guild, and features interviews with actors GUY PEARCE and HUGO WEAVING, Priscilla director STEPHAN ELLIOTT, and key figures from Sydney’s LGBTIQ scene in the 1980s and ’90s.
“Between a Frock and a Hard Place has been very well received since its release – but it’s an extra special buzz to have a public screening right here in my home of Katoomba,” said Ms McGowan.
“Priscilla is integral to Australia’s cultural landscape – it’s a crucible of transformation and changing attitudes, and it propelled many of its young cast and crew to international fame,” she added.
Between a Frock and a Hard Place will be followed by a screening of Priscilla itself, after which the Baroque will shift into nightclub mode for a dance party featuring pop and disco classics.
“It’s going to be a great night of fun and celebration,” said Alphabet Soup Cinema coordinator PETER HACKNEY.
“Think music, lights, disco balls and drag queens.”
Mr Hackney said 100 per cent of profits from the evening would go to Pink Mountains Youth, the new social support group for local LGBTIQ youth.
“We’d like to thank everyone who’s supported Alphabet Soup over the past year,” he said. “It’s because of you that the night has been a success.”
Tickets to the evening ($15 concession, $20 full price) are available now at www.alphabetsoupcinema.eventbrite.com. Bookings essential!
LGBTI 55+ Shared Luncheon: 'Healthy Ageing'
ACON’s LOVE Project and Inner West Council invites you to a FREE social event for LGBTI people 55 plus to explore healthy ageing and wellbeing. Hosted by the fabulous Aunty Mavis. Come and share a healthy lunch and make some new friends. Health professionals will be demonstrating activities that promote healthy ageing.
Saturday 29 October 10.30am for 11am start until 2pm
Petersham Town Hall, 107 Crystal Street Petersham
RSVP to Russ by 26 October - Phone 9206 2017 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Booking Essential as numbers are limited
See the flyer under ‘Events’ for all details!
Parramatta Pride Picnic Sunday 30th October
The banks of the Parramatta River will come alive with Rainbow Pride on Sunday, October 30th as the Parramatta Pride Picnic celebrates its 10 year anniversary.
Organisers are expecting over 500 people to attend the event which will be held at the River Foreshore Reserve, Parramatta from 11:00am to 4:00pm. This is the biggest annual event for Western Sydney’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) community and is important as it helps to combat isolation and homophobia.
The picnic is being presented by the Parramatta Queer Forum, a group of GLBTI community organisations including ACON – Australia’s largest GLBTI health and HIV/AIDS organisation, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Parramatta City Council, the Western Sydney Local Health District and the Metropolitan Community Church.
Details are in the flyer under ‘Events’ at the end of this newsletter.
Victoria University Study: Gay Men and Diabetes
Australia’s first study of gay men with type 2 diabetes is underway at Victoria University.
Edwin Pascoe is conducting the study as part of his Masters of Education with an aim to progress the research to a PhD.
As a registered nurse and a credentialed diabetes educator at Wyndhamvale Health Care in Melbourne’s west, Edwin noticed gay men are not as engaged in their diabetes care as their heterosexual counterparts.
This is because they have unique challenges managing their condition, he said.
“Earlier data showed gay men were often recipients of homophobic attitudes by health care professions, so were less likely to seek medical advice,” he said.
“With improved public attitudes, it’s unclear what gay men’s experiences are.”
Through an online survey and in-depth interviews, the study will help identify areas that need to be addressed when planning diabetes care for Australia’s gay community.
“By having gay-specific information and fostering a gay-friendly environment, men will be better engaged in their own health care in a way that leads to better health outcomes for them, physically, mentally and socially,” he said.
Approximately 6% of Australia’s general population has diabetes (type 1 and 2) compared with about 3.5% of the gay community.
Edwin says the lower rate may be due to lack of reporting since a range of risk factors such as smoking, drinking, depression, and eating disorders associated with the gay community could equate to increased risk of developing diabetes.
He hopes his study will serve as a starting point to look at other groups with diabetes within the Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender Intersex Queer (LGBTIQA) communities.
The study consists of an online survey of 250 participants, followed by in-depth one-to-two-hour interviews with a smaller group.
It will also include experiences of other credentialed diabetes educators when they treat this group of men. This will be compared with responses gay men say they have when they seek treatment.
Edwin is particularly interested in including members of diverse cultural and age groups in his study.