“The Marriage Equality debate is simply about these values of ‘equal human rights’. It won’t affect religious rights. It’s the civil status of marriage, not the religious ‘sacrament’ that is being sought. The No campaign’s arguments are using fear to maintain prejudice and keep all LGBTI people (our children) in their ‘minority box’”. - Bathurst PFLAG Co-ordinator Tony Sutton speaking to Dave Rankine in Bathurst City Life.
Dave Rankine began his article with: “…it was lovely to catch up with Bernadette and Tony Sutton – a couple with a very balanced take on the issue of marriage equality.” He then gave some background on the formation of PFLAG in Bathurst, of which the Suttons were founding members, 23 years ago. Tony commented: “First we needed to educate ourselves and examine our own prejudices (all of us being Christians). For us, this was helped by the fact we loved our children. Once we realised it wasn’t a ‘choice’, that God made them that way and He doesn’t make mistakes, our role was set.”
With all the rhetoric in the media surrounding the Postal Survey on Marriage Equality, it would be very easy to be consumed by it. I feel it is very important at this time to accentuate the positive and the fact that the Suttons were given the opportunity to raise awareness of their local PFLAG support group in their local press was a very positive outcome. The article also elicited a very interesting “Letter to the Editor” response from a Family Lawyer of 20 years standing, Jay Walker, who offered this advice to those unsure how to vote in the postal survey:
“You are voting to grant the same respect, dignity, legal recognition and next of kin status to same-sex couples, the same thing opposite sex couples have now. Nothing more than that.” He added: “The No campaign has used deliberate lies and unrelated issues to confuse people into thinking the postal survey has far reaching implications. It does not.”
I would like to thank Isabell Petrinic from the Parramatta Advertiser for giving me and Natalie an opportunity to comment on the pastoral letter on the same-sex marriage postal survey, that the Bishop of Parramatta sent to his Catholic flock. Bishop Vincent Long said he was “committed to make the church in Parramatta the house for all peoples, a church where there is less an experience of exclusion but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity.” I commented that I was heartened by Bishop Long’s comments and that he was correct to point out that the survey was about whether or not Australians want the legal definition of civil marriage changed to include same sex couples and was not a referendum on sacramental marriage. Natalie, on behalf of Equal Voices, also welcomed Bishop Long’s remarks saying: “It’s really pleasing to see Church leaders acting in a Christ-like manner.” Thanks to Ray & our son, Steve, Louise and Susana, who travelled to Parramatta to take part in the photo shoot for the Advertiser.
We were also contacted by journalist Katrina Vo from the Parramatta Sun for an interview and photo shoot on Thursday, October 12 in Parramatta Park, to raise awareness of our PFLAG Monthly Family Support Meeting. Mollie, Pam, Arthur, Narelle & Ray & I took part. Both Katrina and the photographer, Isabella were lovely and gave us an opportunity to raise awareness of our PFLAG Family Support meetings in Sydney’s west, talk about our involvement in the Parramatta Pride Picnic on October 29 and also discuss the impact that the postal survey on same-sex marriage has had on our community. The story will appear in next week’s edition.
October 10 was World Mental Health Day. The National LGBTI Health Alliance has partnered with Mental Health Australia for this year’s campaign “Do you see what I see?” - LGBTI people and communities consistently demonstrate strength and resilience in the face of adversity and discrimination. It is also well known that LGBTI people have disproportionately poorer mental health outcomes than their peers. “Do you see what I see?” is focussing on reducing stigma, seeks to challenge perceptions about mental illness in Australia and encourages everyone to look at mental health in a more positive light.
There have been a number of initiatives to provide support to those affected by the current debate. One of these was the free community BBQ/live music event put on by the City of Sydney Council at Harmony Park, Surry Hills on Saturday, October 7. The aim was to celebrate resilience, diversity and provide support information from relevant community organisations. Ray & I had a most enjoyable afternoon, interacting with representatives from the many LGBTI organisations, such as Rainbow Families, ACON, Twenty10, the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, Queerscreen, Organisation Intersex International and with the many community members who engaged with us on the stall. It was great that people from two organisations where we’d been invited to speak, the Surry Hills Labor Party and the ATO Parramatta came to chat and took photos with us. Thanks to Pip and Shaun and the City of Sydney Council staff for their amazing efforts and Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich and City of Sydney Counsellors Jess Scully and Christine Forster, who were present to offer their support and encouragement.
Geoff Thomas has continued with his advocacy for the Yes campaign. He has represented PFLAG, speaking on Marriage Equality at 2 events in the city, staged by Price Waterhouse Coopers to large numbers of staff. He has also signed up to monitor the count of the postal survey results for the Yes campaign at Moorebank at least one day per week. He has asked us to spread the word, as they need more volunteers. The contact for the Yes campaign is Jarrod Lomas, mobile 0450 219 109. The Yes campaign is managed by Senator Dean Smith & his staff on the site. There are 2 shifts per weekday: 9.30 – 12.30 and 1.30 – 4pm. There is an induction, which can be done either on site or online. There is parking available or it is 10 mins walk from Liverpool Station. You can volunteer for one shift or many and the count will continue until November 10. If interested, call Jarrod as above or Geoff Thomas on 0412 444 886.
Ruth has also been busy in the Blue Mountains, assisting on a stall for Marriage Equality on September 23, disseminating Yes campaign materials, doing phone banking and attending Queerscreen with Ron at the Mt Vic Flicks last Sunday. Ruth’s neighbour, Councillor Romola Hollywood from Blue Mts City Council has displayed one of our PFLAG “Vote Yes Please” signs in her front garden. Thanks to our National Spokesperson, Shelley Argent, for sending us the Yes campaign materials.
Thanks to Carol for taking part in the LGBTIQ community event in Penrith & for forwarding her report for the newsletter. Thanks to Pam for attending the Parramatta Queer Forum meeting, for volunteering to assist at the Parramatta Pride Picnic and for also making the effort to attend another meeting, re Mardi Gras involvement in Parramatta, which she discovered had been cancelled.
It’s been very gratifying that so many people have offered to assist us with the Yes campaign. Thanks to Marilyn for spreading the word at her workplace, to Christine for delivering flyers, to Lorraine, for delivering flyers and doing phone banking and to Geoff Davey, who has been handing out Vote Yes flyers at Edgecliff Railway Station. Thank you also for the photo Geoff. We also learned that Geoff Davey is a very proud Dad, as his older son was the producer for the entertainment at the NRL Grand Final and was primarily responsible for the Macklemore performance selection and staging. What an amazing audience response to his performance of the song “Same Love!”
PFLAG will have a stall at the Parramatta Pride Picnic on Sunday, October 29 from 11am – 5pm. It will again be held at the River Foreshore Reserve, between Barry Wilde Bridge & Oars Bridge, on the north side of the river at Parramatta. You can access the venue from Elizabeth St., which runs off Victoria Rd. Parramatta at All Saints Church. If you would like to assist on the stall, give me a call on 0439 466 125, otherwise just come along and enjoy the day. More info later in newsletter.
Thank you to all who came to our Family Meeting on September 23. I hope to see many of you at our Family Meeting on October 28, for as Rudy always said, "When you don't need PFLAG anymore, that's when PFLAG need YOU to help others!" - Judy
LGBTIQ Community Event: October 10th at Penrith Women's Health Centre
I went along to this event and was warmly welcomed by Angela as a PFLAG representative. A nice young lady representing the Council arrived when I did. Angela had organised a young psychologist (who is doing her Masters degree and is also part of the LGBTIQ community), to speak on how LGBTIQ people can handle all the hurt and negativity that is happening because of the postal survey. It was a great presentation. Sadly there were only a dozen people all up there, but after the talk by the psychologist, everyone had a good conversation about that and what they were going through. A couple of people had had violent approaches made to them. I spoke about PFLAG (most of course knew of us, except the young woman from the Council), and how we have all been writing to members of parliament for some years now, including Shelley's trips to Canberra with petitions, letters etc., but that had all been "brushed aside" as the Government decided to go ahead with this divisive Yes/No Survey. I left some of our flyers and cards with Angela.
Angela was lovely and I think she did a wonderful job to get the night organised. I am sure it was helpful to all the people there. - Carol
PFLAG Parents Out & About for Equality
Geoff Davey emails:
On Tuesday 3rd October I went across to the railway station entrance of the Edgecliff centre during peak hour and gave out YES flyers to as many as would take them. Many said they had already voted Yes. When someone said they had voted Yes I tried to get them to take a flyer to put on the office noticeboard. Quite a few agreed to do this but whether they did is another matter. Of course, most people just ignored me. However, I didn't get any opposition from No voters. They just kept quiet.
During a lull I had my photo taken with the co-owner of the adjacent cafe where I get my coffees
Appeal for Members to join Committee
If PFLAG has been a support to you in the past, maybe you would like to consider offering yourself as a committee member to help to keep PFLAG viable. Committee meetings are held bi-monthly, on Saturdays, prior to family meetings, and are a great way of developing camaraderie between the members.
There are two major events each year with which we require assistance: Fair Day in late February (our major fundraiser) and Mardi Gras. Both of these events are very rewarding and a lot of fun, but can only happen if we have enough people on the ground to help out. There are other opportunities throughout the year if you wish to become further involved. Present committee members have found that working together for the betterment of PFLAG has helped them on their journey of acceptance.
PFLAG is a well-respected organisation in the community and this has been achieved through the dedication and hard work of committee members. Think about this and if you feel that you could give the time, contact Judy on 0439 466 125. Your offer of assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Parramatta Pride Picnic: Sunday 29th October
The banks of the Parramatta River will come alive with Rainbow Pride on Sunday, October 29th as the Parramatta Pride Picnic celebrates its 11th year.
Organisers are expecting over 1000 people to attend the event which will be held at the River Foreshore Reserve, Parramatta from 11:00am to 5:00pm. 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.
ACON’s Western Sydney Health Promotion Officer Gavin Prendergast says: “The Parramatta Pride Picnic provides an opportunity to meet other people and families, make new friends and most importantly just have a really fun day out in the middle of Parramatta. Music, sporting activities, games, competitions, prizes – the picnic has it all.” There’ll also be a range of community information stalls with people from various organisations which provide services for the LGBTI community in Western Sydney.
“With the marriage equality survey occupying most minds, the picnic is an opportunity to gather as a community and help support each other.” Mr Prendergast says. “LGBTI and HIV positive people living in the Western Sydney region can often experience a sense of social isolation and a lack of attachment to the broader LGBTI community and this can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. It’s great to see everyone come along with their children, friends and family members. They get a nice spot in the sun, throw out a rug, get out the picnic basket and enjoy the day.”
The Be You Collection: storybooks for kids
There is currently a lack of children's picture storybooks that challenge the norms. Only a minority of children are currently able to see themselves in stories, whilst excluding those whose hobbies and desires break away from gender stereotypes.
Welcome, The Be You Collection: a series of children's books celebrating the importance of individuality. This collection will publish stories about little boys and girls (and anyone in between) as they find strength in their special talents. This collection will tell the stories that have historically been ignored.
These stories will champion the underdogs, the ones who feel ashamed to express themselves freely, and the ones who feel like they'd have to change in order to fit in.
This collection will teach children that love and acceptance comes in many shapes, colours, sizes and dreams. The Be You Collection aims to be a tool that can be used to teach understanding, as well as the importance of embracing one's true self.
The Pollys Club Christmas Dance
Join The Pollys Club for their final spectacular show and dance for 2017. A Christmas journey featuring the Pollys cast you know and love, travelling with Mary, Joseph and an ass in search of a star!
Saturday 2nd December @ Petersham Town Hall (107 Crystal St Petersham)
Doors open at 7pm | Show 9:30pm | Entry $25 cash ($20 Concession) | Prizes for best dressed | BYO or buy drinks & snacks from our bar | Table bookings held until 8:00pm