Honouring Our LGBTIQ Service Personnel
President's Report - April
“Life moves forward, but Australia can’t seem to. When it comes to legalising marriage for couples who happen to be of the same sex, the country remains gripped by inertia…Polls consistently show around two-thirds of Australians support marriage equality, following a huge turnaround in public opinion over the past two decades. Our laws are out of touch not only with what our citizens now want but with other Western countries. Marriage equality became legal nationally in America nearly two years ago, in Canada 12 years ago and the Netherlands 16 years ago. Australia, however, is still spinning its wheels... Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, a staunch conservative, accepted that same-sex marriage is likely inevitable and an issue that needed to be resolved before the next election. But there remain no outward signs the government is willing to take the simplest and most obvious course of action to achieve this – a free vote in Parliament.” – Josephine Tovey, SMH, March 23, 2017.
There is increasing pressure on the Federal Government to legislate for marriage equality coming from business leaders from high profile companies including Apple, Qantas and Telstra. In the past week, Airbnb has launched a campaign that has gathered support from big banks and companies including Qantas, ANZ, eBay and Foxtel. The “Until we all belong” advertisement features an incomplete ring symbolising the gap in marriage equality in Australia that we need to close. One of the ads features our own committee member, Geoff Thomas, wearing the ring with the comment: “Until my son can belong.”
Geoff has also embarked on a campaign of his own to raise awareness of marriage equality. He was featured in a Buzzfeed article by Lane Sainty on April 12. Geoff is spreading the message in an extremely Australian way: by decorating his ute with the message: “Every Man And His Dog Supports Marriage Equality. Call your MP & Senator today.”
As Lane says: “Geoff spends a lot of time driving around Sydney, so plenty of people will get to see his rainbow flavoured vehicle. Later in April he’ll take a round trip to Melbourne, Mt Gambia and the Riverina region to talk to people about same-sex marriage”. As Geoff comments: “To me, it’s a civil rights issue. It’s got nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with gay people having babies. In the 12 years I’ve been advocating for this, I’m yet to hear a reasonable argument against it.” We wish Geoff the best of luck with the trip.
You may follow Geoff's trip at: www.equalitycampaign.org.au/geoffsroadtrip
Benjamin Law, who was part of our Mardi Gras contingent this year, wrote a lovely article on “Gay uncles” for the Good Weekend on March 25. Ben comments: “There’s one vital thing gay uncles can offer: simply being visible. As a closeted gay kid in Queensland, where homosexuality was a criminal offence until I was eight, I didn’t meet an openly queer person until well into adulthood. Looking back, that contributed a lot to me being unnecessarily torn up about my sexuality.” Speaking about his mates’ children, who’ve grown up with gay uncles in their lives from Day One, he says: “They won’t ever think queer people are odd; they’ll think we’re just there. They’ll never question whether two men or women can be in love, and if they’re queer themselves, they mightn’t even need to come out.
Thanks to Narelle, who has offered to speak at State Street Global Services in George St. for their combined IDAHOT/Mother’s Day event on IDAHOT Day, May 17.
Congratulations to Terence Humphreys and Jain Moralee, who have been appointed Co-Executive Directors of Twenty10, taking over from Brett Paradise, who has provided more than 3 years of dedicated service as director of Twenty10. We wish Brett well as he pursues opportunities in the Northern Rivers.
Congratulations to Equal Voices on their very successful Launch at Pitt Street Uniting Church on April 3. Our Secretary, Natalie Cooper and Benjamin Oh are co-chairs. It was lovely to see Ruth, Sue & Les, Geoff & Sandra and Ronny there to offer support. It was great that our National Spokesperson, Shelley Argent, travelled from Brisbane for the launch. Equal Voices is a movement with the aim of seeking apology from Christians and churches for the harm done to LGBTIQ people, with ongoing reconciliation the goal. Guest Speaker, former High Court Justice Michael Kirby gave an encouraging speech, based on his life experience with the church, but Natalie’s speech came straight from the heart - impassioned and evocative and demonstrated the amount of feeling she has for the cause. Natalie hopes the project will impact on young people growing up and hopefully not having to face what LGBTIQ elders have gone through. The venue was packed and it was good to see representatives from many agencies present, such as Justin Koonin from ACON, Pastor Robert Clark from MCC Good Shepherd, Rev Rod Bower from Gosford, Fr Peter Maher from Acceptance Sydney, Robert McMaster from Star Observer and Superintendent Tony Crandell from NSW Police, who has asked Equal Voices to be part of educating NSW Police recruits on inclusion.
Thanks to all who came along to our March family meeting to assist new families and to Gillian for facilitating the meeting for us and for bringing Alex Greenwich’s mum along. We were fortunate to have Tim Chen from the Asian Gay Men’s Project from ACONaddress us and also the author, Jacqueline Cook, who informed us about the plans for her upcoming book (see later in newsletter).
I hope to see many of you at our Family Meeting on April 22, for, as Rudy always said: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs YOU to help others.”
Research: Gay Men's Experiences of Homophobia
Western Sydney research student Jack Thepsouorinthone is currently conducting a study entitled: 'It's a Man's World: An investigation of masculinity and internalised homophobia amongst homosexual men'. The study is on gay men's experiences with traditional notions of masculinity and homophobia.
The study involves a short online survey and an online interview (participants may complete one or the other, or both). The study aims to reach a large audience Australia-wide and the long-term aims include alleviating gay men's gender-related strain and other related issues.
Participants 18 years and older may find further information at:
International Family Equality Day
This is a new event that PFLAG will be participating in for the first time. The Day is organised by Rainbow Families and will be the annual event to raise awareness of the equality of all families. The event will run from 11am - 2.30pm at Sydney Park (The Brick Kilns). More info below.
Can you assist on the PFLAG stall? Please contact Judy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Equality Campaign: Geoff's Road Trip
Vietnam Veteran, retired plumber, proud Dad of a gay son and intrepid campaigner for equality, Geoff Thomas is taking the campaign for marriage equality to the roads.
Geoff has given his blue ute a makeover for trip, embarking on a tour of 20 towns around NSW and Victoria, meeting locals, MPs, clergy, supporters, parents, friends, equality campaigners and allies.