Facebook event here.
Eight years after the Howard Liberal government introduced the delightfully discriminating Marriage Amendment Act (2004), we’re still rallying for marriage equality.
A fruity message highlighted the discrimination:
Ernie & Bert were planning their wedding in New York (and Colin was planning his wedding to a handsome police officer):
Straights were fighting hate:
There were thousands of people there:
Two gorgeous guys got illegally married to each other:
Eight years after the Howard Liberal government introduced the delightfully discriminating Marriage Amendment Act (2004), we’re still rallying for marriage equality.
Magda Szubanski was guest of honour at the Equal Love Rally on May 12, 2012:
Carl Katter was there too:
Adam Bandt, Federal MP for Melbourne and Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens returned to speak out for equality:
Dear Julia, my partner Gregory and I have been in a relationship since November 2008. Gregory is a father of two. We want the right to get married. Why does the government not allow us to get married?
Even gay zombies want to get married:
A group of radical, fanatical Jihadi Islamic protesters gathered at the Global Atheist Convention on Sunday April 15 2012. Seemingly they felt that atheism was a threat to humanity and their very existence.
Gregory and I had a smooch in front of these whack-jobs and they started howling that we would “burn in hell”.
Our friend Pete Darwin captured the moment with my trusty Nikon and the rest is history.
There’s been a bunch of coverage online:
- AronRa (YouTube) (USA/watch to 1:00)
- Alexander Ryking
- Amerika Bülteni (Turkish/USA)
- Ateist Canavar (Turkish)
- Atheist Republic (Facebook)
- Australian Skeptics Forum
- Butterflies and Wheels
- Dave The Happy Singer (Australian)
- David Icke’s Official Forums
- death + taxes mag
- Democratic Underground
- Dispatches from the Culture Wars
- DNA Magazine (PDF) (Australian/free registration required for online access)
- DV.is (Icelandic)
- European Freedom Initiative
- Friendly Atheist
- Furious Purpose
- Gay News Network (PDF) (Australian)
- Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear (Australian)
- Gregory Storer (Australian)
- In Vino Veritas (Australian)
- Joe. My. God. (USA)
- Libertarian Republican
- Newsvine (Grishman’s Column)
- Obama 2012 Election – Blog archive
- Occupy All Streets
- On The Record
- Pharyngula (USA)
- Photo submitted to reddit by Pete Darwin (comments)
- queer.de (German)
- Star Online (Australian)
- same same (Australian)
- The Caudal Lure (Australian)
- the burned over district
- The Raw Story (1)
- The Raw Story (2)
- Thoughts and Cute Things
- UAAR Ultimissime (Italian)
- Wolfies World
If you find any other places that have covered this story, please let me know.
Thanks to Katy Perry for inspiration.
31/1/61 – 30/3/12
We believe that you are setting up a piggery and require the services of a person who firstly had a generous, good heart and secondly was an exceptionally abled piggery manager.
Bridget Dunn, Prima Donna of Girgarre Piggery, after battling an aggressive illness and despite giving it her best shot, is ready to commence her new role with you, effective immediately.
As Bridget’s referees we can advise you that you have selected the cream of the crop, the best. As a heads up please ensure that you have all your ducks lined up because Bridget takes no b.s. A massive void that can never be filled has been created. You are a lucky duck!
Regards from all that had the privilege of sharing Bridget’s life and loved Bridget for who she was. We will miss her dearly.
Tonight my partner Gregory and I got married. We made a public declaration, affirming our love for each other. We were dressed in our sartorial best, freshly shorn and groomed like two gay blades.
We had a bucks night the week before and we even had a lovely party afterward, with wonderful catering. Oh, and there were bomboniere.
I have to be honest with you. It wasn’t a real wedding, and we didn’t really get married. But yes, there was a wedding, on TV, in which as reality actors, we pretended to get married. You see, currently in Australia two men like Gregory and me are not allowed to get married to each other. That’s gay.
But despite the mean-spirited Howardian legalistic prohibition on us blokes tying the knot, the lovely team at Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight decided to throw us a big ole gay wedding. And throw us a wedding they did. There were photoshoots, interviews, a special bucks and hens night (coz there were some chicks as well as some blokes wanting to tie the knot), the main event, wedding presents and even a cocktail reception afterward. Oh, and there was live entertainment too, although it seemed more like it had been freshly exhumed. And all at tax-payer expense. Thank you tax paying Australia, and especially Jim Wallace and Bill Muehlenberg, coz I know how much you hip dudes would have wanted to help us celebrate our homosexual union.
If you know me you’d know that I’ve been very activisty in raising awareness of the discrimination that a not insignificant section of Australia’s population faces when it comes to equality in relationship recognition. I’ve protested (peacefully) at the Equal Love rallies. I helped my partner campaign as a then-candidate for the Secular Party of Australia in the 2010 Federal Election (because the party supported marriage equality). I manage the Proud to be a Second Class Australian Facebook group, with a moniker aimed to draw attention to being treated as second class by the Federal Government. I give money to Get Up! to campaign for marriage equality. I’m even a paid member of Australian Marriage Equality.
I don’t think I could possibly make it any clearer that I am trying to achieve a turnaround in the marriage legislation in Australia, to remove the discriminatory words that, for no good reason, prevents me from marrying my partner. That said, we are already living in a legally recognised relationship under Victorian state legislation because we entered a civil union on April 21, 2010. Sadly though this relationship is only valid in Victoria and carries no legal weight anywhere else in the world. It’s also not the same as being married. You might ask why? Well, quite simply, because it’s not a marriage. It’s a civil union, or a registered relationship, or a domestic partnership, or whatever else you want to call it, but it’s not a marriage.
Do I want to get married? Good question. Yes, and no. To be honest I don’t really know. Parts of me want to get married and then go and say to those who don’t believe in equality “See, two poofs can now get married, so stick your bigotry…”. More than that I want to be a positive example of a successful same-sex relationship, to help empower those in their closets, and say “Gregory and I are two men, married to each other. If we can do it, so can you. Be proud of who you are”. Other parts of me simply don’t like the old-fashioned, out-dated notion of marriage that binds two people together, until either one dies or they get a divorce. Camels and goats must be fatted and dripping in gold chokers if you must give a dowry.
I am committed to being in my relationship with Gregory, and irrespective of any piece of paper or legal status, we love each other very much and want to be deeply interconnected in each other’s lives. I know what we mean to each other. We’re special in each other’s eyes and hearts and that’s something legislation can’t change. But it can make us equal in society, and that’s what we both want. Equality. Incidentally, some narrow-minded folk believe that two gay men can’t be equal in society, and therefore shouldn’t get married, because we can’t have children, or that even that we’d be depriving the children of a mother, and therefore bad parents, blah blah blah. With two well-adjusted adult children under his belt Gregory certainly isn’t looking to have any more. And we are equal in society.
Now, around the middle of February this year Gregory sent me an email asking if I wanted to be in the Adam Hills IGST mass gay wedding. I pondered the idea and then without consulting Gregory I sent in an application to be part of the wedding. I thought that if he was tempting fate with asking me to be part of a TV wedding, I’d accept the challenge and commit him, and me, to being part of it.
We were accepted by the IGST team and told there were going to be a number of events over the coming weeks culminating in the TV wedding. It was becoming exciting. A bit like a real wedding. Photos, what to wear, bring some food, look good, get hair cut (#2 clippers on each other…), vajazzle, you know, the usual stuff. There was a sense of anticipation. A bit like a real wedding.
We told our family and friends about this. They got excited. Very excited. Colleagues were talking, even those who were usually a little uneasy with the “gay” thing were getting excited for Gregory and me. I was even asked by a colleague, who only last year told me he didn’t believe in gay marriage, whether I was going to invite the guys from work to a bucks night. After a coffee and a chat he even seemed comfortable with the notion that marriage equality might have some merit in treating people on an equal basis. Yes, equality is about being equal.
Gregory told me many of his colleagues were having kittens because he was getting married. They really couldn’t contain their excitement for him. And on Facebook I was getting a variety of well-wishes from people who wanted to know when “it” was and then wished us all sorts of lovely things in anticipation of the big day (or is it the big gay…?). Things were abuzz.
I really started feeling like I was getting married, for real. When we got civil unionated in 2010 people were happy for us, but not to the same level as they had become around the IGST wedding event. It was as if the notion of marriage conveyed a special status, over and above any other sort of life event or relationship recognition. Funny that. Because it does. It’s the ultimate in happy. And it’s the ultimate in silly too. Just look at the amount of money people throw at weddings. It’s big business.
Quite remarkably though, and I think this is about as significant as it gets, Gregory told me that tonight, on his way home, a dear friend of his told him that he had decided that it wasn’t so bad after all if two blokes wanted to get married. He threw his religious belief coins up in the air and they both landed queen-side up. And the world didn’t stop, and the sky didn’t fall in.
People have been talking because of the IGST wedding event. They are talking about how lovely it is to see two guys getting married, and two gals getting married, and they cried and they were happy. These people and conversations are actually changing attitudes and opening minds. Oh, and my Facebook account has melted with all the wonderful messages from people who saw us on the TV and loved that we were getting married. I have never ever had a bigger response to anything on my Facebook page than to our participation in this event. It’s really quite overwhelming, and humbling.
So we got TV married tonight, in a very happily-ever-after way. Two handsome princes rode off into the sunset and shared a bit of love around the place, and hopefully they made a difference.
PS. If you missed the TV coverage of this event, you can catch up on it here.
PPS. If you want to tell the Australian government why you support marriage equality, you can make a submission here. It only takes a few minutes. Be quick as the deadline is April 2, 2012. You can read other people’s public submissions on the site, to get an idea of what they are saying. Speak from the heart. It need only be a few paragraphs. Thanks.
Photographer, blogger, popular Melbourne gay identity and significant Qmelb contributor, Michael Barnett, is to be featured in a mass gay wedding with his handsome partner. The wedding (and what has been advertised as a stag night / hens night) will be hosted on Australia’s national television network’s by comedian Adam Hills over the next two Wednesday evenings. This will clash with Melbourne’s Queer Film Festival. The wedding will be paid for by Australian taxpayers, a service the ABC has never offered to straight couples. At this stage it is not known whether the ABC or Barnett will be releasing a video of the post wedding celebrations.
(The Gordon St Mass Same-Sex TV Wedding Extravaganza is just around the corner! This inaugural event will happen on March 26 and airs Wednesday March 28 at 8:30pm.)
My name is Elliot London… My passion is making gay cinema…
Today is Valentines Day and I have been working on a beautiful short film (THE WEDDING DANCE) about Equality in a different perspective. I would be so ever grateful if you would take a look at this 3 minute film and consider posting it on this special day where loving one another is important.
The objective with this project is to raise money for our feature film FRIEND. A film about coming out in 2012. A time now when things are so different with social networking. A time now that a child might not have the correct tools to coupe with humiliation in an instant world.
FRIEND is about giving back. Its a movie about accepting and loving oneself but most of all it is about educating. With the proceeds from this film I am going to be donating the profits to groups that help educate at risk youth… If we can raise $10,000 to make our last film with social networking. Than $250,000 can be done. Please take a look at the campaign we have started. Please share this film…
Sound Track to THE WEDDING DANCE is available for .99 on iTunes and we are putting all the funds from the iTunes sales towards the feature film.
Feathery softness, pink and grey
Perched high on the power line
Two Galahs, best mates
Nuzzling close, friends, or more?
A beautiful sight from down below
Seen whilst driving, in the morn
Peacefully playful, tender, together
The simplicity of the moment
Two creatures in the wild
Loving, caring, bonding, sharing
Or a primal instinctive behaviour?
They don’t care, neither should we
A pair of Galahs, high on a wire
Oblivious to all but themselves
A reward to see, in pink and grey
Few finer ways to start my day
World Suicide Prevention Day is on September 10, 2011. The official Australian web-site for this event is www.wspd.org.au.
Suicide is a difficult topic for many people to talk about at the best of times. Perhaps you’ve thought about attempting suicide, or have actually attempted it yourself. Or you may know someone who has, either to completion or not. Many issues drive people to suicide, and often it’s related to a state of depression or a mental health issue.
Some people don’t know who to turn to for help, or how to ask for help, or they don’t realise they can ask for help. Sometimes in the depth of a depressive state of mind people don’t want to ask for help because they believe their burden is too difficult or that they believe there is no way to escape from it. All this and more.
In some dark moments I experienced a little while back, when life seemed all too hard, I thought about suicide on a couple of occasions. I knew my thought processes weren’t rational at the time but it seemed the easiest way to escape the torment of my feelings. Fortunately for me, and those around me, I cleared those momentary hurdles in my life, sought professional help and soon found myself in a much better state of mind. What scared me most was that these suicidal occasions sneaked up on me, with no warning, when I was alone, driving in my car, in a particularly vulnerable and dangerous state. They went as quickly as they came.
Many years ago I overcame a significant challenge in my life. At the age of 26, on September 13 1995, I came to the realisation that my feelings of physical attraction to men were something I could not escape, and that no matter how hard I had tried over the years to repress these homosexual feelings, they wouldn’t go away. It dawned on me that in fact this was something I should embrace, and enjoy, rather than fight and hide. And so I found that I was no longer scared of the word ‘gay’, and realised that it was something I could identify with being.
I had previously been scared that if people had found out my attraction to men that I would be kicked out of home and that my friends wouldn’t want to know me. In fact these were completely irrational thoughts, and aside from having moved out of home a few months prior, my parents told me that they would have never kicked me out of home because of my sexuality and my friends all told me that it was ok with me being gay. Some said they had thought so, others said it came as a complete surprise. Only one friend told me he disagreed with what being gay was about but he has since grown up and has overcome that obstacle in his psyche.
What I had needed most was an understanding that whatever my sexuality was I would be accepted unconditionally by my parents. They never gave me that message and so I never knew where I stood with them on the issue. I didn’t have the courage to ask them and they didn’t have the language to broach the topic with me. It wasn’t something they were educated in. Now, it’s a different story. They are great advocates for equality and acceptance of people from varying sexual orientations. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or anything else doesn’t phase them, and they are comfortable to talk about it.
It’s this conversation that I wish they had had with me when I was very young. I wish they had told me about boys loving boys and girls loving girls, as well as boys and girls loving each other, from when I was aged 4 and up. If I had known that when I was ten and found myself feeling attractions to boys in my school that it was a normal thing to happen, I wouldn’t have started repressing these feelings. Maybe I could have told them that there was one boy at school I had a crush on, or that whilst I didn’t have certain feelings for girls, I did have them for boys.
I didn’t know that it was ok to like boys when I was young and going through puberty it because increasingly harder to conform to the expectations that sexually I should be liking girls, yet finding boys most prominent in my sexual fantasies. And through my teens and into my twenties this became more and more polarised, with no attraction to women and exclusive attraction to men. I stifled these feelings outwardly, not knowing who I could turn to about them. I wanted my psychologists to ask me about that aspect of my life but either because they were too respectful of my privacy or simply because I didn’t lead them in the right direction, they never raised the issue with me, over the many years I sought counselling.
This stifling of my feelings also stifled my existence and I was suffering anxiety attacks, feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy and generally not liking myself. Yet once I had “come out” (I believe it was a stage of emotional maturity where many things in my life started coming together, one of them being acceptance of my sexuality), this all turned around. I was able to open up my emotions, release that person who had been so desperately trying to escape for the best part of 16 years, and begin enjoying life. I discovered, almost overnight, a new me. A new Michael who could go through a day and realise that the world had so much to offer, that there was excitement and adventure around every corner, and that no matter what anyone thought of me or who I liked, things were just great. I was abuzz, abounding with life, and joy, and happiness. It was good to be gay and that I wished I had been able to come to terms with these feelings so many years earlier. So many years had been wasted, not knowing what to say or do. I had no role models to look up to, to tell me it was ok to be gay. I had to wait until I had worked that out myself.
Actually my brother might have been this person to me. He had asked me, numerous times over the years, if I was gay. But I wasn’t gay. I didn’t identify with that word that he used and so it was right of me to tell him that I wasn’t gay, even though I knew I had homosexual attractions. If I had been able to talk to him about it maybe things might have been easier for me, but I simply couldn’t bring the two concepts together in my head. One was physical, the other psychological, a state of mind perhaps. It took me a long time before I was able to reconcile my homosexuality with being gay. I haven’t looked back since.
For many people though, they face other challenges in their struggle for acceptance with having same-sex attractions. There are religious and cultural pressures to conform to a heterosexual norm and these burdens can be extremely hard to overcome. I grew up in a Jewish household, yet my family was not very religious. However in many other Jewish households there is a very present understanding that homosexuality is unacceptable, because of religious teachings. It’s actually more insidious than that. It’s like an undercurrent of intolerance that is self-perpetuating. The whole issue is completely taboo and any mention of it in a positive connotation is completely impossible.
The disturbing aspect of this is that for young people growing up in this ultra-conservative religious environment there is almost no way they can access the resources, help or role models to tell them that despite the attitudes of their community they are normal people with healthy feelings. Because of this, there begins the down-hill spiral similar to what I experienced growing up, the repression, the denial, the avoidance, and so on. It gets worse and becomes a festering cancer that just eats away every last drop of happiness in a person.
Some people get to the point in their life where they feel there is no easy way out of this conflict, perhaps after getting into a loveless marriage, maybe with having children, and begin to consider suicide as a possible way to deal with their situation. I was fortunate I didn’t get to that point in my struggle to deal with my sexuality, but it could have happened. Others are less fortunate and do succumb to the temptation to take their life. More people fail than succeed in attempting suicide, perhaps leaving them in a harmed state physically, definitely emotionally, and perhaps leaving them further motivated to end their life.
Rabbi Mendel Kastel of the Jewish House in Sydney has told me, from his enquiries of the Sydney Chevrah Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society), that there is an average of about one suicide per month. It’s not always possible to determine that the cause of a death was due to suicide, which makes it hard to get concrete statistics unfortunately. I am not aware of any figures for the rate of suicide in the Melbourne Jewish community but I would take a guess that they’d be similar, due to the similar sizes of the two communities.
It alarmed me to hear that there was about one suicide a month in the Sydney Jewish community. That’s twelve deaths per year that could potentially have been avoided. Perhaps one of these twelve people was someone you knew, either a friend or close relative. They were important to someone, and chances are they left a huge void in their community.
In addition to these rudimentary figures of Jewish suicides, there are alarming statistics published by Suicide Prevention Australia. Their Positional Statement on Suicide and Self-harm among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Communities claims:
Studies conducted over the last decade reveal that GLB individuals attempt suicide at rates between 3.5 and 14 times those of their heterosexual peers (Bagley & Tremblay, 1997; Garofalo et al., 1998; Herrell et al., 1999; National Institute for Mental Health in England, 2007; Nicholas & Howard, 2002; Remafedi et al., 1998).
and further goes on to state:
Similarly those belonging to religious faiths that promulgate negative discourses about homosexuality are particularly vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. Conflicts between spiritual or religious beliefs and sexuality can result in significant psychological dissonance as well as division and exclusion from family, friends and community.
For many, these experiences manifest in deep feelings of self-loathing and hatred that, in turn, severely elevate the risk of suicide and self-harm (Hillier et al., 2008).
It’s time we all started taking an active interest in suicide prevention and started talking about it, because that one person could be someone you know and love. It could be your child, or your brother or sister, or a cousin, your best friend, a parent or it could be you.
Once a person is gone, it’s too late to offer acceptance. They won’t hear you once they’re dead. Tell them you love them unconditionally, no matter what, and mean it. There’s no acceptable price to pay for a belief in your religion, or because you are scared of rejection.
Someone will always love you and accept you, no matter what.
- If you are contemplating suicide or need someone to talk to, you can contact Lifeline.
- In Victoria and Tasmania, the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard has trained operators to assist with issues relating to sexuality.
- In NSW, The Jewish House offers a crisis counselling service.
- If you don’t know who to talk to, or for general issues relating to sexuality and gender identity, I will gladly forward your confidential enquiry to the appropriate organisation.
- On Saturday September 10, 2011 you can walk to raise awareness, remember those lost to suicide and unite in a commitment to prevent further deaths by suicide. Details on the Out of the shadows web-site.
- Thursday 15 September, 2011 is R U OK? Day. It’s a national day of action which aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones.