A Smarter Rainbow Report


A big clap, by Eric E Castro

Tonight’s show is all about being smart. As we’ve said on this program several times: it’s smart to conserve our history, because in the past we’ve so often been written out. One of the most important parts of that history is the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

James Rendell, Lord Abbott of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abbey of the Black Swan, and Vice Chair of PWLHA/WA reveals the sad story of how the West Australian portion of the quilt may have been damaged by some not-so-smart treatment. James says:

Apparently there will be no unfolding of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at this year’s Candlight AIDS commemoration. Last year the WA AIDS Memorial Quilt was unfolded onto bare ground which happened to be wet due to the fact that in the days preceding the event there had been over an inch of rain. The last I saw of it, it was scrunched up in an AIDS Council staff members car and now I’m told it was put back in the shed as it was! A shed for a museum piece?

Only one small segment of the AIDS Quilt on display in Perth - what happened to the rest?

Only one small segment of the AIDS Quilt on display in Perth – what happened to the rest?


From history to the future, and what is our future if not our children. The Pinnacle Foundation provides mentoring and scholarship to smart LGBTI students in need of help. Till now they’ve been strong in NSW but rather less so here in Melbourne, but that’s changing as Bodhan Abrat explains. One Pinnacle scholar decided not to apply for a second year of funding:

I will be forever indebted to everyone at Pinnacle for believing in me enough to invest in my education, and indeed my future. As it stands now, I feel like I am in a position of self reliance and independence which I guess is the main reason I wont be reapplying. I have made a lot of changes since I was awarded my scholarship: I have found a new job which has fulfilled a large number of my career aspirations, I am on my feet financially, my uni marks are exceeding my own expectations, and I’m happy. I don’t think it would be fair for me to apply for another scholarship as I truly believe there are people who are more in need of assistance now than I am.

We’d all like life to be simple, I think, with as little complication as possible. So when the idea of HIV prevention through the use of anti-retroviral drugs came along, most of us jumped at it. On the surface it looks like a very smart idea.

But HIV isn’t the only sexually transmitted disease out there, and that one pill a day will not protect us against any of them.

Take gonorrhoea. Once it was no big deal, but now new strains that are resistant to all treatments are coming along. We’re going to have to get smarter. Professor Kit Fairley of the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre will help us to understand.

Gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics doctors have to treat it. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that there is just one drug left that can be used as a first-line treatment for the disease. The drug, ceftriaxone (an antibiotic delivered by injection) is recommended to be used along with other antibiotics, such as such as azithromycin or doxycycline, for seven days.

There seems to be a link between rising rates of gonorrhea and the increasing popularity of oral sex, probably because people think unprotected oral sex is safer – and preferable – to protected anal or vaginal sex. That can lead to another problem:

Apart from obesity, smoking and diet, the rise in oesophageal cancer is linked to oral-genital transmission of HPV, as has been the case with head and neck tumours. Previous hypotheses have also revealed that the virus can also be transmitted via the oral route (deep kissing) and, less likely, skin contact,” he said.

Should we be smart and take unprotected oral sex off the menu?

Rainbow Report Producer James Newburrie will be on hand with his usual incisive insights and questions, filling the co-host spot.

We’d very much like to hear from you. Please join in the conversations. You can send in your questions ahead of time to rainbowreport@joy.org.au, of sms during the show 0427 JOY 949.

PS There will be no Rainbow Report next week: the show will return on 23 May.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)