Freshly Doug Weekender


New York Mayor, Republican millionaire Michael Bloomberg announced he’s endorsing the Democrat candidate, President Barack Obama, for another four year term. Among other reasons he cited Obama’s support for marriage equality. Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was also fulsome in his praise for Obama and his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As for Romney, latest aggregated polls indicate he’s going down bigtime. One hesitates to talk of rats and sinking ships, but . . . .

Speaking of rats, Greg Quinlan, leader of the US “ex-gay” group PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays) claims that the recently-passed California law prohibiting “ex-gay” therapy for minors is a threat to ‘heterosexual rights’, heralding the rise of something he calls ‘homofascism‘ . (Repeat after me: “There Is No Such Thing As An Ex-Gay.”) These programs, which also flourish in Australia (detailed in this post Young Lives At Stake), are religion-based, run by amateurs with no accreditation or training.

They are profoundly damaging to LBTI people, especially kids. Children of 12 and up are sent to these indoctrination centres by their parents, suffering depression, anxiety and suicidal impulses as a direct result. No imaginary ‘heterosexual right’ trumps the saving of kids from these twisted people. This is not ‘therapy’: this is church-sanctioned child abuse, something for which religious institutions are fully qualified.

Like this bunch: when the leaders of this US Christian school found out one of their boys was gay, he was expelled, and forbidden to speak with his best friend. Staff “humiliated and harassed” him, trying repeatedly to “convert” him to heterosexuality. He was bullied by the other foster kids.  This went on for two whole years. Throughout, the Miami Department of Children & Families refused to look into his case, saying his treatment did not violate “state or federal laws, rules or policies.”  That’s ‘Christian’ values at work.

I have no doubt there are similar stories to be told here. There is still no proper investigation of child abuse by religious and other institutions in Australia, despite a torrent of evidence indicating that the churches – and the Catholic Church in particular – have no interest in cleaning their own fouled nest, only in sweeping the mountains of shit under the Vatican carpets. This petition hopes to change that: I urge everyone to sign.

Despite the blocking efforts of the Catholic Church, France under socialist President Hollande continues to make strides towards including LGBTI people.French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem announced the Education Ministry was looking at changes to the school curriculum designed to reduce the number of teenage suicides that often result from playground bullying. Some people are of course objecting.

There’s a good discussion here of the problems soccer has with homophobia and the general feebleness of efforts to tackle it to dat. The UK’s Football Association has been praised in the past for getting to grips with the issue, but Brad Peterson contends it’s mostly tokenistic. Friends of the AFL will know what he means. We’ve said before, it’s time to end homophobia in sport.

Still in the UK, a survey by the National Union of Students has delved into the reasons why we need to change the culture of sport. The exclusion of LGBTI people starts at school and college:

“Initiations and “hazing” events often deter LGBT students because these ceremonies are so intimidating and rife with loudly expressed homophobic views. I remember seeing naked boys crawling through Headingley [in Leeds] covered in eggs and flour with team captains behind them with water pistols filled with urine shouting “Come on faggots”. I imagine a lot of straight students are intimidated by that environment too, an environment that stinks of repressed homosexuality.”

And it doesn’t end there: 70% of soccer fans have heard homophobic abuse at games; more than 25% believe soccer is an anti-gay sport; a Rugby Football League investigation discovered similar experiences. I’d love to see the Australian Rules Football at all levels surveyed, wouldn’t you?

That horrible hazing was in the Yorkshire town of Leeds, which just goes to show how out of step sport is with mainstream culture. The City council is about to give the green light to an official gay district in the city, complete with special signage and promotion. Northside Melbourne should start painting rainbows on the street signs.

Like many LGBTI community organisations, Melbourne’s Gay & Lesbian Switchboard receives minimal funding from the government. It’s up to us – and yes, that includes you A-list poofters with your designer babies –  to copious amounts of much-needed money.  Switchboard supporters are running in The Age City2Sea fun run on November 11: click here, get on over there, and sponsor them!

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)