Freshly Doug Wednesday

Cherished Allies

As a minority we are dependent on the whims of the majority, and a mostly ignorant majority at that. The education task is huge. So it’s great to be able to showcase a couple of determined, articulate straight allies this morning.

Number one is US footballer Chris Kluwe of Minnesota. Already adored for smashing down the dumb prejudice parrotted by a certain Southern legislator, he now takes aim at the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Nowhere does Jesus preach hate, or intolerance, or loathing. Nowhere does Jesus say, “You shall deny the humanity of gay people because it makes you feel uncomfortable”. Nowhere does Jesus say, “And the mortal men of the Church shall be the sole conduits of the Word of God, for they are perfect and infallible.”

Number two is Peaches Geldof (I love the way she totally owns the stupid name father Bob saddled her with) creams the bigots who oppose equality and fairness.

One day we’ll look back on the gay marriage ban as we look back on historical events like apartheid. Because in the end, that’s what it is, pointless, futile segregation. I long for the day when we break free of this Orwellian ridiculousness, a nation of dictating pigs, where “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

Ask & Receive

More evidence, if evidence were needed, that personal appeals and direct meetings can change hearts and minds, and opponents into allies. LGBT students from the University of Huddersfield in the UK met with their local Labour MP Barry Sheerman, a devout Christian for a chat. They also handed over what might seem to be a rather thin petition of only 326 signatures, asking him to support marriage equality. It paid off. Sheerman will now vote for the measure.

Russian Judgement

Dismay that Russia’s Supreme Court upheld St. Petersburg’s controversial law banning “gay propaganda,” downing the indomitable Nikolai Alexeyevs challenge. But the ruling was cheeringly narrow, according to Think Progress .stating  that the law can only be “enforced against direct appeals to minors to engage in homosexual activity”. So gay pride parades and LGBT rights rallies are still legal.

The New Sexual Predators

That’s us, apparently. One Alana Newman – a marriage equality opponent – gets hysterical about the betrayal she feels now that gay men have become “sexual predators” on straight women, along with their heterosexual brothers.

“There are new characters eager to exploit our daughters’ bodies, who enjoy unsullied reputations, passing detection even as they blatantly hunt for eggs and wombs with checkbooks in hand. And historically they have been the people women should fear the least. These new players vying for access to young women’s bodies are older or infertile women, and gay men—quite often our friends and members of our family.”

Honey Boo-Boo better watch out: maybe her sweet Uncle Poodle is just hanging around waiting for her ovaries to ripen.

To Tell, or Not To Tell

Professor John De Wit from the UNSW National Centre in HIV Social Research recently told The Stirrer’s Miles Heffernan,

“Condom use remains gay men’s most important response to HIV. This is followed by disclosure of HIV status. But positive men who disclose, and (they) mostly do, are not congratulated with it, but can be ostracised through rejection. This illustrates the pervasiveness of stigma that people with HIV experience, mostly from potential sex partners.”

Now the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that people with low levels of HIV who use condoms during sex need not tell their partners they are HIV positive. The unanimous decision reversed a 1998 ruling that pos people who did not disclose their status could be charged with aggravated sexual assault, a charge that could have left them facing a life sentence. The new ruling was made in light of the advances in treatment since 1998.

Rugger – tick: Soccer – tick: AFL – Hello??

We have out gay rugby players, and straight allies. Out gay soccer players, and allies. We have gay rugger teams and gay soccer teams. American football and baseball players ( see above). But there’s still a deafening silence from the AFL. With one honourable exception – Jason Ball – whose plea for the AFL to do something about the entrenched culture of machismo in the sport has begun to force a response.

So far two anti-homophobia ads have been shown at AFL games. Not during the Grand Final, as the petition asked, but before each of the two preliminary finals, while the fans were still making their way to their seats.

Meanwhile my call to AFL HQ yesterday with a request for an update on progress garnered a very laid-back response. The issue isn’t ‘top of mind’ at the moment, everyone is ‘winding down after the finals’ and that they won’t be thinking about the issue until, oh, most likely January.

“So,” I asked, “Nothing coming through the pipes at the moment?” “No, not publicly.”

Better get writing to the sponsors again: after all, what worked on Alan Jones will surely work on Andrew Demetriou.

Putting Politics back in Pride

Johannesburg Pride March was ambushed Saturday: a small group composed mainly of black lesbians lay down in front of the march protesting it was too male, too white and too commercial.

In echoes of the criticisms made of Sydney’s Mardi Gras in recent years, Carrie Shelver, a spokeswoman for group, known as One in Nine, said

‘The annual Joburg pride day has turned into a frippery and those attending these days have forgotten its true significance. Gay pride should not just be a celebration but also standing together in unity against racism and homophobic attacks. It needs to be political.”

A Gay Magna Carta

For the non-historians, and the under-educated, the Magna Carta was the Great Charter forced on King John by his Barons establishing for the first time that the rule of law overrode the will of the King: the monarch was thereafter as bound by the law as his subjects.

A couple of pieces in US gay magazine The Advocate argue that the LGBT community needs to build alliances with other minorities, as we have begun to do to achieve marriage equality. This process is more advanced in the US than here, where we still operate largely in a little bubble of our own.

The editorial goes further, arguing that we need to develop a common platform, like a party political platform, against which we can measure our success. His draft list is as follows:

1. Education: A well-educated electorate is a more civil rights–minded one (think marriage equality on ballots), and yet we’ve let education deteriorate and get more expensive; proper sex ed reduces teen pregnancy, STI transmission, and anti-gay stigma.

2. Bodily integrity: The government should not have a say in the sex lives of consenting adults.

3. Poverty: Low wages and employment discrimination affect lesbians, transgender people, and LGBTs of color disproportionately; poverty is correlated with violence and crime.

4. Health Care: People with HIV/AIDS, homeless LGBT teens, and lesbians are underserved and/or face medical discrimination on a shocking scale.

5. Crime: LGBTs are too often the target of violence, and the police response depends on how well educated they are on LGBT-specific concerns.

What do you think? What would you add? Mail me (click on the link for the full address).

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)