Bendigo Writer’s Festival – Part 3.

It changed the world with Dennis Altman and Robyn Williams.

Key Point #1: Sexuality, is it fluid?

A little while ago I was sitting in the back seat of a taxi with my brother and he was telling me about his friend Rob who he’d met at work around a year ago. Now, Rob had been feeling confused lately as he’d always dated women but recently had begun to develop feelings for my brother. He was also concerned that a relationship may endanger their friendship. But I can say they are now a very happy couple. Perhaps it’s fair to say Rob has always been bisexual and my brother was the trigger that made him realize this.


Key Point #2: Homophobia a problem amongst the left and right.

If you look at the politicians, many who claim to be liberal have conservative values. At Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration, Obama invited Rick Warren to give the invocation which upset a lot of his supporter base as Warren is an Evangelical pastor who holds very old fashioned values when it comes to same sex marriage amongst other things. There are many other examples such as Julia Gillard, former Labor Party member, yet still holding very conservative views, claiming outright her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Perhaps these views they express aren’t the views they truly hold, but instead they show them to the public simply to bolster their popularity, as it seems at that time this particular view will earn them the most points. Though here in Australia this doesn’t make sense to me, as in polls the majority who vote support same sex marriage.


Key Point #3: Progression of gay rights is important here, but we can still be thankful for the freedoms we do have

My brother is gay, and life hasn’t always been kind to him. He was bullied during high school and for over a decade suffered from agoraphobia. As someone close to him, this was tough to see, as he grew increasingly depressed. But these past few years the transformation he’s wrought on his life has been simply phenomenal. He’s got a full time job, some truly wonderful friends, and he’s fully out of the closet and happy with it. It makes me shudder, thinking about countries like Uganda, where homosexuals must live in fear, simply because of their sexuality; the laws in place there are outrageous. People who are rumored to be gay are put on notice and in some cases they are hunted down and murdered.


Key Point #4: Why have we seen such a strong progression with regard to gay rights?

Of course, this varies across the world – in many Western European nations, same sex marriage has been legalized, while there’s hardly any equivalent in the East. The only African nation to legalize it is South Africa, but I suppose that country is quite unique on the continent – I’ve heard it referred to as the Israel of Africa… also Taiwan recently became the first country from Asia to make it legal.

But really, not long ago, homosexuality was a criminal offense here, and now my brother is an out and proud gay man. What changed? Australia in the past, with the White Australia Policy, and all that, it didn’t have the mix it has today. And in other areas too – not only gay rights, women’s rights in the workforce aren’t comparable to what they are today. Attitudes have changed. A society as diverse as we’ve got here in Australia, I see it with my parents, it forces them to embrace different people, different cultures etc.

Also I remember seeing this documentary a while ago, this school asked two different classrooms what they thought about gay people, and they had a gay person come in and speak, and what they found was the older students were more prejudiced and homophobic than the younger kids. There was also a teacher who got upset that they’d brought a gay man to speak to the kids…

Australian society and culture was once more influenced by the British side of things, now as time has passed, we’ve lent more towards our friends the Americans. Still we’re no longer so rigid when it comes to our migration laws which is all for the good.

Key Point #5: As Australians, should we feel embarrassed that same sex marriage is still yet to be legalized, unlike much of Western Europe, New Zealand, Canada, and other parts of the world?

Personally I do feel embarrassed, I feel like we should be standing among other progressive nations of the world, but perhaps I’m overestimating Australia as a supposed “progressive” nation, considering how we still continue to treat the Indigenous population in a lackluster fashion, and also the disgusting state of the refugee camps in places like Nauru, which is beyond shameful – I was just reading about the information that’s come out of that place, the amount of sexual assaults and other acts of trauma inflicted upon the people there is just sickening.

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