“Be sure that, in the end, inclusion will replace exclusion. For the sake of the planet and of humanity it must be so. And by our lives let us be an example of respect for human rights. Not just for gays. For everyone.” — Justice Michael Kirby, High Court of Australia. See below…
The theme of this page may offend some, but my position is that such offence is less than the needless suffering, failure of self-esteem, depression, and even sometimes suicide, that dishonesty about this subject can lead to.
Nor am I advocating a “lifestyle”: to quote from an article mentioned below:
There is a big taboo about converting straight people to homosexuality. (Personally I think the chances of that actually happening are as good as your chances of getting kicked to death by a duck.)
This page is dedicated to understanding at least and acceptance at best.
So far as there are cultural and religious issues involved here, I can only say 1) I have not gone out of my way to offend but have stayed within the guidelines common to various welfare areas in the NSW Department of Education and Training though that does not imply any official standing for this page, and 2) clearly individuals and families will consult many sources other than this one, and will already know what teachings their particular belief system endorses. Note also that this page was originally in the context of a boys school, which colours somewhat what is said here.
For myself, I am much encouraged by these precepts of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:
Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.
Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout our entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.
None of the links below leads to pornography. However, some sites do involve possible adult concepts. I have adopted a system of icons as follows:
open to all.
open to senior students and to anyone, but with some reservations.
a good site – or it wouldn’t be here – but more suitable to people over 18.
I have checked Google for resources on straight parent/gay child issues. There is a good column in Mogenic called Educate the parents which has among other things this lovely one-liner: There is a big taboo about converting straight people to homosexuality. (Personally I think the chances of that actually happening are as good as your chances of getting kicked to death by a duck.)
There are some good resources at Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth, though American. Mogenic is home-grown and we should be proud of it. I found quite a good column on Planet Out as well. One father is quoted there:
On reflecting about homosexuality, I’ve learned that: my religious tradition taught me to believe that my son was a sinner; my medical support system taught me to believe that my son was sick; my educational system taught me that my son was abnormal; my legal system views my son and his partner in an unsanctioned relationship without legal rights and protection that are afforded my married daughter; my family, immediate and extended, provided no acknowledgment or support for having a gay relative in its midst; my major communications sources treated homosexuality as deviant.
There were some useful things on another site called Family Acceptance, and finally (for me for now, but I am sure my readers will have ideas and resources of their own) I found a nice statement in a forum:
My best friend (age 22) just came out to his parents. They had asked him about 5 yrs ago and he said no…he just wasn’t comfortable with it himself yet, and needed time to accept it. The best thing you can do is make your home a “safe zone”, and let it be known that you are open`minded. It also wouldn’t hurt (gay or not) if you constantly tell your son that you love him, and that you’ll always love him.
Wouldn’t it be good if that was the norm in families?
Sexuality: the issues — on “Bullying No Way” — Australian site for younger people.
NSW DET Policy: Homophobia in Schools — how the topic is dealt with in NSW schools.
Support for gay family and friends, an “About” site, so there are feral pop-ups, but it’s good.
Creating safe schools for lesbian and gay students.
Gaby Clayton’s Resources: Youth GLBT — supplements this site very well. “Resources I am personally connected with and also local/Washington state ones are listed first, then national, international and internet-only ones.”
You shouldn’t have to hide to be safe – A report on Homophobic Hostilities and Violence Against Gay Men and Lesbians in New South Wales. This study was conducted across NSW from March to August 2003.
Gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender youth from Australian Youth Facts & Stats.
George Negus Tonight transcript: “Jared Porter, ‘Human Relationships’, 1st June, 2004”.
Farmer Dave, website of David Graham.
…So you are probably reading this feeling rather confused (or a bit ill at my over lov’n) at the fact that I’d leave my farm, which I’d just stocked with 1000 new ewes and a dozen pure Dorper rams to go and get locked up in the Big Brother house.
Truth is, I was bashed by a hate-filled gang earlier in the year and left for dead, as well as having a lifetime of self denial due to societal conformity, atop a fear that too many Australians had a negative view of those who didn’t ‘fit in’. So I had waited long enough for someone to show Australia that it isn’t necessary to ‘fit in’, that living your own life happily is what is truly important. I left my happiness to share it with Australia by way of a show that takes the lives of a select few into the homes of millions.
Youth Suicide –especially gay youth.
Reach Out is an excellent Australian site dealing with depression and related issues.
Gay Health — Obviously a place to be informed about safe sex (vital!) but a lot more than that: physical, emotional, mental health are all here.
Healthy Place: Gay is OK — a concise statement.
“AVERT.org is the most accessed HIV & AIDS web site in Europe, and is in the global top 10. The number of visitors to the site has increased amazingly over the last couple of years, and it keeps on going from strength to strength. The reason? Unlike many websites who simply stick information up and leave it, we constantly update AVERT.org with current HIV/AIDS information. Our audience comes from every walk of life, including students, teachers, people who are HIV+ and their families & friends. Many of our readers are from the US or the UK – where we are based – but we also have many visitors from around the world. This is reflected in our content – wherever you’re from, there’ll be something for you on AVERT.org … and we guarantee that if you look around, you’ll learn at least one important thing by the time you leave.”
The Age of AIDS, an excellent PBS site, one of the most authoritative and even-handed examinations of this topic in a world perspective.
Mogenic–Australian site for young gays.
Oasis Magazine — safe place for young gays.
Yawning Bread — excellent site of Singapore Gay man. Still commenting on gay life, Singapore life, and so much else. Lovely writer too.
Dignity USA: gay Catholics.
Uniting Network: Members of the Uniting Church in Australia daring to embrace diversity.
Religious Tolerance–great Canadian site, very comprehensive. Many essays and links on
all matters religious, including homosexuality and Christianity.
CONTRA/DICTION: THE GAY ARGUMENT AGAINST RECEIVED WISDOM by ALEX AU (Yawning Bread) from Victoria Junior College in Singapore is excellent. Four parts: *Section 1: Orientation or lifestyle? *Section 2: The science to date *Section 3: Norms, censorship and history *Section 4: Homophobia.
Facts not fancies on the risk of gay men being child molesters. –Knowledge beats prejudice every time!
Gay law net — very useful.
International Gay and Lesbian Association
Independent Gay Forum — intelligent gay writing on current issues from a conservative
Sydney Star Observer – main Sydney gay paper.
Rik Isensee has this to say in his excellent “Love Between Men” (Prentice Hall 1990):
Whenever a group is discriminated against, its members may internalize a negative self-image… As boys, it may have felt threatening even to wonder whether we were gay, because our very willingness to consider the possibility implied that we were. Many of us spent much of our adolescence denying that we were attracted to other males, or trying to hide any indication that we were interested in same-sex relationships. We feared that if people knew what we were really like, they would reject us. Some men deny their sexual orientation well into adulthood, assuming they’ll eventually outgrow homosexual attractions…
With few positive models for gay relationships (or even of men nurturing one another), we’re left with negative images from the media, or sometimes no information at all. Homophobia creates a cycle of isolation, which tends to reinforce itself…
Not freaks. Not monsters. But people, who must become happy with who they are and find acceptance forwho they are if they are ever to be whole.
See also The Gay & Lesbian Self-Esteem Book by Kimeron Hardin, Ph. D. (Oakland, New Harbinger Publications 1999). This is from the perspective of cognitive behavioural therapy, unexciting but sound; it covers quite a lot of things rather well, I think. You may get a good idea of it from this short article.
Justice MICHAEL KIRBY is an Australian High Court Judge who came out a couple of years back by listing his partner in “Who’s Who in Australia”. In June 2000 I had the opportunity to hear Justice Kirby speak: a beautiful man.
Here is an extract from an article by Justice Kirby that appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, reflecting on people’s reactions to a speech he gave to a group of secondary students in February 2000 at a Jesuit college preparatory school. You may read it there for yourself, courtesy of PFLAG.
Sexuality is no ‘lifestyle’. Its sources lie deep in human nature. It is not chosen; it is a given. In all but the rarest case (and that dubious) it cannot be changed, only suppressed. It is the source of the deep motivation shared by all humans to seek out love and companionship and wholeness of being with another. It is an indelible feature of human existence. It cannot be expunged.
You would be surprised if you were to read the messages of hate that I have received in the past two years concerning my sexuality. Strange, disturbed letters contorted by rage and spitting contempt. Sadly, most of them are written by people who conceive of themselves as religious…
Justice Kirby also spoke at the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney:
Under different stars, at the beginning of a new millennium, in an old land and a young nation, we join together in the hope and conviction that the future will be kinder and more just than the past. At a time when there is so much fear and danger, anger and destruction, these Games represent an alternative vision for humanity. Acceptance. Diversity. Inclusiveness. Participation. Tolerance and joy. Ours is the world of love, questing to find the common links that bind all people. We participate because, whatever our sexuality, we believe that the days of exclusion are numbered. In our future world, everyone can find their place, where their human rights and human dignity will be upheld.
This is a great time for Australia because we are a nation in the process of reinventing ourselves. We began our modern history by denying the existence of our indigenous peoples and their rights. We embraced White Australia. Women could play little part in public life: their place was in the kitchen. And as for gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities, they were an abomination. Lock them up. Throw away the key. We have not corrected all these wrongs. But we are surely on the road to enlightenment. There will be no U-turns. Little did my partner Johan and I think, 30 years ago, as we danced the night away at the Purple Onion, less than a mile away, that we would be at the opening of a Gay Games with the Queen’s representative and so many to bear witness to such a social revolution. True, we rubbed shoulders on the dance floor with knights of the realm, such as Sir Robert Helpmann, and with future premiers, such as Don Dunstan. But if an angel had tapped us on our youthful shoulders and told us of such a change we would have said “impossible”. Well, nothing is impossible to the human spirit. Scientific truth ultimately prevails. So we unite together: men and women, indigenous and newcomers, black and white, Australians and visitors, religious and atheist, young and not so young, gay and straight.
It is put best by Corey Czok, an Australian basketballer in these Gay Games. “It’s good to be able to throw out the stereotypes,” he says. “We’re not all sissies, we don’t all look the same and we’re not all pretty!” His last comment may be disputed. Real beauty lies in the fact that so many are united — not in the negatives of hate and exclusion, so common today, but in the positives of love and inclusion.
The changes Australia has witnessed over 30 years would not have happened if it had not been for people of courage who rejected the ignorant denials about sexuality. Who taught that variations are a normal and universal aspect of the human species. That they are not going away. That they are no big deal. And that, between consenting adults, we all just have to get used to it and get on with life.
The people of courage certainly include Oscar Wilde. His suffering, his interpretation of it and the ordeal of many others have bought such changes for us. I would include Alfred Kinsey. In the midst of the McCarthyist era in the United States he, and those who followed, dared to investigate the real facts about human sexual diversity. In Australia, I would also include, as heroes, politicians of every major party, most of them heterosexual. Over 30 years, they have dismantled many of the unequal laws. But the first of them was Don Dunstan. He proved, once again, the astonishing fact that good things sometimes occur when the dancing stops. I would also add Rodney Croome and Nick Toonen. They took Australia to the United Nations to get rid of the last criminal laws against gay men in Tasmania. Now the decision in their case stands for the whole world. I would include Neal Blewett, who led Australia’s first battles against AIDS. Robyn Archer, Kerryn Phelps, Ian Roberts and many, many others.
Yet this is not just an Australian story. In every land a previously frightened and oppressed minority is awakening from a long sleep to assert its human dignity. We should honour those who looked into themselves and spoke the truth. Now they are legion. It is the truth that makes us free. I think of Tom Waddell, the inspired founder of the Gay Games. His last words in this life were: “This should be interesting.” What an understatement. Of Greg Louganis, twice Olympic gold medallist, who came out as gay and HIV-positive and said that it was the Gay Games that emboldened him to tell it as it was. Of Mark Bingham, a rowdy Rugby player. He would have been at the Sydney Gay Games. But he lost his life in one of the planes downed on 11 September 2001, struggling to save the lives of others. He was a real hero. Of Bertrand Delano, the openly gay mayor of Paris, stabbed by a homophobe whilst attending a celebration at city hall. He showed courage. His last instruction before he was taken to hospital was that the party should go on till sunrise. Indeed, I think of everyone who affirms the fundamental unity of all human beings. Who rejects ignorance, hatred and error. And who embraces love, which is the ultimate foundation of all human rights.
Let the word go out from Sydney and the Gay Games of 2002 that the movement for equality is unstoppable. Its message will eventually reach the four corners of the world. The Games will be another catalyst to help make that happen. Be sure that, in the end, inclusion will replace exclusion. For the sake of the planet and of humanity it must be so. And by our lives let us be an example of respect for human rights. Not just for gays. For everyone.