Bad fairy at the wedding: @burgewords on the curse of #MarriageEquality activism

I’D like to briefly hold your attention in this short period before marriage equality is legislated in Australia, because nobody will ever give a second thought to the years of struggle that led to this week’s resounding public vote for same-sex dignity. The concept of marriage equality first hit me like a bullet in 2004, in the moment I realised I’d been completely and utterly duped by this ‘lucky country’. My partner Jono had died suddenly just weeks before, and I was struggling with acute, identity-killing grief. I had no idea that this profound amputation would come to be treated as though it was a paper cut. Unbeknownst to me, […]

The hate that dare not speak its name: @burgewords comments on #VoteNo to #MarriageEquality

It would make for a better, fairer and more entertaining match if #TeamNo owned the term ‘homophobes’. AUSTRALIA is fighting a very old battle. It’s been Trojan-Horsed into every household in the form of the Turnbull Government’s postal survey on federal marriage law. Like all wars, the propaganda is rife. We’re being asked to vote on altering the Marriage Act to allow equal access to couples of the same gender. Naturally enough for Aussies, we’re dealing with it by forming teams in a numbers game over the country’s oldest political football. In one corner we have gay-friendly #TeamYes in bright, inclusive colours, although the commentators can’t avoid the war references, […]

Better ban the Bard if #SafeSchools scares you: @burgewords comments on Australia’s #NeoPuritans

Hated by the Puritans, the complete works of William Shakespeare was firmly entrenched in the Australian school syllabus decades ago. WESTERNERS have lived through many periods in which extreme Christians distributed anti-gay propaganda and thereby got the ear of authorities, and this month’s spat from Australia’s hard, religious right shows not much has changed in four hundred years. It’s an old war, that between conservatives wanting to put the brakes on equality, and progressives trying to touch the accelerator. During the reign of James I (1603-1625) in England, the fires of Puritanism were well on their way to blazing a lasting wound through societies in many continents, burning until well after the Salem […]

LGBTI versus Christians, an unnecessary war: @burgewords comments on #SafeSchools

This is not a suffering competition for martyrs, it’s a legislative process taking place in a secular nation. THE Turnbull government has no firm plans for a public vote on marriage equality. We only know it’ll be ‘after the election’, an Abbott three-word slogan for ‘on the never-never’; and that it will be a non-binding, $160-million-dollar opinion poll that won’t be compulsory for any Australian voter or politician to participate in. But that doesn’t really matter. While Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t watching, a war cabinet has been plotting against LGBTI dignity from the Coalition backbench, spilling from the party room into the media this week when the Safe Schools program came under attack. […]

Keeping #MarriageEquality off the record: @burgewords comments on #NeverMarried

It felt like a cold label for what was a beautiful love affair. WHEN the South Australian government was caught out by the world’s media for its lax approach to recognising overseas same-sex marriages on death certificates, the justifiable outrage about Marco Bulmer-Rizzi being documented as “never married” to husband David resonated with many readers. One small voice of disagreement came from Marriage Alliance, a grassroots anti-marriage equality movement with a presence in Australia, in the form of a tweet defining the Bulmer-Rizzi disenfranchisement as “unusual” and criticising Australian Marriage Equality for politicising the issue. Why do @AMEQUALITY & @BuzzFeed have to exploit the unusual & sad circumstances of a death for political motives? […]

Coming out in the cold: @burgewords reviews #Carol

The wait for enlightenment will be long, and the darkest, pre-dawn hour lies ahead. WITH nothing more complex than a series of firmly-closed doors, the film Carol takes a powerful dramatic turn that subtly gives two women the space to explore their attraction. When Therese (Rooney Mara) slips into the passenger seat beside Carol (Cate Blanchett) and shuts out her fiancé, they leave him blinking on the kerbside. Soon after, Carol’s old flame Abby (Sarah Paulson) firmly shuts her front door on Carol’s estranged husband (Kyle Chandler), leaving him awkwardly-framed through a small window. But it is the shutting of the door between the two protagonists – closed by Carol against […]

#Homophobia for the holidays: @burgewords on creating #LGBT characters

It would surprise most people to see what a strong thread of prejudice runs through families. Spending time with family over Christmas and New Year can be a challenge for anyone, but journalist and author Michael Burge explains how his first collection of short stories grew in the fertile ground of familial homophobia. WHEN I began writing fiction, I didn’t understand at first that the theme I was really exploring was homophobia. After years of churning out scripts in the corporate world, which was not sustaining me in any kind of career, I decided to turn my hand to short stories. Over the course of about ten weeks in late 2009, I started […]

#QuestionableDeeds in action: @burgewords in conversation with @margokingston1

WHEN I asked Margo to help me launch my non-fiction debut Questionable Deeds: Making a stand for equal love and my first collection of short stories Closet His, Closet Hers, Tony Abbott was still Prime Minister and marriage equality remained on the never never. When we met this week at Avid Reader bookshop in West End, Brisbane, I remarked to Margo that much had changed, although a free vote on marriage equality for same-sex attracted Australians had been traded for power by yet another prime minister. What ensued was a fascinating night of insights into the ongoing debate, the changing of hearts and minds, and the nature of writing about pain, loss and politics. […]

#MarriageEquality on the never never: @burgewords on the politics of hope

It’s clear marriage equality will remain just a high hope TONY Abbott has knocked Australian progressives and moderate Liberals into motionless disappointment on marriage equality. The biggest political football of his government has been booted around by parliament again. There’ll be a few free kicks when the cross-party marriage equality bill comes before parliament, but Abbott’s moved the goalposts already, so none of the players will score. The Australian with the highest hope for the Liberals on this issue – and at the greatest risk of being disappointed by her party – is Tony’s sister Christine Forster, a Liberal councillor for the City of Sydney. She optimistically submits to interviews […]

Navigating prejudice: @burgewords explores #MatthewFlinders

It’s time to shift perspective and explore the homophobia Matthew Flinders encountered. SPECULATION about the sexual orientation of iconic English seaman Matthew Flinders rose like a colourful maritime flag over a decade ago when previously unknown letters surfaced, including emotionally charged passages written by Flinders to fellow explorer George Bass. In his 2007 Meanjin article “Exploring love: did they or didn’t they?” historian Garry Wotherspoon asserted: “If the excerpts from Flinders’ letter to Bass had been written to a person of the opposite sex, we would be in little doubt as to what sort of relationship it was or what kinds of hope and expectation it had once contained”. “We would probably […]