Sunday, December 28, 2014

I found a great book that I want to share

The coming out process for anyone is a challenge, but at the same time it's a personal challenge. It's different for everyone. In a recent discussion with a gay friend he said "I don't get this "coming out" thing, I've always just been who I am". He's in his 60's and has been "out" all his life. That's awesome for him and I couldn't be happier.

But that's not the case for everyone. For those of us who come to a realisation of our sexuality from a religious background, there's often a whole other level of "issues" we need to face. The reconciliation of our faith and our sexual preference are often at competing ends of a spectrum.

Front Cover

Anthony Venn-Brown is a gentleman I've got to know here in Sydney. You can visit his blog here. Anthony was a minister for many years, has children and is now a life coach, author and has a foundation ABBIAmbassadors & Bridge Builders International

Click Here to visit the foundation.

The Hon Michael Kirby.
The Honourable Michael Kirby, a retired Australian High Court Judge wrote the following foreward to the book:

"Human stories, like the one in these pages, play a part in advancing understanding and acceptance. It is the story of a quest to find not only self-acceptance but one of the most powerful forces in nature—human love..” 
You can read Kirby's full foreward here.

The following is an excerpt from the book:
"We are all living a life of unlearning: unlearning things we accepted as truth but created a persona so unlike who we really are. Eventually cracks appear and beliefs challenged. 
On the surface everything looked perfect. Anthony Venn-Brown was a happily married father-of-two and a popular preacher in Australia's growing mega-churches such as Hillsong. Behind the scenes he fought a constant battle to conform, believing his homosexuality made him unacceptable to God and others. 
After twenty-two years of struggle and torment, a chance meeting forced Anthony to make the toughest decision of his life; maintain the fa├žade he had created or, be true to himself and lose it all. Tired of feeling torn and fragmented, he confessed and came out. The results of that confession took him on a lonely journey that made him who he is today.  
This sometimes brutally honest account highlights not only the costs of being true to yourself but that the rewards of resolution and integrity are worth the struggle.  
As Anthony's story is ultimately about being true to one's self, gay, straight, Christian and non-faith people have found relevance in this triumphant autobiography."  

If you're struggling to reconcile your faith with your sexuality, firstly know that you're not alone. The good news is that many of us have done just that, we've reached a point where we're at peace with who we are and still have faith in Christ or whomever we worship. 

Anthony's journey is beautifully shared in this amazing book.

Where does the time go?

I feel like 2014 has just slipped away and 2015 is here before I realised!

It's been more than 12 months since I blogged here. My time is buried in blogging for work here and at my personal work related blog here.

It's time I paid some attention to this blog :-)

2014 has been a great year. My Partner and I bought ourselves an apartment and we finally move in, February 2015. It's  brand new three bedroom apartment in Arncliffe, about 10 minutes further south from where are now in Mascot, Sydney.

We've just had a wonderful Christmas with my mum visiting. On Christmas eve we had a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner with very good friends Brett & Marcus in the Blue Mountains. They had 30 close friends and family for the most amazing dinner. One huge long table with an amazing dinner.

Being Gay in Australia in 2014

Well, nothing much has changed. Still no or limited possibility of ever getting married with our conservative federal government. Our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott continues to embarress us on the domestic and international stage. In late 2013 his government overturned a gay marriage law in the ACT, read further here.

Photo from:

The recent Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney has raised some discussion around gay relationship as one of the people killed in that siege was gay. The outpouring of grief for Tori Johnson (Right) and Katrina Dawson (Left) has been amazing. Tori, was the store manager at the Lindt Cafe, he and his partner had been together for many years. 

The media and others have, in the process of reporting the siege, been respectful and inclusive in the way they talk about Tori, his partner and their relationship. Perhaps through the tragedy of the event, people's hearts will be softened and they will begin to realise that two loving people, regardless of their gender, can be in a loving and supportive relationship.

So what's up for 2015?

That's a great question. I've not really thought about it, the end of the year has snuck up on my so quickly that I'm not really sure. Moving home will be a big move. My sister turns 50 and work is looking great. So, with my partner I'm sure the year will be awesome. Here's hoping yours will be a great year too.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Three Years of Conservative Rule

It Looks Like Australia Has Taken A Step Backwards

The federal election has been and gone and the conservative Australian Liberal Party (yeah I know, it doesn't make sense) is in power. Prime Minister Abbott has created his new cabinet containing one women. We have no Minister (Secretary) for Science and the make up of Ministers is more Catholic than at any time in Australian political history.

When you add all these things together, it has pushed marriage equality back 10 years. I also feel sorry for the science community. Abbott has abolished the government climate change board, they've since decided to remain active and are now surviving on public donations instead of tax payer funds. 

The upside with politics in Australia is that the whole exercise took place without any violence, the changing of the government is a peaceful process. The Honourable Quentin Bryce - Governor General of Australia swore in the new government

As Australia's 28th prime minister, Tony Abbott has promised not to pull out any crazy moves,
so it was fitting he wore his customary blue tie and his regulation suit.

What's Next?

Well, I think that's anyone's guess. Life appears to be much the same, I'd argue that it rarely changes when government change because in reality they're so hard to differentiate from a policy point of view.

Given the Prime Minister's sister is gay, we at least have a "friend" on the inside who has the ear of the Prime Minister. Will that help? Well I suppose it can't hurt.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's Election Time in Australia

Where does the time go?

I haven't blogged since March! That's not entirely true, I blog at my personal work related blog and I also blog for work! The past few months have been eventful, my partner and I are looking to buy an apartment, we found a really nice one on the south side of Sydney about three stops from the airport. It's still under construction and we can't move in until the first quarter of 2015. While that feels like forever away, it's not really.

I changed jobs in June, I'm now working for an Oracle reseller - we sell and implement Eloqua a marketing automation platform. I'm loving it, I'm consulting with clients and building our own digital marketing campaigns. I geek out when ever I get to look at the campaign stats, it's fun.

Election Time

Australia heads to the polls this time next week. The battle is essentially between the conservative Liberal Party (Republicans) and the more left leaning Labour Party (Democrats). However compared to both US parties, the Australian parties are both left leaning.

The marriage equality debate has come up and there are groups doing their best to ensure it stays on the agenda, but I don't see it playing a big issue in this election. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has come out saying he's supportive of marriage equality, the first sitting Prime Minister to take that position.

How Will I Vote?

While I might say I'm really not sure, I think I've made my mind up. I should confess I've voted Liberal most of my life, however that's changed over the past few years. About five years ago I lived in Dayton, OH for six months. While living there I would catch up with the VP of sales of the company I was consulting to.

We had great conversations, always about the things you should never discuss - religion, politics and sport. The VP was Jewish, a great guy and very open minded, so the conversations were excellent.

The night of our last dinner/catch up he told me that while I may have presented myself as a Republican (in US terms), he felt that I was more so a fiscally conservative social democrat. I liked that, it made sense. I could wear that badge.

So in Australia, that would translate to me voting Labour. Although some may disagree with the dots I've joined to reach that conclusion. The main issue for me is that the Australian Liberal Party's social polices are so draconian and offensive, it leaves me no choice but to vote Labour.

Let's See What Happens

I'm reasonably certain the Liberal Party will win this election, current polling suggests as much. Will this throw Australian back 20 years from a social policy point of view? Perhaps. There is a glimpse of hope that in the marriage equality area the Liberal Party will allow a conscious vote, however to date they've said they will not.

Tony Abbott's (possibly new Prime Minister next week) sister is gay, Christine Forster. Forster was reported* as saying:

"Tony Abbott's sister has revealed that the Opposition Leader felt "conflicted" about voting in Parliament against marriage equality last year. 
Speaking on the ABC's , Christine Forster, who is gay, said her brother's view that marriage is only between a man and a woman is slowly "shifting". 
"There's been a significant shift in how he approaches this whole question," she said."

So, we'll see what happens.

*SOURCE: Yahoo7 News

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sport, Bullying and the Gay Community

Bendigo City Councillor Leach

This past week, Local Government Councillor Leach from Bendigo in Victoria caused a stir when she wrote a letter to the Editor of the Herald Sun (Melbourne) newspaper. 

In the letter, Cr Leach says “we don’t want issues such as homosexuality, or any sexuality, thrusted in our faces in the name of anti-bullying”.“We won’t be attending any more games. Gay pride! What rubbish!”, it says.*
It seemed to me that she probably doesn't have any gay friends, but the article goes onto quote her as saying “I am not homophobic. I know lots of gay people.” In my usual zeal, I thought I need to email this women and let her now how I feel. I decided to temper my remarks and perhaps share with her some ideas that perhaps she hadn't considered or perhaps wasn't aware of. 

My email to her is below.

Good Morning Councillor Leach, 
It seems your letter to the editor of the Herald Sun has stirred a bit of a "cufuffle" (never sure how to spell that). 
I appreciate and understand your point and I can't help but feel perhaps it's been taken out context as tends to happen, especially around the issue of anything "gay". I think your point is valid, politics doesn't belong in sport nor should it be used as a platform to forward any political view. 
At the same time, I appreciate and understand why some in the AFL feel the way they do. Football, by its nature, is a very 'blokey' domain and one that has had a homophobic undertone for many years. Ben Cohen, the great UK footballer has a a charity he started called "Stand Up Against Bullying". Click Here to visit his facebook page. 
Ben is a great advocate for the underdog, the persecuted and the down trodden. He, his wife and their gorgeous kids are very involved in getting a very positive message out there that bullying in any form is a bad thing. Is this a political message? I don't think so. Ben is also very involved with the gay community and goes to great lengths to support various gay community events and to raise awareness in the community as a whole. 
I think there is space for Australian football bodies to do the same thing. It seems difficult to detach politics from the "gay" issue, possibly because of the gay marriage debate which some would argue is not political, but a basic human right.  
I'm also sensitive to young people who may be questioning their own sexuality, especially when they see negative news items about the gay community. They're young and inexperienced about things of the world and it can contribute to them feeling that they're being attacked personally. I'm sure you're aware of the rates of teenage suicide and the increased levels of such in the gay community, a tragedy for sure. 
Councillor Leach, you were quoted as saying that you have "many gay friends". This puts you in a unique position where you hold a local government political post and are in touch with a group within the community who can feel marginalised because of who they are.  
All the best to you, I hope the press doesn't go to hard at misrepresenting your comments. 

So, you might think I went a bit soft on her, I think I did too. However, sending her an email with me ranting would probably have been deleted long before she got past my greeting. I'm hoping that perhaps something I said here will help her see that there is a role, a really positive role for sports people to play in the anti-bullying, anti-homophobic debate.

Have You Engaged Local Politicians on the Anti-Bullying topic?

*SOURCE: The Weekly City Review

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Facebook Groups and Gay Mormons

Finding a Safe Place

There's much in the news and spoken of in communities about the dangers of social media, especially when it comes to youth. I've come across a few facebook Groups focussed on gay LDS/Mormons as well as Groups focussed on bringing different parties together.

One such group is Mormon's Building Bridges on facebook. When I joined the group I didn't take the time to read their version of Apple's Terms & Conditions, it went on for pages. They probably could have summed it all up by listing their Terms & Conditions as "Be Christ Like". 

I found the group a little dry and very Utah centric, even very Salt Lake City focussed. I found most of the posts confusing, confusing in the sense that gay folks were talking about Church meetings they'd attended, firesides they'd been to and family home evenings they'd be participated in. 

On the surface, they seem confused to me. I get that they still have their faith, as do I, but I don't understand what is to be gained by participating in Church activities where people essentially believe you're a sinful creature and that there is room to repent and change.

Governor Romney

The recent US election saw some pretty dirty politics and division among people around a number of issues. I have some wealthy LDS friends from the North West of the US who shared with me their voting choice after they'd cast their vote on election day.

They voted for Romney and for gay marriage but against marijuana. :-) So it seems there are plenty of active LDS people who have a conscious and perhaps don't believe it's the Church's role to push a view on issues that are essentially secular in nature.

"Group" Discussion

There was much election discussion in the facebook groups that I participate, but not in the Mormon's Building Bridges group. Their 'charter' calls for no political discussion. How that's possible, I really don't know. Especially in the context of the LDS Church's political involvement in California's Prop 8 vote.

One group I do find myself spending a lot of time is "Breakthough Branch". I think it's meant to be "Breakthrough Branch" but facebook don't let you fix typo's is my understanding :-) This is a great group, far more open and the discussion is excellent and supportive. There's is a mix of gay and str8, LDS and others, active and less active in the group.

The group is facilitated by a wonderful str8 LDS women, Carol. She does a great job, she's not heavy handed in her moderation of the group and she's created a safe place for discussion.

Why Sexism Still Exists

There is a mix of gay men and women in the group. Some of the girls have told stories of their participation in Mormon's Building Bridges and the sexism they've experienced which has driven them from that group. They've shared stories of comments they've made, similar to those made by gay men but they've then been shot down by str8 members, usually men, for their comments.

There seems to be a double standard at play. It appears that gay men are more accepted than gay women. I don't understand that, it's just plain odd. 

Where to From Here?

I think overall the groups serve a great purpose, they enable people to come together in what should be a safe place, some are safer than others. The agenda behind the groups differs and that's cool, but I've learnt that reading the "small print" of these groups is a good idea in order to participate in a meaningful way.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Feminism Debate - Julia Gillard

Would The Real Julia Gillard Please Stand Up?

Well, it's been an interesting week in Australian politics? Our Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave the opposition leader, Tony Abbott a serious verbal beating and called him a misogynist. Just to be clear, a definition is below:
Misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. According to feminist theory, misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.
If you're interested, you may want to read what the PM actually said. Click Here to read the official Australian Government transcript or Hansard from the session of parliament. Since coming to office, the PM has been berated by many about almost every aspect of who she is.
Miranda Devine
As far as I'm concerned if it's about her job, that's one thing and is open to as much interrogation as possible. However, derogatory comments based on gender have no place in a civilised society.

There was an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper today from the journalist Miranda Devine. While the paper has a right leaning agenda, it's no where near as far to the right as the US Republican voter.

I'm not sure what this discourse really did for the average Australian, schools still need work done, hospitals needs additional funding and the bush needs doctors more than ever before. However, the PM managed to berate the opposition leader and make it clear to him and the world she feels insulted by his comments. I just don't think this was the best possible use of tax payer funded time. There are other ways for the PM to have her say on this topic.

I think Devine made some very pertinent points, however her closing comment I thought was the best:
"But to what end?
With unemployment rising, the non-resources economy flatlining, the mining industry having peaked, carbon tax biting and superannuation under threat, the electorate views dimly the people who are supposed to be running the country running around playing gender politics instead. Especially on the 10th anniversary of the first Bali bombing.
We don't care if the prime minister is a woman or a man. We just want rational, prudent, even boring government. We want to be "relaxed and comfortable" again."
Don't get me wrong, good on the PM for saying what she said. It just seems like a "storm in a teacup" that probably really won't go anywhere and I'm not sure what electoral benefits there is for her.