28 June 2016

They say I'm a dreamer

I looked at my group of friends of Facebook today.  It's not the entirety of my social circle but it's definitely a fairly representative snapshot.

Some Australians.

Some not.

Some gay.

Some not.

Some parents.

Some not.

Some living with a disability.

Some not.

Some sick.

Some not.

Some Muslim.

Some not.

Some white skinned.

Some not.

Some refugees.

Some not.

Some First Australians.

Some not.

Some multi-lingual.

Some not.

Some musical.

Some not.

Some old.

Some not.

Some animal lovers.

Some not.

Some educated.

Some not.

Some thermo-mix, croc wearing, crossfitters.

Some not.

And I can say quite honestly, that when I vote on Saturday, I won't be voting for me. I really wont.

And I don't want anybody else to vote 'just' for themselves.

Me? I'll be voting for the Australia I believe we can be.  I know some of you think it's bleeding heart lefty bollocks to believe in a government that puts people before politics, that protects the human rights of my friends and other Australians, and treats the vulnerable with dignity, respect and humanity.

I know that there is no easy answers. I know that it's not entirely possible to make all the people happy all of the time. I know that we have to make sure our economy is sustainable and blah blah blah - but you know something - that's largely inevitable.  All the parties approach money the same (Don't f**k it up or we'll lose the next election) - what we need is leadership and integrity and people in our government that are passionate about the people, not the power.

I'm not a fool. I'm not John Lennon with his round glasses and ability to string a tune together of a utopian world that is completely unachievable.  But I do want an Australia where every single person has the same human rights as me, where nobody feels scared because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation or their heritage.

I want an Australia that celebrates it's diversity - not pays lip service. I want an Australia that does provide a fair go for everybody. I want an Australia that shares its boundless plains. I want an Australia where my politicians act with integrity, treat people with decency and don't just dribble out three word slogans, bigotry and bullshit.

They say I'm a dreamer. But I hope I'm not the only one.

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23 June 2016

Paul is a friend of mine

Cancer you suck.

Paul. We became friends when I was about 16 or 17 and stayed that way despite a couple of marriages, different states, different countries, different life paths and different communication styles.

We spent a lot of years talking all the time and a lot of years talking rarely and then... well you get it.

Paul was a pretty relaxed guy. I used to joke that he was so relaxed he was practically in a coma. That was until I saw him in a coma this week and realised that there was no comparison.  None at all.

We weren't friends because we did everything the same way or agreed on all the same things.  I think Paul has called me a "fucking idiot" more than most if the truth be told.  For all that he was relaxed, he was a cantankerous soul when the mood took him.

He was a gentle man though. And a kind one. 

When I was driving down to Canberra to say goodbye to him a couple of days ago, I was thinking about him and some of the funny things that happened during our friendship.  I remember watching Silence of the Lambs with him and some other friends and one part of the movie made me start so badly that I accidentally bit him on the shoulder. Don't ask me how - but I couldn't have bitten a nicer man.

We did some crazy stuff Paul and I. One time, just to see if we could, we climbed over the back fence of the Governor General's house and went for a wander just to see if we could get away with it. We could. We did. We also learned it's harder to get out of the Governor General's back yard than it is to get in. 

I wouldn't try that now kids. It was a different time. 

We had fun without breaking the law too. Just the ordinary kind of fun you have with friends. We all went on road trips, camping, pub nights, house parties, the usual. 

He was the guy who loved your boyfriends when you did, and hated them for you afterwards. He was the guy when you went caving that was quite happy just to faff about and wait for you. He was happy to hang out, or to go adventuring. He had a bizarre soft spot for soft animals and was completely liquid about real ones. He drove like a lunatic. He thought too much and could sulk to Olympic standards. 

He gave great hugs. And because he didn't say much, he was the perfect companion for somebody who says too much. He had a happy laugh. The kind that made you laugh even if you didn't know why. He was encouraging. He was interested. He had a terrible sense of humour. He had the best sense of humour. 

Paul briefly regained consciousness while I was visiting him. While it was harrowing to see him so ill, that final visit is always going to be one of the most beautiful memories I have of him. The room was full of the love his family had for him. They held his hand, they held his gaze, they were able to tell him how much he was loved. They helped him fight, and then yesterday, they let him go.

Paul will always be a friend of mine. And I will always miss him.

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14 June 2016

Remember Leroy

I do not want to know any more about the murderer of the 50 people killed in Orlando.

I do not want to know his name. Or his son's name. I do not want to hear of his father or his ex-wife. Or his current one. 

I do not want to know his story. 

I do not care to talk of his religion or otherwise. 

I do not want to give his life an importance or a relevance that exist outside of the facts. 

A man bought some weapons and killed 50 people he didn't know, injured over 50 more and blew apart the lives of thousands of people connected to the 300 members of the LGBTI community that were dancing in the club that night. 

It was an act of hatred. And terror. 

But not because he maybe had religion. But because what could be more terrifying than realising that you are being shot at while you are dancing with your friends. 

What could be more terrifyingly heartbreaking than a text from your child saying "I love you Mommy" and knowing that there was nothing you could do to sooth his worries, take away his fears and make it all better for him. 


But in our haste to point fingers and condemn and try and understand the inexplicable, we inadvertently immortalise the name of the murderer giving him a place in history and in our memories that he doesn't deserve. 

His story and his picture appear at the start of every story - even the stories that are paying tribute to the victims. The names we remember should be those of Luis and Eddy and Mercedez and Edward and Stanley and Franky and Alejandro and Javier and Jason and Deonka and Brenda and Amanda and Enrique and... well here - read about them yourselves right here.

Read their stories. Really read them. And take the time to remember just one of their stories, one of their names. Remember how their parents and families and friends spoke of them. Remember just one person and how much they were loved and focus on that. Remember Leroy who was ace at hair, loved his mum and was killed alongside his partner Xavier, a talented dancer and the father of a four year old boy of whom he was inordinately proud.

They are the stories of love that should be told. 

It is horrible that their lives, their ordinary every day lives are now stories but they are all love stories. And we do more to change the world by remembering them then their murderer.

Because they matter. They are not just statistics. They are not just victims. They are not political point scoring. They are not hateful texts from politicians or arseholes.

The lives of the injured should not be defined in the context of the event, but in the context of how this act of senseless violence impacts them and their families and friends. 

The worth of these individuals does not lie in how they died but rather in how they lived. 

They are people. They are our families. They are our friends.  They are loved.

They deserve to be remembered far more than he does. 

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6 June 2016

20 minutes of action

(Trigger warning: Themes of rape and violence)

A 20 year old man rapes a woman while she's unconscious, sticks something up her while she's unconscious and assaults her.

Even putting aside the bullshit conviction the judge gave him because it might ruin his life (I honestly couldn't even start to say how insane that is as a reason for not convicting somebody properly for rape), the fact that his father laments that "twenty minutes of action" have more weight than the rest of his twenty years has almost rendered me speechless. Or perhaps more aptly, incoherent with rage.

It only takes a moment to king hit somebody and kill them.

It only takes a moment to pull a trigger and kill somebody.

It only takes a moment to hit a woman and break her nose.

It only takes a moment to shake a child badly enough to give them brain damage.

It only takes a moment.

Twenty minutes is a long time. A very long time. It's a lot of moments. A very big lot.

The fact that his father explains away RAPE as "twenty minutes of action" is one of the most fucked up things I have ever heard.

Rape is a deliberate act of violence.  A very deliberate act of violence.

You can't accidentally rape somebody. You just can't.

Whether people like it or not, every time you explain away something as "boys being boys", "it's just what lads do", "they meant no harm by it", "he finds it hard to express himself so he hits", "he did it because he likes you" (and every other bullshit explanation we use to frame boys and violence in a way that is publicly palatable) you are wiring the brains of the boys that become men.

Throw into the mix a society that still likes their men manly (read unable to express emotion, discuss insecurity without judgement, talk about their challenges, profess to emotion, practice kindness and gentleness) and you end up with a bunch of men randomly 'proving themselves' through violence rather than using their words.

Not always violence against women, but often. Too often.

Rape is not "twenty minutes of action". It's a violation of a person's body without their consent. It is ugly. It is painful. It's a criminal act.

I totally get that we make mistakes. That we choose a course of action that we may later have cause to regret. That we do or say things we can not undo. I get that twenty minutes of a life does not fully encapsulate all that you are as a person.

But if in that twenty minutes you RAPE somebody - you are a rapist.

You will always be a rapist. You may be a reformed rapist. You may be a remorseful rapist. You may be a 20 year old male who was hopeful of attending the Olympics when you raped somebody. But you are a rapist.

Rape is not "twenty minutes of action". Twenty minutes of action is when you have consensual sex in a nightclub toilet. Twenty minutes of action is when you consensually shove your tongues down each others throats before parting ways. Twenty minutes of action is soccer or netball or a the filming of a movie.

It's not fucking rape.

And we need to stop telling ourselves that we can't raise rapists. We can. Not deliberately of course, but every time we explain away violent behaviour or reinforce a behavioural response on the basis of gender, we are providing a context to violence that normalises it and which is the reinforced continually.

Rape. Violence. It's not okay.

It's not. It's never okay. At any age.

Ever. Ever. Ever.

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