eThankfulness – 29 Oct 2012

As promised,  It’s time to be grateful!  And let me tell you, I’ve got some doozies this week!

I sold my house! This has been a major stressor for me, mainly because I wasn’t sure I’d have a job after 16 Nov.

I’ve been extended!  My work is now until 31 Dec, which is a small reprieve, but enough to get me into work in Brisbane before I finish, I hope!

I’ve been published via Gay Marriage Rights Australia – Apart from being very chuffed about actually getting a mention from them, this brings me to thing-I’m-thankful-for number four…

Records have been *obliterated*  My previous “most views” statistic for a single day was 166.  Today’s article views on Age Of Consent in QLD are sitting at three times that!  Thank you, fantastic readers, for getting me to that height!

My work’s major project for the year is finally hitting some goals!  We’ve started rolling out our new system, and I’m so proud of my team!

I have a room for the time between my house selling and a Brisbane job starting!  It just dropped into my lap!

I got to go see the Rockhampton production of Hairspray on opening night!  It was a great night, and I loved it!

Finally, this week I go back to Tasmania for the weekend to see my fag hag extraordinaire tie the knot with her long-time partner.  I’m super-excited about that! 😀

What are you thankful for?

Age Of Consent in QLD

There’s a bit of a gotcha for the gay boys in Queensland…

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies Queensland is the only state where the sexual act alters the age of consent.  The age of consent for anal sex (Which the QLD Criminal Code refers to as “sodomy”) is two years higher than any other act, at age 18.  (section 208)  The age of consent for any other act is 16 (Section 215) and is referred to as “carnal knowledge”.

Also according to the AIFS:

“Age of consent laws are important measures for protecting children and young people from sexual exploitation. Whether the sexual interaction between an adult and a person under the age of consent appeared consensual is irrelevant, as the laws determine that children and young people do not possess the maturity to consent to sex with an adult. Adolescence is an important developmental period in which young people are developing autonomy and forming relationships. The challenge for legislation is to find the balance that ensures age of consent laws protect young people from adult sexual exploitation in a manner that does not disempower or criminalise the sexual exploration with peers that is normal for their age and stage in life.”

Well that sounds all ok, doesn’t it?  No discrimination going on there, right?  I disagree.  Why?  We have just heard – or at least, read – that “children and young people do not possess the maturity to consent to sex with an adult.”  I don’t disagree.  I’m all for protecting our young people. But if the purpose of these laws is to protect kids because they don’t have the maturity to consent to sex, why is it different when that sex occurs in a vagina rather than an anus?  
Does vaginal sex require less maturity than anal sex?  
What about a threesome – does that require less maturity than anal sex?

So how is this discrimination?  It’s much less blatant discrimination than some things, but I’m here to tell you that boys are boys.  There comes a point where penetrative sex becomes the goal, whether they’re gay or straight.  

So let’s take two 17 year olds on their birthdays.  One is gay, one is straight.

The gay guy finds a guy who is 20 who is willing to help him out.  Except, that is, for anal sex, since it’s illegal.  No penetration for gay Johnny in this scenario. For him to “score” with said 20 year old, he’ll need to wait another year.

Meanwhile Straight Jim has found 20 year old Jill who also says “But no anal, you’re too young for that!” So there’s one option that’s off limits, but there’s another one that is all systems go.  Straight Jim scores that night.  Depending on whether he and Jill were sufficiently mature, Jim may find himself to be a father in 9 months time.  Mature enough to be a father, but still not mature enough to consent to anal sex.

And there’s the rub – The Age of Consent for penetrative sex differs between gay men and the rest of the population.  Every other state has fixed this.

There is a part of me that says “Why is this battle not being fought with similar vigour as that against the surrogacy rollbacks?  Shouldn’t we be fighting as much for this as we are for marriage equality? Aren’t we ignoring our gay young people’s rights to equality?” This is in no way to say that I don’t think we should be fighting those battles as well.

Then I look at how reluctant I was to write this article.  I don’t want to be considered predatory.  I don’t want to look like I’m after “young guys” – I’m not.  I don’t care if you raise the AoC for everything to 18, or lower the AoC for “sodomy” to 16, or meet in the middle, or come up with a new figure entirely.  I don’t know why queer QLD youths haven’t taken this issue up earlier either… I kind of wonder how many of them know about it?  I just want it to be the same for all Queenslanders for all acts

What I also don’t know is, “Where do we go from here?  How do we fix this problem?”  Age of Consent is a touchy topic.  Yet it’s a battle that still needs to be fought in this state.  I would like to hear how you feel this topic should be tackled, and if you feel it shouldn’t, I’d love to know why you think that too.

I’ll see you tomorrow for my regular eThankfulness article!

eThankfulness – catchup edition – 23 Oct 2012

It’s been a while, and I’ve been busy – the rally and all, y’know? – but I told myself that I was going to take time out each week to reflect and be grateful for things that happen in my life, small or large.  I haven’t been doing that, and I’m sorry.  Not an apology to you so much, my readers – the personal reflections of this blogger saying “thank you” into the void for personal situations are probably not what draws you to my blog – but I regret for myself.  The simple act of saying “thank you” for various things is tremendously cathartic, and puts the negative in perspective frequently and regularly.

Thank you, parents.  You’ve been there for me recently to haul me out of difficult situations, though half the country separates us.

Thank you, friends. During what I have to say is one of the most stressful times in my life, you have kept me laughing, smiling, and have reminded me so much and so often how wonderful my life really is, in so many ways.

Thank you, B, for reminding me how peaceful it can be to go and lay on the beach, be disconnected, and do nothing.  It’s a lesson I’ve needed to re-learn.

Thank you, NRG, for your unique blend of work and social opportunities.  You are the best place I have worked so far in my life.

Thank you, world, for irrational and spontaneous laughter.  It is truly amazing stuff.

Thank you, Kris May and Mackay Rally organisers and participants, for inspiring me to organise a similar event in Gladstone – I doubt it would happen without you.

Thank you, Gladstone’s queer community – I’ve had so much support from you over the last few days with the rally, I’m amazed!

Thank you, Margie, your tireless efforts with my property are truly appreciated.

Thank you, person who held the door for me when my hands were full.

Thank you, world, for leaving me in a situation where my concern is how much and when my house will sell, rather than whether I’ll have food or a roof over my head.

For these things, and so much more, I am truly thankful.

How will we know when we get there?

The Gladstone Marriage Equality Rally preparations are going well!  We took over page 3 of the Weekend Observer, which is awesome.  Here’s the article that ran.

It prompted a friend of mine to ask me “a straight person question”.  She wanted to know “Is it just me or does it piss you off when they describe you as ‘openly gay’?”

And the answer is, in Gladstone?  now?  No.  “openly gay” is still sufficiently novel here for it to be worthwhile as a descriptor.  If I was in Brisbane?  I’d probably be wondering why they needed to include it, with thousands of other openly gay men in the city.  Her concern was that we use “openly” when it might be considered not the best thing.  Like “Openly terrorist” where you would never hear of someone “openly being a child safety advocate”

With that in mind, I started thinking about what it means when we don’t need to attach “openly” in front of gay people in the paper in Gladstone.  I think that that is a good indicator of our acceptance in a community.  I am openly gay.  I stand unashamed, and unconcerned.  If you have a problem with my sexuality, it’s you having the problem.  I’m probably living a bit more openly than most – not many people get an article in the paper to say that they’re gay, and it’s OK!  In future, I might talk to reporters about avoiding “openly”… if “gay” isn’t enough, then maybe “out”,”active”, “concerned”, “vocal” or any number of options might work, without reinforcing that perhaps I should be ashamed of it even though I’m not.

I’ve seen “self-confessed” before and that I would find offensive, much as I would “so-called” or “self-described” – I guess I have this notion that not only is it not something that needs confessing, but that I’m probably in the best position to know whether I am or not, without that being cast into doubt.

So how can we know when we’ve beaten homophobia and heterosexism? When I’m  no longer an “openly” gay man, and just become a gay man.   When we don’t need an adjective to describe our state of public queerdom.  When we don’t need to “openly” be.  When we can just be.  That’s how we will know we’ve won this war. 

Rally Motivations

Action Items: attend/promote Gladstone Marriage Equaltiy Rally on FaceBook and Google+.

Main Article:

Today, a friend of mine asked me “So why are you organising it in Gladstone of all places?  I mean, isn’t it a bit small?” He also asked me “Why now?  I mean, you’re moving to Brisbane, right?

I have an interview with The Gladstone Observer tomorrow about the rally, so I’m going to need to get my thoughts in order.  I’ve already explained Why I Want To Marry and Why having a family some day is important to me.  I’ve talked about Why Civil Unions aren’t enough… 

I haven’t explained so far why I’m doing it here and why now.  I’m going to start with the timing question.

I’m doing it now because… because our Federal member for Flynn voted against Marriage Equality this year.  Because regional Queenslanders have been holding these rallies, from Mackay to Toowoomba, and soon in Albury/Wodonga as well!  I cannot sit back and let our member decide that this lack of action is in any way indicative of the attitude in Gladstone.  Because we’re moving into an election year and it is important that this is seen as an issue that regional people care about.  Because this year the LNP proved that the State giveth and the State taketh away and I am sick and tired of fighting this ridiculous battle – I just want to get it settled properly.

And my friend is right, I am trying to move to Brisbane, soon.  So why now?  I have a life goal which is complex in its simplicity.  My aim in life is to leave every place I go better off for having my presence.  I don’t feel I’ve done that in Gladstone yet, and I see this as an opportunity.  I also know that for this to work at a federal level, we have to change as many minds as possible…

So… why here?  Why Gladstone?  Well, for the reason I stated above about leaving places better than I find them, and because Gladstone is the population centre of the federal seat of Flynn, with over 40% of the seat’s population in the city.  Gladstone’s opinions are very important for putting federal MPs in at Flynn.  Because I see Gladstone as a place where it’s hard to break into social groups even without being gay, and I spent 4 years here before I connected with Gladstone’s queer community.  So I have high hopes that this rally might bring some community spirit to the fore as well. And because in Gladstone, gay is invisible.  A rally like the Place2B4ME is an opportunity to show other gay people that we exist, they’re not alone in this town, and sends a strong message to our same-sex-attracted youth that they are not alone in this town either.

So fine and good, but why rally at all?  I say: A voice is only useful when you make it heard.  We get one chance every election cycle to make our voices heard by electing a representative for our electorate.  That’s once every 3-4 years. The other chances we get to make ourselves heard are writing letters, contacting your MPs, attending protest events like this one, and signing petitions.

So I say that this is an important part of the democratic process.  It raises the awareness of the problem, demonstrates a lack of contentment with the status quo, gives MPs an opportunity to rub shoulders with a group of passionate people, and (unofficially) lends weight to petitions seeking similar outcomes.

So, I have two major goals for the rally: Change the mind of our federal members, and raise the community’s visibility to a point where perhaps other people can find it.

It’s time! Time to get ME in at Flynn!

“What do we want?”

“Marriage Equality!”

“When do we want it?”

“Now!”

This was one of a couple of chants that was heard in Mackay on Saturday 6th October.  The Mackay demonstration was a strong voice for change, and has certainly been noticed by opponents of marriage equality in Dawson.

Rainbow Equals Sign

It’s time that this voice was heard in Gladstone as well!

To that end, I’ve created a Facebook event and a Google+ Event as expressions of interest in holding a rally in Gladstone on 17th November this year.  I’ve also started the Twitter hashtag #GetMEinAtFlynn (don’t forget to follow me @dcarmau)

I want to bring that voice to Gladstone QLD!  Shout it from the rooftops and let it ring from Mount Larcom to Miriam Vale and over the mountains to Biloela – It’s time for marriage equality, and Ken O’Dowd, your electorate believes it too!  It’s time for our representatives to not only represent us, but also to do the right thing and pass reform for Marriage Equality!

If you can come, or might be able to come, please go to those events and register your interest (and invite all your friends).  If you can’t, please share the events with your friends and spread the word by Retweeting and Sharing!  Don’t forget to contribute with ideas for chants, slogans, signs and any other ideas you might have for marches!

Love is Gender Blind Placard

One drop raises the sea.  Every voice adds to the call.  Your contribution is not only asked for, but it is important.  Democracy requires engagement.

As an added bonus, I’ll be available for autographs at the event! 😉 kidding.  But I will be there.  I hope you will be too!

Thankyou so much, everybody, for your support.

eThankfulness – Mackay Edition – 7 Oct 2012

So, Yesterday was the Mackay Rally for Marriage Equality (MR4ME) and so many amazing and awesome things happened I am so thankful for!

Travel – my car tyres are shot – not a big issue, and getting resolved on Tuesday, but the timing was terrible.  I certainly wasn’t going to get to Mackay in Suzi May (My Suzuki Swift) this weekend.  My workmate Tony heard the Rally was on and offered to drive me!  I was amazed, flabbergasted, and so very pleased that he would do that.

Accommodation – Courtesy of the aforementioned Tyres, and Real Estates not taking credit cards, I was an eency bit broke.  I posted on the MR4ME Facebook page, and within about an hour I had a response from someone I’d never knowingly interacted with, saying “Come stay with us!”  – I certainly couldn’t have afforded accommodation even if the rates were normal, and in Mackay they’re apparently ridiculous!

Weather – The weather on both days was absolutely incredible – a beautiful drive up and a fantastic drive back, with a great time in Mackay in-between.  

Turn-out – There were between 190 and 250 people in the rally, it stretched for a city block, and we had to wait every time we crossed a road.  We also had Senator Claire Moore (Who voted for marriage equality in the senate) address us and march with us, and the local Greens candidate Jonathon Dykyj as well!

Mr4ME Ralliers

MR4ME Taking up a block

Opposition – was invisible.  We had talked about (been told) how to handle it, but didn’t need to implement the tactic of ignoring the opposition.

The Walk itself – a great way to seem Mackay’s CBD, My friend Tony and I headed the column.  I’m very proud to be up-front on this issue.  (That’s me with the Rainbow “=” sign)

Tony and I head the column

The energy – it was fantastic to be with that many people all passionate, all supporting the one cause.  I loved every second of it!

The people – We had a great after-march party at Mackay Metro Market – a funky cafe with great food and great atmosphere on River St.   Check them out if you’re in the area!  I met so many fantastic people!  In the above photo we see Jen – self proclaimed fag hag who moved from Sydney to Mackay, just looking for a gay to call her own.  I met Kris May, the organiser, who I’ve interacted with a bit on Facebook.  I met Robin Lockman, a well-known Mackay Gay Rights activist, (and it was fantastic because *she* recognised *me* – I’m starting to feel like I’m a recognised activist! or at least a micro-celebrity…).

Probably for me, the people I really want to say thank you to in this post the most are Cheryl and Morrie.  This amazing couple put Tony and me up for the night, sight unseen, and showed us around some of the beautiful places Mackay has to offer!

 

MeTonyAndCheryl

Cheryl’s the one in the middle, in case you needed some help with that

MorrieTonyandMe

And her fantastic husband Morrie.  These two wonderful people took us in, showed us amazing hospitality, and showed us around, asking for nothing in return!  Cheryl and Morrie, you are the best!  Get in touch with me any time!

What else am I thankful for… so so many things, far too many to list!  The Mackay trip has left me euphoric and hopeful for the future!  Thinking very hard about staging a Gladstone Rally in the near future!  Oh!  One thing I *am* thankful for that doesn’t centre around the rally so much, my new Real Estate agent.  She showed my house yesterday after I left for Mackay, and called me about 3 today saying “I noticed your porch light was still on. Are you ok? Do you need me to feed the dog or anything?”  I turned her down as Tony and I were just leaving Mackay to come home, but that’s a level of service I would never have expected!  (For those of you who are looking for an agent, She’s Margie Richards from PRD Nationwide – Gladstone.  If you’re selling your house, this is the woman you want!  I only wish I’d listed with her sooner.)