This is my family. I live with my 90 year old mother, Daphne.
Daphne has Alzheimer’s. She struggles with her short-term memory. But she is still very switched on and she knows what her values are – the same values she and my Dad taught me.
When I was 13 years old I read an article in The Courier-Mail about ‘homosexuals’.
“What’s a homosexual?” I asked my Mum.
“Well,” she said, “You know how most men fall in love with women?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Some men fall in love with other men. Those men are called homosexuals.”
“Oh! OK.” I said. My question answered, I went on with reading the newspaper.
That was as big a fuss as was ever made in our family over homosexuality.
When I was 18, I was in a rock opera. During rehearsals I fell madly in love with the composer. I did everything I could to make him notice me, but to no avail. Finally, at the opening night after-party, some kind person took me aside and said, “Sweetheart, it’s not going to happen for you. He’s gay.”
“He’s a homosexual. He likes guys.”
I was bereft. In tears, I rang my Dad to come and pick me up and blubbed out the whole sad story.
“But I [sob], love [sniff], him!!!!!”
My darling Dad just let me wail and then gave me a hug and said, “Never mind, luv, plenty more to choose from.”
There was not one word against the young man or his sexuality.
In my family we took people as we found them. We took in ‘orphans’ of all kinds. Our Christmas table routinely hosted 15 guests or more – mostly people Mum and Dad had stumbled across who had nowhere else to go.
If you were in need, you became ‘our family’.
Our family only judged people on how they treated us. If they were kind and honest and treated us with respect, we reciprocated.
Most of our friends were eccentric in one way or another, so in this milieu, homosexuality seemed no more than a minor diversion from the norm.
My Dad was not a fan of Christians. He found them (generally) to be narrow-minded, hateful and hypocritical.
“Bloody Bible-bashing bastards!” he’d grumble at whatever was the affront-du-jour.
But, if his friends were Christians, he accepted them unquestioningly – although he could never resist a little gentle ribbing.
“He’s a BIble-basher, but he’s a good bloke, darling!” he’d probably say.
This was my family. We did not hate. We loved. We did not exclude people – we invited them in. We did not judge people – we delighted in their eccentricities and the colour they lent to our lives.
So, I can say uncategorically that the World Congress of Families which is (trying) to hold a conference in Canberra this week does not represent my family.
My Dad (were he still alive) would have called them “Bible-bashing bastards” – and bastards they certainly are.
When I told my Mum about this group tonight she said, “Some people just can’t help sticking their noses into other people’s business and causing trouble, can they?”
No, they can’t, Mum. But we can stand up against those sort of people.
Something else our family values taught me is that ‘All that it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing’.
“I can’t just do NOTHING!” my Dad would say to Mum as he headed off to help some single mother or battered wife or mate with money problems.
I can’t get to Canberra to protest our government’s disgusting toadying to this homophobic, sexist fundamentalist Christian group but I have signed a petition and added a photo of my Mum and I (our family) to a family album that’s going to be presented at Parliament House, Canberra, this Thursday at 11am.
I’m proud to stand up and say, “Not our family! We are not represented by the World Congress of Families. They do not speak for us and they certainly do not represent OUR values.”
I think it’s important to tell our politicians that those who support this kind of hate group will never get our vote.
Will you join the protest?
Please visit the Vocal Majority website, sign the petition and upload a photo of your family.
And, if you can, please join the protest at Parliament House, Canberra at 11am this Thursday, 28 August.