On Monday the 25th of May, a chill went through my veins in a way that is indescribable with words, as my arms started to convulse in the throes of an overwhelming anxiety attack that left me feeling sick to both my personal and professional cores.
There in black and white on the screen in front of me, was a paragraph that challenged not only my gender identity and sexuality, but my ability to remain professional and impartial in a way that no journalist, let alone person, should ever be expected to face. Like a rabbit caught within the eyes of a snake, it left me feeling terrified in a way that I had not felt in years, as the memories of some of the worst times in my life came flooding back. Read more
A few days ago, The Guardian’s Fred McConnell asked a question that’s left me thinking pretty seriously about the society that I’m living in today. Namely, does Sydney have a progressive enough environment that LGBTI people, particularly Trans-people, can feel loved and safe within.
Now to most people that would be a pretty straight-forward question, however after some of the events that I’ve experienced over the past few months, I’m reticent to give either a definitive yes or no as an answer.
That’s because while there’s undeniably a lot of goodwill towards the LGBTI community as a whole present within the Sydney metropolitan area, there’s also a lot of issues, concerns and events that get conveniently swept underneath the carpet within this city on a day to day basis, by both the powers that be and the LGBTI community itself as a whole.
Now for the most part, I’ve been extremely lucky ever since I packed my bags and headed down to Sydney a couple of years ago from the far reaches of northern New South Wales. From having the unwavering support of service providers such as The Gender Centre through to having a lot of friends and mentors from both the LGBTI and wider community who’ve stood steadfast beside me each step of the way, I couldn’t have wished for a better time or place to transition in.
Needless to say, with friends, mentors and allies such as Kate McClymont, Christine Forster, Michaela Whitbourn, Virginia Edwards, Amy Coopes, Lauren Ingram, Rachel Smith, Julie Lawless, Mark Textor, Sarah Davis, Ebony Allen, Peter Lloyd, Penny Sharpe, Tracey Spicer and a whole studio full of people from places such as Fairfax, News Corp, The Hoopla, SBS, Seven and the ABC amongst others, I know that I’ve got both the personal and professional networks that I need here in Sydney not only in order to thrive as a person, but to love life in general as well. Read more
If there’s something that I’ve always wished for throughout my life, it’s been the ability to always be myself all day and every day in ways that I could only dream of previously imagining.
From exploring the utter highs and lows of humanity through to the journeys of family, joy, sorrow and love, I’ve always wanted to experience everything that life could offer me, while embracing it all.
Now while I’m now doing that and I feel as if I’m experiencing the much lauded concept of “having it all”, I can’t help but recognise the fact that for each and every one of us that there’s a different meaning to that phrase which in turn directly challenges how we live and engage with the never ending events within our lives.
Like a massive soap bubble taking shape within a home-made bubble wand, our minds are constantly moulding the desires that each and every one of us has throughout each and every stage of our lives. So while sometimes “having it all” may feel impossible to grasp and comprehend for any of us, at other times it can be completely and utterly within our reach.
If there’s one thing that will stay with me for many years from the afternoon of the Lindt Cafe Siege, it’ll be the memory of seeing families strolling up the length of Martin Place and taking “selfies” from just beyond the confines of the police barricade. Like moths being entranced into the flame, it was almost as if some people were viewing the ultimately horrific scene unfolding across the street from the 7 newsroom as a festival, rather than a psychological nightmare that’d emerged from the depths of Hell.
But while the general public is often shielded from such atrocities (hence their fascination with such events when they happen on their front door), more often than not it’s the emergency services, professional media, victim’s families and social workers amongst others who bear the full brunt of the stories that tend to unfold in extremely graphic fashion around them, as it’s ultimately their responsibility to do so. From the Royal Commission into Child Abuse through to the events within the Lindt Chocolate Cafe, sometimes there’s scenes that can neither become unseen nor be forgotten by those who witness them.
Every so often you run into a media scrum at the Independent Commission Against Corruption where everything just becomes chaotic to the extreme. Whenever that happens, you can either grin and bear it like Nathan Tinkler sensibly did last week by walking in and out of ICAC via the front door and have the drama disappear soon there after, or you can lead the press on a merry chase through the streets and department stores of the CBD of Sydney and ensure that you become headline news as a result.
Against all political and public relations logic however, the Honourable Christopher Hartcher and his entourage of protective supporters have taken the latter option not once but twice over the past couple of days, with a few reporters being injured yesterday and another nearly getting their arm caught in a car door today in the car-park basement of the ICAC building at 133 Castlereigh Street in Sydney as the former Natural Resources Minister has tried to make two successive quick getaways.
Now for the record, I don’t begrudge people for getting a little bit pushy in such instances (within reason), as sometimes you’ve just got to clear the way in order to get out of a building. What I do take offence to however is when the aforementioned pushing ventures into very inappropriate areas or in ways that are bordering upon assault.
Between wandering hands (and fists) in the ICAC lifts through to Lee Jeloscek being purposefully kicked and tripped by one of Chris Hartcher’s relatives during Monday’s media scrum though, one has got to wonder just what has been going on in Mr Hartcher’s office if such activities only result in a smirk from Mr Hartcher rather than some form of humanistic level of concern over people getting hurt. Whether some people like it or not, journalists are human beings like everyone else and deserve the right to be able to go to work each day and not get assaulted as a result.
Needless to say, a couple of well placed comments to the press are also more likely to make an issue go away than having images of people getting hurt being splashed across the news.
I mean seriously…. Even Marie Ficarra’s miniature schnauzer would realise that one.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Further on the question of loyalty, can you say hand on heart you knew nothing of the destabilisation and the undermining that was going on against Julia Gillard?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Of course not. Everyone knew about it Barrie, it was in the paper.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Yes but you knew beyond what was written in the paper and you knew who was doing the undermining?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Everyone knew what was going on, Barrie, everyone knew it. The question is do you involve yourself in it? And certainly I didn’t. I was of the view, I was of the view very strongly, that we should concentrate on taking up the challenge to the opposition.
And I think now what we need to do is actually look to the future. We need to draw a line in the sand under this and we need to unite and move forward with whoever is the leader Barrie.
BARRIE CASSIDY: OK, but you say you knew it was going on. You heard talk of the cardinals, the group that called themselves the cardinals, Kim Carr, Joel Fitzgibbon and Richard Marles, that was Rudd’s core group of supporters. Why didn’t you go to them at some point and say “This has to stop”?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Barrie, the fact is, going over history, everyone knew this was going on. What my job was, each and every day, Barrie, I was leader of the house, minister for infrastructure and transport, minister for regional Australia and local government. I frankly, Barrie, had enough on my plate arguing against our political opponents. That was what I concentrated on each and every day.
What we need to do is to make sure that every member of the caucus moving forward does just that, Barrie.
BARRIE CASSIDY: You could have done more surely. And the suspicion is you didn’t want to because, as Pam Williams wrote in the Financial Review, that you were a secret cardinal. What do you say to that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Barrie, that’s just not the case. Pam Williams didn’t bother to speak to me about any of those articles.
Mr Albanese: One of the lessons the Labor Party needs to learn and needs to show in the coming weeks, days and weeks, is that when we talk about ourselves, people switch off. We need to talk about Australians and what is of interest to them. And when we are not united, when we are not united, we will be punished for it.
A few weeks ago I had some words to say about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his sensitive new age approach to an ‘old mate who has morphed into a new lady friend.”
Today I received correspondence from that new lady friend and I thought I may as well share it with you. The writer is Lt Col Malcolm AKA Cate McGregor or should we call him “cateypie” after his email addy.
Hey tough guy-see you had a few sneering comments to make about me after the Janet Albrechtsen column. You know nothing of me beyond your prejudice.Feel free to pass this on your six followers. Ever done day’s military service or does culling rabbits represent the extent of your ticker? I’ll run my record of service and decency against you any day. Call yourself a Christian? You make me puke. Hope you get to Canberra some time-unlike you I don’t hide behind hash tags and mons de plume. Drop in a tell me how I should live my life. Good luck with the cattle-don’t see you cutting it as a ‘journalist.” Cate McGregor”
Now that seems a macho brand of correspondence which only serves to reinforce my opinion that McGregor is not remotely female, but is actually autogynephilic meaning he is a man who is in love with the image of himself as a woman.
Needless to say he didn’t evoke any kind of sympathetic reponse. Here is my reply.
You’ve got a problem, girly boy. It’s called a paraphilia and you have never had either the personal strength of character or the guts to face up to it and get over it. You’re a disgrace and an embarrassment to the Australian Armed Forces. What’d they do with your knackers? Stick ’em in a bottle for you to display on your mantelpiece? I don’t hide behind hash tags and noms de plume. I say what needs to be said and I say it in my own name, unlike you who uses a name that belongs to the opposite sex. You love your mirror, girly boy, and that’s essentially all you care about. You’re like a moth to the light. It’s tragic really – such unrequited love of self.
After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing between the “Pair of Peters” over the issue of professionalism in both the media and politics, the Premier started “Cracking the Whip” a little after it started looking like Phelps was just trying to provoke an incident with a journalist for the fun of it.
Don’t make things personal: Regardless of a person’s position in a political party, profession or society in general, everyone has feelings and those feelings can be hurt. More often than not, more opportunities are lost than gained when somebody decides to take disagreements to a personal level in public. Australian politicians, journalists and the general public are particularly guilty of this one on occasion. Also just because people disagree on some issues, doesn’t mean that we’re not similar on others. e.g. The ALP/Green/Coalition Parliamentary Friends of LGBTI Australians Group in Canberra.
Once something is published online, assume someone has a copy of it:While it’s possible to delete a tweet, there’s plenty of programs and websites around today that can allow people to make a copy of anything you put online as soon as you publish it. From Google Cache through to PolitWoops, it isn’t hard to see what public figures have tweeted and then deleted if you know where to look.
People have long memories, especially when they are offended: More often than not, people will remember grudges longer than what they will remember happy occasions. While sometimes sharp words need to be spoken, don’t burn your bridges over something that in the grand scheme of things is only of minor significance (if that) in the long-term.
Don’t be a “Keyboard Warrior” during conversations: In the digital telecommunications era, the Internet is just as real a world as the physical one we live in everyday and will become more so over the coming decades. If you wouldn’t say something to somebody’s face, then you haven’t got an excuse to say it online. This goes for both “flame wars” and ordinary disagreements that occur both online and in the non-virtual world.
So while I’m not taking sides in this little dispute (both Peters are adults and can look after themselves anyway), there’s a lot that we can all learn from such encounters when they occur. By learning from and admitting our mistakes in both the real and virtual worlds, we can learn from such incidents and become better people as a result from them if we try hard enough.