Michael West identifies as an Anglo-Australian ďfag"
I got involved because of what has been happening in Australia over the past year or two. It's been building for two years - this boil of racism. It's been promoted by Hanson, and she has been endorsed by Howard, by the Moral Right. Ever since the ALP was ousted out of government there has been no social justice.
I see connections between race and sexuality as a process - the two compliment each other really well. There are similarities. It is the outsider status. The dominant category in society is White, straight, middle-class and anyone who doesn't fit the requirements is out. As a fag I'm outside of that. Kooris are outside of that. Asians are outside. We're all attempting to find voice amongst numerous other voices.
I lived with a Vietnamese lesbian for a few years and she keyed me into racism and how much racism she's experiences every day that I was not aware of. I can put myself empathetically in someone else's shoes and look at the discrimination that I experienced as a fag growing up. Discrimination is discrimination and it is bad. If we can say, "No" to discrimination in any way and promote anti-racism and positive sexuality attitudes then that's the way to go.
Why Mardi Gras? I haven't had a lot
to do with the standard gay scene over the years. I've just danced on the
fringes saying, "Oh, my god, it's too commercial" and hadnít wanted to
be part of identity that has been packaged. But I think that the gay community
has had a pretty bad history in dealing with racism in our own backyard
and there's a group of people which has formed and is calling for people
to address inherent racism within the marginal sexual communities.
So I came along to see what they had to say, who was getting involved,
how it was being inclusive, how the
Mardi Gras is a good forum. For me, itís about diversity, and now it's about cultural diversity, racial diversity, political diversity. The media attention that will be focused on Mardi Gras is an excellent platform to get the message across to a large proportion of people about Reconciliation, Wik and Native Title. It's time that as a society we owned up to our history and honour people who were here before us.
It makes me feel good that Mardi Gras is along an ancient Aboriginal trading route. I feel good because I now have the knowledge that there is specific history attached to this land that we are using to celebrate, to trade identities upon and through. It's probably a really appropriate route for what's being achieved in gay and lesbian rights. And it will only be good if we honour that. If we say, "This is Eora land. It belongs to the people who were here before us. We pay thanks to them. We wouldn't be here without the care that they gave this land that protected it over the years. We honour this." Honouring who was before you creates your identity now and your sense of self and respect.
I'm shocked by fags and dykes who are right-wing fuckers who support Howard regardless of what they've been through and where they're going and other stuff that it happening in this country. So, someone who is queer and holds racism attitudes hasn't examined their process enough tot realise that discrimination in any form is abhorrent, is not acceptable. If they are willing to support a form of discrimination even though they hold marginal positions in society then they become worse than the oppressor because they are just replicating the hurt and abuse that was given to them without confronting it.
I hope this group continues after Mardi
Gras. I want it to. Race doesn't stop after the party lights go out. We
may still be heading towards a race election. Hanson still exists. Fags
and dykes are still committing suicide because of discrimination that still
exists in this country. Human rights for Kooris is one of the worst
in the world because racism still continues. I think that this collection
of people will want action in the future - of various kinds,
whether it's a community forum, whether it's direct