segment #2 - Aussie Queers/Aborigines Strengthen Ties
(intro music from "Freedom" by Kev Carmody, fades down and out under:)
Lucia Chappelle: Australian gays and lesbians have been actively involved in Black struggles for over 20 years, but a historic May 23rd meeting marked a significant turning point in the cooperation between the two movements. As This Way Out's Michael Schembri reports, the strengthened lesbigay alliance with Aboriginal people is a powerful signal in the increasingly tense climate that is hampering the process of Reconcilation between white and indigenous Australians:
Michael Schembri: Under the federal government of John Howard, race relations are deteriorating rapidly, through the latest attempts at yet more land-grabs. Racism is on the rise again. In these circumstances, it was heartening to see decades of gay and lesbian support for Black struggles pay off. A statement of support from Sydney gay and lesbian community organizations was issued, which read in part, "We affirm the essential nature of the Reconciliation process to the development of a truly civil society in Australia which values diversity and the contribution of all its citizens, both now and into the future. We are proud to live in a nation with the oldest indigenous peoples in the world. We believe that non-indigenous Australians have a great deal to gain from Reconciliation by coming to terms with our collective past and valuing Aboriginal culture and history. We acknowledge the graciousness and patience shown by Aboriginal people and we seek to further Reconciliation by playing an active role in the process, both within our own and the wider communities". This statement then further reads, "We believe that genuine Reconciliation will only be achieved when we acknowledge the truth about the often brutal nature of European settlement, acknowledge that it was an invasion resulting in the dispossession of Aboriginal people. This dispossession continues today through discrimination, disinheritance and the devastation resulting from past assimilation policies". Further down, the same statement then reads, "Racism and the Reconciliation process are very much our business, as there are gays and lesbians in all sectors of the community and all population groups including the indigenous community. We acknowledge that racism exists within the lesbian and gay community, and that indigenous gays and lesbians often feel alienated and unsupported by our community". The statement was signed by the Lesbian and Gay Anti-ViolenceProject, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, the Sydney Lesbian and Gay Community Centre , and the 2010 Lesbian and Gay Youth Services.
(a musical excerpt from "Inanay" by Tiddas, fades down and out under:)
Michael: Of equal significance was the
reciprocal action on behalf of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission. The Justice Commissioner for ATSIC launched a campaign put
together by the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project, targeting homophobia
amongst Australian indigenous people. Mick Dodson ...
Mick Dodson: Now, I've been asked by a few people what I oughta say this morning, particularly about what I should wear (audience laughter) ... uh, one of my workmates is gay -- he suggested that, you know, pink would be appropriate ... um, I don't have anything that's pink ... anyway, look, I chose to wear a blue shirt and uh, black, because I think, more than any two colors, they're the colors that symbolize violence ... and violence isn't just about being black-and-blue. It can simply mean being Black. It can simply mean being blue. It can simply mean being poor. It can simply mean being marginalized. It can simply mean being ostracized. It can simply mean being different. Now, all of those things are quite contrary to what Reconciliation is about. Reconciliation isn't about marginalization and isolation. Reconciliation is about inclusion, acceptance, accommodation of all our differences ... because it's our difference that in the end will unite us. It's our difference in the end that will enrich us as a country, and it's our difference that will form the foundation of our true identity as Australians.
Michael: Later, Greg Reading from "GayWaves" spoke to Aaron Ross, who is the Public Relations Manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission ...
Aaron Ross: I feel elated. It was a beautiful occasion, with a great turnout, and I feel really comfortable in the knowledge that as Aboriginal people, we do have friends -- we do have friends out there.
Greg Reading: Tell us a little bit about the indigenous anti-homophobia campaign -- what's involved in that?
Aaron: Well, I commend the Anti-Violence Project because they had the foresight to invite Aboriginal people in to advise them on how to target the Aboriginal community in dealing with homophobia, and there was some wonderful advice and great schools that came together from various Aboriginal organizations -- from the Aboriginal Medical Service to ATSIC to the office of Mick Dodson at our Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, so we got a great sort of cross-section from lots of Aboriginal people ... and we came up with the idea that families are the most important thing to our people, and that at the end of the day, regardless of whether you're a poof or a dyke or whatever, that that central message of family needed to be thrown back at our own people.
Greg: And so what form does the campaign take?
Aaron: The AVP's "Homophobia: What Are You Scared Of?" project now has an Aboriginal poster which will target Aboriginal organizations throughout New South Wales ... and it has a photograph of a family made up of Aboriginal people with high profiles, whether politically or artistically, and it asks the question, "Which one of this mob in this photo is gay?" and the question is answered by "Well, who cares anyway, because we're all family" -- and that is the truth, and that is what, I think, Black fellows would understand ... because "homophobia" is such a sort of, you know, "out there" sort of term. I think that Black fellows will appreciate the idea of family.
Michael: That was Aaron Ross from the Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Commission, speaking to Greg Reading ... and this is Michael Schembri reporting for This Way Out from Sydney, Australia.
(outro music from "Aborigine" by Maroochy Barumbah)
biography of Mick
Gay radio show 'This
Way Out' interviews Aaron Ross from ATSIC on their collaboration with
the lesbian & gay community in Sydney (requires RealPlayer)
recording includes address by Mick Dodson to Black+White+Pink launch
Black + White + Pink statement of support from Sydney Gay & Lesbian community organisations