‘I’ve seen what prejudice and hate can do… Let’s put an end to it’

Jun 23, 2019
Israel Folau was again in the headlines for comments about gay and transgender people. Source: Getty Images.

Recently I watched a movie called Jenny’s Wedding. I had not seen it before and was not sure what to expect. It was about a young gay woman who wanted to marry her long-time lover. I found myself crying constantly throughout this movie. I am so glad I did not see it at the theatre. I realised that not only was I crying at the story I was watching, but because I knew it was not far-fetched, not unrealistic, but part of our world today. The story shows how a family is torn apart, once they realise that Jenny is gay and the prejudices come thick and fast.

I found myself thinking about my life and tried to remember when I knew what gay meant. Back in the late-’60s, I remember having a couple of waiters from The Ghan at our house for dinner. My mother told me they were gay, although she did not use that word. I did not really know what that meant, but I remember how lovely these men were and I could not understand why my father was so angry with my mother for inviting them.

I remember as a small girl, being so in love with Tony, who was a boarder at my beloved nanna’s house. He took me places and he always had time for me. My nanna loved him a lot. Then something happened and every time she saw him after he stopped living there, she ended up in tears. It was not till years later I was told he was gay. My nanna could never understand why he was like that. I don’t think she ever understood, but she always loved Tony.

As I grew up and travelled, I met people from all walks of life. I had gay friends; I have gay friends. I didn’t ever find them any different to my straight friends, although I still think the men treat me much more nicely than any straight man I’ve ever known.

Over the years, it saddened me to see the way the gay community are treated. Attitudes don’t seem to have changed. What is gay? Why do we label? Who gives others the right to treat humans the way some are treated? I was so surprised the day my mother said she didn’t care if people wanted to live that way, but she wouldn’t have it in her house. No, I was shocked, given that she had welcomed them all those years ago. I wondered how she would react if it was one of her children and watching Jenny’s Wedding, brought this memory back to me.

I know there has been a lot said lately about Israel Folau and his views on gay and transgender people. Why are so many quick to defend his right to say those things and equally as quick to judge a gay couple? Why is religion used to justify this? I wonder how footballers who might be gay and struggling feel about this? I don’t feel they should have to remain silent or in the shadows to avoid being judged. I’m not religious, but I understand the Bible says Jesus loved all men. Are the members of the gay community not our fellow man? Who knows if the Bible is a true and accurate account of the life of Jesus, and even if he was this great holy man, was he not human? I believe the Bible says God sent him to Earth in human form. All the things I have read have shown that he certainly was not perfect. Why do we criticise and scrutinise our fellow man (or woman) for being gay but there is a national outcry if we say one negative word about a refugee? I don’t have anything against law abiding refugees either.

Today I am 66 years old. People my age have lived and seen many changes in this world. I am glad one is that we legalised gay marriage. I don’t agree that any one consenting adult has to be given permission to marry another consenting adult but if it had to be this way, then I am glad Australia finally got their act together.

Nobody is born choosing to be different. Nobody grows up wanting others to hate, to ridicule to ostracise them from the community. Why are we so full of hate that we need to do this? If the heterosexual community have got it so right, why are women being raped and murdered by their husbands and partners? Why do people preach religion as a reason there should be no gay people on this earth? Religion has a lot to answer for as I recall.

I have had and still have so many gay friends. I don’t look at them and see the word ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘homosexual’ in front of their name. I see kind, loving friends who I wouldn’t change or hurt for the world. To all the gay community on this site, to every gay person out there, I hope you hold your head high and never let anyone denigrate who you are. To the rest of us, when we are perfect, we will see there is no difference. To anyone who wants to see what prejudice and hate can do, watch Jenny’s Wedding. I dare you not to be moved.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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