George Aiken once said “If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and colour, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon”.
Once again, I have been reading, talking and listening to a variety of comments on a number of topics involving equality.
Somewhere on this Mortal Coil, we seem to have gotten out of tilt. At the fore is the debate once again around same sex marriage, or civil union. So, as I see it, it’s this simple: what you do behind closed doors is your business, no one else’s.
I remember growing up in a rural community, amidst a hardened bunch of farmers and railway workers – tough men – but here’s the thing: they were big softies and cared about their community and the folk in it.
Amongst them were a couple of blokes, ordinary blokes, going about their daily business. One a successful international dress designer, the other a store manager.
Many a time, my mother would send me to this store to get this and that and I was always impressed with the neatness and well organised layout of the shop. Nothing out of place and its manager immaculately dressed. Polite to everyone that came and went.
On cold wet miserable days during winter, he would provide a “cuppa” for those that came to town once a month to buy their supplies, sometimes covered in mud, wet and cold, still in their bush clothes. That cup of tea and a freshly made scone provided a welcome relief. Nothing was a bother and everyone was welcome. You see, in his eyes everybody was equal. He would fuss over the wives and show them the latest catalogues and dote over the children, while the men would go about their business heading off to the sale-yards or to the local pub. Good business you might say, as he sold a lot of product.
The other bloke was a successful dress designer, had won numerous international awards, but choose to live in this small rural community. He travelled the world, mixing on the international stage and was the envy of many, but proud of his community.
Many a time I would pop into his store and we would talk of people he had dined with: musicians, royalty, millionaires and the stars. He would produce photo albums and point out his favourites –Hepburn, Bacall, Andrews, Bergman, Loren …the list was endless.
I would listen for hours to the stories and he would transport me to another world, another time. We would listen to his prized Jazz recordings, given to him personally by some of the greats – George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, the “Count” Armstrong… He introduced me to this wonderful world of Jazz and used to say.
”When they play their music, they stand as equal”
You see, I have never forgotten this and my love of Jazz continues to this day.
I was young and impressionable at this time. I met many of his friends over the years, amongst them that infamous Drag Queen Carmen, many many stars and entertainers, all simple friends!
It was for me a special time in my life, but here’s the thing: these two blokes were gay! That’s right… gay! They had formed a friendship back in 1952 and had remained together till their dying day. Together, living, loving and sharing their whole lives all these years, in this hardened rural community.
Oh, many suspected they were a little different, but no one really cared. Many a time, I would hear the odd comment about these two blokes.
At first, I said nothing, but one incident led me to speak out. I did and to this day, I have no regrets. I continue to speak out.
There are still are people living in this town and many others just like it, that remain ‘homophobic’. That’s their choice. They too, have the right to speak out, but they do not, in my opinion have the right to condemn others for their choices.
‘That’s their business’.
But let me just say this: I have never seen a more loving, devoted and caring couple as these two.
When one of these men fell ill, the other nursed him until he breathed his last breath. Sadly, he died of a broken heart just days later.
Both their funerals were held on the same day. The church overflowing with people, spilling out on to the streets; the hardened farmers; retired bush and railway workers, their children, families and friends. All their in their finest Sunday best, all there to pay their final respects to two beautiful men.
Both these two men were loved and respected. Not one person cared about their sexual preference. They were there to pay their respect to two gentlemen that cared unconditionally for their community.
Sadly, this world has changed.
In a very short space of time, we have become so caught up in all of its political correctness, that we have, in many ways, forgotten about the old fashioned values that we were instilled with.
We just don’t want to be seen to be stepping outside of the box and speaking out.
President Obama along with others, has done that.
Perhaps you might just say it is nothing more that political, you are entitled to that.
The church has its view and tries to persuade us, telling us what they want us to hear. Perhaps we should just look at the time of the Borgias!
Politicians influence us, as do many other social factors today but when I had the privilege of seeing a relationship built on love and trust (in the middle of the challenging & changing times through the 60’s) last into this century, I have to start to wonder.
You see, they got something right.
But….sadly, as George Aiken said:
“If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and colour, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon”.
My dear friends didn’t care how society saw them.
To each other and all those who had the pleasure of knowing these two gentle men, they were simply “EQUAL” in every way.