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The Myth Of “Patient Zero” Is Finally Laid To Rest

safe sexReporting is about being as accurate as you can with the information currently available; unfortunately to often it has been about sensationalism, trying to get readers, and playing to the gallery when the ‘reporting’ has been about the LGBT community.

This article reflects how once again, how we as a community where used as scape goats for waht is now recognised as a national and international problem.  People have sex, but unless we educate properly in our schools, and continue to educate about safe sex, no matter what gender, then we will have problems.

Burrying our collectives heads in the sand, saying to people don’t have sex, are not working – we need to show people the right way of doing things, including contraceptives, and then maybe we will get a grip of the various sexual diseases which are plaguing our society

Myth of patient zero and gay sexThirty-two years after his death in 1984, Gaétan Dugas remains a legendary figure …

Source: The Myth Of “Patient Zero” Is Finally Laid To Rest / Queerty

Consign homophobia to history, urges ex-Irish president Mary McAleese

Homophobia Not AllowedJeff Dudgeon MBE, is part of the history of Northern Ireland, and with his court case made the case for homophobia to be abolished in N Ireland.  Unfortunately until 1982 it was still a crime to be a homosexual in Ulster, indeed people were still persecuted under other laws for being gay, and their lives destroyed by what can only be called vindictive police cases which should never have ended up in court subsequent to this repeal.

Today, liFe has improved, but there are still problems; only within the last two weeks was a gay man attacked for challenging two men passing by who called him’queer’ and other words.

People are regularly still harassed in their homes. and probably more worrying is that fact that being young and gay is still open to abuse in schools, colleges and universities.

This is not acceptable in today’s world, and the more that we stand up against any form of persecution the more we as human beings earn the right to be called ‘human’.

Homophobia Not Allowed

President Barack Obama talks with Irish President Mary McAleese during a courtesy call in the Drawing Room of the President’s residence in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Mary McAleese has said homophobia should be consigned to history in Northern Ireland.

Source: Consign homophobia to history, urges ex-Irish president Mary McAleese – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

‘The Pulse’ gay night club in Orlando

Onlookers

Onlookers

The Pulse

The Pulse

I was deeply shocked to hear of the sheer scale of the casualties at ‘The Pulse’ gay night club in Orlando.
It is hard to comprehend the enormity of the act and the awful nature of the suffering of the members of the LGBT community.
Those who survived will never be the same again, while the lives of so many, mostly young victims out enjoying themselves on a Saturday night have been cruelly and abruptly ended.
Such attacks on gay venues, with high casualty rates, have occurred before – in London, the US and Israel, while there have been single murders in Belfast like that of Darren Bradshaw at the Parliament Bar (and the Rev David Templeton), and more recently three gay men who were killed in London by a bomb at the Admiral Duncan pub.

 

Northern Ireland is no stranger to mass murder.  Our community knows there is a reservoir of hatred out there that can be motivated to action by political organisations and by religious hate speech. In this case it was Islamist.
The people of Belfast will I know express their solidarity with the people of Orlando, a city in Florida many of us know well and have visited.  Your pain having to bury so many fine people will be hard to bear.

I have asked that our City Hall officials put arrangements in place to allow citizens to show their sympathy to our American friends and that the City Hall gates be opened for people to gather in the grounds on Tuesday at the planned demonstration of support.
Jeff Dudgeon (Belfast City Councillor and NIGRA Treasurer)

 

Further reading:

 

 

 

Onlookers

Onlookers

Swat Team

Swat Team

Anti-gay armed forces laws set to be officially removed

By WMNDavidWells  |  Posted: January 11, 2016

soldiers

Existing rules state that engaging in a homosexual act can constitute grounds for discharging a member of the armed forces.

And while the policy was abandoned in 2000, it still technically exists in law.

But MPs have agreed to change that as the Armed Forces Bill cleared its final House of Commons hurdle.

A Government amendment to get rid of the relevant discriminatory laws was added to the Bill unopposed.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said the existing rules are “inconsistent with the department’s current policies and the Government’s equality and discrimination policies more generally”.

Mr Lancaster said when the provisions were originally put in place it was government policy that homosexuality was “incompatible with service in the armed forces” and therefore people who “engaged in homosexual activity were administratively discharged”.

But since 2000 “these provisions have had no practical effect and they are therefore redundant”.

“These provisions in no way reflect the position of today’s armed forces,” he said.

“We are proud in defence of the progress we have made since 2000 to remove policies that discriminated against homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel so that they can serve openly in the armed forces.”

He added: “This amendment is a practical step which shows that this Government is serious about our commitment to equality in this area.”

The shadow defence minister Toby Perkins welcomed the move.

He said: “Removing this from the statute book will be a welcome step forward so that the explicit refusal to discriminate against homosexual service men and women is expunged from the service book just as it has in practice been outlawed.

“It is very clear that this is an important step forward and it is one we welcome very strongly.”

Meanwhile, the SNP’s shadow armed forces spokeswoman Kirsten Oswald also backed the amendment.

She said: “It is scarcely credible that we are discussing this in 2016. It is discriminatory and it is offensive that this provision exists.

“Notwithstanding the fact that it hasn’t been used in reality for a number of years, it is most welcome that the Government are finally removing the provision as they should.”

The Armed Forces Bill legislates for the UK to keep its Army during peace time.

The latest version contains provisions relating to armed forces pensions and to the powers of Ministry of Defence fire fighters.

The Bill will now proceed to the House of Lords for further scrutiny

Read more: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Anti-gay-armed-forces-laws-set-officially-removed/story-28505362-detail/story.html#ixzz3x1a13qaM
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How to Break the Bullying Cycle

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gay bullying

Author Jonathan Fast discusses his book Beyond Bullying and the danger of ‘gay-neutral’ school policies.

 

Jonathan Fast knows what it’s like to be bullied. As a chubby 8-year-old in summer camp, he was tormented by an athletic boy who broke his arm. Even his father, Spartacus author Howard Fast, was bullied by the House Committee on Un-American Activities for being communist in the 1950s.

In his powerful new book, Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence, 67-year-old Dr. Fast takes an unhurried look at the shame underlying violence towards LGBT and straight folks alike. “With this book, I hope readers will be better equipped to deal with bullying of every sort,” he explains, while speaking at his Yeshiva University office. “With time, we’ll be moved, if only by a single degree, closer toward a place where all people are equally valued and respected.” Fast spoke about the danger of “gay-neutral” school policies, fighting back, and whether or not there’s a “cure” for bullying.

Out: Did being harassed as a kid inspire this topic?

Jonathan Fast: In my last book, Ceremonial Violence, about school shootings, a detail was missing about the Columbine killers and other perpetrators. At a conference I heard a talk about shame, and had an epiphany: I realized these vicious guys were carrying huge amounts of that primal emotion. Most likely they were disappointing their parents, not gainfully employed, having trouble socially. Why turn to school shooting? Because they couldn’t express their shame if they wanted to appear mature, powerful, and successful. It’s taboo even to talk about this feeling because it’s associated with little children, weakness, and failure. Ultimately it comes out of their guns.

Gays have been bullied for decades. But during Stonewall, they fought back. Is rioting a useful reaction to feeling oppressed?

It’s a common form of shame management when the feeling is intense, shared by a lot of people, and there seems to be no other peaceful means of managing it. Rioters are usually unaware of their motivations beyond a general sense of rage and frustration. While neighborhoods may be damaged and community members hurt, the events draw attention to grave social problems. Stonewall created a milestone for the gay rights movement and empowered a subculture.

How have LGBT individuals dealt with society’s violence toward them?

Some choose to use their fists, which yields mixed results. Jamie Nabozny invoked the law. In 1988, after coming out in his Wisconsin middle school, he was repeatedly tortured by classmates. The problem persisted into high school. He sued both principals, staff members, and the school district for neglecting to protect him. Lambda Legal came on board, pushing the case into the headlines. A partner at the white shoe law firm Skadden Arps offered his services pro bono. The jury found the school administrators liable for failing to stop antigay violence against Nabozny, who won a 1 million dollar settlement.

In Minnesota, two young women responded with social action. A romantic couple in high school, they’d heard about a series of local gay teenagers killing themselves and wanted to bring visibility to non-traditional gender roles. They got elected to a 12-member Royal Court, and were set to walk in a public ceremony. But days before the procession, a teacher told them their plan was unacceptable because they were two women. They contacted the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center and battled against the school leadership. Ultimately they won the right to proceed on the red carpet, to wild cheers and applause.

Regarding that group of suicides, you point to education policies as potential culprits. One high school had written a mandate for faculty and staff to show respect for all students, and to remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation. It led to a spate of teen suicides over two years. What went wrong?

A lot. The 2009 recession hit that suburb hard. Residents bought big houses and got caught with giant mortgages. Middle class folks became homeless, living in their cars. Kids were told not to speak about their depression and lack of cash. So they couldn’t manage their shame. To begin with, adolescents aren’t working with a full biological deck. The frontal lobe—the part of the brain that analyzes consequences—doesn’t mature until age 25. Influenced by their peers, teens often make poor choices.

Add to that mix a poorly worded edict that bans any reference to homosexuality, spearheaded by conservative parents. It silenced the few gay teachers who’d acted as a support network for kids coming out. Trying to be neutral, one school psychologist took down the picture of her partner on her desk. Youngsters stopped hearing “it gets better.” All these things contributed to hidden shame, which you tend to turn inward, resulting in acts like cutting, and in this case, a cluster of suicides.

The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in the U.S. military has been repealed. Marriage equality is the rule of law. But in one study, 95% of gay adolescents reported feeling separated and emotionally isolated from peers because of their sexual orientation. Around 50% of gay adolescents have experienced physical violence by family members. Research has shown that LGBT teens attempt suicide four times more frequently than their heterosexual peers. When will this trend reverse?

It’ll take another generation to change. I grew up in a homophobic home and my father was an intellectual. He’d say a great writer would never be gay, because they couldn’t relate to the basic human experience. Which was absurd. But when you’re a little kid and your father is a celebrated author, you tend to believe him.

In 1963 the New York Times published an article “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern.” Its title reflected the opinion of the Times and the times. I see it getting better with my grown kids.

We all carry shame at times. What are healthy ways to deal with it?

Write about it. Express yourself through art. The film The Gift is a good example. It’s about a teenage bully who grows up and doesn’t understand why in high school his target complained about getting beat up. After all, the bully had been abused by his own dad, but believed he’d sucked it up. Of course, instead of sucking it up, the roughneck had displaced his pain and trounced his victim.

Other ways to deal include going to confession, if you’re Catholic. Volunteering. Doing a good deed. The “It Gets Better” campaign is a great example.

Is there a cure for bullying?

No. We have endless examples of maltreatment of people in politics—think Donald Trump—and in media, like certain newscasters. We live in a bullying society. We have the highest homicide and incarceration rate, and the worst income division, which is a big shame factor. Believing that society is a meritocracy can be humiliating to a lot of people. They imagine success yields happiness. But if prosperity is unattainable, people take that personally. They feel ashamed, and unhappy. Sometimes the shame is turned outward, which is how we get bullies

Here’s What It’s Like To Go Through Gay Conversion Therapy In Australia

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Conversion therapy is all but dead in Australia – but what will it take to kill it?

Candelight

“Please take this from me, I don’t want to be gay.”

Brisbane man Johann De Joodt knows first hand the horrors of gay conversion therapy.

A participant in numerous programs designed to purge his homosexuality during his twenties and thirties, De Joodt adopted a traumatising routine of church, sin and repentance that looped on repeat every week for 15 years.

“Sunday, I was going up to the altar, crying out to God,” he said. “Monday, I would sin by having sex with another man, and then beat myself up to a pulp so by Saturday I was suicidal. I’d manage to get myself to church on Sunday and then do it again, every week.”

“That was basically my life.”

“When a church leader says being gay is an abomination, people say, ‘you’re talking about my uncle who I love very much.’”

The question of whether conversion therapy works was answered long ago: it doesn’t. Leading psychological associations in Australia and around the world have denounced therapy that attempts to change sexual orientation. Earlier this year, a report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for nations to ban the practice, describing it as “unethical, unscientific and ineffective and, and may be tantamount to torture”.

Partly as a result of these strident denouncements, the prevalence of such therapy has significantly declined in Australia. Around 40 providers across the country in 2000 have dwindled to just a handful still in action today.

“There’s very little left. It’s in disarray,” says former pastor Anthony Venn-Brown. Venn-Brown, who has himself been through reparative therapy, is the most prominent voice on conversion therapy in Australia. He now works as the founder and CEO of Ambassadors and Bridge Builders International (ABBI), a group that works to combat ignorance and hostility between the LGBT community and churches.

Anthony Venn-Brown. Hadden Motion Pictures

Speaking to BuzzFeed News at a cafe in Waterloo, Sydney, Venn-Brown suggests another part of the decline is due to a growing acceptance of gay people in wider society – which, of course, includes churches too.

“More people are out, churchgoers have got gay sisters, brothers, colleagues, friends,” Venn-Brown says.

“When a church leader says being gay is an abomination, people say, ‘you’re talking about my uncle who I love very much.’”

The most thriving ex-gay programs are in Queensland, where Liberty Incorporated runs alongside the smaller Triumphant Ministries Toowoomba. Sydney-based Living Waters, one of Australia’s longest-running ex-gay programs, closed down last year.

There are also groups that advertise themselves as providing pastoral counselling on dealing with same-sex attraction, but clarify they do not attempt to change sexual orientation. These groups include Liberty Christian Ministries in NSW, and Renew Ministries in Victoria.

However, perhaps due to the stigma now attached to conversion therapy, there is little public information available about the funding, treatment methods and numbers of clients for each of these organisations. While Venn-Brown estimates that the programs would get “very few referrals” these days, their relative invisibility serves as a shield to such information. “We’ll never know the exact numbers,” he says.

At the heart of religious conversion therapy is “a strong belief in an all powerful God”, says Venn-Brown. Programs use a number of methods to exploit this belief, convincing participants that homosexuality is not what God wants for them. Venn-Brown went through dramatic exorcisms, where he convulsed on the floor for hours as pastors gathered around him, screaming for the demon of homosexuality to exit his soul.

Other methods include group and personal counselling, where homosexuality is posed either as a shameful habit that can be broken or an affliction, harking back to the days when it was considered a mental illness.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

Johann De Joodt bristles at the description of gay conversion therapy as “nearly dead”.

“Conversion therapy hasn’t ended in Australia,” he says. “It is alive and well.”

De Joodt came to Australia from Sri Lanka in 1984. A few years later, he found himself heavily involved in the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church movement – now known as Australian Christian Churches – and struggling with his sexuality.

“I went to confess my sin of homosexuality to my pastors,” he says. “I was pretty involved in church life, and the pastor recognised that there were a few other people in the church who were struggling with their sexuality as well.”

De Joodt started the Living Waters ex-gay program in 1990. This was the first of many programs he went through, and when his weekly routine of church, sin, and self-loathing began. It wouldn’t end until 2005.

For years, De Joodt prayed the gay away as various pastors attempted to cast the demons of homosexuality from his soul. He was told his sexuality was a habit that could be broken and changed, that he was gay because he had been sexually assaulted as a child and lacked a decent father figure. He enrolled in courses on self-esteem, and learning how to say no, and did hours of counselling. He prayed, week after week after week.

Unsurprisingly, Johann stayed gay. But the years he spent in therapy ate away at him in other ways. “My health…” Johann starts, then pauses. “I am on antidepressants. Everything I’ve been through has stuffed up my mental health.”

 

Since 2000, twelve peer-reviewed, primary research studies have found conversion therapy is harmful to mental health. A Columbia Law School project collating conversion therapy research found that among people who had undergone the treatment, there was a prevalence of depression, anxiety, social isolation, decreased capacity for intimacy, and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. “There is powerful evidence that trying to change a person’s sexual orientation can be extremely harmful,” the researchers concluded.

“People have taken their lives, they are now on pensions because they can’t function in everyday life,” says Venn-Brown. “There are PTSD issues, they’ve been harmed mentally, they’re traumatised.”

This manifest trauma and pain is why Venn-Brown has devoted his life to combating ignorance between the LGBT and faith community through ABBI. His daily grind is a softly-softly approach that coaxes people of faith and the LGBT community closer together. “The biggest challenge is fear,” he says without hesitation.

In the past – and in conversion therapy – being gay and being a Christian were seen as incompatible. Venn-Brown says that when he was going through therapy in the 1970s and ‘80s, there was “nobody who believed there was such a thing as a gay Christian”.

“You were either Christian and heterosexual or you were gay and going to go to hell,” he explains. “The gay Christian movement was just beginning to grow then.” After coming out in 1991, he left the Christian faith for six years – but then returned to it after realising being a gay Christian was possible. “There are things [in Christianity] that I can take, that are very real for me,” he says. “Forgiveness, sowing and reaping, having purpose.”

As attitudes have changed and churches become more permissive, many LGBT Christians have been able to reconcile their faith with their sexuality and gender identity. However, a damaging rift still exists between the two communities, with years of betrayal from religious organisations leaving LGBT people fearful and unwilling to engage. Those hurt most by the hostility are LGBT Christians, who are often left feeling as though they belong in neither camp.

“Just as Christians have stereotyped all LGBT people, some LGBT people have stereotyped all Christians,” says Venn-Brown. “We get called perverts, abominations, they get called bigots and haters. And that doesn’t get us anywhere, just sitting back in our camps, our tribes, throwing barbs at each other.”

It’s obvious the division is unhelpful – but is being called a pervert really on par with being called a bigot? Venn-Brown pauses before answering, in short, no.

“It’s about the perception – we will often hear, a Christian like [Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director] Lyle Shelton or [Christian Democrats leader] Fred Nile say ‘I am not homophobic’. But everything that comes out of their mouth is completely homophobic. They just don’t understand what homophobia is, because they’ve never experienced it,” he says.

“We come from our own hurt, and our own pain. And we react, as any human would, when cruel and nasty and insensitive things are said by these people.” He switches into the second person, speaking directly to those who have hurt him. “You don’t know what that does to us, because you’ve never experienced that. You don’t know what it feels like.”

But matters of blame and hostility aside, Venn-Brown is convinced his approach of “dialogue and respect” is best. He knows both the LGBT and the faith community intimately, and says church communities do not respond to “aggressive” activism.

“I introduced [Hillsong Pastor] Brian Houston to a guy in his church who had been referred to somebody [for conversion therapy],” says Venn-Brown. “I got him and his parents to write a letter, Brian met with him.”

Later, it emerged that Houston had issued a directive to all Hillsong staff to never refer anyone to these programs.

“I’ve talked with people who are major religious leaders in Australia. It’s been a journey of ten years for some of them,” Venn-Brown says. “I’ve seen progress, but not where I would want it to be. In every human rights movement, it’s taken decades to shift. If you’re not in it for the long haul, it’s not going to work.”

 

However, politicians involved in LGBT law reform say a legal approach to ending conversion therapy is complex.

“There’s not much that can be done to target these organisations specifically at a federal level, other than continuing to tighten anti-discrimination legislation and look at the applicability of consumer law,” Greens senator Robert Simms tells BuzzFeed News.

If providing the therapy was considered a breach of the Sex Discrimination Act, it’s likely that the religious exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act would protect conversion therapy providers. Under Australian consumer law, the religious and not-for-profit aspects of most conversion therapy programs would mean they are not considered “commercial in nature”. While such laws could be tweaked, says Simms, it’s unlikely they could be used as a mechanism to eradicate the therapy altogether.

Graham Perrett, a co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of LGBTI People Working Group, says a federal law banning conversion therapy may be unconstitutional.

“In terms of section 51 on the powers of the parliament, I can’t see any head of power that would give the federal parliament any capacity to make gay conversion therapy illegal in Australia,” he says.

There are some legal avenues under state and territory law as well, with acts in all jurisdictions outlawing advertising of health services that are deceptive or misleading. It could also be possible to lodge a complaint with the Australian Psychological Society that their code of ethics has been breached.

However, there is no black and white policy solution to immediately ending conversion therapy.

“It’s all just prejudice welded onto quackery packaged by a religious organisation,” says Perrett.

“I think education is the best antidote.”

Sebastien Bozon / AFP / Getty Images

De Joodt’s conversion journey reached a fork in 2005. His conversion counsellor at the time, CEO of Liberty Incorporated Paul Wegner, told him “I can help you suppress your sexual desires, but I can’t help you change your sexual orientation”.

“I was like, ‘Well, what’s the point?” says De Joodt. “If you take a ball and try to push it in a bucket of water and let go, it’s going to eventually pop up.”

He came out, lost “a lot of people”, and left his Pentecostal church. He went to the LGBT-friendly Metropolitan Community Church for a few years, and then stopped that, too. But God is still in his life.

“I have days where I feel like a Christian, and there are other days where I feel like I hate God,” he says.

“I think I’ve resolved my sexuality with my faith. If people want to be so small-minded as to think that you have to be straight to get into heaven then I think they’re going to get a big shock when they do get to heaven.”

A pause, and then: “I think God is bigger than the box you put God into.”

It’s because of this new understanding of faith, says De Joodt, that he doesn’t relapse into wanting to be straight again. “I’ve come to a point where I believe I need to be honest before myself, and before my God.”

“There’s a famous saying, isn’t there?” He thinks aloud. “Change what you can change and leave the rest to God? Or something like that. Accept the things you can’t change?”

A quick Google search later, it becomes apparent De Joodt was trying to recall the words of the Serenity Prayer, brought into popular culture by its widespread use in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change / The courage to change the things I can / And the wisdom to know the difference.

It took years of anguish, but finally, De Joodt has been granted that serenity. He knows the difference, too.

“If God wanted just another heterosexual, God could have created one, but instead God created me fabulous,” he says.

“My sexual orientation is something I cannot change.”

A spokesperson for Liberty Christian Ministries declined a request to be interviewed for this piece. Requests sent to Liberty Incorporated and Triumphant Ministries Toowoomba were not responded to.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

Here’s What It’s Like To Grow Up Gay And Indigenous In Australia

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Indigenous people who identify as LGBT are more likely to suffer from some form of mental illness.

“At 16 the boys would call me abo, faggot, poofter. That was really detrimental to my psychological health and really played a huge role in my depression”, says Matthew Shields, 30.

Shields, a successful actor, dancer and registered nurse has suffered from chronic depression for years.

“When I was 14, the gay thing was kept a secret in me. I didn’t tell anyone. It was absolutely terrifying. I mean it was [the NSW country town of] Walgett 15 or 16 years ago, when homosexuality wasn’t even accepted in mainstream culture, imagine being in a small country town in western NSW,” he says.

Shields says homophobia and racism crippled him emotionally, and he often turned to self-harm.

“I felt extremely isolated. I used to self-harm a bit, just placing the pain somewhere else. I didn’t cut myself. I would, for example, walk along the wall and scrape my hand on the wall or punch the wall to place the pain somewhere else”.

Shields credits finding a supportive group of friends with helping him to overcome depression, but says he still has dark days.

“For me living with depression is an exhausting journey that feels like you’re in a dark place, and it’s really exhausting and constant sadness.”

Indigenous people coming to terms with their sexuality are often told that being gay is not a part of traditional culture, a notion that experts say is incredibly dangerous.

Indigenous people coming to terms with their sexuality are often told that being gay is not a part of traditional culture, a notion that experts say is incredibly dangerous.

Gregory Phillips (Photo by John Couch)

“When I was coming out and trying to reconcile being gay with my Aboriginal culture I was told by an elder very close to me that being gay didn’t exist traditionally. He told me it’s bad and all these awful things would happen to me,” Gregory Phillips tells Buzzfeed News.

Phillips is the author of Addictions and Healing in Aboriginal Country and an academic specialising in Indigenous health. He says it’s dangerous for the mental health of young people to hear that homosexuality has no place in their culture.

“Homophobia and stigma within our community are the biggest problem and the myth that homosexuality is a white man’s thing, well actually, homosexuality is a part of every culture and homosexuality appeared here before colonisation”.

Homophobic attitudes within the Indigenous community can be largely attributed to Christian missionaries who forbade Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living under the church’s care, under government orders, from practicing traditional culture. It was from this period that the idea of homosexuality being sinful became a common view within the Indigenous community – one that still prevails today.

In 2013, boxer Anthony Mundine created controversy when he expressed disgust about the plot of ABC drama Redfern Now, which featured a homosexual Aboriginal relationship.

“Watching Redfern Now and they [sic] promoting homosexuality! (Like it’s ok in our culture) that ain’t in our culture and our ancestors would have their head for it! Like my dad told me God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Mundine’s comments are completely ill-informed and he’s confused about his own identity and religion. Mundine is quoting the bible while he is a Muslim all while presenting as a traditional Aboriginal, so I don’t know what he’s doing, it’s rubbish and damaging,” Phillips says.

As a young Aboriginal boy growing up in the small town of Deniliquin in regional New South Wales, Steven Ross always knew he was different.

As a young Aboriginal boy growing up in the small town of Deniliquin in regional New South Wales, Steven Ross always knew he was different.

Steven Ross (Stelios Papadakis)

“On this particular summer day, after my father had been looking after me (I sat in the corner of the local TAB while he bets on the horses), we arrived back home to discover he’d left the house keys inside. He ordered me to climb through the window to open the door, but I refused,” Ross wrote in a personal essay for Archer Magazine last year.

“His response was to verbally abuse me. For the first time in my life I was called a ‘poofter’. I didn’t know what this word meant, but considering the tone of its delivery, I knew it couldn’t be a good thing,”

“When I came out to my father, he told me he used to bash people like me. Whenever we fought, homophobic insults were not off limits”.

It was Ross’s mother who allowed him to be proud of his sexuality.

“I really think racism and homophobia are just colonial processes, to be honest. They are social diseases and I felt like I had people around me immune to that,” Ross tells BuzzFeed News.

Ross hopes his writing will inspire other young gay Aboriginal people and believes it’s essential to raise awareness of the damage homophobia can cause.

“Like most cultures we [Indigenous people] are able to change and recognise difference, and I believe that gay identity has always been part of Aboriginal culture,” Ross says.

“It defies logic that there were no gay Aboriginal people before 1788. It might not look like what the LGBT community looks like now. The stigma can be devastating and lead to high suicide rates and depression”.

Steven’s sister Laura Ross is a mental health worker in regional NSW, she says the health system is ill-equipped to deal with the Aboriginal LGBT community in remote and regional areas.

Steven's sister Laura Ross is a mental health worker in regional NSW, she says the health system is ill-equipped to deal with the Aboriginal LGBT community in remote and regional areas.

Laura Ross (Supplied)

They grim reality is suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and risky sexual behaviours are much higher amongst the Indigenous LGBT community experts say.

“You never really know what the response is going to be from your treating team. There are still old-fashioned views out there and if you couple that with being Indigenous and from the country and gay or transgender you are really on the back foot,” Laura tells BuzzFeed News.

Laura, who is also gay, says that in some cases people seeking help in the bush are slipping through the cracks.

“If a client was to disclose that they were transgendered or gay the resources we have in the community are just never going to meet the needs of these clients,” Laura says.

Casey Conway, 30, is the first Aboriginal male model to lead a campaign for swimwear label Sluggers. He’s now proudly, openly gay, but as a teenager all he wanted to do was suppress his sexuality.

Casey Conway, 30, is the first Aboriginal male model to lead a campaign for swimwear label Sluggers. He's now proudly, openly gay, but as a teenager all he wanted to do was suppress his sexuality.

Casey Conway in the Sluggers campaign (Sluggers Swimwear)

“I was probably in my late teens and finishing up high school and I was with a really nice girl for a couple of years and I felt something wasn’t quite right,” Conway tells BuzzFeed News.

“When I started to realise that I was sexually attracted to guys it really did freak me out and I went through a phase where it was going to be my big dark secret forever”.

Conway would go on to become a successful rugby league player, but was plagued with worry about the potential backlash he would receive if he came out as gay.

Today Conway is a not only a model but also a youth worker advocating for open and honest discussion around mental health issues within the Indigenous community. He says that encouraging young people to be proud of their identity and sexuality is imperative.

“Working in the youth sector I see a lot of kids, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous trying to come to terms with it and I always say to them, “there is always someone to help you if you reach out and there have been people who have walked this path before you, you’re not alone.”

To learn more about depression, check out the resources at BeyondBlue Australia or ReachOut. If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately at Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

If you are based in 

Northern Ireland

You are not alone, if you want to talk to someone then you can contact:

  • Carafriend Telephone – 0808 8000 390 FREE – Free from landlines and most mobiles: 3, EE, O2, Virgin and Vodafone

  • NIGRA – 07719576524 and we will ring you back to take the call charges

 

United Nations claims homophobia costs global economies billions (VIDEO)

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United Nations claims homophobia costs global economies billions (VIDEO) · PinkNews

The United Nations anti-LGBT discrimination campaign ‘Free & Equal’ has released some startling statistics that show that homophobia and transphobia are still major problems across the world.

The video, titled ‘The Price of Exclusion’, focuses on the cost of global discrimination financially and to the people who suffer under social and legal discrimination due to their sexual and gender identities.

Openly gay Star Trek actor Zachery Quinto narrates the video, and reveals the uncomfortable reality of being LGBT in the world today, including how 40% of homeless youth in major US cities identify as LGBT.

Bullying and family rejection are cited as some of the causes of this high rate of LGBT homelessness.

“For the individuals in question, these are personal tragedies,” Quinto says in the video.

“For the wider community they represent an enormous waste of human potential, of talent, of creativity and productivity that weighs heavily on society and the economy”.

Citing a world bank pilot study, the video claims that global LGBT discrimination could cost a country the size of India $32 billion a year.

On top of this, the video also says that young lesbian, gay and bisexual people are four times more likely to attempt suicide, with the number rising to ten times more likely for young transgender people.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the video aims to “challenges the myth that the impact of LGBT discrimination is small, or marginal, or confined to only a small part of the community.

“It’s not only LGBT people who pay the price; we all do. Every trans kid thrown out of home or forced out of school is a loss for society. Every gay or lesbian worker denied work or driven to emigrate is a lost opportunity.”

The ‘Free & Equal’ campaign was first launched by the United Nations Human Rights office back in 2013 and has released a number of videos in the past including a Bollywood style LGBT equality music video.

Back in August, the members of the UN stripped LGBT eqaulity from its historic global developement goals agreement.

Watch the video below.

"We Know Who We Are" Vid Supports LGBTs in World's Most Homophobic Countries

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The new track by Steven James and Quentin Sound raises money and awareness for those suffering from homophobia in Russia, Uganda and Jamaica.

In a powerful new music video, Steven James and Quentin Sound send a message of hope and support to LGBT people living in some of the most homophobic nations in the world: Jamaica, Russia and Uganda.

In Jamaica, sexual acts between men are punishable with up to ten years in prison, while Human Rights Watch documented 56 cases of anti-LGBT violence in 2013—only four led to arrests or prosecutions

Russia’s rampant homophobia has been well-documented. Though there are no laws criminalizing same-sex activity, a law passed in 2013 banning the spread of propaganda of “non-traditional” sexual relations among minors has led to an increase in homophobic violence.

Uganda’s so-called “Kill the Gays” bill drew interntaional ire, and though the country’s parliament didn’t succeed in passing the death penalty for homosexual acts between men, “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” carries a potential life sentence in prison.

Check out the video for “We Know Who We Are” below (which features some distrubing imagery of homophobic violence) and buy the single here on iTunes. 50 percent of proceeds from “We Know Who We Are” will be donated to LGBT youth organizations in Russia, Jamaica and Uganda—Children-404, JFLAG and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), respectively.

 

 

Is there a homophobia problem in PE classes?

 

 

 

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Homophobic remarks are flung around on a regular basis”

“Homophobic remarks are flung around on a regular basis”

A new article, part of a PE and school sports series by the Guardian, looks at ways to stop school pupils ‘climbing the school gates’ to avoid PE lessons. Among other reasons, such as unflattering uniforms and limited variety of activities, the article suggests that homophobia in changing rooms prevents some pupils from taking part in PE.

The anonymous writer begins: “The bell rings and once again I have to make the decision whether to climb the school gates or walk to my physical education (PE) lesson. I am not averse to sport – in fact I like keeping fit on the weekends and I’m pretty healthy. But the culture around PE in school means it has become my worst nightmare”

He goes on to explain why: “I am an openly gay teenager and getting changed in front of the other boys, with no privacy, makes me feel desperately uncomfortable.

“Homophobic remarks are flung around on a regular basis, with boys calling each other ‘faggot’ and saying ‘I bet certain boys love it in the changing rooms.’”

The writer suggests a simple remedy for this problem: “A zero-tolerance policy against homophobic slurs and body shaming – even if it’s so-called banter – would make the changing room a more comfortable environment for everyone.”

This insight into the changing rooms comes at a time when more sports stars than ever are publicly discussing their sexualities. Just in the last few months, Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, and rugby players Keegan Hirst and Sam Stanley have all publicly come out as gay. There have also been rumours swirling that two high-profile football players are preparing to come out.

The Guardian’s PE and school sports series is funded by the Youth Sports Trust.

 

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