A few years ago and a few editors ago the Sydney Star Observer, as it was called in better times, had an editor who decided that online was the way to go and the print edition didn't need to have a letters page any longer. Anyone wanting to write a letter to the editor - or paper - was told that there would be provision online for a letters section.
The Sydney Star Observer immediately lost impact and became this wishy-washy rag which presents itself today to people who bother to get the print version in Queensland, NSW, and Victoria.
What a waste of time and paper and anything else connected to the Star.
There is a journalist, Simon Copland, who writes a weekly column in the Star. Simon thinks we are all "queer" which is his collective word to describe various permutations and combinations of sexuality in our communities.
For the purpose of my vitriolic diatribe I will use the terminology I prefer for those members of our communities whose battles we have been fighting for over many years. I refer to gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV (GLTH) members of our communities.
I object to being collectively called "queer". When I was at school in South Africa in the 30s and 40s, men and boys who were seen to be "different" were called "queers".
I lived in a heterosexual closet until I was 61 when I started coming out as a gay man and becoming a political gay activist. This period was a few years into the devastating AIDS epidemic when young men in our communities were dying horrible deaths amidst great fear and terror and an increased level of homophobia, violence, murder and horror.
The police of course were not on our side and more often than not did not look for the criminals who were wreaking havoc on the streets of cities like Sydney and Melbourne, instead ignoring the horror and in fact very often aiding and abetting these activities.
In leaping forward to 2013 we have had 25 years of some improvements in our lives and measures taken by federal and state governments to reduce some of the homophobia in our midst, other than from religious organisations. These organisations in a secular state are still given exemptions and remain tax-free.
Back to Simon Copland who writes that he doesn't understand why people waste their time on such issues as rainbow crossings and same-sex marriage when there are more important things to worry about. He is right, of course, there are more important things to worry about.
However the fight is for equality, to not be treated as second- or third-rate citizens by our governments, media, religious organisations and those who consider homophobia to be the norm.
Simon seems to think all of us only want to be the same as all those heteros who have such marvellous existences, when actually all we want is the same human rights we are entitled to in every respect of the law, as available to all heteros, whether married or in de facto relationships like that greatest of hypocrites in our communities the prime minister Julia Gillard.
One of the reasons for this diatribe is that I wrote a letter to the editor of the Star explaining that I had tried to have a letter I wrote in response to Simon's article about the rainbow crossing and same-sex marriage posted under Simon's article and I was unable to do so.
The editor ignored me so I sent my letter a second time, and the editor ignored me.
This confirms for me that the editor and the Star Observer are a waste of time and effort, and I shouldn't get my "knickers in a knot" because it is not worth it.
This blog allows me to express my feelings about the issue and to place my letter here, so that it is published.
.........and here is the letter:Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
PO Box 1675
15 APRIL 2013
I came out as a gay man in 1988 at the age of 61. The person who helped my coming-out process was Margaret Thatcher, one of the great homophobes of our generation.
Thatcher was in the process of introducing Clause 28 into the British parliament, a disgusting homophobic piece of legislation designed to stop homosexuality from being spoken about in schools and to stop homosexual people from being employed as teachers. There was much more, but that is enough to introduce the topic of homophobia. I went to my first demo as a gay activist to protest Thatcher outside the British Consulate in Sydney’s Circular Quay in April 1988.
At the same period of time Sydney – and other places around Australia – saw a spate of hate crimes involving bashings and murders of gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH) members of our communities, many of which remain unsolved to this day.
The police who were supposed to be investigating these crimes were homophobic in the extreme, and events at the recent Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney in 2013 show that 25 years later, little has changed.
Fred Nile is still in the NSW parliament, and religions still continue to preach homophobic hatred.
It is in this sort of climate that we fight for equality and an end to universal homophobia.
Why are rainbow crossings and same-sex marriages important when there are so many other problems besetting our communities?
Because without these open symbols of who we are as communities, homophobia continues unabated.
The removal of the rainbow crossing is a symbol of the Barry O’Farrell government’s homophobia. The refusal to accept same-sex marriage is a symbol of the homophobia besetting most of the politicians in this country.
We want equality, and we want it now! We have been second – and third – grade citizens for far too long and in 2013 it is time for this denigration to stop.Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne