A Dialogue in Good Faith

I haven’t said it here, yet – there are a great many things I’m yet to speak about here on the matter of finding my way back to myself – but I started freelance work this year designing event flyers and administrating the Twilight School website.

The Twilight School, run by Bruno Lettieri (of Rotunda fame, one of the most amazing and generous people that ever lived) is the community outreach project of the Salesian College Sunbury. The Salesian College sponsors something quite unique: an after-hours education service providing classes, guest speakers and other community events, at low-cost, for the Sunbury community. Most of these conversations involve literary personages and community health workers, and the classes run from cooking to writing and gardening to photography. The Twilight School also sponsors the Good Man Project, which is about fostering and developing healthy and open emotional dialogue with, between and among men. Barn Owl Journal is another of Bruno’s pet projects for getting creative writing out into the community, and you can read the current issue here.

(For an event example, you can go and see actor, comedian and writer John Clarke this month for $10 plus drinks, and all you need to do is bring a plate of food for the communal table. We’re talking an evening with a seriously famous, at least in Australia and New Zealand, seriously clever satirist for $10 and however much it costs you to bring a plate of sandwiches or cake. If you’re in Melbourne and this interests you, book now, because places are filling up. If I were living anywhere reasonably close to Sunbury at the moment, I’d go.)

I can’t overstate how important this sort of thing is. The Twilight School is offering and allowing real connection, expression and education in a world where the privileged have an infinite number of avenues in which to communicate yet we are still discouraged from being honest and vulnerable in the company of others.

(When your feminist goddess of a friend is telling you that she’s not sure she should have written about her experiences with depression and anorexia because it’s not appropriate to tell that kind of intimate story, on her own damn website no less, we have a problem with communication.)

Continue reading

Advertisements

Queercott: Marriage Alliance

Okay.

Australians, this one is for you, but if you’re not Australian and you want to help out by reposting/linking, please, be my guest.

Marriage Alliance’s campaign of hate has spread to radio advertisements on 3AW. Now I can’t even sit in my room while my parents have a shower and listen to the radio at ridiculously high volume without hearing arseholes claim that granting me a basic human right and the protections that come with it means the loss of heterosexual families’ rights, freedoms and privileges.

A million writers and activists have said why this is stupid. (There’s some really good iceberg adaptions over on Same Same.) Quite frankly, any decent human being should realise why this is stupid, since the only thing everyone will lose is a safer, more accepting society. I can accept that the only people who are swayed by these ads are those who are homophobic or those who are ignorant. These kinds of campaigns never worked overseas to prevent the legalisation of marriage equality (in fact they were always the subject of mockery and scorn on shows like Gruen Planet) and they’re not likely to work here.

But.

We shouldn’t have to sit here and listen to that bullshit.

Look at it this way: I almost never watch TV or listen to the radio, and yet in the last two days, in about an hour’s worth of TV and radio total, I’ve been subjected to homophobic discourse three times.

Our spineless government has allowed this, but, quite frankly, the channels airing these adverts propaganda pieces – as far as I know here in Victoria, 3AW and Channel 9 – should be taking some responsibility, too. These companies are, by airing these advertisements propaganda pieces, promoting hate directed at a vulnerable section of society. They are saying, at the very least, that they are indifferent to the fact that these messages are contributing towards the ongoing state of Australian society where (cis) queer people aren’t wholly considered to be human. They are saying that it’s okay to promote and distribute hateful messages propaganda pieces. They are saying that the comfort and acceptance of (cis) queer people doesn’t matter. They are saying this to queers, to the families of queers, to the friends of queers, to the majority of people in Australia who have some connection with a queer person: you and/or your loved ones don’t deserve equality.

Now, it’s apparently quite legal for this hateful bullshit to be aired.

But we can turn off the channel.

We can stop giving these channels the thing they most desire: an audience.

Stop watching Channel 9. Stop watching Channel 9’s subsidiaries. Don’t watch them on your TV; don’t use their streaming or catch-up services. Don’t go to their websites. Don’t read their news articles. Don’t engage in their media. We can stop listening to 3AW (although I’d rather have pulled my own teeth out than listen before they started airing arsehole ads), but, better, we can stop engaging in any media owned by Fairfax.

(And if you know of any other arsehole radio stations/TV stations/newspapers/magazines running this propagandist bullshit in Australia, comment and I’ll add them to the list.)

I am asking you, Australians, as queers, friends of queers, families of queers and readers of queer writers, to make these companies regret the money they have gained for promoting the denial of my equal rights and my improved safety. I am asking you to do more than just sigh and complain and write pissed-off blog posts and hit ‘like’ or ‘reblog’.

What do we watch, then?

Well, SBS and Channel Ten are registered with Australian Marriage Equality, so there’s a start. Or how about Joy 94.9? Download the TV episode you missed from iTunes. There’s plenty of ways you can keep up with your favourite media without giving companies who think it’s appropriate to promote homophobia (and denying queer people marriage equality is homophobia) financial recompense for the act of hurting a vulnerable section of Australian society.

Please, if you care about me, join me in my queercott.

(And, yes, rage apparently is what I need to press my anxiety over posting into a tiny cowering knot thoroughly drowned-out by fury.)

Promotion: Pro GamerS

I just discovered that I can do custom menus. (I didn’t realise this because I came to WordPress from LiveJournal, and while LiveJournal might have a great community, as a blogging platform it is actually fairly blah in terms of what I can do to build my piece of the net. I actually didn’t expect WordPress, for a free service, to have this many options – I was happy with pages, to be honest. But drop-down menus with direct links? LOVE.) So I’ve spent a day building custom menus, finding better ways to arrange my links and getting rid of extra pages I don’t need because I can directly link. I also properly categorised everything (LJ doesn’t have categories so I didn’t know how to use those, either). Now I just have to link the older posts on their respective pages (I still want those because I think the summaries might be useful if one doesn’t read the whole blog, although those people who come in and read ten or twelve posts at a shot make my fucking day) so people can find them. Voila, I might have an organised quasi-professional blog where things are easy to find!

(I want to apologise for the lack of cuts. I didn’t realise how fucking annoying the lack made navigating long-form writing until I was scrolling back through the posts looking for posts that weren’t categorised – my thinking was that because everything is automatically cut on Reader, I didn’t have to do it, right? No. Wrong. I realise I could have done that checking far more easily from the posts menu because WordPress actually has useful backend – this is how used I am to working without backend – but my ridiculous scrolling taught me that my blog was a fucking pain to read if one doesn’t intend to read it sequentially. I’ve now fixed this, and I’m sorry for not doing this sooner.)

So please enjoy, I hope, an easier-to-read blog.

I realised in all this that I write a lot about creativity, these days. Or creativity as it relates to other things. That makes sense: I’m a creative. I didn’t quite realise how much I was writing about it, though, until I started categorising those posts. It’s interesting in the sense that until a year or so ago I’m quite sure I had next to no opinions on creativity as it intersects with representation, personal growth and one’s minority status, and now it’s apparently all I think about.

Continue reading

Rotunda in the West and other adventures in story

I wrote a piece about last Saturday’s Highlands Rotunda near Yea, which has been posted on Facebook: Rotunda went to the lush highlands.

(PDF format here!)

To place this piece in context, I need to explain two things.

The first: Bruno Lettieri. His passion is developing the capacity for story, and by extension the growth, development and community found in story, in others. Not literature, necessarily – I wouldn’t say he’s about literature at all. He’s not about technical polish. He’s about artistic and creative expression, most often in words. He’s about the power in that expression to transform lives. Bruno is, I think, about the most important human force extant: story.

He, with the support and sponsorship of Victoria University’s Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing (TAFE) department, is the commissioning and founding editor of Platform magazine and the organiser, promoter and spokesperson of Rotunda in the West. I’ve spoken about Platform‘s unique ethos before – the combination of community, emerging and established writers gracing the page of a free magazine that goes out to schools, libraries, community centres and many other western suburbs locations. Any local writer must know him as a vibrant bundle of enthusiasm driven by the need to help, nurture, sponsor and encourage the people he finds.

Continue reading

How much do we value our words, anyway?

Firstly: http://willylitfest.org.au/

Or, rather: http://willylitfest.org.au/2014-williamstown-literary-festival-program/46-the-changing-world-of-publishing-sherryl-clark-ian-syson-kim-cook-panel/

Yes, I am doing a talking thing, and I’m very much not thinking about it at this point. That’s a valid survival mechanism, right?

(And I’ve also been asked to come in and do another talk at school with professional-level payment involved. It baffles me that I can be paid a lot more money for talking about writing and publishing than actually doing it. It also baffles me that for some reason people think I can speak well enough to other people that they ask me to do it. I stutter! I tangle my thoughts! I lose words! If you think I repeat myself a lot in my writing – and I know I do – then wait until you fucking hear me speak!)

So if I have any readers in Melbourne who don’t already know me, come along. It should be interesting, and Sherryl Clark is always worth the listen. And go to Michael Kitson’s bookseller’s panel – he’s a great guy and a great speaker!

Secondly: I want to say a most profound thank you to the people in my life who are willing and able to help financially support a creative person in the challenge of being an independent creative person. I’m thrilled, flattered and touched that you’re able to do that, and it’s been a humble lesson in the importance of giving, when and where you can, to artistic people. The rent’s got to be paid, after all, and in a society where art is financially undervalued, we are dependent on the generosity of people who buck the trend. I hope I’m soon in a position where I can pay that kindness forwards.

Continue reading