Mt Isa

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32,001 Names – Will You Be One of Them?

Published September 9, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I’m going to post something off topic tonight.  It’s another cause that means a lot to me and I think we have the power to make a significant change in our world.

It’s no secret that marriage equality for same sex couples is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Why it’s a hot topic, I don’t know, because as far as I’m concerned, if people are competent and consenting adults, then they should have the right to legally marry regardless of their gender, sexuality, race or anything else.  Romantic/sexual partnerships between consenting adults should be of no consequence to anyone except those people themselves, least of all the government.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no debate, just a matter of how we’re going to adjust our legal system to accommodate the growing needs of our population.

However, there is a debate, and unfortunately it’s being dominated by a certain breed of very hateful, bigoted voice at the moment.  Loudest of which is Queensland MP, Bob Katter.

But this debate isn’t really about consenting adults legal right to marry other consenting adults.  This debate, at least from the anti-marriage equality sector, is about the oppression of non-heterosexual people.  That’s all it’s really about, these anti-marriage equality campaigners, want to keep non-heterosexual people marginalised and treat them like they are somehow less than heterosexual people, as though they are sub-human.  By removing the basic rights that we heterosexual people take for granted, they’re implying that our GLBTQ members of society are not equal to us.

Which is bullshit.

The thing is, these bigots are not the majority.  They don’t speak for Australians in general.  But they’re very vocal and for some reason the government take notice of them, and pander to them.  Not only on this topic, but all other matters of social justice as well.

We have to speak up as well.  We have to make it clear that these ultra-extreme conservatives are just that – an ultra-extreme minority.

Enter James Newburrie.

James is a young gay man who lives in Mt Isa here in Queensland.  Right in the heartland of Bob Katter country.  Bob Katter famously said and I quote:

“I would walk from Brisbane to Bourke backwards if the poof population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001%.”

Mr Katter is at some point going to have to take that long walk backwards for that statement.  However, it’s not going to happen with the way things are because young GLBTQ people in rural areas are so violently bullied, oppressed and shamed that they are forced to live their lives in secret, or move to metropolitan areas to survive.  The suicide rate for young GLBTQ people in rural areas is astronomically high, and it’s because of people like Bob Katter and their bullying statements.  It’s because of a very vocal minority that tells them they are worth less than the rest of us.  It’s because people like Bob Katter incite the bullies and violent arseholes in the community to harass and harm them.

I grew up in rural areas.  I had GLBTQ friends who I saw bullied and beaten for just being who they are.  Some of them couldn’t cope, and took their own lives to escape that hatred.  And I saw people like Bob Katter, or those involved with groups like Family First and the Australian Christian Lobby make these young people go through living hell because of their bigotry.

As a heterosexual Christian myself, it’s assumed by people like Bob Katter and the ACL that they speak for me, when they in fact do not.

But back to James Newburrie.  James has been spurred into action as a young gay man living in rural Queensland to stand up and be heard.  James has started a campaign called 32001 Names, a bid to collect as many names as Bob Katter claimed he had against marriage equality… plus 1.  I personally believe that there are more than 32001 people willing to put their name behind James’ campaign.  He already has over 8500 names so he’s well on his way.  But I think we need to pitch in and find him more.

As well as this campaign, James has organised an equality rally in Mt Isa for this Sunday, right opposite Bob Katter’s office, just to show him that there are more than 0.001% of the local population who are GLBTQ and their allies.  If I could fly to Mt Isa this weekend to stand beside James and the other participants, I would.  But sadly I’m not able to, so instead I’ve pledged to spread the word any way I can.

So there are some things you can do to help.  You can “Like” the 32001 Names Facebook page or you can attend the rally in Mt Isa (or show your support for it).  You can share both of these with everyone you know, especially rural Queenslanders.  Very soon, there will be a way for you to also submit photographs, videos and other media in support for the 32001 Names campaign as well.  If you use Twitter, you can use the #32001names hashtag to spread the word.  It would be great to get that one trending on Sunday during the rally.  You could do as I have, and blog about James and the 32001 Names project.  You can share this blog post around.  Or you can get creative.  Visibility is the key for campaigns like these.  The more support, the more mentions, the more images, the more we speak up, the more the word spreads and the safer and more encouraged our young GLBTQ people feel.  Just by showing your support in some way, someone who needs to know that support is there might just hear, and you might just change their world.

Wanna help change the world?