'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

29 October 2012

My Sixties Revisited

My Hippie and Marching Days

It was the time to have lots of hair and in those days I had plenty. I still give bonus points to anyone with long hair. 

Get Out And March
This is a rare Photo and some Footage I found of my first demonstration 45 years ago in 1967. I was one of those who went on the long march and then got dragged from the road and as I recall, thrown over the top of a parked car. This brings back memories of passion and involvement.
My First Demo and First Run-in With Police Violence.

From the Army disposal stores, Indian and charity shops the clothes and beads evolved, music was unleashed with no restraints and to our parents, our governments and our churches, the social fabric appeared under threat.  Smug little students that we were, we thought the revolution had begun. Up popped black liberation, women's liberation, sexual liberation and things like greed and war were to be cast into oblivion. Well I would not have had it any other way. It was a great, fun, creative and forming age. No matter how cynical people now appear I don't think the world would be as it is if it were not for the flowers and the banners and the confrontations. The huge swing of the last decade or two to the fundamentalism of religions and politics, and the cry of moral superiority so often heard, is the latest battle for change. It is a dangerous time of excessive self-interested comment and media manipulation and where it ends will be historic, no matter on which side things fall. 
My first march in 1967, was for Civil Liberties and the 'right to march' (video above) 4000 marched from the St. Lucia campus some several miles into the city-heart and when blocked by a wall of police, we sat in the middle of Roma Street. Then myself and several thousand others were dragged from the street and several including myself were and thrown by a special riot squad over the roofs of cars. Undeterred we regrouped and moved to King George Square and then continued on to Parliament House with ringleaders being picked off and arrested one by one along the way. Such was the uproar from this march that it even got a mention in Pravda (Russian News in Moscow) - I recall some slight exaggeration about 'Australian students rising up against an authoritarian government'. When the over 250 arrests went to court, the behaviour of the police caught on film and the outrage from the newspapers (before they all became right wing) saw all the charges thrown out by the judge. The law was overturned and the first taste of victory enthused several years of civil disobedience as students gained a conscience and stood against the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and began the anti Vietnam-War moratoriums. It was a hallmark of those days that NEVER were the students violent. Civil disobedience works, Riots never do.

As I saw recently one demonstration in 1968 against apartheid and the visiting white South African Springbok football team is described as a formative changing moment in Australian history. I was there with friends and recently found a photo of the demonstration with me in it. It was taken just before 500 police charged 400 students, drove us down a hill where we tumbled in darkness over a 20 ft. cliff. A few broken bones for some and one close friend arrested escaping over a fence in a nearby railway yard. Out despicable, notorious and overzealous Premier declared a State of Emergency.

'Sir Johannes "Joh" Bjelke-Petersen, KCMG (13 January 1911 – 23 April 2005), was an Australian politician. He was the longest-serving and longest-lived Premier of Queensland, holding office from 1968 to 1987, a period that saw considerable economic development in the state. His uncompromising conservatism (including his role within the downfall of the Whitlam federal government), his political longevity, and his leadership of a government that, in its later years, was revealed to be institutionally corrupt, made him one of the best-known and most controversial political figures of 20th century Australia.' From Wikipedia. In fact when I was in England in 1979 the owner of a small guest house in York could not understand how I “could live under such a regime.”. He was known worldwide.

This is the photo with me at the Springbok Demonstration (red Arrow).
 It would be thirty years and not until the rally against the attack on Iraq in 2003 has this city seen a larger number of people (over 50,000) take to the streets. There were the busy evenings back in the 60's and 70's, occupied with pamphlet printing, police raids and the high drama of smuggling from house to house, those with warrants for their arrest. I remember driving my Mini Cooper around the back streets ferrying one particular activist as we moved him ever few hours. The police even harassed his grandmother. There were always cries of police brutality and the chants were so full of excitement and commitment. Several of my friends were arrested from time to time, so my mother always gave me some extra bail money just in case. 
These are some old photos of various other protests I participated in four decades ago.
Times were good as a student and we partied on cheap wine, danced in sarongs and burnt enough incense to pollute the planet. I miss it. Of course everyone talks about the drugs of the sixties and I may have been one of the minority who did not smoke or take any, but so many of my friends did. Yes, many died from the occasional accidental overdose, or intentional and ritualised suicide, drowning on their own vomit etc. and I developed a hatred for drugs, but that is a personal idea and although I prefer that people do not, I understand why they do. It is their choice and laws will not deter anyone, but only ensure alienation from the community.
Political Sides
What was the morality or politics of this age? Many who were not involved or have since changed sides, refer to it as a naive, childish, self absorbed time. I am a lot older today, but my mind still remains in that time or at least in my understanding of it. I do not presume to speak for others, but to me it was a time of a deep sense of morality, a concern for brotherhood and I see little difference between the high ideals and those of St. Francis of Assisi. I can already hear some screaming to challenge me. I recently watched a series on St. Francis and watched his passion for loving all creation and his wish to share equally with everyone. If today the politicians and churches would cease being totally obsessed with sexual matters and controlling what people feel they need in the ways of pleasure such as intoxicants, fashions and entertainment, they might cast their eye at what is, to me, so much more important: the creation of a world where mankind can understand his spiritual journey, strive towards his ambitions and have the ability to live a free life where one can explore and search for meaning and 'truth'. One must be left to try and attain the right place in the world for oneself and for others. Ethics does not guide today's politics, nor does leadership reveal any logic other than the imposition of rules to maintain popularity, power or personal economic profit. Profit is fine, but profit for all not the few. Rules are fine, but arbitrary disapproval has little to do with justice. How many times do laws change? How can something that was illegal one day be legal another or the other way round? Perhaps legal has nothing to do with right. Either something is ok or it isn't. It should not be made illegal because it is inconvenient or someone, who has transitory power, disagrees with it. No church has the right to criticise another. No individual can be sure of his rightness and thus condemn another, or at least he must be very careful. Yes, many do go against the peace and safety of others, but what goes on in the mind of the apparent transgressor? Perhaps we look at the surface only and the truth remains hidden or we choose to be blind to it because it is inconvenient. Life is much more complicated or we have made it so by narrow focus. Was this the sixties or was it just youth? No generation is that different to another but what history recalls is generally the view of a few who at that point in time held the upper hand of politics, religion or the media. At birth we are each given a choice to examine or not. Some may suffer, others can tread more safely, but we do have the choice. We are not guaranteed success or even an easy road, but we should be allowed to try and if it appears that we are not, our will still allows us to stand up if we choose. We alone are responsible for our choices, but that does not mean they are correct nor does it mean that those of others are at fault.

 As mentioned the clothes that evolved towards the end of the decade were certain evidence that 'the times were a changin'. From the formality and 'bad taste' of what your mother bought you there was a gradual drift through the pastel shirts, then the paisley prints until the unisex image of the beads, the length of hair and the flowing and flowery clothing went beyond all bounds. We also had a healthy and I still believe good respect for the naked body in those days and very arty, presumptuous, self expression overflowed into the parks and onto the streets and beyond the imagination. 
Relationships were many, passionate and dramatic and seemed to meander with assorted swapped couplings amongst a group that constantly expanded and contracted. A group of us introduced the wearing of scarves and as soon as it caught on we stopped wearing them. I began my lifelong habit of throwing large parties of around 400, several times a year. Surely this is all an arrogance that now irritates the generations who followed, but if this is so perhaps there should be revolution anew. 
There were two streams of music that influenced me and many. Pop began to be important with the Beatles and the cuteness of groups like Hermans Hermits and others backed up this light side, but amongst the simple and happy music were also the songs of conscience Peter Paul and Mary were my great influence and I saw them 5 times ending in the centre of the front row staring up adoringly at Mary Travers whom I adored. 
They and others sang anthems from the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Dylan is shown in this  'says it all photo' with Alan Ginsberg at the grave of Jack Kerouak - I once saw Ginsberg read poetry at my University. Songs of the time were not just of love for a girl or boy, but for mankind. A song was also a gentle way of voicing ones dissatisfaction with a war, an injustice and gave voice to a longing for a hope filled utopia which seems never to have arrived. As Oscar Wilde said "as soon as we sight it and fail to recognise it we set off again to search anew."
Hair 1968

Of course a musical of its time was Hair. Today it is occasionally revived, but as I read comments and reviews I get the feeling that it should be left in the past and that modern commentators just don't get it. I remember the 1,000k drive to Sydney in 68 to see this wonder. We drove through light snow, heavy rain and the old Mini broke down regularly. We got lost, but at last we arrived. It was an event and yes the nudity was very revolutionary to a group of 18-19 year old students on their first big adventure. It was an event of its time and a fashion. It can no longer speak to people living in a different atmosphere. I suspect revivals are no more than just another musical and mean little in the way of revolution to its audience.
Unlike many who grace our documentaries these days I do not believe that the flowering of love and peace imploded and failed to work. I still have faith in the ability of people to re-examine themselves, pull them selves up and carry themselves forward. It was an intense time of cold war, real war and social and spiritual renewal and I feel better for it and those who participated and survived are surely stronger. Recently I saw an Argentinian Reporter attempting to explain an internal political battle going on in the USA. She couched her assessment in terms of those who were not part of the left hippie uprising getting their revenge on those who did. A fundamental battle of belief that is far from over and in fact alarmingly intense. Do we abandon the sexual liberation in all its facets and return to the paternalistic, finger-pointing, hypocritical pretence of the nineteenth century or do we continue along the path of demolishing the barriers between the races, the sexes, the generations and the minorities? What is described as the conservative Right or the various movements that claim to adhere to 'fundamental' beliefs would certainly like to return the world to a darker time of guilt, suspicion, and moral arrogance. The battle continues.
I may not have been to Paris until 1975 but the feeling of the old riotous Left Bank (the famous 1968 above) was with me in spirit. They even threw on a student march down Boulevard St Michelle for me while I was there, but then again on that same trip there were 150,000 on the streets outside my hotel in Rome burning buses, a bombing a few blocks away in London, the border to Spain was closed because of train bombings and our Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was sacked, which threw Australia into angry turmoil. 

28 October 2012

Brendan Maclean and Scott Spark

Last night at the Judith Wright Centre for contemporary Arts I saw two wonderful artists. Both Singer Songwriters and both so talented. I have read comments relating their style to Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds which is true in that they are melodic, sincere, brilliant and pianists, but they have individual voices and things to say and I am wary of saying someone is like someone else.  It is too easy and for me it means the ears are lazy. They are definitely their own talent. An artist is a unique individual and the treasures they share are what make our life an adventure, a meaningful indulgence and special.
Scott Spark
First up was Scott Spark from Brisbane and he and his band put on a great selection of mainly original songs as we sat with drinks, cabaret style, around tables. It is worth checking out his web site and preparing for his second album  next year. My cousin thought him adorable.
Scott Sparks on Youtube
Brendan Maclean
After an interval onto the stage leapt Brendan Maclean. I had recently seen him in a play in its genesis -  'I War' with the Danger Ensemble at the Queensland Theater Company. Brendan is an extraordinary singer and composer. I believe he is also a sometime radio host. He can dance brilliantly and can act. In fact he has just recently appeared in the new Baz Luhrmann film 'The Great Gatsby' alongside the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby Maguire and Joel Edgerton. His songs are stunning and his performance is alive, tender, endearing and overflowing with talent and charm. He is a beautiful man.
It is the first time Brendan had brought his band to Brisbane although he has appeared here many times. Some serious musicians. He of course pounds or seduces the piano as required and has a ball with his Ukulele for which he has a pet name. His music is personal and with a twist. During the show he spoke of an ex boyfriend, helpful film makers and toy dinosaurs, smiled a lot and exuded so much justified confidence, warmth and did I mention - TALENT.
The great night was topped of beautifully when I received a beautiful hug from Brendan after the show.

23 October 2012


Just over 71% of the surface of the earth is covered by water and about two thirds of the human body is made of water. It is our great resource and life can not exist without it, so our little blue planet is just about perfect and so are we.
To have plenty of water is a sign of health and happiness and to be naked is to be totally free. You can be born or die in water. but how many other things can you do naked in, on, around, near, under and with water? One of the first erotic images I saw when I was a child was a picture in an RAAF journal of a group of young Airmen skinny dipping in a jungle waterhole. They smiled they were relaxed and they were alive. To me it was beautiful. Jumping naked into the water be it a river, a pool or the sea is one of the most exhilarating experiences available to a free soul. The tingle of the water on your skin is magic. It not only cleanses, but invigorates, refreshes and excites the sensations. The enveloping water can be warm or cold, it can heal and it can relax. We come into existence in the fluids of or mother's womb and perhaps this is why we find comfort submerged once again. Of course life itself came from the sea as did our earliest ancestors, so it is perhaps a natural state for us to occasionally return to that all enveloping world of water. Let it touch your skin.
A top choice of water fantasies would be
 God of the sea,Poseidon/Neptune.
Float under Water like David Pereira
Stand in the Water
Approach the Waters Edge
Surf on Water
Polluted yes! But Water can still look Amazing.
Play Sports on Water
Go Skinny Dipping in Water
Jump and Dive into Water
Look At Water
Reflect in the Water
and die like the mythological beautiful Narcissus
Be enticed into the water like Hercules lover Hylas.
Bathe in Water

Art and Water
David Hockney and Peter master the Californian Pool
Preserve History in Water
From Waterboys the Movie Japan
From the Australian Film Newcastle
with Zavier Samuel (Twilight Eclipse, Anonymous, The Loved Ones etc.)
Den Eisai Dentro

11 October 2012

Come Out!

You may want to do it with a bang or perhaps with more subtlety, but whatever you do, be true to yourself and you can hold your head high. However, do not underestimate the fun of the outrageous and Come Out. It is important.
This is a speech so worth playing. Academy Award Winner Dustin Lance Black who wrote Milk is quite an orator. To change the world you must tell your story and let people know who you really are.

Well, This Is My Story.
Yes its true that I was a late bloomer. Not that I was in the closet because I did not realise there was one. Perhaps the only thought I had was that I was asexual more than anything. Of course I had the occasional fantasy that began with a photograph in my father's Air Force War Annual of a bunch of guys skinny dipping in the jungles somewhere. I think I did some very bad doodles that had penises in them and my mother found the drawings and casually mentioned her discovery with that air of disappointment. I think I was more embarrassed that they were such poor pieces of art as I have never had any skill for drawing. There was a bit of genital touching and exploration with cousins around that time of puberty, but mostly I recall discussing our intended virginity until marriage with school friends. As expected I eventually gained a girlfriend who was a great friend  to whom I could char to on the phone for hours on end, but little more than that. We went out but I did hate the expected kiss at the end of the evening.  It is funny that when I run into her every ten years or so it is as if we had still not stopped talking. This 5 year relationship continued safely until into my University days where I did later meet another girl who managed to share in my losing my virginity, believe it or not, while watching a Barbra Streisand Concert on TV (how apt). Soon I turned 21 and while celebrating very low key at the movies, a friend  told me I was Gay and  he and his girlfriend had bought along this guy  for me. Unphased I offered said guy a lift home and we went to bed. That was it. No drama, no guilt, no worries. It all fell into place and I knew I was gay. It could not have been more natural or easier. My life now felt real. The following day I told all my friends and that was that. We became boyfriends and remained friends for decades after the affair had faded. In life there was now no looking back. A short time after that initial encounter I phoned my mother and suggested we have a talk. Her first response was "If it is about that Vietnam rubbish I don't want to know.". It was around the moratorium march times.  'No' I replied "It is more important.", to which she responded "Oh the fact that you don't like girls. I have known that for years." We had lunch and I explained it in terms of love and emotion etc. and she was fine except she did suggest she would not mention it to the relatives. Of course as soon as I was out of the house she rang one of her sisters and then a radio talk show and a psychiatrist. This, thankfully I did not know about for many years. I would have been devastated by such lack of belief in me. I am not sure I ever have forgiven that hidden reaction. Things are ok now but she is a Catholic and find it hard to accept the argument that parents were bought up in a different time. To me bigotry is bigotry. It is not a matter of changes in social standards. People with a conscience should be able to think through the difference between right and wrong. It is logic not 'church' teachings. Morality is not what is imposed by a bunch of bitter, old, power hungry, egotistical, patriarchs. Morality stems from love and understanding to our fellow men and women, the desire to do no harm, and a respect for the future of all living things and this planet. I have studied logic and ethics and I know with certainty that the motivation of feeling superior is not an excuse for judgement, finger pointing and its eventual consequence - Hatred and in this case Homophobia. I take love as the first principle, the prime mover and the beginning of a true life.

Of course this whole blog is my story because what I think, what I do and what I appreciate is what I am.

Australia Coming Out
Why Come Out?
I believe that more people need to declare their sexuality, come out, be counted stand up and stand by those who have already done so. As of today there are about 7 billion people on this planet and by some estimates it is one in every ten people who are exclusively gay or lesbian. That by my calculations means that there are 700,000,000 people who are gay or will be when they grow up. i.e. SEVEN HUNDRED MILLION. The overpopulation of Earth will not suffer because there are still a lot left to breed and even now a few gay couples are having children by various means. There are lot of us, but how many are game to be ourselves publicly. In some unfortunate countries it is illegal still. Some countries will imprison you and some will even kill you, many will shun you and most will insult you. Yes it is not easy to come out and you may take risks if you do, but that is because the bigots of this world have the loudest mouths and the biggest reach. They control the churches big and small, the nasty profit churches and they control the media and the media will always pander to the majority to sell its product. Advertisers will back what appeals to the highest number and do not care if it may reinforce the stereotype. The highest number or the majority is an ill conceived concept. Might has never made right, many does not mean all and bullies are not role models, but they behave as if they are. They yell louder, they get red in the face and they are happy to spread hate. Yes it is not easy to come out, but it is right. If you look up anyone on the internet it usually shows that someone has asked before if they are gay or not, so people do want to know. Gay men are accused of assuming that everyone is gay or at least hoping they are. This is fine. We all search for our own tribe, our familiars and our comfort zones. It is ok to ask and it is not an insult to ask, as long as it is just interest. Really, when you examine the question it is a case of "So the fuck what". The only reasons I see for public statements are for the ease of others, the destruction of myths and the revelation of the truth that we are here. The gay youth of the world generally grow up in a straight environment with no role models for their sexuality. They learn nothing from their family and nothing from their school as it is assumed they will be straight. They need to see public figures who are gay. They need to see that there are a lot of us. They need to see that we come in all shapes and sizes, and ages and colours. They need to see that some are effeminate, some are butch, some are brilliant and some are boring. Not every gay boy is as fabulous as we would like. Some may even be not very nice just like some in the rest of the population are not nice. I do however find it unfortunate that some feel it necessary to hide their sexuality because a studio, a company, a political party, a church/synagogue/mosque insists on it. Some are influenced by what it will do to their popularity, their pay, their employment, but should they not be influenced by what it is doing to themselves, their honesty and many of their friends, family, fans, small towns and others who might benefit by finding in them a role model or at least a courageous honest person. Your step can let a boy know he is not alone. Don't let him slip into depression with thoughts of suicide as a way to escape the insults and the loneliness. Let a bully know that some of his heroes might just be gay. Do not let people assume a world that is not true and use it as an excuse for marginalising minorities who are not as small as they think. 
Remember, there are possibly seven hundred million out there somewhere. I still believe that on average, gay people are a kinder group and whether this part is nature or nurture I am not sure, but it has generally led to a gentler approach where we have often been stood over. This is not quite the same any more as many now are standing on the battle line, on the stage, on the soap-box and in the spotlight. Claim your rights and do it justly, with conviction and with love. Free yourself, come out and be a hero for someone else who just might notice. It may be a courageous act but it has to be done so that one day it will not require that we be a hero just to be who we are.
Not everyone is on our side as yet, but they should be and we can help.

Be Fabulous!

Be An Ally To Your Gay Friends
It is Important.

Yes today the 11th of October is 
Coming Out Day
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