Today in the office two of my colleagues embarked on a conversation about the news around Margaret Court that was dominating the Australian Open. Both of these colleagues are heterosexual, married men in their late forties / early fifties, both with a reasonably firm grip on reality and both people who would speak up against intolerance and discrimination. In fact one, of South African Indian background, lived through the oppression of the Apartheid regime.
The conversation started off by my South African colleague asking the other what the deal was with Margaret Court and the rainbow flag protests that were being reported in the news. My other colleague confidently said:
They need to pull her name off that stadium. There’s no room for that sort of bigotry in a country like this.
I was sitting next to my colleague when he said this. He’s not one to mince his words, and to hear this profoundly frank statement made me exceptionally proud to know him.
I posted the comment on Facebook (directly and via Twitter) as soon as what he had said sank in. In the subsequent 10 hours well over thirty people have ‘liked’ my colleague’s comment, shared it once and reposted it once. It has also attracted a range of supportive comments.
Clearly it has struck a chord.
I have to agree with my colleague. There is absolutely no room for this sort of bigotry in Australia. Increasingly the wider population is standing up to the hatred of homosexuality that has pervaded our society since the nation was founded.
It is incumbent on the leaders of our society, our governments, to fight the hatred and bigotry that same-sex attracted people face. It has to come from the very top, from the office of the Prime Minister. Sadly Prime Minister Gillard has, to date, shown herself to be completely lacking in the necessary skills to counter this hatred. Maybe she’ll discover them in time to make a difference during her ‘leadership’ but I won’t be holding my breath.
In the meantime I sit comfortable knowing that even if the leader of the nation has sold out to the homophobic right, there is an increasing number of heterosexual citizens who are prepared to stand up to the bigotry and hatred that their same-sex attracted compatriots are having to face.
Thank you to my colleague, and to every other heterosexual supporter fighting for our equality, our rights and our dignity.