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To Rally or not to Rally....that is the question.

Another gay marriage rally on Saturday. I remember the last one, the memories are not pleasant.


We have been attending the gay marriage rallies regularly of late. Sometimes our 6 year old daughter is with us and sometimes not. When she has not been at the rallies it has not been a conscious choice on our part more like a clash of social schedules (e.g. play dates, daddy days). But after what happened at the last rally I find myself unsure of whether to bring her along on Saturday.


A big part of me does not want her exposed to that sort of hate and violence. I can imagine it will be scary and confronting for us let alone a 6 year old.


Another chunk of me wonders whether shielding her from that is the right thing to do. We are blessed to live in a supportive environment. People don't hurl abuse at us, we aren't shunned or pointed at in the streets but we know that it is not like that for all people in all places. That's part of the reason we attend the rallies, to point that out and to fight for people who are unable to.


I'd love to tell you I have reached a decision but I haven't. Thoughts of fellow parents would be most welcome at this point!

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Comment by Currawong on August 11, 2011 at 21:24
My philosophy is one that isn't going to be popular with many of the community, and its toughen the f*ck up. For far too long the haters believe they have a monopoly on violence and threats. I try so hard to *not* advocate violence but after being attacked once I can only encourage people to learn to defend themselves, to not back down.
Comment by Melina MIchelle Magdalena on August 11, 2011 at 21:09

I was so horrified last time that I couldn't bear to be there. And I've been at rallies where there's violence and opposition; (AIDEX) I've been arrested at rallies (Nurrungar). I don't think I'm just older and more cynical. I am no more sensitive than I used to be. I think what Bronwen has touched on - the element of surprise attack, which the Street Preachers used with great effect last time is what shook me up most. The rally turned in moments from something positive to something very sad and scary.

They won't have that element of surprise this time. I worry that some activists may be fired up ready to counter-attack, if the Street Preachers appear, and I too am sorry I haven't taken it upon myself to try and organise some non-violent direct action workshops to assist activists in practising and being ready to use NVDA in situations like that. I hope that there may be some positive direction from the Equal Love organisers around NVDA and staying strong and safe.

I'm feeling more and more like I want to be at the rally this time, particularly in light of the Penny Wong and Sophie Allouache (sp?!) announcement, and the omission of our marriage unions from the Census.

There's not much the Street Preachers can do to spoil things for us this time - not that I wish to in any way minimise what happened at the last one - and if they rock up, it can only mean more publicity for our cause. I'd like to be part of that public face, and may think about painting a sign to take this time. That way I'll feel more like I have a voice that I can use.

Comment by Bronwen McClelland on August 11, 2011 at 20:59
After the last rally I spent time wondering what kind of response could have been most effective - how we could/might/should've been able to strongly counter their hatefulness by some kind of unified/unifying non-violent act...  like, what would have happened had we all turned around, put our backs to them and sung something together, loudly (but not necessarily tunefully)?   An artist/activist friend suggested giant puppets talking to the hate-spewers and gently mocking them, thus turning them into something more ridiculous than powerful...     However, I didn't do anything about these thoughts -  and I guess such responses do need to be thought through and planned, and people all need to be brought together on the same page in order for these ideas to work...   I'm sorry that I didn't do anything towards making it possible - 'cos I do believe that strong nonviolence is effective and powerful - and, speaking for myself, I didn't feel like my response (taking Rowan and running away when things got hairy) was either of those things last time...
Comment by Lisa Barrett on August 11, 2011 at 18:02
My daughter who is 14 (not gay but with a friend who is) said that she was wanting to go along to add support to this.  I saw the way that Sonja et al was treated the last time and feel a bit worried about a situation she may find herself in.  As an activist for women's rights myself I know how difficult it can be when you stand up to be counted.   At the same time I don't want to stop her from attending something she feels strongly about.  However if  activists are thinking twice about going maybe it's not a great place for a naive 14 year old with high ideals.
Comment by Kimby on August 11, 2011 at 17:06
I totally understand Sophie, and I don't blame you at all.
I won't be attending this time, due to a broken ankle. But even if I was fit to attend I would possibly not go anyway. Although I was right in the middle of it all last time, the thought of encountering those 'people' again makes my anxiety flare up. No one wants to be exposed to that sort of thing.
But, if we don't go, don't they win?
Comment by Rev Leanne Jenski on August 11, 2011 at 17:04
It's a hard call for parents of young people....and complicated by Jo's students. At the end of the day you need to decided what's best for Riley... being the age she is... and perhaps if we are anticipating the street preachers again then sit this one out ....but send Jo!  I think that's what I'd do.
Comment by Sophie Pointer on August 11, 2011 at 16:26

Hey Sonja,


Thanks for your input. It would have been easier if the decision was out of our hands too! We have an added complexity in that there will be a number of Jo's students from Unley High attending as part of their Gay/Straight Alliance activities. We feel we need to be there to support them as well and a few of them will be speaking at the rally.


I'm leaning towards going with Riley and watching from across the street to see whether any of the street preachers show up. If they do she will see a bit of the problems first hand but from a safe distance.



Comment by Rainbow Family Tree on August 11, 2011 at 15:34

Hi Sophie


I strongly relate to where you're at... fortunately (in a way) we have other commitments so the decision this time is out of my hands. A while back 'Equal Love' got in touch and asked me to speak at this (forthcoming) rally and suggested my daughter might also say a few words. I pondered whether that would be cathartic for her... and whether, having put her 'out there' by making a story about the experience of the last rally ('Marriage is So Gay!'), I was being hypocritical or inconsistent by wanting to shield her from further 'exposure'.


In the end I thought about it from her point of view - I think at the moment she'd just find it embarrassing and a bit nerve wracking (as would I, doing same). She's proud of us as a family and has continued to try and make us visible to the people whose opinions she values at school... but it's not fun, being an activist... and risking copping the kind of abusive ill-will we all experienced last time.


I interviewed Jacqui Tomlins recently and she had an inspiring perspective to share... (something like) "I've been so lucky in my experience of being gay, finding love, making a family... and I recognise how privileged that makes me. I'm white, middle class, well educated... if I can't put myself out there to speak up for the cause who else can I expect to do it for me?" You might like to check out her excellent blog and schoolyard/neighbourhood campaign in Victoria here.


Meanwhile I'll alert the wider RFT community to your post in the hope that others may share their rationales behind deciding 'To rally or not to rally'... I'm skipping this one but have promised myself I'll pursue further MP appointments and online activism... and will commit to physically making it to the next one! I look forward to the day when I'll be free to rally on one of the other many less personal causes I believe in ; )



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