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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 Andre Stoffels on August 14, 2011 at 0:39

I am so pleased that I went to the rally.  Yes Sonia I did enjoy it and thanks for asking.  It was so good to see people standing up for their rights and being a small part of it. I guess it's never too late to experience new things and this was such a great way to close my first year of living as an openly gay man.  I thought it was wonderful to see so many passionate young people there.  And it was just delightful to have same sex couples marching proudly through the streets of the city arm in arm. My only regret was that only one of my new friends was there with me.  I wish more would have able or motivated to attend. No criticism intended - it just would have been good to share the experience with them.

I hope there won't be a need for another rally on this issue but if there is, I'll be there.  I better buy a big rainbow flag just in case! 

Comment by Melina MIchelle Magdalena on August 13, 2011 at 19:53

We had a great time at the rally too, followed by a rare treat of sitting down and catching up with friends afterwards. We could hear the music blaring as we approached, and my heart skipped a beat when I noticed the hate-filled banners and their bearers were back - in greater numbers than last time. But at least we were prepared. The music was being played by the Equal Love organisers, to drown out the messages from the street preachers.

There were several great speakers. 2 that stood out for me were David Jobling's impassioned and humourous poem, and the speech by the representative of Christians for Gay Marriage.

I saw lots of teenagers, but lots of toddlers and small children, too. We stayed on the western side of the rally, away from the preachers, as did many others. It was great to see so many Rainbow Families from Pink Playgroup, as well.

 

Comment by Lisa Barrett on August 13, 2011 at 18:30
I'm so glad it went well, thank you rainbow family tree for offering to keep an eye out for my daughter.  The more young people who are educated in fairness and acceptance  the better.  I also see the value of teaching the importance of standing up to be counted.  Too often we let bad things continue for a quiet life or because it doesn't affect us.  Apathy breeds apathy.  Love to all the wonderful people who were there today.
Comment by Sophie Pointer on August 13, 2011 at 16:57

Had a great time at the Rally today. The street preachers were there but the police and the crowds kept them at bay. The atmosphere was great with so many young people....well not that young as I think there were only 3 or 4 kids Riley's age or younger.

In the end it was a demonstration of love and a peaceful protest in the face of fundamentalist hate. Riley had a great time, especially during the march, I think she still thinks all the people are there to see her :-)

We did an interview with Channel 10 after the rally so fingers crossed we'll be on the telly tonight.

Great to meet you in person Andre and I hope you enjoyed your first rally! Thanks for sheparding us past the fundo's!

Comment by Rainbow Family Tree on August 13, 2011 at 11:50

It's exciting to be part of such excellent discussion and lively examples of 'listening across difference'... and makes me ponder the larger differences between 'us' and the 'street preachers'...

It also makes me wonder about where the line is drawn between non-violent protest and self-defence. I think it might be about power and control. For example, in a situation where one is set upon, late at night in a quiet street, by a group of homophobic thugs, one doesn't have much power - fighting back might be the only means of asserting a little control over one's right to keep living!

On the other hand, the violence we witnessed at the previous rally, while horrible, was largely restricted to verbal abuse and pushing/shoving. We still have the capacity to wield power and control through a number of means - speaking back, singing, ignoring, withdrawing, circulating videos that represent our perspective etc.

It seems our responses to homophobia may do well to be tweaked according to context - and we do best as a community when we assert our power (whether that be voice or self-defence) and control (over our identities and how we are represented to/by the wider community). I for one am glad to be able to participate in the continual re-shaping of culture and social values... and I'm glad that our plans have changed and we'll be able to come today to the rally!

 

However, having participated in these discussions with you all, I feel I'll be able to make some informed choices about how I'll respond if things turn ugly... I have some power and control in this situation and I'll do what seems right in the circumstances in order to both represent our 'family values' and protect the little ones that I love... while gently walking them through a few of the unpleasant 'it's not fair' underpinnnings of our current social environment.

 

See some of you there, Sonja

Comment by Currawong on August 12, 2011 at 19:01

I don't see how my postings might have been interpreted as advocating violence, but to do nothing if faced with such is to be forever seen as a soft target. If I had not learnt self defence, I could well be dead today and I would encourage any member of the GLBTI community to remain physically fit as well as skilled in whatever form of defence one is prepared to use. Not everyone is comfortable with it and that is fine by me, it just means I have to watch out for everyone else.

 

I think the Stonewall riots were 100% justified, and while I won't be the first to throw stones, I'll happily throw them back for those who won't. I treat every pride parade and rally as a subtle show of force....after all, it is a statement that we will not be put back in the closet. To me there is a difference between lobbying for our rights through public sympathy and earning it through might and respect. Both have their place, but I'm firmly more experienced with the latter.

 

Either way I will not be attending the rally as it clashes with my firefighter training with the CFA. Violence against wildfires in Victoria is after all, quite politically acceptable ;)

Comment by Sophie Pointer on August 12, 2011 at 9:04

It seems like the street preachers have made a mark on many people. Some are more galvanised and others more fearful.

 

In the end Jo and I have decided we will take Riley to the rally. BUT I will be prepared to remove her from the situation if it gets ugly. We talked to her about what happened last time and have explained how important it is to stand up for what you believe in. If nothing else we need to teach her that not all christians are like the street preachers!

At the end of the day I strongly beleive that if we don't go then in effect the street preachers have suceeded in sending us back into the closet. I hope I don't see violent retaliation by any of our supporters. I know people are angry but my 6 year old will be there and I want her to see how to stand up for what you believe in and how to be strong and resiliant without resorting to violence.

 

See you all tomorrow.

 

Comment by Melina MIchelle Magdalena on August 12, 2011 at 8:52

It's easy to see from his discussion how hatred begets hatred. Retaliating in kind (i.e. an eye for an eye) also has a long and not so honourable history. It's a very tempting path to take. However popular the idea that Currawong proposes, I disagree that it's going to do any good in the long run, to take on the haters with responses that stem from the hurts we have sustained, the hatred that is thrust in our direction, or anger and fear.

I do not want to see the changes that are so slowly but surely developing in our society forced through by the kind of sustained battles that are ensuing in England right now, between representatives of the Establishment and the disenfranchised. They are out of control. I see very little positive change coming out of the riots.

What we want IS revolutionary. Many people have already lost their lives, their livelihoods, their families, communities, their health and so much more, because we have been struggling for equality for more than a century now - slowly. We get knocked down. We get the stuffing knocked out of us - literally, and it takes time to get up again. But we can build upon the incremental gains we make, in sure knowledge that we can be, and we can create the change we want, and the change our children need.   

Comment by Andre Stoffels on August 11, 2011 at 22:20

I missed the last rally but from what I saw I don't think I'd take my daughter with me to the next one if she was 6. I don't think I'd want her to be exposed to the sort of anger and behaviour I saw in some of the videos.  Older kids (young teenagers) can have things explained to them and they can be prepared for what might happen but I think that's a bit tough for the littler ones.

For myself - this will be my first ever rally of any sort.  I came out about this time last year and I know I need to be there on Saturday to make my little contribution to the message that this discrimination, enshrined in Australian legislation, must end.  In our political system, it is those who make the loudest noise who seem to get their way - not necessarily those who are in the right.  That's why I will be there.

I hope lots of people from our community come along. And lots of straight mates too!!

Comment by Currawong on August 11, 2011 at 21:27
Also gonna add....yeah, keep the kids at home if things can get rough, but I'd then use it as an opportunity for some no holes barred retaliation if things get pear-shaped if they are out of the way of danger.

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