Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Mum 10 Years

Today is 10 years since Mum died. In memory I refer back to my post at that time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


If this photo upsets you, GET OVER IT.

The event in Orlando a few days creates many feelings. One is my anger at the gun lobby. I hesitate to put forward Australia's gun laws as being perfect.  It only takes one nutter and one firearm to create a massacre but the rifle used in Orlando has been banned in Australia since the Port Arthur Massacre and while still allowed in NZ, the chamber must be restricted to 7 bullets. So you can shoot 7 people before they have a chance to stop you ?????
The New Zealand hunting culture is one aspect of my new nation with which I do not agree. Fortunately they mainly only manage to shoot their best mates because they do not follow the rules of identifying their target.
I am proud of the fact that NZ police do not regularly carry firearms.

I have been bemused by my US friends who say they will avoid travelling to Europe and particularly France.  I have always felt most at risk when in the USA.  I was in Washington at the time of the Virginia Tech Massacre, not that far away.

However my main anger is at the religious authorities. In this case it was Muslim teaching but Christian teaching is just the same.

It makes me sick when Religious leaders like the Abps of Canterbury and York announce their horror at what happened.
As long as GLBTI  and their love are portrayed as less than equal, those stating such views are equally culpable when someone who is mentally unstable develops such views as an excuse to carry out atrocities.  There is now some evidence that the individual in this case may have had gay feelings himself and, due to his religious teachings, had developed feelings of self-hatred.

I well remember growing up with the conflict between my religious upbringing and my internal feelings. With some friends it led to suicide, with others it led to extreme homophobia.
When I was out as a teacher in a senior catholic high school, I received a lot of stick from some students. From some it was not much more than good natured ribbing but I remember one boy who was particularly nasty.  Several years later I heard he had died from HIV.  I sometimes wonder whether the internalised homophobia may have prevented him receiving information about safe sex.

 But I digress.

"Organized religion bears responsibility for the pain and misery and death inflicted on gays for so many centuries in the name of god."

I will continue to express my anger with those who are preventing the churches from giving LGBTI people complete equality, whether it be the Evangelical Archdeacon in the next suburb, the Bishop in Nelson or the Archbishop of Canterbury.  I see them as enemies. I may be suppose to love my enemies but I see them as beneath contempt and do not want to be in the same room as them.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Remaining an Anglican in Aotearoa/New Zealand?

I am travelling in Europe. Today I am in Prague. I find it difficult to find time to blog about my travel experiences. Perhaps I will post a compilation of my messages and photos sent to friends after I have returned home.

I have found it difficult to blog on church matters ever since the despicable meeting of Primates in January when the Episcopal church was so badly treated. Ever since then, and even before,  I have looked more deeply into my beliefs and generally decided that I have been mistaken for over 60 years.
At about age 7, I made a decision for Christ at a CMS Beach Mission on the South Coast of NSW.
Of course ,having a deeply devout Mother, it was not my first experience of Christianity, it is just my earliest memory of definitely deciding such things for myself.
I now think my life would have been a lot happier if I had not made that choice.
I now consider that the modern church and religion to be one of the greatest hindrances to the development of humanity. I only attend church because I love the ceremony and music of Anglicanism especially Anglo-Catholicism and a few elderly ladies depend on me for transport.

I had some hope things might improve at the NZ General Synod held a few weeks ago but again the conservatives have had their way and any possibility of merely blessing same-sex marriage will not occur for at least 4 years. They bless dogs.
As I regularly state: "The only time I feel a 2nd class citizen in New Zealand is when I enter a Church."

I left Australia and became a New Zealand Citizen and one driving force was the much more enlightened attitudes of New Zealand Society and Government.  I also  considered the church to be more enlightened. However even there, the conservatives manage to keep control. In a post a few years ago I said I felt like throwing coffee over the vicar of St Matthews, Dunedin and was criticised by my then curate because. "He was a brother in Christ" If such people are brothers in Christ, I no longer want to be called a Christian. They can go to Hell (except I no longer believe in an after life)

The only person who gives me some hope at the moment is the current Bishop of Dunedin and I want to draw attention to two recent posts he has made since the Synod ended.

Two More Years  and Pulling Together

I will write more when I have more time. Now I must experience Prague.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Ignorant Prejudice even in Dunedin

There have been articles in our local paper about increasing acceptance of different sexualities in our local schools even Catholic schools. However it has brought at least one neanderthal out of the woodwork.

I was too busy becoming a citizen last Wednesday to read our local paper but have discovered an opinion piece written by a man who describes himself as a retired teacher and I am very glad he is retired. Thankfully all the replies have been dismissive of him.
His opinion is disgraceful and ignorant. I can only post a few bits.

"I think the ODT ought to be more careful about publicising the lifestyle choices of seriously confused young people, and the views of older people who would exploit them Adolescence and the courtship/dating time of life are always confusing.

They're confusing even if you're normal: if, for instance, you know that you're a boy, and that you find girls attractive and disturbing.

You have to meet girls, figure out which particular girls you're most compatible with, get to know them, find out if they like you, deal with the mind-altering effects of being in love, negotiate tactfully how far to go with them sexually (in accordance with your value system, if any), and decide together whether you want to get married.
Imagine how much more confusing and difficult to be told at a tender age - implicitly or explicitly - that your nervous interest in the opposite sex may indicate not that you're attracted to them but that you're attracted sexually to your own sex - and that that's OK!

And perhaps now to be told furthermore - by a school teacher or counsellor - that despite anatomical evidence, you may not "really'' be a boy (or a girl) after all.

That you can make up your own mind!

And that you should try everything before deciding!

Now, I think that this whole business of sexual "orientation'' and gender "identity'' is a) nonsense, and b) dangerous nonsense.

Human sexual preferences are obviously not carved in stone (or our DNA): why otherwise are we seeing now such an historically unprecedented increase in non--normative sexual behaviours?

These matters are obviously very malleable.
In the past they have been supported by convention and religion (pretty much every religion) and common sense.

I went to school with two chaps who were, in the view of the rest of us (it was a boys' school), somewhat effeminate.

On reflection, they were bullied - though only slightly (nothing physical, and we didn't have cellphones).

Neither of them in later years pursued homosexual lifestyles, nor sought gender re-assignment.

Not only were those "options'' not then acceptable, they were, more importantly, not then fashionable.

Indeed, most people were hardly aware of them.

That's not a bad thing.

We don't have to be aware of everything.

If you're going to choose, why not choose some thing easy and conventional, that is sanctioned by history, that is more psychically challenging and interesting than hooking up with your own gender, and will likely produce a family without technological intervention?

The LGB label gets extended every couple of weeks (LGBT, LGBTI, LGBTQ, LGBTIQ) as people develop new modes of sensual experimentation."

My online reply has not been printed, possibly too late. I have thought of sending it to the print version but it is probably too long and I cannot see how to reduce it.

Thankfully I was too busy becoming a Kiwi citizen to read the ODT the day this article was printed. As a gay man I have found nothing but acceptance since moving to live in Dunedin but know there are pockets of prejudice everywhere. Unfortunately such prejudice in the parliament of my birth country, Australia means it is falling way behind NZ in social development.
I am also a retired teacher, now over 70 and am well aware of the harm done by the attitudes when I was growing up. Effeminacy (what a horrible word) is not necessarily an indicator of one's sexuality  I learnt to hide that just for self preservation. At school I had no idea of what my feelings for other boys meant and it was not until I studied psychology at university that I discovered it to my horror. Choice did not come into it. As a law abiding, church going young man I would have done anything to choose otherwise.
Psychiatric treatment (now discredited) was useless. Fortunately I was able to break my engagement which had been encouraged by the psychiatrists but I have met many men my age who married. The luckier ones divorced, others agreed with their spouses to live an outwardly "normal" married life while having same-sex relationships and some sneaked out whenever possible to meet men. I am sure there are some who just live a conflicted life hiding their innermost feelings. Thankfully in today's society young men (and women) can follow their natural feelings in an open and less conflicted way.
I certainly took many girls out and apparently some saw me as a"catch" and obviously was very attracted in ways other than sexual to my ex-fiancee. Even today most of my friends are women.  However it was not until I had my first serious long term gay relationship (in my late 30's) that I realised what had been missing. That inner buzz and feeling that you do not want to let the other person out of your sight.   While wistful, I rejoice that young gay people can experience that today without the dread of social opprobrium.
I have only met a few transexual persons (and Mr Hardesty it is not the same as homosexual, your ignorance is abysmal). I do not really understand but from my own experience I want to see them receive the same acceptance and assistance that young GLB people now largely do. While confusing to us oldies, I understand the need for adding to the alphabet of people who do not conform to what use to be seen as 'Normal". In fact it is people with views like Mr Hardesty who are now abnormal.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

The Journey is Complete

Last Wednesday, March 2nd, I joined about 70 others at the Dunedin Town Hall and became a New Zealand (Aotearoa) citizen.
I find I first mentioned moving to New Zealand on this blog in 2006 shortly after my mother died.
The first major comment was just after my first visit to Dunedin in November that year.

However it had been in my mind for many years and I first visited and fell in love with the country in December 1966. Obviously no blog references at that time but I did write a detailed diary of that trip.
Between (now) amusing description of my first real plane flight (I did have a brief flight from Canberra to Sydney as a small boy) I wrote:
"New Zealand came into sight. Land of long white cloud was true. We could see right across to the other side. We came down over fields - very green with hedges."

I never dreamt  (then just 22) that, towards the end of my life, I would retire to live in New Zealand and eventually become a citizen.

My move here in January 2010 is well documented in this blog.

I am very proud to be a Kiwi.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Apology to 78ers

In August 1978, I attended the National Homosexual Conference at Paddington Town Hall in Sydney. It ran from Friday to Sunday.  My diary shows that on the Saturday we formed the Gay Teachers and Students Society but I went home afterwards. I am not sure why I did not go to the city march that followed.  In those days homosexual activities were still illegal (did not change in NSW until 1983) and I was a teacher in a Catholic Boys' High School, so had to be careful.  In those days even State school teachers were at risk if their sexuality became known.

In my diary I write that I went to communion on Sunday morning then to the Conference but left in disgust and drove to Watson's Bay. I was angry but probably also my mind was in turmoil. Partly relieved that I had escaped the police brutality and arrests of the previous night but also ashamed that I had not been brave enough to take part in what began as a public celebration of Gay Pride but developed due to police action into riots, beatings and arrests. 53 were arrested, had their names published int the City newspapers and many lost friends, jobs and even family as a result.
In 1979 I did attend the protest march which was peaceful partly because it had prior permission. These were the forerunners of today's world famous Sydney Gay Mardi Gras now held at the end of summer  (this year March 5) and a big tourist attraction.  In recent years there has been a contingent from the NSW police force marching in uniform.  How things have changed.

Last week the NSW parliament moved a motion apologising to those who were arrested and beaten that night. It was moved by an openly gay member of parliament but passed unanimously with many of the original 78ers in the gallery.

The Sydney Morning Herald has also apologised for publishing the names and the article is here

The parliamentary member who moved the motion Bruce Motley-Smith is a member of the conservative Liberal Party now in Government in NSW.  He has been in a same-sex partnership for over 20 years and gratefully acknowledged his partner Paul McCormack in his maiden speech.

I am including a supporting speech by a member of the Greens party.

I have also found an interview with 2 guys that I knew in those years but have not seen for many many years

As the 1978 evening Stonewall parade moved down Oxford St towards Hyde Park, the police became agitated by our chants of "Out of the bars and into the street" as some did just that. As Peter notes, we knew that the baars and police were colluding to make money from our justified fears. The police did not like us getting away with that! So they started pushing us along, cancelled our permit, and tried to arrest Lance Gowland, who was driving the lead "float" with our music on it. It was only then that we headed for the Cross. And it was when we thought we had got free of them, and heading peacefully for home, that we found ourselves trapped and then attacked. See "It Was a Riot" ( a police riot) published by Sydney's Pride History

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Vale Rod West

 I have learnt this week of the death of Roderick West.  His funeral was on Friday and it is one of those events I would have made every effort to attend, if I had not moved so far away.
His obituary is in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Rod arrived at Fort Street in 1957 as a teacher in this 3rd year of teaching.  I arrived at the same time as a First year (now called Year 7) student.  He was therefore just slightly more than 10 years older than me, not much today but a huge gap then.  However this probably made him the youngest of my  teachers at that time. He taught me Latin for 3 years and was the teacher in charge of the Inter School Christian Fellowship in which role he had a tremendous influence on me.  He left Fort Street at the end of the same year as me to teach in the UK although I see he returned to Fort Street for 2 or 3 years, by which time I was also a teacher elsewhere in Sydney.  He then moved into the Private School system, teaching his most illustrious pupil, Prince Charles in 1966 at Timbertop in Victoria and becoming headmaster of Trinity Grammar School. He certainly changed that school around, it did not have a very good reputation for a private school when I was still at school.

I, of course, idolised him as a student although today I might wonder whether his influence was so ideal.  He was certainly one if not the most important encouragement for me to become a teacher. Although I was already well involved with my church, he certainly developed and deepened my involvement.  In 1959, at the First Sydney Billy Graham Crusade, a large number of students from my year went forward and, although I doubt whether many are still involved in religious activities today, they still express great regard for Rod. As the article states, he has maintained close links with many of his students and he seemed to have a special interest in those of us from his very early teaching career.  I feel the same, still being in close contact with some students from my first high school.

My later contacts with Rod have been brief. As youth fellowship leader in the Anglican church at Concord West,  I invited him on behalf of the Rector to preach at the Evening Youth Fellowship and as I read the service I was proud to wear my recently acquired academic hood along side him although whether he wore the Sydney Uni BA hood which had inspired me or the London BD hood he gained later, I do not remember. It must have been in the late 1960's.

In 1975 I visited him at Trinity Grammar. He was in his first term as headmaster and had advertised a teaching position. I was struggling at a very difficult school after my travel leave in 1974.  It was not an official job interview and I was reluctant to leave the State system (I did leave probably just 9 months later for the Catholic system) and he was still unsure as he had just taken on the role of headmaster and probably wanted to be perfectly correct in procedure.

I am certainly glad I did not move to a school in the Sydney Anglican diocese.

I visited him again some time in the 80's. I am not sure of the details but it was a result of some news of homophobia at the school which led me to write to him and tell him of my sexuality.

As the Herald article states Rod was "Evangelical in terms of doctrine but favouring a breadth of vision"

All I remember from the cordial meeting was his statement that he wished he had known when I was at school as he might have been able to help.  Of course in those days I had no understanding of my feelings. Such matters did not get mentioned, certainly not in the Christian circles in which I mixed and  not even in the press, except in very derogative terms. I had to study psychology at university before I had any understanding.  And knowing what I do now, I am very glad I did not receive any of the help, however well intentioned, that was common at that time.

I met him twice since. First for the 150th anniversary of Fort Street in October 1999. I sat next to Rod at the dinner.  I attended that dinner with my best mate from school days. Peter also became a teacher, of modern languages and later the Principal of a Christian school in Canberra so kept more contact with Rod. Peter was to die of cancer 5 years later and I know Rod went out of his way to meet with him at that time.

Then in October 2011, having moved to Dunedin,  I flew to Sydney to attend a dinner as my year group of 1961 reached the 50 year mark. There were not many men there, none of my group but Rod was present and I am glad I met and talked with him.  Most of the men were from the prefect and sports group and most had been in that cohort from the Billy Graham Crusade, They were still meeting regularly once each year with Rod but I now lived too far away to join them.
In the short speech Rod gave, he mentioned me as the only other teacher present, of course now also retired. I have no contact with any of my year group since Peter has died. I am still considering whether to contact Stuart, Rod's nephew but also a student in my last 2 years at Fort Street. He is a noted academic especially on Evangelical history but has been critical of some of it.

So I have mixed feelings now that I have a strong antipathy to anything evangelical and blame its teachings for causing me much misery.  Rod was very much the focus for that aspect of my development but his friendship on later meetings show that his attitudes were broader than most in that camp.  I know he had more influence on me than any other teacher, for much of which I am grateful and although I now have many doubts about that time of my life, I can never know what may have developed if Rod had not been such an influence.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Senator Ian MacDonald and ANZAC

Queensland Senator Ian MacDonald has been quoted as saying.

"If Kiwis want a better deal on controversial deportation laws and access to social welfare, New Zealand should become Australia's seventh and eighth states."
Senator Ian Macdonald also disputed the need for an easier path to Australian citizenship for Kiwis, saying he believed it was "not a terribly onerous thing to do".

I have sent him the following email. Information inside brackets was not included.

'I was born in Australia in 1944 and lived and worked all my life there until in 2010, at age almost 66, I migrated to live in New Zealand. 

I was given the age superannuation backdated to the day I arrived.  Centrelink pays my (Australian) age pension to the NZ government but, due to the assets test, it is just over half the amount I receive from the New Zealand Government. (Everyone who is 65 and over receives the full age pension in NZ but it is taxed, Australian age pensions depend on involved assets and income tests requiring me to send regular information about major expenditure).  I also received a Gold card within a few weeks giving me all senior transport concessions. I was able to register at a pharmacy and medical centre immediately to receive the same benefits as if I was a NZ citizen. After 2 years I can have the same access to hospital care for non urgent surgery. (Urgent surgery was available immediatey as for Kiwis in Australia)

I was asked to register within a month and, after a year, I received full voting rights. (This was as a resident, you must be a citizen in order to vote in Australia).  As I have left Australia permanently, I have lost my voting rights there. This would not happen to a US citizen nor to a NZ citizen as long as they returned for a visit every 3 years.  I return to Australia at least twice per year to visit family.

For the first 4 years I was not required to pay tax on my Australian income  - shares and term deposits and  I have received a ruling that I need not pay tax on my Australian private superannuation fund.

In September this year I applied for citizenship. I now fullfill the 5 year residency requirements and, after a check there was no criminal record, I received a letter granting me citizenship 10 days ago.  I will probably swear my allegiance at a ceremony at the beginning of February and then apply for a NZ passport.  I am unsure as to whether I will renew my Australian passport as I would only use it to enter and leave Australia. The NZ passport is more highly regarded around the world.

I now have many friends whose children have migrated to Australia. One tells me his son has lived in Queensland for nearly 20 years, his children were born there but he cannot get citizenship as his job as a postman is not one Australia values. (I have never worked for a wage in NZ)

So almost daily I am embarrassed at the completely opposite reception I have received here in New Zealand compared with that for those who have gone the other way. The ANZAC tradition is not just words over here. This includes an article in our local paper today referring to an interview you gave saying "NZ could join us”.  I am sure my friends will be insulted as am I, having just become a proud Kiwi.  As I tell people, Australia is my country of birth but New Zealand is my country of choice.

Saturday, November 21, 2015