Saw “Riot” on ABC last night

Riot is a telemovie on the first Sydney Mardi Gras, June 1978.

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They did a good job recapturing the series of events leading up to that first Mardi Gras. I was not there, but I have posted on those who were: For the 78ers.

I was working at Sydney University in 1978 and for part of that year living in Glebe Point. Perhaps around mid-year, when that first Mardi Gras occurred, I had moved back to reside in North Wollongong, commuting to Sydney. I honestly don’t recall reading the infamous SMH stories. I was not at that time involved in the gay community.

Now posts of my own.

Back in the day… Oxford Street memories

Posted on March 9, 2014 by Neil

A rather amazing picture appeared recently on Lost Gay Sydney, a Facebook group.

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That is Martin Place June 24 , 1978, according to the original post on Facebook, and there in the centre carrying a triangle flag is Ian Smith.

Requiem for a Dowager Empress

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Neil

The shocking news I alluded to earlier is that Ian Smith, aka The Dowager Empress of Hong Kong, died about a week ago.

He was a 78-er, that is a participant in the first Sydney Mardi Gras…

See also Julie McCrossin, a South Sydney friend:

JULIE McCROSSIN Hello. I’m Julie McCrossin. And this year at Mardi Gras, I’m marching with Uniting. Back in 1978, there was one truck and a few hundred people. You must be thinking, “We’ve come a long way.” And in many ways we have. But that struggle that began back in 1978 defined the struggle that continues today.

SFX: CHEERING

WOMAN Happy Mardi Gras

GARRY WOTHERSPOON I was born during World War II, and I had uncles and things off fighting the war. War turned people’s lives on their head. And before the war, it had been very respectable, conservative society. The Second World War changed Australian society immensely. By the time I was a teenager, in the 1950s, the police commissioner, Colin Delaney, said the two greatest threats facing Australia are Communism and homosexuality.

SALLIE COLECHIN
I was 10, and I had a very close friendship with someone I went to primary school with. And we used to, “You be the boy, I’ll be the girl.” We used to play with that. We were discovered in primary school, though, and were separated. And I do remember the absolute embarrassment and the sense that there was something wrong.

PETER MURPHY I was in a religious institution when I was young. I was going to be a priest. One evening I remember…I think we must have had a serious talk about it, so a priest said, “Oh, you know, you might have feelings for each other, and these are called special relationships in the Catholic Church, and they’re a no-no, basically.”

GARRY WOTHERSPOON I went through a heterosexual phase in my late teens and early 20s, but I always knew that I wanted something different. And so, gradually, you came to terms with where gay life was existing then. In the ‘60s, there were places you could go to. Kings Cross was it, initially. Kings Cross had always been bohemia in Sydney. The Rex at the Cross, the beer garden there, it had a bar at the back called the Bottoms Up Bar. Nice name for a gay bar. So that set the scene for the 1970s….

I at the time was somewhat outside the wilder reaches of liberation politics; nor had I ever at that stage been to any kind of gay venue.  Some of what I was up to in 1978 is in this post: More livin’ in the 70s – Wollongong style.

The first Mardi Gras I attended was 1986. I wrote about this in 2001. See also:

Seen heading for Mardi Gras

01 March 2008

I reached the stage a couple of years back where standing around in a crowd, no matter how friendly, does not appeal any more, so I am giving the Mardi Gras Parade a miss. However, in my wanderings around Central/Chinatown/Surry Hills I do get to see some sights, most of them pleasant on this particular occasion.

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Photo somewhat indirectly from Betty Loves Blogging.

This afternoon I saw a happy group of young lesbian Aboriginal people, wearing, where they could, the inscription “ONE LOVE”. Now there are a few challenges to the diversity-phobic! 😉 Mardi Gras still can make you think, as well as laugh.

I thought as I walked home of a night around midnight some twenty years back when I was walking from The Britannia in Chippendale, then a gay pub, back to Bennett Street Surry Hills where I briefly lived. I had had a few, which may explain the conversation I had somewhere between Eveleigh Street and Prince Alfred Park. I was always a bit nervous about that nocturnal walk, I should add, and not unreasonably.

I had been accosted by a person seeking directions. Turned out to be an Aboriginal transexual, and alcohol emboldened me to say, “My God, how many oppressed groups do you belong to?” The person just laughed, saying “If I lived in the Northern Territory I would possibly be speared…”

 

 

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What a day this was: 13 February 2008

Of course much might be said about just how well/badly we have done since.

13 February 2008: just back from The Block in Redfern

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Redfern Community Centre, The Block, 2007. Image from Redfern Oral History. Click for more.

At least 1,000 people stood in the pouring rain at Redfern’s famous Block and watched on the big screen as Kevin Rudd moved the motion of Apology. I would not have missed it for quids!

Next to me an Aboriginal woman in her thirties or forties, her tears blending with the rain.

Cheers and a standing ovation greeted Kevin Rudd’s speech.

cafe-cana.gifWe didn’t get to hear the middle section of Dr Nelson’s speech as at that point the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was speaking to us live.

However, the symbolism near the end of Rudd and Nelson jointly presenting to the Speaker the gift from the Stolen Generations spoke to all our hearts.

Golden syrup and damper afterwards, and then a coffee for me on the way home at Cafe Cana.

William Yang was there at the Community Centre, and some people from church.

Big smiles from some little Aboriginal kids as I crossed Pitt Street and Redfern Street: “Look! He’s got a flag!”

A day truly to be treasured, long long anticipated and for a period the dread that it would never happen. But it has happened.

No more analysis today, no more commentary. The day is too good for that.

See Cheers, tears as Rudd says ‘sorry’.

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UPDATES

See:

Speech gets standing ovation in Redfern

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s speech received a standing ovation at the Redfern Community Centre, where hundreds gathered. Residents, workers, families, students and Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore braved the rain to watch the speech via a large outdoor screen set up in the heart of the notorious Block, the setting of the 2003 Redfern riots.

After the speech a teary Ms Moore stood and addressed the crowd. “Parliament House in Canberra is a long way from the streets of Redfern, but the apology made this morning must resonate here in our hearts and minds,” she said.

David Page, 46, composer with the indigenous dance group Bangarra Dance Theatre, said he liked the fact that Mr Rudd made a personal apology.

“It was very moving to see a prime minister with a bit of heart. I loved it when he said he was sorry. There was just something personal about it. It’s very hard for a prime minister to be personal,” he said. “It’s a long road but it’s a great beginning.”

Enid Williams, 72, who was brought up on a mission in Warrabinda in north Queensland after her father was forcibly removed from his family, said she was happy with Mr Rudd’s speech, but said it was now important to look to the future.

“We’ve been put down so many times,” she said. “I’m 72. The main thing is the young people, to give them a better future.”

The reception was not so warm for the speech delivered by Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, and the crowd booed at file footage of former prime minister John Howard that was broadcast before the apology.

Michael Kirby, 36, a resident of Waterloo who grew up in rural NSW and whose father had been removed from Swan Hill to be raised at the Kitchener Boys Home, said he was pleased with the turnout at the community centre.

“I was so proud to be walking down here today with non-indigenous Australians,” he said. “Now we have to move together to try and build Australia bigger and better as a whole.”

An entire day of activities has been planned at the community centre, including an afternoon smoking ceremony, repetitions of the speech and a barbecue.

Melanie Giuffre of Surry Hills said she and her husband, Remo, brought their children Lola, 13 and Roman, 9, to Redfern to mark a historic national event. “Roman was doing something at school but we thought it was important to be here as a family,” she said. “[The speech] was really wonderful. It felt we’ve seen the Prime Minister we voted for.”

Sydney Morning Herald multimedia report.

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Ivan Clarke, one of the stolen generations, is comforted by a friend after watching the apology by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a large screen in Redfern.
Photo: Jon Reid Sydney Morning Herald.

Addenda to previous post: Deng Thiak Adut and more

Thought of January 2016, given recent African youth crime stories: How inspiring! Deng Thiak Adut’s Australia Day address. See also in October 2017 Deng Thiak Adut: ‘Refugees are not here to do miracles’.

Despite his achievements, Deng warns against expecting all refugees who arrive in Australia to become overnight success stories.

“Refugees are not here to do miracles,” he says. “They are here to be assisted. They suffer from long-term trauma…You can’t expect them to get out there and succeed. They need help. They need personal contact. They need psychological assistance, they need counselling. They need support in terms of jobs.”…

“There is a problem in this country,” he says, calling attention to the many forms of discrimination – based on race, religion, sexuality, ability – found in the community. “Those who are on the fringe, they are people who look like me. We sit at the same table. I have to protect them. I have to voice their concerns. I will listen to them.”
Deng’s brother John was also a university graduate, with a double degree in anthropology and international development. He was “discriminated against”, says Deng, and unable to find work in his field in Australia. He returned to South Sudan where he was tragically killed in 2014.

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For context: see an oral history project recording the migration journeys and settlement experiences of southern Sudanese refugees now living in Blacktown, Western Sydney. See also Who are Australia’s South Sudanese? and South Sudanese honored Philip Ruddock in NSW during the refugee’s week.

Philip Ruddock was a Minister of Immigration when he travelled to Kakuma more than a decade ago. His mission led to the mass migration of the South Sudanese refugees who were stationed in Kakuma refugee camp. During the 2015 refugee day, South Sudanese and other marginalised areas Community Association in NSW honoured Philip for his care.

NOTE: My point in these two posts has been that whatever the undoubted bad that those young thugs have been doing — and may all the relevant authorities and leaders work on that! — I am sick of the panic being whipped up for naked political purposes, such as the next Victorian election. So I praise and agree with ‘Too much panic, not enough perspective’ and totally deplore this phenomenonon: Victoria’s African community ‘stereotyped, victimised’ for the sins of young kids.

Struggle Street on SBS — series 2

Be interesting to see how many watched it, seeing it was up against the ARIA Awards on 9! However uncomfortable it is to watch, I suspect we should all watch Struggle Street. Maybe it could replace the homily in every church in the land next Sunday! Maybe all those members of the House of Reps taking a break right now should be locked in a room and made to binge-watch!

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I posted on the first series back in 2015.

My overall reaction to last night’s two hour episode was, as I said at the beginning, frequently to be moved and even inspired by much of what I saw, uncomfortable as other segments were. There is no doubt that one consistent theme was the deleterious effect governments’ cost-cutting can have and is having. The other thing is that I know by simple observation a parallel series could have been made here in Wollongong and some of its suburbs.

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This new series is even more disturbing than the first. See Dramatic new video of tragic life in new Struggle Street suburb and Struggle Street is back, and it’s infuriating.

This six-part SBS documentary series is nothing short of a masterpiece, truly deserving of the “essential viewing” tag. An unflinching look at poverty in Australia, it will – it should – leave you angry. 

Bye, bye Bob! And about bloody time too!

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Ah, poor Zimbabwe, potentially a prosperous nation blessed by nature. But that all went down the tube years ago, thanks to the Twerp-in-Chief. Did manage to set a record of a kind though, as I noted in 2010.

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One of my past posts follows:–

Jun 2008: Divine right of Mugabes and other illusions

Well, now we have it. The man is barking mad.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says “only God” can remove him from office, as the opposition MDC considers pulling out of next week’s run-off election amid escalating violence.

“The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country – never ever,” Mr Mugabe told local business people in Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s second largest city – referring to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

“Only God who appointed me will remove me, not the MDC, not the British.” — ABC News.

I can’t help but reflect on the sad history of good ideas gone wrong.

Mugabe is locked in to a postcolonial agenda of land reform, and given the history of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe one can see where he has come from. There was an injustice to correct. In just two decent life spans this part of the world has had amazing transformations and has lurched from one unsustainable position — white dominance — to another. The great tragedy is that the majority of Zimbabweans, whatever their ethnicity, are — if they are still in their unfortunate country — worse off in the main than they were, because Mugabe is: 1) utterly impractical; 2) corrupt, given to favouring his own house and his cronies; 3) ruthless in the very worst sense of not caring what suffering must come to achieve his “utopia”; 4) dominated by a military clique; 5) utterly mad — as I said. He is indeed, and his country is, as the Kenyan leader said recently, an eyesore in Africa.

  • See Fallen hero, Jane Fraser’s review of Dinner with Mugabe by Heidi Holland in today’s Weekend Australian:

    …Although she stops short of condemning the man completely, possibly because she lives in southern Africa and would have justified fears for her safety, the only conclusion one can come to is that he is a monster. The question that remains is whether he was born evil or was turned evil by some of the tragedies of his life…

    Holland’s first meeting with Mugabe improved her chances of getting a personal interview. He had not spoken to the press for three years when she was told to travel from Johannesburg to Harare in case he would see her. He did and the final chapter is both riveting and without hope.

    How do you reconcile his description of the way he governed and his belief that he was misunderstood. “I don’t know whether one is misunderstood. I think the people around me understand me very well,” he told her. “But it’s the world outside that doesn’t seem to understand. They don’t appreciate what our real calling was as leaders: they think we’re in politics to enhance our status. They don’t realise that for us it was a real calling. We saw people suffer. We could not accept that our country was in the hands of a colonial power. That sense of sacrifice had to be there: you had to sacrifice yourself.”

    The more you read, the more obvious it is that Mugabe has little concept of reality. He lives in a personal bubble of a world, in which he is a selfless and successful leader….

Worth reading is this from Vanity Fair, July 2008.

I am pleased that so far the overdue ouster of Mugabe has been relatively peaceful. But one does wonder about what happens next.

The man poised to replace Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president is named Emmerson Mnangagwa, but he’s known as “The Crocodile”.

He served for decades as Mr Mugabe’s enforcer — a role that earned him a reputation for being astute, ruthless and good at manipulating the various levers of power.

Among the people, he is more feared than popular, but he has friends within the military and security forces….

See also on Foreign Policy Mugabe is a Goner, But His Looting Machine is Here to Stay.