Monthly Archives: July 2008

The bleeding obvious is still news to too many…

That was my initial thought as I read Freedom 2 b[e] :: View topic – …the death of alex…, which came my way through Anthony Venn-Brown’s latest newsletter, though this forum post is itself a couple of years old.  The writer is a gay Christian and the occasion of the text was a resignation speech delivered at a Christian school.

I have been involved in Christian education for over 15 years. It has been an amazing privilege to impact the lives of these kids and even more so now that they’re adults as some choose for me to continue to be part of their lives. As an art teacher you have a strangely close relationship as kids grapple with trying to best conceptually express some very personal ideas. Sometimes I feel like a therapist. The opportunity to produce major events and to have artistic licence with crazy creative teams has been fun for me. I really appreciate Sue taking a chance with me with my marketing suggestions and very casually telling the Exec to change the college’s name …and the blank expressions when I told them that their logo needs to be more organic! …and also for trusting me with Senior School and the strong team who has built this big HSC boat and have confidently set sail in choppy shallow water…

I find myself in a strange situation where as a gay Christian in a non inclusive Christian environment, I feel a little like the character Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady where she is from a working class background but trained to mix with the upper class. Towards the end of the story Eliza discovers, to her horror, that now after her training …she doesn’t appear to fit in either group! I have come to the same horrifying conclusion that I don’t really fit in. In the same way, being gay all my life but also a Christian for 24 years, I find that I can no longer live with the internal conflict between my sexual orientation and a Christian culture that views me as sick, dysfunctional or some kind of super sinner…

After 15 years, it has only since being at Charlton, I now realize that Christian education is not ready for the Iain Wallaces [the writer’s name] of this world at this point. I tell others that Charlton has the most caring staff I have ever experienced, but it is actually here that I…

– have been told to word advertisements in a way that gay Christians won’t apply for jobs.
– have been told by a staff member that all gay people are diseased
– have read the hatred of gays in most of the job applications …and we seem to be ok with this.
– have been told by a staff member that all faggots should be shot in the head

As Christians we have been trained to be black and white. The greyer cultural issues of the Bible are treated as some sort of threat. The church has changed its position over the years often embracing a new understanding but never actually admitting we got it wrong. We have to concede that it has not been Christians but the scientists and social commentators who have helped us see new truths about God and the Bible. For example, we know now that…

– mental disorders and epilepsy are not actually demon possession
– black people do not suffer under the OT’s ‘curse of Ham”
– women ‘deserve’ the relatively recent basic privileges of voting, holding office, manage a business or a school, preach or pastor a church.
– the OT and NT’s approval of human slavery is no longer acceptable.
– there are many good reasons for divorce other than infidelity
– killing other people because they worship other gods is intolerable …yet we seem to be more okay with men holding guns than with men holding hands…


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Saffron’s son: Dad paid off Askin and lent Packer money – NSW: the good old days!

I was told once of a then illegal gay venue in Sydney — I am speaking of the 1960s and 1970s — by someone who worked there that he had one night been introduced to the club’s “silent partner”, the then Premier of NSW. Somewhere in this mix was always the name Abe Saffron. Now Saffron’s son has written Abe’s biography.

THE disgraced former Liberal premier Bob Askin was not only on the payroll of the late crime boss Abe Saffron, but was the recipient of payments via horse races that were fixed as “a courtesy to premier Askin”.

Askin and a police commissioner were among those who received thousands of dollars a week from Saffron, the crime figure’s son has confirmed in a book on his father, to be released soon…

Despite Saffron’s lifelong denial of involvement in criminal activity, in Gentle Satan Saffron’s only son, Alan, 59, says his father controlled the vice trade, including illegal gambling and prostitution, in every state except Tasmania and the Northern Territory, and bribed a host of politicians and policemen to ensure he was protected.

At one stage, the American “Mob” tried to persuade Saffron to operate a casino in Las Vegas on its behalf, but his father declined, he said.

Mr Saffron details his father’s “excellent business relationship and long-standing friendship” with Askin and the police commissioner of the day, Norm Allan, who died in 1977. Questions were asked about the size of Askin’s estate, almost $2 million, when he died in 1981. Askin was knighted in 1972, while he was premier…

In his early years as premier, Askin would meet Saffron at restaurants at arranged times and speak to him on the phone regularly. But as Saffron came to the attention of law enforcement agencies, intermediaries were used, Mr Saffron says in the book.

He says in the later years of Askin’s premiership, his father became the “bagman” for Sydney’s liquor and prostitution rackets, and most of the illegal gambling. “In return, my father was completely protected.”

During the late 1960s, when his illegal casinos were flourishing, Saffron was paying the premier and the police commissioner $5000 to $10,000 a week each…

Mr Saffron said he was “extremely disappointed that there were notable absences at his father’s funeral, including several prominent former politicians and police who had been the recipient of his father’s generosity. “I wish I could tell you who they are,” he said, but lawyers for his publisher, Penguin, had asked him to remove a number of names from the book.

One person who did attend Saffron’s funeral in 2006 was the controversial West Australian businessman Warren Anderson. Mr Saffron said Mr Anderson had been a wonderful friend to his father and had helped him with “real estate ideas”.

“He really trusted Warren. He thought he was a really good man,” Mr Saffron said.

As to his father’s battles in his dying years to restore his reputation by suing anyone who referred to him as Mr Sin, Mr Saffron said he had wasted thousands of dollars. He said he told his father: “Don’t try to clean it up. Everybody knows you did it.”

“He was a sinful man,” his son said, “but he was not Mr Sin.” That person, he said, was a doctor whom he would not name.


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I was too afraid to sleep

The Sun-Herald leads today with one of the first close-up stories on the ABC foreign correspondent Peter Lloyd who is facing drugs charges in Singapore: I was too afraid to sleep – World – There is little doubt the alleged offences are minor in comparison with other cases one has heard about, but Singapore — as of course Lloyd would have well known — is not exactly lax on these matters.

Some here in Australia will be with him in spirit, while others will be less sympathetic. It would be interesting to know how various Australian readers will react to this latest report:

In his first interview since being charged with trafficking and possessing drugs he revealed he had been suffering traumatic flashbacks and nightmares after covering the region’s tragedies, such as the Bali bombings and the tsunami.

These had left him too afraid to sleep, a phobia which peaked in the two months leading up to his July 16 arrest, he said.

Lloyd – who separated from wife Kirsty McIvor six months ago and declared himself gay – faces a maximum sentence of 20 years and 15 strokes of the rattan cane for allegedly selling 0.15 grams of ice for $76 to a Singaporean man at the York Hotel on July 9.

Police also allegedly found 0.41 grams of the methamphetamine on him, along with utensils bearing traces of ice and the veterinary drug Special K, when he was arrested at Mount Elizabeth Hospital a week later. He was based in New Delhi but was in Singapore to seek treatment for an eye infection.

Yesterday he said he did not have a wild or risk-taking personality and the infection was “in no way connected with drugs”.

Lloyd’s partner, Malay-Singaporean Mohamed Mazlee bin Abdul Malik, posted $S60,000 ($45,000) bail for him to walk free on Wednesday. During Lloyd’s next court appearance, on Friday, Mr Malik appeared upset, clutching the hand of Lloyd’s sister, Cathy Mulcahy.

Lloyd – who is yet to enter a plea – is due back in court on Friday.

First, I suspect some Christians — or those who claim that allegiance — will be stooping down to pick up that first stone. I won’t follow that example. Clearly Lloyd has been through a lot, complicated no doubt — but perhaps also eased? — by his recent self-discovery. (Believe me, no-one, and I really mean no-one, EVER “decides” to be gay.) As for the experiences he has been through as a foreign correspondent, I gained some small insight into that — and I mean small — through my meeting a former ABC correspondent in Israel and Iraq last year. I am not sure how I would have coped with what these men and women often go through, with what they witness. So I am not going to moralise about drugs in this case, much as I normally am very much decided on that subject, “ice” especially. (I am strongly anti.)

As for the ethos in Singapore, particularly from the perspective of GLBT people, there are few better sources than Singaporean Au Waipang. For example, read Attorney-General says “human rights now a religion” with fanatics from his June 2008 archive.

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Music interlude

For Marcellous, after his series on the Sydney International Piano Competition. All the pieces below are mentioned in that series, but not of course these performances.

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Posted by on July 26, 2008 in inspiration, Marcel, music, other blogs


Great project, great story…

… but in need of a really ruthless editor, I’m afraid.

I am referring to Garry McDougall, Belonging — a Photo Novel (Hightor Trading 2007). From the Introduction:

This is an account of the life and times of Dr. Charles Louis Gabriel. It incorporates quotes from the Gundagai Times and Gundagai Independent (shown in small print), a selection of Gabriel’s photographs, three reenactments, and many local and national events. Some Gundagai names are used and their characters depicted as accurately as possible, while others do not necessarily correspond to their profession, appearance or personality. Certain events and characters are entirely fictional, yet consistent with the wider historical context. Gabriel’s personal relationships are speculative but backed by material gathered over twenty years of research. Nevertheless the story remains fictionalised history.

In Search of our Louis Gabriel


Charles Louis Gabriel [above] was born in Kempsey, New South Wales in 1857, son to Dr. Charles Gabriel and Emma Rudder. Like his father and grandfather before him, Louis became a physician, gaining additional medical qualifications at prestigious Edinburgh University. He probably practiced his new skills at sea as a ship’s doctor, then briefly in Sydney, before leaving in 1887. He then set up practice in Gundagai, and stayed for the remainder of his life.
Records show that he dedicated himself to his medical work, only taking up the fashionable hobby of photography around 1899. In the following ten years he produced over eight hundred glass plate negatives, many quite astonishing and accomplished, yet with a mysterious “x” factor that noone could explain. The images are now in the National Library of Australia (NLA), a valued and astute record of Gundagai, that most iconic Australian town, and a crucial component of the Australian mythology.
In documentaries and publications Louis Gabriel has been presented as a typical country doctor and amateur photographer.  His story appears both dignified and mundane, yet his photographs suggest at a far more interesting story. Little significance has been given to the Gabriel family’s French, West Indian and African heritage. Always sidestepped, Gabriel’s physical features were always important in a colonial Australia engaged in a debate on nation, race and identity. In this book it is assumed that anyone identified as a “black” would have a question mark over their social status, and be at risk of being judged bottom-of-the-heap. In contrast, a physician and surgeon could look forward to a future at the top of any town’s elite. So the questions quickly arose: how did Louis Gabriel fit into turn-of-the-century Gundagai? Did he adapt, survive and prosper, or not? Did he meet any opposition to his residency? And if he did, why did he stay in Gundagai?
On thing was clear: Louis Gabriel’s residence coincided with a crucial historical period when Gundagai was cemented into the Australian mythology- through stories, poetry and news reportage. The town asserted itself, perhaps vaguely at first, to be typically Australian: democratic, equal, rugged and practical. But where did Gabriel fit? Did he receive the Australian”fair go.” Did he belong?…

It is a great tale, and I would say material for a great miniseries on, say, ABC. Unfortunately, the execution varies. There are times the author’s relentless pursuit of metaphor lets him down, and a few occasions where historical clangers pass unnoticed: for example, a doctor in the 1880s would have been hardly likely to refer to “polio”, an Americanism first appearing, according to the Oxford Dictionary, in the 1930s. He just may have said “poliomyelitis”, but would even more likely have said “infantile paralysis.” But such historical blemishes are few, as the novel lovingly but unromantically recreates a fascinating slice of Australia’s past.

There’s a link to a photo album of Gundagai below the fold.

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Posted by on July 26, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, book reviews, Fiction, History, multicultural Australia, nostalgia


Don’t say you weren’t warned…

“Be wary of bloggers who promote religion, sexual deviation, intellectual onanism, trivia and, worst of all, themselves.”


Now where did I read that?

Hope nothing like that ever happens here. 😉

Guess we all have our eccentricities.

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Posted by on July 25, 2008 in weirdness


2006 July « Floating Life Apr 06-Nov 07

You have to be desperate to blog yourself, eh! 😉

I mentioned on The Gateway today that I was cleaning over at the old Floating Life: 2006 July « Floating Life Apr 06-Nov 07 I picked because it is two years ago now, but all of 2006 is now done, and I have to say I was on a roll in 2006 one way or another.

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Posted by on July 25, 2008 in blogging, personal, replays, site news