Beyond Priscilla
204 pages
English

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204 pages
English

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Description

266 days driving around rural, regional and urban Australia challenging homophobia. The Beyond 'That's So Gay' National Tour.<br />
In a 38 week road trip around Australia, Daniel Witthaus discovered what contemporary life is really like for LGBT people - life beyond the stereotypes, life 'beyond Priscilla'. Daniel's simple aim was to challenge and confront homophobia 'one cuppa at a time'. In doing so he met a wide range of individuals, all with harrowing or uplifting stories to tell of 'pride and prejudice'.<br />
Join Daniel as he encounters foul-mouthed police officers, transgender treasures, a billionaire's butler, gay jackaroos and straight lumberjacks looking to change.

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Publié par
Date de parution 01 octobre 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781742983912
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0400€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

BEYOND PRISCILLA
One gay man, one gay truck, one big idea …
The Beyond ‘That’s So Gay’ National Tour
DANIEL WITTHAUS
Clouds of Magellan | Melbourne
© 2014 Daniel Witthaus
First published 2014
ISBN: 9781742983912 (ePub) ISBN: 9781742983929 (p/b)
Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, Australia
www.cloudsofmagellan.net
All rights reserved.
A CiP record for this title is available from the National Library of Australia.
Digital distribution by Ebook Alchemy
About the Author
Daniel Witthaus is the author of Beyond ‘That’s So Gay!’ – Challenging homophobia in Australian schools and the Pride & Prejudice educational package. He continues to visit country communities to challenge homophobia one cuppa at a time, occasionally chatting with media outlets. In 2013 Daniel founded the National Institute for Challenging Homophobia Education (NICHE), which focuses on the needs of regional, rural and remote Australia. He likes to use Melbourne as a base, with occasional sojourns in Berlin.
For the women of my extended family who taught me the beauty, art and importance of the humble cuppa, especially Mum, who perfected it – DW
Contents
Introduction
Victoria
South Australia
Western Australia
The Northern Territory
Queensland
New South Wales and the ACT
Back to Victoria
Tasmania
Victoria and Home
Acknowledgments
Introduction
ABC Studios, Melbourne, VIC
‘So what are you drivin’? A bus with a shoe on top? Like Priscilla?’
Cue half-nervous laughter.
‘No,’ I reply, ‘I’m driving my openly gay truck called Bruce. He’s got an empty roof rack on top.’
I’m in at the studio of 774 ABC Melbourne for a live interview with Jon Faine. Jon is known (quoting his website) ‘for his quick wit and willingness to ask the stickiest of questions’. I’ve been feeling nervous about my encounter with the firm but fair radio host I’ve listened to for years. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so awed. It becomes clear in the moments before the interview that Jon is less than prepared.
‘I have to admit that I have no idea why you’re here. I guess you’ll be able to explain it yourself …?’
I nod, perhaps a little too vigorously in an attempt to hide my disappointment and increasing anxiety, assuring him it’s ‘no problem’. I quietly take my seat in the brightly coloured studio next to another author.
Although Jon tries himself to appear at ease and a little too casual, I wonder in the seconds before we go to air if he’s actively avoided researching his second guest this morning. It leaves me with the feeling that I’m an inconvenient addition to his morning. And that I’m about to be reduced in the listeners’ ears to the most familiar stereotype that mainstream Australia has for gays in the bush. Though I suspect it’s inevitable. Tell most Australian people of a certain age that you are going to drive non-stop around the country to challenge homophobia in regional, rural and remote areas (and by homophobia I mean fear and hatred of anything that is not 100% heterosexual), and you’ll cop some Priscilla reference.
‘We’re joined now by a man who is about to set off to do an almost Priscilla, Queen of the Desert road trip I suspect … Good morning Daniel Witthaus.’
‘Good morning Jon and I think it’s more Leyland Brothers than Priscilla Queen of the Desert but we can go through the details later …’
Jon laughs. ‘Are you going to walk into a crowded bar in an outback NSW pub dressed like Hugo Weaving was …?’
‘I doubt that, I don’t think my legs are as good as his, but I’ll definitely be a little more low key about it …’
‘What is the character of your trip then?’
My answer – ‘more Leyland Brothers’ – I believe, is accurate. Rather than an abbreviated personal quest to the centre of Australia with shades of provocation, entertainment and titillation, mine will be an extended, simple journey to engage and educate.
You couldn’t get more simple and straightforward than Mal and Mike Leyland, the famous brothers who, through the power of television, took millions of Australians each week to every nook and cranny of their great country. Along the way they would uncover parts of Australia most had only ever heard about, and certainly were not expecting to visit anytime soon. When encouraging younger folk to imagine Mal and Mike I typically say, ‘think of your most embarrassing, daggy uncles’.
*
The Beyond ‘That’s So Gay’ Tour was a 266 day self-funded road trip that I took around Australia from February to November in 2010. And just as Mal and Mike in their journeyings answered the questions of everyday Australians about the land we inhabit, I too was looking for answers to everyday questions about life for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in regional, rural and remote Australia.
There are currently two ‘camps’ as to how to ‘get along’ as anything but straight in the bush: one says LGBT people need to entertain, provoke and cajole, almost forcing something approximating tolerance and acceptance; the other says LGBT people should hide, or assimilate, as well as we can, but at the expense of ourselves. I was planning to do neither. My secret ‘challenging homophobia’ weapon on my journey wasn’t a party frock or a closet. It was a regular, everyday cup of tea: a ‘cuppa’. My plan was to have a thousand conversations. I light-heartedly joked that I was going to challenge homophobia ‘one cuppa at a time’. It was a strategy aimed at disarming and engaging the most hardened of opponents. And it worked. When I set out, most people feared I would be run out of town with pitchforks, that I or my openly gay truck Bruce would be harmed, or that, at best, I’d be met with deafening silence. But instead I had more cuppas than I ever dreamt possible in 38 weeks. In fact I never exhausted the invitations extended to me in towns big and small.
I’m indebted to the many who readily shared their everyday stories. Many of them are included in this book.
Enjoy the ride!
Daniel Witthaus
NOTE: LGBT is a mouthful. But to LGBT you could also add Intersex (I), Queer (Q), Questioning (Q), Gender Questioning (GQ) and Allied (A). For the purposes of this project, the focus was on LGBT people with exploratory conversations with IQQGQA individuals and communities. This in no way represents my belief in their existence, legitimacy or right to visibility.
Victoria
Day 1
Monday, 22nd February – Geelong VIC
Bum, bugger, bastard.
I stop pacing my mum’s kitchen to let the news sink in. This on the first day of my tour. My own hometown and I can’t even get through the first day without a homophobia hurdle.
I’m on the phone to Jami, the relaxed, strategic and enthusiastic project worker with the City of Greater Geelong’s ‘GASP!’ – ‘Gay Adolescent Support Group’, an LGBT young people’s support project I worked on in the late 90s. Only months before, she secured a spot for me in a writer’s festival as part of Geelong’s multicultural festival, Pako Festa . The Polyglots Writers Festival aims to highlight German poetry and music, and Festival organiser, ‘Bill’, had seen my name, Witthaus, and assumed correctly that I was German. It was only now that Jami had sent through my author bio and the details of my book, Beyond ‘That’s So Gay’ , that it became clear that it was not an ‘appropriate’ entry.
Yet it didn’t end there. Rather than politely rescinding my inclusion on the basis of the Festival’s criteria, Bill decided to give Jami a piece of his mind.
Bill commenced his tirade by outing himself as a Catholic who worked in a local private secondary school, declaring my work in schools to challenge homophobia was ‘not culturally appropriate’, especially for a festival reading ‘with a multicultural audience’ who couldn’t handle such content. It seems Bill in his teaching work also decided for others what they could and couldn’t handle. Describing recent Victorian Education Department policy efforts to support sexual diversity as ‘imposed’ and ‘bullshit’, Bill outlined how the government was out of touch with ‘all the teachers’ he know.
Jami had the calm and good sense to immediately call the Pako Festa organisers. They moved swiftly. Polyglots were contacted immediately and asked to explain why they should continue to be a part of Pako Festa after this incident. A review of the festival’s policies has been launched to ensure that this won’t happen again. Finally, the GASP! project and myself have been invited to march in the Pako Festa Parade: a first for Geelong.
Day 2
Tuesday, 23rd February – Geelong VIC
I’m sitting on the floor of a largely uninspiring training room at a local health centre. It’s approaching late afternoon when I meet the current members of GASP! - the ‘GASPers’. It’s only been ten minutes and I feel like I’m transported back in time; roughly a decade earlier I had reluctantly left Geelong and GASP! behind to work on other projects. Now, in some ways, it feels like I’ve never left.
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