At 22 years of age Gay and Lesbian Rights co-convenor Peter Johnson is supposed to be a cynical, apolitical member of Generation Y. Yet he’s devoted most of his adult life to advocating on behalf of others, whether they be university students all over Australia, or gays and lesbians in NSW.
It sounds really gimpy, but I hope I can just do something where I’m helping people and making the world a better place, Johnson said.
Johnson became co-convenor of the Lobby in September last year, along with Emily Gray. He initially joined the Lobby in August after a year as the National Queer Officer for the National Union of Students.
While he loves the intense world of student politics, Johnson says he saw the Lobby as a way to really make a difference.
I guess with the Lobby I saw that I get a more positive opportunity to effect change at a higher level, and it’s a more sustainable way of effecting that change as well, he said.
I think that the Lobby is an amazing organisation. It may not be particularly radical, but it’s very measured in its approach and it achieves a lot of really effective change for people over a long period of time.
And he says it is a good time to be involved in politics -“ a hopeful time.
Obviously I didn’t know when I took on the role but, particularly with the chance of having a new Government and the ability to put forward a positive agenda for gay and lesbian people, that would have been too amazing an opportunity to pass up.
This year the Lobby’s focus is the 58 ’08 campaign, seeking to change the 58 federal laws that discriminate against lesbians and gays. For Johnson, this campaign has particularly highlighted the educative role that he feels the Lobby needs to adopt.
I would not ever want to diminish the Lobby role of speaking to politicians, but I think that the Lobby could afford to be more community-involved, Johnson said.
It seems a lot of people don’t know what rights they already have, and also what rights they’re missing out on.
Johnson still has 18 months left to go before he finishes his university degree and, after that, who knows?
Doesn’t everyone have the dream of being an artist/writer/rock star, travelling the world -¦ preferably with Bj? he asks with a laugh.