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Looking beyond our leaders
It is not just the LGBTI community which is frustrated with our current federal leadership — a recent Fairfax/Nielsen poll identified Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s approval rating at a mere 36 percent, while Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s rating was only three points higher.
Rather than throwing our hands up and waiting for better replacements, perhaps there is an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the dynamics of leadership and the expectations we place on our leaders.
We look to our leaders for direction, protection and order. This means different things at different times, and at the moment in our community the debate is heavily focused around marriage equality, and the lack of any direction at all coming from the aforementioned leaders on the matter.
There is nothing wrong with our demands, but we need to be careful not to become dependent on authority, or to expect that our leaders can solve all our problems for us.
Indeed, if marriage equality (and every other legislative reform we seek) were gifted to us tomorrow, we would still have plenty of work to do.
What is that work? Part of it lies in changing the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians about LGBTI equality.
If recent opinion polls, celebrity endorsement, and the thousands of people who flocked to see Dustin Lance Black’s theatre production 8 in Sydney and Melbourne this weekend are anything to go by, this change is taking place regardless of what our leaders say or do.
Perhaps the more difficult — or at least more confronting — work, however, is the work we need to do within our community.
We need to examine the stories we tell about ourselves. It is true that we have faced discrimination over many decades, but is that what we want to carry forward? Are we able to let the hurt we have endured open us to the pain of all those who have been discriminated against, rather than render us powerless?
Only we can create a vision for the community we want to be.
We need also to acknowledge that discrimination happens not just to us, but by us as well. I have seen discrimination on the basis of age, sex, gender identity, race, religion and other grounds within our community — no doubt you have too.
We need to be positive, but honest. Neither Julia Gillard nor Tony Abbott is ultimately responsible for our growth as our community. Our future is in our own hands.
By JUSTIN KOONIN, NSW GLRL