Delivering the 19th annual Keith Harbour Address at the Positive Living Centre recently, author and academic Dennis Altman posed some important questions about the future of the LGBTI community.

He also made the point that those working in the community, including the gay press, do not sufficiently understand their history, where this community has come from and the rights it’s fought tooth and nail for over the last four decades.

“History becomes a way for us to understand how we got where we are, but I think equally importantly, it helps us ask questions of where we go next and are there ways of re-imagining what we do when we see it from a historical [perspective],” he said.

“To situate the current debates within the framework of how we got there, where we came from, [and] the fact that there has been, over a 30-year period, ongoing tensions with governments in Australia around … [a] movement that is radical and wants to change larger social norms.”

One of the larger social norms Altman is probably alluding to here is the push for marriage equality.

While gay marriage advocates are at great pains to show the community is singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to marriage rights, quieter discussions with a few older members of the community reveal not everyone is on song.

One seasoned community campaigner told me he is not supportive of same-sex marriage, but was willing to go along with the idea, so we could all stop talking about it and move on to other “more important” issues.

Similarly, despite long championing marriage equality on her television program, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow recently aired her private concerns that allowing same-sex marriage will result in a loss of the alternative heart in gay culture.

It’s worth saying most of the dissenters I’ve spoken to aren’t necessarily vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage rather than feeling lukewarm about the idea. Most, however, are wary of being too vocal about it.

It’s unfortunate that those in the community who don’t agree with gay marriage fear being howled down by the community for ‘treason’.

Overwhelmingly, I believe the majority of the community is in favour of change I am interested to hear more about how the community feels about this.

INFO: Are you against gay marriage? Do you fear speaking out against it for fear of criticism? Drop me a line:
andie.noonan@starobserver.com.au

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