My first impression of Jackson — the victim of police brutality and the face of a huge social justice movement that swept the Sydney LGBTI community turned self-professed Z-list singer/songwriter — is that of a young man who had very clearly been through a lot over the past year.
Whether or not his experiences have helped or forced him to grow and mature as a person, it made me uncomfortable to see him squirm when I prodded him with a few prying questions, all of which were bravely answered off-the-record.
I commended him for answering those questions. However, it was clear to me that whatever his experiences may have been, there were still wounds which had yet to have healed.
Later on, it was openly-joked over drinks with Jackson and his manager, James ‘Breko’ Brechney, community radio personality and the creator of the famed DIY Rainbow meme, about how Jackson should write and release a song dealing with his experiences — with Brechney, perhaps facetiously, mentioning the title should be Concrete Head Smash.
It turns out the two had had this same conversation many times with various people within the community. Of course, we never thought in a million years that Jackson would actually create something remotely similar, or that Brechney would both allow and encourage him.
Yet here we are with Jamie Jackson — the boy who brought together a community — on the cusp of releasing his first single titled I’ve Decided That I’m Great, which draws heavily from his experiences of being, as the judge that dismissed his charges ruled, “brutalised” by a police officer.
Whether both Jackson and Brechney are truly nurturing a creative outlet for this traumatic experience or simply vying for their 15 minutes of fame, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
The abuse at the hands of the police experienced by gay and lesbian men and women during the very first Mardi Gras parade created a legacy that saw the birth of the modern Australian gay rights movement. Similarly, the police’s hands literally and metaphorically around the vulnerable Jackson helped create the historic Mardi Gras Accord between NSW Police, the event organisers and the Premier.
It is sad to think that with this song, Jackson runs the risk of turning his legacy into nothing more than a self-obsessed, horribly crafted and barely sufferable track that would make Rebecca Black cringe. I feel confident in saying that having only heard 46 seconds of it so far.
It’s great that Jackson is trying to turn this horrible event into a positive, but he has so much more to offer than a Z-rated song. The aforementioned event has provided him with more opportunity than perhaps even he or his manager care to know, or can perhaps even comprehend.
It is not my place to tell Jackson how to live his life. I do hope someone has sat him down and explained to him that through his pain, he help inspire a movement that resembles, honours and continues the gay rights movement which began in Australia in 1978 and that he and this movement both have the power to create serious and important social and political change in our community.
There are many that I’m sure envy this power that has been thrust upon this young man, and so I’d like to take this opportunity to speak both publicly and directly to Mr Jamie Jackson:
In the past year alone you and your experiences have reignited a discussion about the tumultuous relationship between the police, the government and the LGBTI community that had since been long lost among the glitter and sex of the past 37 years.
Some may call you horrible names, some may even believe you deserved to be treated the way you were. Others will try to take advantage of you for their own personal gain, while some may consider you a martyr.
I, however, would implore you to simply never underestimate your potential and to reconsider what you believe to be the meaning of “greatness”.
Winston Churchill once said: “The price of greatness is responsibility,” and by recognising who you are Jamie Jackson, not as the victim but as the catalyst for change, and by taking up the responsibilities that come with that title, by becoming not just the face of change but the voice for it, too — you could create your own permanent legacy in this community.
A legacy that might not make you rich or famous. It might not see you on the cover of magazines or dancing in music videos, but it could be a legacy that could help people who may one day be in the same situation as you once were.
It could be a legacy that could change the lives of people suffering and help to make our community, the community who stood behind you and possibly the world, a better place.
It’s until you realise that you have the potential and the opportunity to create a legacy like that of the 78ers and that there are so many people in this community that believe you can do that, including myself, and until you seize this opportunity and work to create this legacy, only then will you truly be great.
Editor’s note: James Brechney was provided an advanced copy of this piece and offered the opportunity to hold its publication so his reply could be published at the same time. He was happy for the Star Observer to publish this tonight and he will file his reply tomorrow for publication soon after.