New Liberal MP Comes Out As Gay To Victorian Parliament, Questions Need For Rainbow Flags, LGBT Festivals
A newly elected Liberal MP came out as gay in his first speech to the Victorian Parliament on Thursday.
Joe McCracken, the former mayor at Colac Otway Shire was elected to the upper house at the 2022 state elections in November. McCracken used his first speech in Parliament to come out as gay and revealed that he had struggled with coming to terms with his sexual orientation.
The Liberal MP then went on to talk about “real equality” and said that he had had difficulty in being associated with the LGBTQI rights movement. He questioned the need for a separate flag, festival and other services for the LGBTQI community.
McCracken is one of the five out LGBTQI MPs and the only one from the Liberal Party, in the Victorian Parliament. The others are Minister for Equality Harriet Shing, Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos and Greens MPs Gabrielle De Vietri and Aiv Pugilielli.
‘My Partner Is A He, Not A She’
McCracken’s speech on Thursday evening started off with his family, his ancestors who arrived in Australia from the Scottish cities of Wigtown and Perth, and the lessons he learned in life.
His seventh and last lesson was to “know one’’ self”, where he spoke about an aspect of his life that most people did not know about.
“This is perhaps the hardest lesson for me to speak about because it is something deeply personal to me. Most people would not know this about me, and it may come as a shock to some. I actually do have a partner in my life, but my partner is a he, not a she,” said McCracken.
The MP thanked his partner Jack. “I do not know what I would have done without you. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this. I have experienced doubt, shame, anxiety and many other things. I have never really talked about it much or made an issue of it because I never wanted to be defined by it,” the member of Western Victoria said.
‘I Hate Identity Politics’
McCracken said he had struggled with the concept of defining a person by one aspect of who they are.
“I hate identity politics, and I will fight against it whenever I can,” McCracken said. “A person is made up of a large set of diverse characteristics – age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, occupation. Why do we need to take one of those characteristics, amplify it and define a person in that way? The simple answer is: we do not, we should not.”
McCracken then took on LGBTQI activists in the state and the rights movement. “I think LGBT activists in Victoria need to carefully consider their public perception. Many, including me, have difficulty being associated with the movement. Most people in the LGBT community just want to get on with living their lives.”
McCracken said that the only flags he will be saluting are the Australian and the Victorian flags as they “do not discriminate on the people they represent.”
“Gay people do not need to be treated any differently to anyone else – no separate doctors, no separate radio stations, no festivals and no separate flags. And I question the need for a separate flag to identify the LGBT community, the rainbow flag,” he said.
The Liberal MP then went on to speak about achieving what he called “real equality”.
“It is going to require some serious thought, some open minds and, for some, educating themselves – but it can happen. It is not homophobic, bigoted or ignorant to question ill-informed notions of equality. Equality is something I care about, but I mean real equality, not the virtue signalling of the last 20 years that has failed,” the MP added.