Tag Archives: homosexual

Matthew Mitcham to Lead Mardi Gras

Oh what I’d give to attend the next Sydney Mardi Gras…

Openly-gay Olympic gold medallist and Australian Sports Performer of the Year, Matthew Mitcham, will be leading next year’s Mardi Gras Parade.

Mitcham said he was honoured to be asked to lead the parade.

“Mardi Gras has an illustrious history and I’m really proud to now be part of that,” he said.

“There is such a huge buzz in the city on Parade night and it really does bring the whole city together. I am really excited to be right in the middle of the action.”

New Mardi Gras Chair David Imrie said Matthew’s story is an inspiration to the community.

“His comeback to elite sport following burn-out to create one of the most magical moments in Australian Olympic history made him the obvious choice for this year’s Parade.”

“Matthew’s recent success in being voted Sports Performer of the year was a testament to his talent and hard work. It was also one of the most encouraging signs that Australia is a place where you can be openly gay without it limiting your opportunities.”



Award-Winning Matthew Mitcham!

Where do you start with the accolades for Matthew Mitcham? Greatest diving Olympian in history? One of the greatest gay role models in modern times? Well he’s got a new one: winner of the top prize at the Sports Performer Awards in Australia.

Despite his win in Beijing however, he still doesn’t have a corporate sponsor. No, I don’t understand it either. Is it homophobia or something else? His awards win brings $50,000 with it, but nothing ongoing:

Despite being the first Australian male to win a diving gold medal for 84 years, Mitcham has since discovered that producing that record-breaking dive “hasn’t been a financial goldmine”.

“It’s not a sport that flush with huge dollars,” said David Lyall, from Mitcham’s management group, Grand Slam International. “A lot of the general public seem to think you win a gold medal and people are knocking down the door to sponsor you.”

One possible explanation, unfortunately, for the lack of interest is that Mitcham is openly gay, although Lyall said the diver’s sexuality had “never come up in discussions” with prospective sponsors.

Should that be true then companies such as Aussiebums are making a terrible mistake. Everyone I know is aware of Matt, looks up to him, and as such should be immediate targets for lifestyle marketing through sponsorship of him. The example he has shown is unlike any I’ve seen – coming back from physical and emotional burnout to triumph at the Beijing Olympics, coming from behind with his very last jump, to produce the highest scoring dive in Olympic history aged only 20. But it was the way he followed that triumph up – with good humour and humility, and being openly affectionate with his boyfriend, which cemented his position in people’s hearts. I would encourage any potential sponsors to take Matt on – the good he can do for future generations as an out-gay gold medal Olympian is almost unlimited.

Vote No on Prop 8 for Your Kids!

It’s quite simple really, Californians. Vote No on Proposition 8 on Tuesday because teaching kids that discrimination is ok isn’t ok. It is the only responsible choice – for your kids, and everyone else’s.

Answer the Big Gay Sex Survey

So the Observer has uncovered significant minorities in the UK against same-sex marriage, against gay adoption and against an equal age of consent. It comes at a time when the head of the Islamic Medical Association in Britain has said:

“There is punishment and fine if you throw rubbish or filth on the streets, the gays are worse than the ordinary careless citizen, they are causing the spread of illness and they are the root cause of many sexually-transmitted diseases.

“They need neither sympathy nor help, what they need is the stick of law to put them on the right path.”

So answer me, Britain (and the world if you like). What are your thoughts on homosexuality and gay people?

Please reply to this quick, anonymous survey, and add a comment if you feel so inclined. Also if you think there is a problem with the poll or if the questions need refining (or rewriting) please let me know.

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Save Babi Badalov!

Maybe they really thought Mehdi Kazemi’s rescue would be a distraction, but the Home Office and its UK Border Agency are already back to trying to deport gay asylum seekers:

An Azerbaijani artist who is claiming asylum in the UK was detained yesterday at his weekly sign-in at the UK Border Agency Offices in Cardiff.

Babakhan Badalov (Babi), who is gay, arrived in the UK in 2006 claiming he was repressed and persecuted in his home country.

The New Labour government seems to think that if their Home Office country reports (long since shown up as inadequate) say the country has, say, legalised homosexuality (Azerbaijan did in 2000) that persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation should be impossible. Of course that’s palpably ridiculous, yet his deportation appears set for as soon as today. Can someone explain to me how an artistic man with a history of being persecuted for his sexual orientation, who is now afraid for his life because of members of his family, and whose mental health has suffered as a result, is not a suitable candidate for asylum?

Paul Canning from Gay Asylum UK points out:

Badalov has been threatened with death by ‘honour killing’ and his sexuality has already led to persecution and would definitely lead to more persecution if he is returned.

Since his detention, there has been a high profile response:

Over 50 people gathered outside the place where Babi was grabbed 24 short hours earlier, holding banners and placards. Amongst the were Leanne Wood AM, deputy leader of Cardiff Council Neil McEvoy, as well as many of Babi’s closest friends.

Those who could not make the protest sent messages of support, including Bethan Jenkins AM who said

“We must support asylum seekers such as Babi, and there is an obligation on the Westminster government to defend those people who face persecution in their respective countries. Wales has welcomed Babi with open arms, and it is deeply frustrating that the National Assembly for Wales does not have the powers to overturn decisions to deport asylum seekers who are clearly in danger.”

This has to stop – it is contrary to what the asylum system is supposed to be about. Contact your MP to tell the Home Office it has to stop (Babi’s Home Office reference number is B1234623).

Peter Tatchell has written to Harriet Harman, Equalities Minister, saying:

He (Babi) is scheduled for deportation despite him being in the process of filing a new asylum claim with fresh evidence. This new evidence includes one of his brothers threatening to kill him on grounds that he had shamed the family by being gay. There are also new witness statements detailing Babi’s history of violent, homophobic persecution in Azerbaijan.

In these circumstances, his removal should be put on hold until he has an opportunity to put forward this new evidence to an asylum tribunal.

Crucially Tatchell points out

When I recently met Harriet Harman, she and Barbara Follett MP said they would examine and assist the correction of any unfair treatment of LGBT asylum applicants.

Well they will (and should) be judged by their actions, but be under no illusion of just how geared against all applicants the asylum system now is, and of the homophobic structure which underpins it.

River Phoenix: This Road Will Never End

‘This Road Will Never End’ was a documentary by Will Parry on Channel 4, and served as part of a series about gay icons. It was shot in 1996, and although I’d been out for a couple of years, this was my one (and probably only) experience at coming out (literally) to the entire world. Will asked me to recount my experiences growing up gay, and the influence River Phoenix had had on me, from ‘Stand by Me’, to ‘Running on Empty’, through to ‘My Own Private Idaho’. With a complete absence of role models in my teens, River was the one and only role model I had who legitimised being gay (even though he wasn’t). I was devastated by his death in 1993, and he remains the celebrity I most wanted to meet, but never did.

I look quite appalling in the documentary, which I apologise wholeheartedly for. It was a terrible time in my life, and it reflects in my appearance. But it was a cathartic experience, and I was told by people I later met where I grew up, that my coming out on television was hugely empowering for them. For all sorts of reasons, enjoy the documentary (click ‘keep reading’ below) and don’t be afraid of leaving comments.

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Film Countdown: Milk

We’re out of the blockbuster season (‘Quantum of Solace’ notwithstanding), and entering Oscar season. This is the first of two biopics about Harvey Milk, allegedly the first gay man in the world elected to substantial political office. What makes this the interesting one is that it a) stars Sean Penn and b) is directed by Gus Van Sant. What Van Sant lacked in cult film ‘My Own Private Idaho’, he’s more than made up for since with ‘Elephant’ and ‘Paranoid Park’.