Gordon Smith

Three steps back: Woe to be a gay man in 2017

Approx Reading Time-11For gay men represented in the discussion in 2017, it would be easy to see themselves as an inhumane problem to be solved, an antagonist, an object to placate. It’s time to change the narrative.




As much as I like to believe that society – nay, humanity as a whole – continues to progress towards a brighter, kinder future, it’s very hard to keep the faith when day after day stories of LGBTI barbarism and villainy litter news bulletins.

Far from immune from these societal foibles, Australia too stands against the progression of mankind, its political giants locked in a state of legislative paralysis, society frozen in a state of evolutionary purgatory.

We remain the only English speaking country left on the planet without legalised same-sex marriage. Despite the constant cries for change by the people who our government claims to represent, we are locked in a hopeless cycle of “debate” and thought bubbles.

This in spite of that supposed debate having now raged for nigh-on 10 years, and being soundly closed by our closest allies around the globe, and of countless committees, communities and legislators outlining the clearest road ahead: a free vote in parliament.

Worse still, the unending monotony of legislative slumber has allowed dissenting voices to feel open to voicing their long-rejected claims of hysteric gay Nazism and senile rants about gay and lesbian kingdoms in the Coral Sea.

All while advertisers make light of the very human side to a human rights issue, remarking the continued institutional discrimination against a segment of our population as a bit of “light debate”.

The same “light debate” being played out in front of vulnerable people, some still grappling with their very identity, and giving legitimacy to the hateful diatribe of bullies and culture warriors alike.

Far from showing the plight facing the LGBTI community as an issue of suffrage or moral deficit, the lives and experiences of living, breathing humans are framed like talking points within a greater debate, or an opposing view to a religious rule.

Sure, it could be easy to dismiss the hysteria as the last gasps of a soon to be defeated societal underbelly, but that doesn’t make it any easier for the lives being caught in the crossfire to digest the rhetoric surrounding their very existence.

Harder still when the inaction at home is joined by tales of gay couples in Indonesia facing caning for the crime of loving each other, or grimmer still, of gay men in Chechnya being rounded up and killed – or being sent to concentration camps where horrific torture is assured – in the nightly bulletin.

For every person posting their lamentation of the evil that is the acts above, there is someone cheering on the malicious, militant arms tightening the noose; decrying gay men, and the LGBTI community at large, as immoral or unnatural.

Be it because of the minefield our planet has become in recent times, be it because of a feeling of community indifference, be it for editorial reasons, or otherwise; our media is presenting a view of the LGBTI community in an increasingly adversarial light.

Yes, it is important to get people speaking about the injustices facing marginalised members of society. But there is something markedly different between that and the narrative-driven nature our news outlets have taken.

Far from showing the plight facing the LGBTI community domestically and worldwide as an issue of suffrage or moral deficit, the lives and experiences of living, breathing humans are framed like they exist solely within a bubble; more talking points within a greater debate, or an opposing view to a religious rule, than experiences of someone who has been deeply discriminated against for reasons of their birth.

Would things change overnight if the government allowed a free vote on same-sex marriage, and stopped delaying its inevitable legalisation? No, but it would certainly relieve a burden weighing heavy on vulnerable members of our population, particularly those still grappling with the nuances of their existence.

Just as much, perhaps if our outlets ceased in their viewer-baiting quest for ratings by placing the inane ramblings of senators and speakers who are decades beyond their best before date, we could paint the LGBTI community as the human beings they are, rather than the centrepieces to some protracted debate about what rights one does and does not deserve.

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Would this make much difference to the gay men being rounded up and sent to slaughter under extremist rule? Again, no. But at the very least it would give legitimacy to our leaders crying foul about human rights and equality on the global scale.

Do I have solutions to any of this, in the big picture? Sadly, I don’t know what the magic cure all would be – much as I may wish I did. If I knew what it took to have the LGBTI community respected and treated as the equals they are, I would share it in a heartbeat.

As it stands, I am empty-handed. But that doesn’t mean we can’t at least take some steps towards a better society.

Media may not be solely to blame, but the way our outlets choose to frame issues, and how they choose to represent communities, can lead to a shift in the views of those who consume their stories.

Equally, it is not just the government that should be held to account for the separate but equal state that our society is currently existing in; but when leaders purport to speak for the people who elected them, while spewing tales of militant homosexuals, and appearing unwilling to enact change on a grand scale, it is very easy for someone to believe that the country they live in is loathed for their existence.

Legitimisation of discrimination, be it through dangerous narratives in the media or continued legislative indifference, empowers the oppressor and gives a pat on the back to those who espouse hate towards marginalised people.

Cut off the head, and the body may well follow.

I want to believe that our world can do better, and that mankind can evolve.

Please, don’t keep me hoping in vain.


Gordon Smith

Journalist by day, cunning linguist by night. A passion for politics, hypnotically involved in human rights. An Australian born with a Japanese tongue, hoping to hold the big wigs in government to account.

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