Category: City: Sydney, Australia

Francisco, Journalist, Sydney, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Francisco, in his own words: “I think (being gay) has the same meaning like being straight, Christian, Muslim, Colombian, Australian, rich, journalist or Latino. I mean it’s just a part which describes something small in a human being.

Being gay is a vital part of my life, I was born that way and that means my spirit is attracted to people with similar characteristics like me but it is not the only thing that I have to offer to humanity, because that part just describes a part of my feelings, my intimacy and part of my expressions and culture.

(A challenges is) finding a way to teach to society in my country that being gay is nothing wrong, negative or evil, like some religions try to show. We’re just humans and our sexual orientation is just something which belongs to our essence and diversity as humans.

One of my greatest challenges in my life was when I decided to create the first two LGBT radio stations in Colombia. It was huge, with over two hundred thousand listeners per month in my country and Latin America. It was a chance to teach people and our LGBT community the responsibility to be ourselves, it doesn’t matter what society says about us. We tried to start a revolution in growing a young generation in which only five years ago was trying to find their own expression. Thousands of people around Colombia transformed, Radio Diversia and El Eden Radio into two communicative models to express their feelings, their music, their news, their artists and their own stories about how it is living as am LGBT guy in Colombia and how to be happy and change their environment into a good place to live instead of one with discrimination and violence.

After that another great success in my life was when I started as a Director and Television Anchor in my own Television Magazine about International Showbiz through international news TV Network (NTN24) for Latin America and the Latin Community in United States. It was like a professional dream, my biggest challenge and a huge responsibility as a Journalist.

This is not exactly the way to coming out, but I was in the middle of a big argument with my mom, who found some Gay guides in my room and she started to yell at me about that, I was so angry and I just said to her “Yes, I’m Gay!” after that, it took over a year for my mom to start to understand why I’m Gay and why I was born Gay. Currently our relationship is very honest about my Gay life, my friends and my boyfriend. She understands I’m more than my sexual orientation, I’m her son.

(The gay community in Sydney is the) same thing like everywhere: having some fun, sometimes a boyfriend, depending on the moment, a long term relationship, a husband or just a summer love. I found my country (Colombia) a better place to get a stable relationship because my culture and traditions are more aligned with the fact that Latinos are more passionate, closer to each other and more communicative. In Sydney people are busy all the time, sometimes they don’t have time for close relationships or it just takes a long time to get that.

On the other hand, Sydney is a better place to express one’s feelings because it is a capital of the world. It is a place with people from everywhere, a city growing up with minorities, even gays and lesbians have here in Sydney one of the most beautiful and biggest celebrations in the world, the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras which is awesome because in Colombia we don’t have something similar, just the gay pride in June, but it is smaller, not very organized and is not visible like the Mardi Gras is in Australia and around the world.

(Advice to my younger self) Don’t be afraid about what society says about you, sometimes society represents the dumbest things of humans, just be yourself, take some risks to be happy and always think about conquering the world, because you are more than just another gay; you’re brilliant, smart, a nice guy, you can do whathever you want, just try to find the way to get it and enjoy this fantastic journey which is life because you only live once.”

Alex Greenwich, Member of Parliament, Sydney, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Alex, in his own words: “In Sydney, we really celebrate and accept the LGBTI community, it plays such an important role in the fabric of our Sydney. Across Australia, the LGBTI community also plays a really important role. I think it’s really important that people in city areas remember that in rural areas of Australia it’s a lot tougher being gay, and it’s really important that we continue to support our brothers and sisters in rural centers.

We know there’s really high risks of mental health and high risks of youth suicide, particularly for LGBTI people in rural Australia, so it’s important that we continue to support counseling groups and support groups for those areas. Across Australia I think we have a number of challenges still facing us. Obviously, Australia has not embraced marriage equality yet, and that’s something I continue to push in our Parliament. Also, there’s a number of anti-discrimination laws that need improvement. In New South Wales, you can be expelled for being gay, or you can be fired as being a teacher if you’re gay. I’m hoping to change those things. Generally I think Australians love the LGBTI community, but there’s still a lot of work to do, both in the community and in the Parliaments.

I got into politics out of the marriage equality campaign. I led the marriage equality campaign here in Australia for about five years. Then an opportunity came up where I could run for state Parliament, with the endorsement of my predecessor, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, and do so as an Independent. So I’m really proud to represent an electorate which has one of the highest LGBTI populations, the most same sex couples, and is exciting, diverse, and very accepting of all types of people.

I think it’s really important to be out in public office. I’m able to speak from first hand experience, in the Parliament about how discrimination affects me, and affects my community. We’re also able to be role models for people and hope that people can always be true to themselves in whatever field they’re in. And if someone in public office and in the public eye can be out and proud, it helps people that could be working in a bank or in a library or in a butcher—or in any other profession, to know that it is also OK for them to be out and proud in their workplace.

For me one of my proudest recent accomplishments is getting overseas same-sex marriages recognized in New South Wales law (that’s the state that I sit in the Parliament) and continuing to be a voice of our community in the Parliament.

I think for those people across the world in countries where they’re not as lucky as we are here in Australia, where they do face regular stigma and regular discrimination, the message I would say is definitely it get’s better. And I hope places like Australia, the US, Canada, Argentina and other countries can give hope that things will change.”

Alexander, Sydney, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Alexander, in his own words: “Being gay to me is pretty simple, it means that I am attracted to the same sex (men) instead of the opposite sex.

I think my biggest successes in life have been in relation to my career. I have worked very hard to get where I am, and still plan to keep going. In terms of challenges, I think the biggest challenge I have had has been me! In the past, I have been shy, or not been my true self, but this has changed, and surprisingly by being myself, showing my true personality and being less shy, my career has got better and better.

I have not had a coming out story so to speak as many people pretty much know (or can guess) as soon as they meet me and I have never really hidden it from anyone (except from my parents). However, there was one time when I was a teenager and was with a guy and my brother saw me. The guy told me that my brother had just seen us, and I could not believe it. When I did see my brother, he was very upset. He told me he would be fine, he just needed some time to get over it. I think I was more upset over the incident, but as time passed it was like nothing had happened and my brother was fine.

The gay community in Sydney is very much like gay communities all over the world! There are lots of different gays that make up the community which is a good thing. Most people think that the gay community only lives around the inner city, but I think that is changing and now it is spreading out all over Sydney.

(Advice to my younger self) Be yourself and life is short. Just go for it, whatever it is!”

Phillip, Student Services Manager, Sydney, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Phillip, in his own words: “Being gay to me is about being happy and proud about who I am and living life accordingly. It also means not being straight which I love. I think that for some gay people it is important for them to get married, have children etc but I am not one of those men. I have no desire to get married or have children and relish that difference from straight people. I think this whole idea of conforming to a “straight life” is really unappealing. Having a gay identity means being slightly different which I think should be celebrated.

I have had a number of goals in life, to find a job I enjoy, to travel and live overseas, to buy my own apartment which I have achieved. I guess the one success I feel was the most important was moving to London when I was in my mid 20’s. It enabled me the freedom to become more comfortable with my sexuality but more importantly it gave me the confidence to become the happy gay man that I am today. The experience of living in London really shaped me and I think sometimes people need to leave from where they live to grow, develop and work out who they want to be. The biggest challenge I have had to face in my life was when my father passed away when I was 16. I didn’t know it at the time but it was a defining moment in my life. It took me a number of years to deal with the grief and really recover from this event. I guess the challenge I am currently facing is trying to meet someone whom I can share my life with. This is an ongoing challenge but I am hopeful that I will meet the right guy soon – not that I want to get married or anything!

For me coming out was a very gradual process, I came out to myself when I was in my early teens and then went back in the closet only to come out again in my mid 20’s to my friends. I think the reason it took me a while to become comfortable with my sexuality may have had to do with my traditional Italian background. In reality I was fooling myself in thinking I could be straight. I always remember in high school being picked on for being gay. I think the fact that I was made to feel “different” from an early age has had a huge impact on the way I feel my gay identity. Telling the family took a a little bit longer as I was living in London – it meant I had to do it on one of my trips home to Australia. I was in my early 30’s and they were all very supportive. I still have not come out to my mum and that is something I contemplate on a regular basis. She is from a different generation and I struggle with what might happen if I do tell her.

The gay community in Sydney is pretty much like any gay community in a big city. There are the various “gay tribes” like the bears, the Muscle Mary’s, the twinks etc and I feel very comfortable in not belonging to any of these. I think having a clear idea about my own indentity is much more important than belonging to some clichéd gay tribe. I do love going out to gay bars and clubs as I think it is so-o important to the gay community that we do have places to go out. So many places have closed down or changed to “mixed” venues in Sydney recently and I think it’s a shame really.

The advice I would give my younger self is to be honest with yourself if you really want a happy life.”

The Hon Michael Kirby, Former Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sydney, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Michael, in his own words: “I would describe (the LGTBI community in Australia) as still in its infancy. It is emerging, and it is becoming more assertive of rights. But it isn’t all that long ago when in Australia people were expected to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for being LGBTIQ and when I was growing up that was what was expected. We lived in a world of don’t ask don’t tell. But increasingly in recent years through the action of some courageous people, young people are standing up and some old fogies are beginning to do that too. So it is a new idea whose time has come. It is developing and it will continue to develop in Australia, and it will go on doing so until we have complete equality because inequality is based upon irrational attitudes and non-scientific approach.

Marriage equality is one of those symbolic things that is significant and I certainly believe in that being made available, it is not available at the moment in Australia. Marriage in Australia unlike the United States is governed by the Federal Constitution and is a Federal power. The Federal Legislation not only does not provide for marriage equality, it forbids any recognition of marriage equality by any court or any state legislature in Australia. This was something that we copied from the United States, in the so called DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act in 2004. And until the Federal Parliament changes the law we won’t have equality in this country. However, though it is an important symbol, people can get by without being married. Many people nowadays, including younger straight people don’t get married, and in my own case with my partner Johann, we’ve been together for 46 years and it’s getting a little late in the day for our confetti and marriage celebrations. Indeed, we’re not absolutely certain that if marriage were available we would get married. In some ways that is mimicking an institution of straight society and we don’t feel the need for it, personally, but we certainly believe it should be there for those citizens who want it. In the mean time, there’s a lot of other things that need to be addressed in Australia, for example the exceptions from anti-discrimination law, in favor of religious groups, which allows schools with public funds to be established in Australia, or maintained in Australia, by religious organizations, Christian and non-Christian to discriminate against LGTIQ students.

I think the next generation should think of what it can give back to straight society. I do think that on a whole, LBTIQ people have a more realistic attitude towards human sexuality and human expression and experience. And instead of simply going along imitating straight relationships, I think it may be that in the future, young gay people will have lessons to teach straight people. The notion, for example, that you should break up a relationship of many years, simply because somebody has had a sexual experience with another person is something that would strike most gay people as irrational. And therefore, on the whole, young gay people have a more realist attitude. The idea of cheating on somebody, is an idea that has its foundation in ownership, and that isn’t a really stable basis on which to build a life experience.

Time Magazine found that long term living together is good for people’s health. And as you grow older, it’s even better for your health, to have somebody who cares whether you live or die. And the notion of destroying that opportunity on the basis of cheating, is a very old fashioned and rather patriarchal attitude towards sexual relationships. So I think instead of asking what straight society will do for us, I think it’s important for LGBTI, people to think of what they can do for straight society. By example, by research, by thinking, by expression. And that is really picking up President Kennedy’s statement in his inaugural address. “Ask not what America can do for me, but what I can do for America.” Well, LGBTI people should ask not what straight people in the world can do for them, but what they can do for straights.

I was more open about my sexual orientation as I got older. And then HIV AIDS came along and I became involved in both local activities and national activities concerned with the epidemic. I was invited by a very great international civil servant, Jonathan Mann, who was the head of the original global program on AIDS of the World Health Organization, to get involved in the global commission on AIDS, and so increasingly I was engaged in activities for the world wide response to HIV and AIDS. In Australia we did better in this respect than the United States and most other countries. We did that because we had a federal Minister for Health who later turned out to be bisexual, and we had an opposition spokesman on health who was a professor of public health, and therefore just by a chance confluence of these two men, we did better. I got involved in that, that was a kind of code language for my sexual orientation. And most people who were watching understood that. And that was in the 1980s, 1986 and thereafter, but my exact declaration of my sexual orientation came in the 1990s, and at that stage it seemed a natural and proper thing to do.

(To any young person reading the blog) I would say to do what can safely be done to uphold science, to uphold the principles of kindness to one another. And to be honest. It’s a terrible thing in a young person to require them to be dishonest, especially to their parents and to their siblings, and to their immediate family and neighbors and work colleagues. And basically we all know it originates not in some scientific basis, but in the fact that some people get upset if they hear the truth. The truth is that a small proportion of people have a sexual orientation towards a romantic sexual interrelationship with people of the same gender. Well, get over it. It’s important that young people, especially, should try as far as they safely can to be honest and to change the world. Because until now, LGBTIQ people have basically been conspiring in their own disadvantage and second class status by going along with the pretense. The pretense has to finish. When it finishes, we’ll get back to a scientific reality, that this small proportion exists. And we in the world own a great deal to Dr. Kinsey, Alfred Kinsey, of Indiana University in the United States who did the research on sexual orientation in the 1940s and 50s and his publications began the moves to change things and those moves will keep happening until it has been changed throughout the world. Medieval demons in the minds of some religious people, mainly men, will ultimately have to give way to scientific truth.

I’ve been very lucky in my life to have wonderful parents, wonderful siblings, a marvelous grandmother, and fantastic teachers, excellent education opportunities, considerable professional success, and that is the all of me, my sexual orientation is just a part of me, just as in a successful professional lawyer and judge you wouldn’t start a conversation by asking about their sexual orientation. It would be irrelevant and often regarded as impertinent. However, I hope in the area of LGBT issues I will be remembered as somebody who made it a little easier for younger people growing up to be truthful about their sexual orientation and gender identity.”