Updated: Aug 3
One of the most remarkable things about being a gay man running for council in the year 2020 is that it is largely unremarkable.
After all, why should it be remarkable? I am just another capable and competent gay man, confident in having a public life. The journey of LGBTQIA+ people over the last 40 years has been turbulent and reflecting upon it, I can see both how far we have come as a society and how far we still have to travel.
If I were running for Council in the year 1980, my story would be a vastly different narrative. I would have to hide who I am and I would likely feel I couldn't be my authentic self. I'm so thankful to those who have come before my generation because their struggle for equality and the hardships they endured mean that I can run for public office in the year 2020 as the person I truly am. I can be open and honest with people about who I am and what I believe. It is a gift and an opportunity I do not take for granted.
Representing the interests of our LGBTQIA+ residents is an ongoing factor that must be considered by Council. People in the LGBTQIA+ community suffer higher rates of mental illness, are disproportionately represented in unemployment figures and are more likely to suffer abuse, simply being who they are.
In 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that LGBTQIA+ people felt they needed to hide their sexual identity or gender in public situations.
34% said that they hid when accessing services.
39% said they hid at work.
42% said that they hid their identity at social or community events.
Now whilst I recognise that this study was performed six years ago and those statistics have likely decreased, Council still can't ignore them in 2020.
Our Council need to make sure that people feel safe and included in our community whether at work, attending events or accessing services. This is achieved through readily available queer youth programs, more representation of LGBTQIA+ issues in our community and mental health support in addition to an increase in programs helping LGBTQIA+ people access employment, workplace training and inclusion.
Feeling like you belong, feeling supported and feeling safe should be something that all people feel in Moreland. We are a progressive, inclusive community and there is absolutely no reason queer people living in Moreland should feel ignored or marginalised.
Nobody in our community should face employment discrimination due to their sexuality.
Nobody should experience abuse of any kind.
Nobody should fear the simple act of living as their authentic self.
I vow to advocate for LGBTQIA+ people within Council. I vow to be a voice for my community and the broader Moreland community.
As an independent, I am not guided by someone else's agenda. I am not guided by a party ideology. I am guided only by needs of our community.
My sexuality doesn't define who I am as a human being and I am fully able to represent the needs of all Moreland residents. My sexuality is yet another part of my humanity, another part of my story, and in 2020 I am not forced to hide it to pursue a role within Council.
I am honoured to have the opportunity to advocate for the queer community, and as a proud gay man, I will advocate for more visibility, more inclusion and more support for people in the LGBTQIA+ community.
In these difficult and stressful times, I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and of each other.
If you are struggling, please seek help. Some useful numbers are
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Switchboard: 1800 184 527
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Headspace: 1800 650 890