On memory and outrage

Frankly I find the whole Tony-Abbott-Was-An-Arsehole-In-1978 meme all a bit silly. He almost certainly was. But that was then, to be fair. Some of his defenders falling all over themselves in The Australian this morning were a bit much though. I simply cannot understand what drives someone like Christopher Pearson, for example. Mind you the camp ecclesiastical conservative is such a cliche, though there are quite a few of them about. Once it was camouflage. Today? Heaven knows… Perhaps.

OK so I neither remember nor am all that outraged…

But yesterday did bring memories as it was on that day in 1989 that dear Rob Burton committed suicide – on his birthday. Afterwards – and you may read a very honest account of it all on that link, albeit with names changed – Fred Nile, then in full spate, took it upon himself to cleanse Oxford Street lest The Lord break out against it, probably zapping quite a few innocent bystanders in the process – a rather bad habit of The Lord whose targeting was ever erratic when it came to smiting and destroying.

Well, we told Fred – and none more passionately than I in October 1989 – just what we thought…

When the Reverend Fred Nile and his fundamentalists march into Oxford Street set on a bit of cleansing I am out there with the crowd. I wear my Mardi Gras T-shirt with additions:

FOR JAY

Sept. 1961-Sept. 1989

‘Gone where fierce indignation
can lacerate his heart no more.’

AND FOR LUKE
WHO LOVED HIM

Fred has his thousand, harmless-looking folk pushing strollers, mingled love and fear on their faces as they march up Oxford Street.

But we have five, ten thousand voices chanting NO MORE GUILT! NO MORE GUILT!

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And my voice is the voice of three, a trinity of love grief and anger, and in me sing J and Luke and I:

We shall all be free
We shall all be free
We shall all be free some day
And it’s deep in my heart
I do believe
That we shall all be free someday.

And I see his face, a touch side-on, the slightly crooked nose and shy smile, eyes so often fearful, the bursts of anger, the incredible gentleness and my tears choke my singing and a gay man hugs me and says So you’re human after all…

Photo of that actual day from Nick Henderson.

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