What an amazing night. Over 300 people gathered at the Midnight Shift to celebrate the new edition and hear moving stories from readers as well as some historic announcements. Glenn Wheeler, 2UE radio personality talked about the intended 8 minute interview he’d planned to have with me which continued for over 40 minutes and initiated a reconciliation with his gay brother on the station the next day.
If you were unable to attend here are the speeches.
Nearly 3 years ago on stood on this stage launching the original edition. I remember saying that night that I hoped my book would create greater understanding, bring healing and give people courage. These wonderful speeches tonight….very moving and very courageous… are just some of the lives that have been touched and demonstrate that there has been enough suffering and hurt.
I had so many readers I could choose from, each of them just as powerful and moving. I particularly asked Peter, Chris and Ryan not to focus on me but to focus on the impact ‘A Life of Unlearning’ had on their lives. I did that because, what I’d failed to realise when I wrote the original book is that, I wasn’t just telling my story I was telling 1000’s of peoples stories. So many of the emails I receive begin with the statement “Thank you so much. I had to write to you…you’re story is my story” …and then go on to detail the similarities. It humbles me to think that if I hadn’t written that book Peter may have been another of those suicide statistics and Ryan may still be estranged from the family he loves and so many other lives have been touched in a profound way. Not all the emails come from people with church backgrounds and surprisingly not all of them are gay either. In essence, ‘A Life of Unlearning’ is a story about letting go of others expectations and pressures to conform in order to true to yourself.
‘People who exist at the margins of society are very much like Alice in Wonderland. They are not required to make the tough decision to risk their lives by embarking on an adventure of self-discovery. They have already been thrust beyond the city’s walls that keep ordinary people at a safe distance from the unknown. For at least some outsiders, “alienation” has destroyed traditional presumptions of identity and opened up the mythic hero’s path to the possibility of discovery. What outsiders discover in their adventures on the other side of the looking glass is the courage to repudiate self-contempt and recognise their “alienation” as a precious gift of freedom from arbitrary norms that they did not make and did not sanction. At the moment a person questions the validity of the rules, the victim is no longer a victim.’ Jimake Highwater
So in telling my story I have told the story of countless others who are on their own journey to find peace with God, peace with themselves and peace with others. It is very easy for us to be angry with churches, ministers, parents and friends as tonight’s speeches have shown. And the anger is completely justified. But I ask you tonight to choose a higher way. You see no one listens to an angry person. I know I don’t. It has never achieved a positive outcome. I ask you tonight to remember …always remember that the enemy we fight is not political parties, governments or churches ….the enemy we fight is ignorance….and it’s up to each one of us to do all we can to educate with an intelligent, informed, respectful dialogue. And if they slam the door in our faces, we choose to not return the hatred and anger but once again knock on the door and say I have a story to tell you….please listen.
Recently I got an email from an ex-preacher friend of mine. After numerous attempts to contact him, which were ignored, I finally got an email that said. “I won’t be meeting up with you I feel I need to distance myself from you” I replied dear Pat. That statement sounds more like the words of a Pharisee than the words of Jesus Christ. You see if you do read the bible you’ll know that the only people Jesus turned his back on were the pious, holier than thou, religious people. Of course I could have been very angry and told him what a fool he is but that would not only widened the chasm……and I reminded myself that his reaction is caused by ignorance, and ignorance that I used to live in. So I extended the hand of friendship to him once again. Maybe at my next launch he will be here apologising for his attitude…..although he has threatened legal action.
Miracles are happening. I’m going to ask you to be a part of the miracle by becoming my publicity machine.
The internet is a wonderful tool. Write reviews. Post them on blogs. Go into forums, email all your friends and suggest they get the book. Make sure its in your local library. Contact your local and major newspapers. Put a video on Youtube. Download chapter 1 from my website and email it to people. Go to Oprah’s site and there you will find a place to suggest a guest for her program. Do it. Who knows? Ellen DeGeneres is another who has guests such as myself. What Australian shows do you think I should be on. Australian Story? Enough Rope? Compass? SBS? Do you know anyone in the media? Contact them and lets get….not my story, but our stories out there.
I have several heroes, one being Justice Michael Kirby, Rosa Parks is another. In Montgomery Alabama on December 1st 1955 Rosa Parks (a black women), tired and worn out from hours working in the factory, was riding home on the bus. She was ordered to vacate her seat for a white person and go to the back of the bus………she said NO. This was the birth of the civil rights movement. All it takes is for people like us to say NO, it is unacceptable in this day and age for you to treat gay and lesbian people with anything less than equality. Previously, ignorance has caused untold suffering. There is no excuse for that today. History shows us that ignorance will be overcome with knowledge, understanding and finally bring us to acceptance and equality.