atom bombs in the suburbs

Phil Carsewell image for all the best radio

Somewhere in the other world, I’m into community radio. This week’s podcast on All the Best, is a great example of why.

I would like to encourage to you listen to it, not just because I help out with the 4ZZZ/All the Best contributor group, or because James Douglas – the story’s producer – is a really nice fellow on that group and, coincidentally, the first Brisbane-based contributor to bring a story to the air.

I’d like to encourage you further because 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the Victorian AIDS Council. Find out more about its history – and you’ll note that Phil Carswell was its founding president. This week’s podcast shares Phil’s story as a member of the gay community in the early 80s following the advent of HIV and AIDS.

This may seem a rather tenuous link to our Chosen Family show and encouraging you and yours to come along and experience Betsy’s and mine on May 16, 17 and 18.

But there is a link.

You see, however, as queer-identified performers – in order to perform Chosen Family for the Anywhere Theatre Festival this coming May – we’re going to take up some public space. Hopefully, we’ll do that free from harassment and discrimination. We’ll even get to talk it up as a good thing. I’m never sure how much I want to say that Chosen Family is “a poetic dialogue about queer families” because I don’t know that it can speak so broadly for a community that is so diverse.  At some level, however, I am comfortable to say that Betsy and my experiences as gay people inform our writing and collaborations, even if sometimes we don’t explicitly name it so.

It’s humbling to remember that it wasn’t all that long ago when the LGBTI community in Australia was, as Phil describes it:

an environment where there was basically no positive representations of gay people in the media, there was police harassment, there were very few social venues to go to, there were very few ways for gay people to meet each other. It was very much an underground community.

I was born in 1979. Phil describes the early 80s, just after the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Victoria, the state in which I grew up. It’s nice to know that there’s people who came before to whom you can recognise for their deep, personal investment in changing our communities ideas about sexuality. As Phil says: Don’t mourn, organise.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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