Diary 2.2016 – 3.2016

31 March 2016

There are countless stars in the sky, millions of fish in the sea, but the only thing I want is you ♥
(‏@TheGayLifeDiary)

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31 March 2016

Back in Cairns
Yesterday, 30 March, I came back from my 2-week trip. I visited South Korea (Seoul and Incheon) and Russia (Moscow).
Am “recovering” at the moment, and so am unable to start placing photos here right now.
However, you could visit my Instagram section to see the photos which I was placing mostly on the go:
Instagram
I will make a special selection for this blog of course, in due time. There will be several posts because I made lots of photos. I have shown you something on Seoul. To be continued!

30 March 2016

Photo of the day:

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29 March 2016

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28 March 2016

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27 March 2016

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26 March 2016

Seoul, South Korea

I visited South Korea a short while ago. Am intending to publish a photo report soon after I come back (I am not in Cairns yet), i.e. after 30 March. In the meantime, I wish to share with you some pictures of good-looking guys whom I saw in the South Korean capital.

Please click on any image to enlarge it.

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26 March 2016

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25 March 2016

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24 March 2016

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23 March 2016

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22 March 2016

Cairns election outcome
I am surprised by and disappointed in the Cairns election results.
Bob Manning has won.
There’s a proverb that could be applied here: ‘Shit does not sink ….it just keeps floating along’.
Another 4 years of stagnation for my city.
Another 4 years of stagnation for LGBT who did not come united to this election, unfortunately.

22 March 2016

Photo of the day:

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21 March 2016

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20 March 2016

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19 March 2016

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18 March 2016

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17 March 2016

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16 March 2016

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15 March 2016

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14 March 2016

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14 March 2016

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13 March 2016

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12 March 2016

Please find below a link to the Channel 7 LGBT broadcast which I mentioned not long ago. The link was kindly provided to me by Alex Bartzis. Enjoy!
click here

12 March 2016

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11 March 2016

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10 March 2016

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9 March 2016

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9 March 2016

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8 March 2016

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8 March 2016

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7 March 2016

SBS Special Event Broadcast: 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade

Yesterday I watched the SBS Special Event Broadcast: 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. I liked it a lot, there was a new team of four presenters, including the legendary Magda Szubanski. The presenters were great: witty and entertaining, and they spoke to a few participants, conducted a number of interesting interviews, including with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. The wonderful floats were there of course, in all their glory, and several short moving LGBT-episodes were shown in the programme. It was a great evening for me, I really enjoyed the broadcast.

Here are some more photos (by Ariel Bogle) of 2016 Sydney Mardi Gras:

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Please click on any image to enlarge it.

6 March 2016

Here are some very recent images from the biggest LGBT event in Australia: Sydney Mardi Gras.
By the way, this year it was attended by our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull  and his wife.
The photos were made by ABC:

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Please click on any image to enlarge it.

5 March 2016

Photo of the day:

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4 March 2016

Meeting of Cairns Tropical Pride

Last Tuesday, 1 March, an Extraordinary General Meeting of Cairns Tropical Pride Inc. was convened to ratify the financials of 2015. It was held at the QuAC Office (290 Draper Street). Jesse, the Secretary, chaired the meeting.

We ratified the financials. The figures and the balance look healthy. Such reports are audited by an independent qualified auditor (from Canberra), which is also reassuring.

We also had a preliminary discussion of the Tropical Mardi Gras festival which will take place in early October and will last for one week. The festival was a big success last year, and this year it will retain a similar structure. Volunteers will be required again, of course. Now, our task as members, is to disseminate information and gather expressions of interest.

A special welcome was organized for Ian, an LGBT volunteer for many-many years. He was recently discharged from hospital, so participants were happy to see that things were going well for him. In addition to a welcome banner, a delicious cake was waiting for him, which he cut and shared of course.

Then there was a BBQ for members and volunteers, and it was a good opportunity for me to catch up with my friends and colleagues.

I spoke to several people including Alex and Andrew. Alex, who is currently in charge of the Cairns QuAC office, showed me, on his smartphone, an episode aired on TV Channel 7 before the election forum. A good one, and congratulations, Alex!

I said to Andrew that I enjoyed the programmes (I had listened to a few recordings) of the LGBT community radio ‘Empty Closet’ of which he is a co-host, together with Sam. He said that, after a break, the programmes will resume. Look forward to it.

I also want to mention my conversation with a relative newcomer to Cairns, Jason. His local experience, including in relation to LGBT issues, has been positive. It was good to hear that. He also shared some travel information with me. He is well-read and has an extensive knowledge of life in Europe.

4 March 2016

Photo of the day:

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3 March 2016

I would like to share with you my impressions of Travel Expo in Cairns which I visited last Sunday. Such events are conducted all around Australia. They had taken place in Cairns many times before.

A lot of useful information could be obtained there: about flights, railway travel, hotels, tours… I collected flyers and booklets about different countries, and I did not forget about Australia of course. I like learning from the experience of other people, including tourist agencies and tour operators. I have a “boutique” business for gay and bisexual tourists, but nevertheless it is worthwhile to attend general conferences and exhibitions as well.

Possibly next year I will take part in an international exhibition-conference for tour operators who specialise in LGBT tourism. This year, in April, it will be held in Cape Town, but my circumstances (I will be very busy with different things in April) I will not allow me to go there. However, I do hope it will happen for me  in 2017.

And here are some photos from Cairns Travel Expo.
Please click on any image to enlarge it.

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3 March 2016

Photo of the day:

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2 March 2016

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1 March 2016

Cairns Regional Council Election Forum

Last Thursday, 25 February, I participated in the Cairns Regional Council Election Forum on LGBT Issues. I came earlier, before 6.30pm, and it was a good opportunity for me to catch up with my friends and other participants.

As I said before, the Council Election will take place on 19 March. It is an important event for us, members of the LGBT community, and for other Cairns residents.

The forum was held at Green Ant Cantina, a queer and friendly restaurant opposite Cairns Central, the largest shopping centre in Cairns, and not far from the Council building.

There were about 50 participants (my estimation), in addition to 10 candidates for divisional (Cairns is divided into 9 electoral divisions/districts) and mayoral positions.

A handout, with some serious statistics on LGBT-related issues, prepared by the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group and titled ‘Supporting evidence for greater Council action for LGBTI residents’, was available at the forum (I published the text on this website yesterday).

To get things flowing, some LGBTI related issues that were suggested and that could be covered included (as listed by QuAC and published online):
– Symbolic support (eg rainbow colours on council buildings) on some days;
– LGBTI advisory committee and/or position;
– More support for LGBTI homeless people (stigma and discrimination and related mental health and substance issues are risk factors).
– More support for and promotion of LGBTI and HIV related events including Tropical Mardi Gras and World AIDS Day (modelled on Lismore council support activities);
– Support for MSM (men who have sex with men) health promotion in council parks;
– Creation of LGB and trans and intersex friendly council forms and processes;
– LGB and trans and intersex friendly public toilets (eg. non-binary);
– Public statement in support of LGBTI inclusiveness and diversity (eg. video on the Council YouTube or Facebook);
– LGBTI awareness training for council staff;
– LGBTI related page on council website;
– Council LGBTI staff network.

Representatives from each team (Unity and Connect) were each to be given 3 minutes at the beginning of the evening to address the crowd. Every independent in attendance (eventually there was only one independent candidate present) was also to be given the opportunity to address the crowd for 3 minutes before questions were to be taken from the floor.

I am sure there will be an official report about the forum, so I will offer now my brief personal account. I will focus on things which I understand better. It does not mean that I consider other issues less important. When I get hold of the official report/s, I will share it/them with you.

Two teams were represented at the forum: Cairns Unity, with their leader Bob Manning (mayoral candidate and current mayor of Cairns), and Connect, with their leader Jim Brooks (mayoral candidate). One independent was present – Raj Patel.

The Connect team present vastly outnumbered the Cairns Unity team, which is quite indicative, in terms of the importance they attach to LGBT issues. I should also note that Bob Manning made the decision to participate almost at the last moment (he was not on the previously confirmed list).

The forum was videorecorded, but I am not sure which media agency/station was doing that. If I find out, I will let you know.

Of course, we wanted to find out the candidates’ position on LGBT issues. We were interested to know not only their intentions but also their track record: what they have already done. We wanted to make sure words match deeds.

The first speaker was Bob Manning who made a passionate speech about his lesbian daughter, how he and his wife accepted her with her partner and how proud they were of her. By the way, he published an article in support of LGBT in the latest issue of FNQ magazine, distributed at the forum free of charge.

However, at the forum Bob Manning and the members of his team could not give details of the significant support provided to the LGBT community over the four years they had been in power. They were quite vague in many instances. This was pointed out to them by the Connect team, by the Independent candidate and by several members of the public. It became apparent that their words often did not match their deeds.

The Connect team, including their leader, sounded more convincing and enthusiastic about the LGBT issues, and they were positive and supportive in relation to the vast majority of issues raised on the QuAC list and also raised by the Cairns LGBT Alliance.

The independent candidate was quite vocal and critical of the Cairns Unity team. He accused them of inaction. The independent candidate appears to be a passionate supporter of the LGBT community.

After the forum, which lasted for one and a half hours, I managed to speak to three candidates (by the way, the mayor and his team left very soon after the forum): Jim Brooks (Connect), Sarah Flenley (Connect) and Raj Patel (Independent). They were very positive regarding LGBT in the private conversation too, and gave additional information related to LGBT and their commitment to the LGBT cause.

The chair of the Cairns LGBT Alliance decided against holding a meeting of the Alliance on the following day. She, and two other people, decided to write a report about the forum and distribute it for our consideration and comments. Look forward to receiving it. And when I get hold of the final version and some other official report/s related to the forum, I will share them with you.

In conclusion, I wish to say that I found the forum very useful and productive. It clarified many issues for me, and for other participants.

1 March 2016

Welcome to March! Today is the first day of autumn here in Australia and of spring in the Northern hemisphere. A month of sunshine and hopes…

I wish all of you good luck and success in everything.

And here’s the first image of the month. It’s the symbol of San Francisco, a gay capital of the world.

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29 February 2016

And here are some photos of the Cairns forum:

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Please click on any image to enlarge it.

29 February 2016

Last Thursday we had  the Cairns Regional Council Election Forum on LGBT Issues. I mentioned it a few days ago when I wrote about a meeting held by the Cairns LGBT Alliance. The forum was successful: the discussion, and the level of involvement of the candidates and LGBT participants. It helped to understand many issues of relevance to our LGBT community, and of course the position and track record of candidates in this respect. I am going to write a personal account of the forum. In the meantime, I would like to share with you an important paper prepared by the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group and distributed amongst the participants of the Cairns forum by Alex Bartzis, QuAC Health Promotion & Community Development Officer (North Queensland). Alex has kindly provided me an electronic copy: see the text below.

Supporting evidence for greater Council action for LGBTI residents

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) residents experience alarming social, mental health and suicide statistics. This happens not from being LGBTI, but from the higher rates of discrimination, prejudice, stigma and non-representation LGBTI people experience.

This harm is recognised by government and non-govt. organisations, mental health and suicide prevention agencies, Australian Bureau of Statistics and many university studies. Multiple agencies, including Councils, recognise the need for and have implemented, LGBTI-specific programs.

As Council is the level of government most connected to the suburbs and communities where affected residents live, it’s appropriate that Council take further action. As BCC is the largest Council in Australia, actions by Council will impact on a large number of residents.

An LGBTI Advisory Committee can advise Council on ways it can help address discrimination and disadvantage for local residents, assisting to improve the mental health and well-being, and increase the societal integration of LGBTI residents.

1. The federal Department of Health and Ageing released a document titled “National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Ageing and Aged Care Strategy”. In his Ministerial forward, Minister Mark Butler states:

“These initiatives recognise that:
• there have been decades of inequitable treatment for LGBTI people;
• many LGBTI people have suffered stigma, family rejection and social isolation; and
• many LGBTI people have had a life experience of fear of rejection and persecution, coupled with the impact of potential or actual discrimination.
For these reasons, LGBTI ageing is a unique and important experience warranting particular attention.”
See https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/08_2014/national_ageing_and_aged_care_strategy_lgbti_print_version.pdf
2. The Australian Human Rights Commission June 2015 report “Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation Gender Identity & Intersex Rights 2015”, states:
“Despite progress being made in recent years, LGBTI people continue to face a range of significant challenges in Australia including:
• Poor community understanding and visibility of the distinct issues that affect people on the basis of SOGII (Sexual Orientation Gender Identity & Intersex) status, particularly in relation to gender identity and intersex status.
• Unacceptably high rates of marginalisation, bullying, harassment and violence.”
It further reports:
“Research has established a strong correlation between the experience of discrimination and lower enjoyment of health and wellbeing. It also highlights that a lived experience of unjust discrimination can significantly limit an individual’s sense of security to publicly participate in activities such as employment and sports.”

“Research has consistently identified higher than average rates of violence, harassment and bullying towards LGBTI people in Australia. It is well established that violence, harassment and bullying affect the wellbeing and quality of life of the people who experience it.”

“Research suggests that the rate of suicide for LGBT people is 3.5 to 14 times higher than the general population. LGBT people are also at a higher risk for a range of mental diagnoses and significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety”
See https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sexual-orientation-sex-gender-identity/publications/resilient-individuals-sexual

3. The Lifeline report “LGBTIQ and Suicide Prevention” states:

“For LGBTIQ people, the experiences of harassment, discrimination, ostracism and marginalisation, including rejection often by families and friends, are often cited as contributing factors to poor mental health and wellbeing, and the onset of suicidal thoughts.”

“Many LGBTIQ people struggle to find family and social supports which can act as protective factors against suicidal thoughts and actions. Lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians are twice as likely as heterosexual Australians to have no contact with family or no family to rely on for serious problems.”

“Communities can work constructively to reduce stigma and discrimination, as well as eliminate homophobic or transphobic attitudes in their midst. Community outlooks can impact positively on school, workplace and social environments for LGBTIQ people. In doing so, all of us can contribute to mentally healthy communities that enable diversity and health to co-exist.”

See http://mhaustralia.org/general/lgbtiq-and-suicide-prevention

4. The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University, report “Are LGBT Populations at a Higher Risk for Suicidal Behaviors in Australia? Research Findings and Implications” states:

“While there is nothing inherently “suicidogenic” about sexual minority identity or status (non-heterosexual identity and/or engagement in non-heterosexual behaviors as well as non-identification with biological birth gender), a degree of continued stigma—“the co-occurrence of […] labeling, stereotyping, separation, status loss, and discrimination” (Link & Phelan, 2001, p. 363)—at family and societal levels in relation to minority sexualities (Blosnich &Bossarie, 2012) and genders (Fitzpatrick et al., 2005) has led researchers to believe, for some time, that there is a relationship between suicidal behavior and sexual minorities, especially in adolescence.”

“Nevertheless, it seems clear that a reduction in public stigma as well as the private experience of this would reduce (LGBTI suicide) risk factors while fostering protective influences. For example, normalisation of sexual diversity at the societal level (e.g., with marriage equality reforms) could promote acceptance at the family level, thereby decreasing the likelihood of rejection of LGBTI youths.”

See https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByUHzRTDFvIFNEV4Q1ZpWXJsUzNPeXMzTEFEVmd1XzdNUUNv/view?usp=sharing

5. The Australian Senate, Community Affairs Reference Committee report “The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia”, notes:

“the stigma and discrimination experienced by GLBT(I) youth is likely to seriously impact on their mental health, increasing their chances of experiencing social isolation and family rejection.”

See http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2008-10/suicide/report/c06#anc13
6. Suicide Prevention Australia’s position statement “Suicide and self-harm among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities” states:

“Research findings demonstrate that suicide attempt and self-harm rates among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) communities are significantly higher than among non-GLBT populations.”
“The risk of suicide and self-harm among GLBT communities is complex and is compounded by experiences of stigma, discrimination, and ‘minority stress’. Sexual orientation and gender identity alone do not necessarily elevate risk; rather, experiences of heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia are known to contribute to social isolation, poorer mental health outcomes, substance misuse, and other sociocultural and economic problems and conditions, which in turn place GLBT individuals at greater risk of suicide and self-harm.”

See http://suicidepreventionaust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/SPA-GayLesbian-PositionStatement.pdf
7. The Salvation Army Suicide Prevention program document “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Questioning youth (GLBTIQQ) and Suicide”, states:

“Researchers have found that suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning youth (GLBTIQQ) is comparatively higher than among the general population (Hatzenbuehler, McLaughlin, Keyes, Hasin).
It is important to note that it is not their sexuality or gender identity that causes this, rather experiences of discrimination, prejudice and misunderstanding because of their sexuality that can lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness and isolation.”

See http://suicideprevention.salvos.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/LGBT-factsheet.pdf
8. The National LGBTI Health Alliance document “LGBTI People Mental Health and Suicide” states:
“LGBTI people have significantly poorer mental health and higher rates of suicide than other Australians”
“Discrimination and exclusion are the key causal factors of LGBTI mental ill-health and suicidality”
See https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/bw0258-lgbti-mental-health-and-suicide-2013-2nd-edition.pdf?sfvrsn=2
9. Headspace, the national youth mental health foundation, position paper “Young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex” states:

• “A survey of 1749 same sex attracted young Australians in 2004 found that many young people experienced homophobia, manifest through verbal abuse (44%) and unfair treatment on the basis of sexuality (38%). The most common site for the experience of abuse was within the school environment (78%).”
• “ABS statistics indicate that people who identify themselves as being homosexual/bisexual were more than twice as likely to have experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months. Depression and anxiety rates amongst lesbian and bisexual women are at least twice those of heterosexual women.”
• “Young people who are LGBTI are at higher risk of experiencing mental health concerns due to the difficulties associated with disclosure and community attitudes, and not due to their sexual or gender identity”
• “Young people who are LGBTI face particular pressures in their relationships with family, peers and schools, which can lead to vulnerability to depression, homelessness and drug use in response to lack of acceptance and bullying.”
• ” Initiatives that challenge homophobia and promote a safe environment for all Australians are crucial, particularly within the school environment.”

See http://headspace.org.au/assets/Uploads/Corporate/LGBTI-Position-Paper.pdf

10. The LGBT Fact File is a compilation of ABS and University research findings, including:

• a four times higher rate of suicide attempts (ABS)
• a twice higher rate of mental health disorders in the last year (ABS)
• a twice higher rate of having no family members for support (ABS)
• a four times higher rate of ever being homeless (ABS)
• higher rates of use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)
• higher rates of chronic health conditions (ABS)
• an 82% rate of experiencing homophobic/transphobic abuse or violence in their lifetime (Berman & Robinson).

See https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByUHzRTDFvIFWEV2V1JHZUhkWlk/view?usp=sharing
11. BeyondBlue, the national campaign to reduce anxiety and depression, LGBTI-specific webpage states:

“LGBTI people are at least two to three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader community.”

See http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/for-me/lesbian-gay-bi-trans-and-intersex-lgbti-people
The BeyondBlue fact sheet, “Depression and Anxiety in Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI) people” states:
“Despite increasing acceptance of difference over the last few decades, people who are same-sex attracted (gay, lesbian and bisexual), people who are transgender, and people who are intersex, still face stigma and discrimination resulting from ingrained cultural attitudes about sexuality, gender and sex diversity in Australia” and “GLBTI people do experience anxiety and depression at higher rates than many other people and are at greater risk of suicide and self-harm.”

See http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/0648
BeyondBlue further state:
“THE IMPACT OF HOMOPHOBIC AND TRANSPHOBIC ABUSE
Unlike those who are discriminated against for a characteristic they share with their family or community, such as race or religion, many GLBTI young people have frequently made this journey alone and in secret. They may have not been taught strategies for coping with prejudice, and are less likely to call on (and perhaps be given) family and community support if they are victimised.

Any type of homophobic or transphobic discrimination can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health, and it’s not surprising that many young people react to this sort of stress and anxiety by feeling anxious or down. Research shows us that compared with young people who have not experienced abuse, young people who have experienced homophobic or transphobic abuse:
1. experience more feelings of depression and anger
2. feel less safe at school, home, on social occasions and at sport
3. are more likely to skip school or drop out completely
4. are more likely to experience homelessness, to have unsafe sex, to use alcohol and drugs and to deliberately self-harm.”

See http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/0643
12. The Growing Up Queer Study 2014, a national study of LGBTIQ youth, states:

“The findings of this study overwhelmingly highlight the serious impact that homophobia, transphobia and heteronormativity can have on the health and wellbeing of young people who are gender variant or sexuality diverse – supporting the findings of similar research in this area …”

“Particularly disturbing are the findings around self-harm and suicide ideation amongst the young people who participated in the online national survey. 41% had thought about self-harm and/or suicide; 33% had harmed themselves; and 16% had attempted suicide.”

See http://www.youngandwellcrc.org.au/homophobia-transphobia-linked-mental-health-issues-many-growing-queer

13. Writing Themselves in 3 is the third national University study on the sexual health and wellbeing of 3134 same sex attracted and gender questioning young people.

The study found that increased verbal abuse correlated with increasing risk of self harm and suicide, as well as increased illicit drug for on young gay and gender diverse people in Australia.

See http://www.glhv.org.au/files/wti3_web_sml.pdf
14. A University of New England study showed Queensland schools have the highest level of homophobia of all Australian schools.

“TEACHERS are being accused of bullying gay and lesbian students and condoning similar behaviour in Queensland schools, which have been found to be more homophobic than in any other state.”
“A university study has found Queensland has the most homophobic schools in the country, with more than 80 per cent of gay and lesbian students reporting (anti-gay) bullying.”
“Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett warned yesterday that bullying of gay and lesbian students was a “real and present issue for young people in our schools” ”

See http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/bullying-teachers-peers-make-school-hell-for-gays-and-queensland-is-most-homophobic-of-all/story-e6freoof-1226582239965
15. Out on the Fields, 2015 international study of homophobia in sport reveals disturbing findings.
Key Australian findings:
• 80% of participants have experienced or witnessed homophobia in sport.
• 50% of gay men and 48% of lesbians have been targeted.
• 80% believe gay people are “not at all accepted” or “accepted a little” or “moderately accepted” in sporting culture.
• 70% believe youth sport is not safe for gay people.
See http://www.outonthefields.com/media.html
16. Beyondblue launches new campain after March 2015 study reveals widespread homophobia.

“Australian teenage boys are engaging in homophobia at an alarming rate, a new study has revealed, harming the mental health of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex youth and placing them at risk of suicide.”
See https://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/news/news/2015/03/30/major-campaign-aims-to-stamp-out-discrimination-against-lgbti-people

Compiled August 2015 by:
Brisbane Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer Action Group
Email: bneblag@gmail.com
Twitter: @BneLAG
Facebook: Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group

29 February 2016

Photo of the day:

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28 February 2016

Photo of the day:

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27 February 2016

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26 February 2016

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26 February 2016

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25 February 2016

Photo of the day:

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24 February 2016

Photo of the day:

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23 February 2016

LGBT Alliance meeting

Last Thursday, 18 February, the Cairns LGBT Alliance held its first meeting this year. As a committee member of the Alliance and as a volunteer of our community, I was glad to attend.

The main item of the spontaneous agenda was preparations for The Cairns Regional Council Election Forum on LGBT Issues. The Council Election will take place on 19 March. It is an important event for us, members of the LGBT community, and for other Cairns residents.

Before the election, we will organise a forum of questions and answers. It will be held this coming Thursday, 25 February. We are going to find out the candidates’ position on LGBT issues. We are interested to know not only their intentions but also their track record: what they have already done. We want to make sure words match deeds.

It would be good to have media presence. One participant of the meeting promised to get in touch with journalists.

We are going to compile a report on the outcome of the forum and distribute it within the LGBT community and amongst our friends and allies. Probably soon after the forum, most likely on the following day, we will hold another meeting to discuss the text of the report.
One participant suggested we prepare a list of recommended candidates to vote for. However, another participant said that if our report and journalists’ coverage showed the position and actions of the candidates in relation to LGBT rights, everything would be clear. The first participant accepted this approach.

One of the participants suggested we invite the current mayor to the forum. He was told that the mayor is unlikely to attend, although he will be invited of course. The current mayor has a dubious record on LGBT issues.

One participant pointed out that Cairns is the regional centre for Far North Queensland, a huge area. Other, smaller councils often turn to the Cairns Council for guidance and advice, so this election is of additional significance. We, the Cairns LGBT community, should co-operate with other councils and help LGBT people who live in those areas, taking into account the fact that it is more difficult for them, in view of limited resources, and often isolation, to defend their rights and interests.

One participant who lived before in Lismore, NSW, said that we, as a reginal centre, have something to learn from their LGBT community. Lismore has a large LGBT population and holds one of the largest LGBT festivals in this country. In many ways, the success of the festival and achievements in relation to LGBT rights could be explained by an active and positive interaction with the local council.

Another participant who is well familiar with the situation in Lismore supported these statement and initiative. Hopefully next time we will receive some additional information about this interaction. I believe that it is worthwhile to learn from the experience of others.
One of the participants pointed out that, although it is useful to know what happens in big Australian cities, we should understand that what works in big cities (like Sydney) does not work in regional cities like Cairns. I suppose he meant that it would be more useful for us to learn from the experience of small cities like Lismore. I believe the two are not mutually exclusive.

Several participants pointed out that the current Labour government in Queensland has taken a few positive LGBT measures, in particular in relation to funding. For example, some resources have been made available to finance several QuAC positions, including in the Cairns regional office. Hopefully, more measures will follow. One of them should be removing historical convictions for ‘gay crime’. Homosexuality is no longer a crime but it is important to restore fairness as many peoples’ life was ruined or damaged because of the conviction in the past.

A big Labour achievement is the reinstating of civil partnership abolished by the previous conservative government.

However, it is necessary to continue interaction not only with the ruling, Labour party, but also with the Opposition. Our approach should be comprehensive.

One of the participants pointed out that we should do more to raise funds which could be used, for example, to partially fund another position at QuAC. We could organise parties, BBQ, etc. We should also co-operate more actively with other organisations and groups which advocate for disadvantaged people, for example, Queensland Positive People (QPP) (a peer-based advocacy organisation which is committed to actively promoting self-determination and empowerment for all people living with HIV).

The meeting stressed the need to increase interaction between the Cairns LGBT Alliance and QuAC in such matters as workshop topics, LGBT national and international experience, mental health, particularly of young people, and prevention of bullying of LGBT youth in schools.

Another issue which was raised concerned vexatious complaints or abuse in relation to LGBT people, e.g. from neighbours. It would be good to have a ´safe LGBT officer´ at the Council, similar to the police LGBT liaison officer who, by the way, attended one of our recent meetings. One participant said that we should provide specific examples of discrimination and vexatious complaints if we are going to submit an application to the Council. The author of the proposal promised to include such examples in the text of the submission to be discussed by us at a later stage.

The meeting lasted for 1.5 hours. The discussion we had was productive and useful.

23 February 2016

Photo of the day:

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22 February 2016

You have probably heard about some people being ‘pansexual’ or ‘asexual’. Here are the definitions:

What Is Pansexuality?

What is Asexuality?

21 February 2016

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20 February 2016

Protests in Malawi against Antigay Laws

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19 February 2016

Ad in a local newspaper. Sweet, isn’t it?

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19 February 2016

Smart, isn’t it?
See below:

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19 February 2016

Two quotes for today:

I often tell audiences at the start of my shows that I’m not gay because I’ve got petitions from lesbian groups saying ‘Can you tell people you’re heterosexual because you’re giving us a bad name.’
Jo Brand

By definition, gay is smart. I see plenty of macho heterosexual idiots, but nine times out of 10 you can have a great conversation if you find a gay guy.
Jason Bateman

18 February 2016

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17 February 2016

Gay Brussels

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17 February 2016

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16 February 2016

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15 February 2016

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14 February 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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160413. news. Picture Kent Blechynden Dominion Post. Left to right, civil union couple John Jolliff and Des Smith are exited to watch the marriage equality vote having it's third reading tomorrow.
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14 February 2016

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13 February 2016

Our friends in Northern Ireland deserve equality

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13 February 2016

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12 February 2016

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11 February 2016

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10 February 2016

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9 February 2016

Last Saturday, I decided to go to the Atherton tableland. It was my own itinerary, not a standard tourist one. I know the area quite well, but every trip is nevertheless different and each time I discover something new for myself.

First, I paid a visit to my friends who have a large farm near the town of Herberton. It is like a hobby farm now, but before they had had some cattle and had been growing pecan nuts. I have known them for nearly 15 years, and this time I spent an hour with them drinking tea and tasting a cake (very good, by the way).

Then I went to the Innot Hot Springs. On my way there, I stopped to admire wind mills and the Millstream Falls. I also stopped at Ravenshoe, a pleasant small town, incidentally, the highest in our state (1000 m).

And finally, the Hot Springs. I paid $10 and spent a bit over 2 hours there. It has now four spas and one swimming-pool. The temperature ranges from very hot to cool. The visitors were of different age and gender. All of us, including myself, “were jumping” from one pool to another. It was an excellent contrasting temperature massage! There were two handsome guys there who made me feel even better : – ) The general atmosphere was friendly and relaxed and contributed to my good spirits.

On my way back home, I visited the unique Hypipamee National Park. After a short walk in the rainforest, I found myself on a lookout. 60 metres below I saw a crater “hole”. The hole is filled with water – for 73 metres deep down. An awesome place. In Australia, including our region, we have old mountains which are not active, but the traces of the volcanic activity could be found in many places, and the Hypipamee hole is one of them.

Here are some pictures.
Please click on any image to enlarge it.

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9 February 2016

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8 February 2016

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7 February 2016

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6 February 2016

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5 February 2016

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4 February 2016

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3 February 2016

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2 February 2016

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1 February 2016

Welcome to a new month, and to a new Diary section of my website.

To start with, I wish to share with you a nice and emotional picture.
All the best
Vadim

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