beautiful monsters: Now I remember why I don’t buy the newspaper…

August 09, 2004

Now I remember why I don’t buy the newspaper…

In the Sunday Star Times today (no I did not buy it, I just happened to be sitting at a table where there was a copy and it caught my eye) there was a picture from the launch of the Destiny Church Enough Is Enough campaign in Auckland. The photo was of a bunch of kids angrily shouting “Enough Is Enough.” Enough what? The protest was against “gay marriage”, abortion, the decriminalisation of prostitution, and other assaults upon the moral fabric of society.

When asked what they were marching for, 12-year-old Demi James of Mangere answered, “We’re standing up against the bad people, aren’t we?”

The bad people? That would be people like me.

Luckily, at 23, I now have the strength to hear a kid tell me I'm a bad person without it being completely devastating. Yeah, it hurts, but I’ve been told that I'm bad enough times that my skin has grown thick.

But one day, some of the kids in that march are going to find themselves attracted to people of the same gender. And for them, life is not going to be easy.

Meanwhile the Maxim Institute are encouraging children to sign a submission saying, “We feel it is important for the government to say it is best for children when parents are married… We would hate even more the idea of having a second mum in the house, pushing dad out of the way… Some of us are also very confused. We thought it was good to get married. But now the government seems to be saying that marriage doesn’t matter.”

I’m reminded of stories friends have told me about the campaign in the 80’s. The anti homosexual brigade took up a petition against the homosexual law reform bill, and some stood outside schools, encouraging children to sign it, without any understanding of the issues. Others targeted people who didn’t speak English. The petition was taken door to door, and around workplaces, where people were asked to sign it in front of their family, friends and colleagues. If you’re in a homophobic workplace, and someone asks you to sign a petition like that, and you might get fired if your boss thinks you’re a faggot, whatdya gonna do?


This weekend’s papers also brought news of the desecration of more Jewish graves in Wellington. Can this really be happening, in our city, in this day and age? With the holocaust in living memory?

My ancestors were taken to the concentration camps. I’m not talking about my blood ancestors, I’m talking about my “Ancestors of the Mind” as Jim Traue puts it in his essay about “A Pakeha Whakapapa”. I’m talking about the family, the history that I have inherited as a queer woman.

In the 1920’s Berlin was “a homosexual Eden, where gay men and lesbians lived relatively open lives amidst an exciting subculture of artists and intellectuals.” There were gay clubs, and gay rights organisations...

A few years later people were being tortured in the concentration camps; They’d been sent there because of their sexuality. Somewhere between 6000 and 10,000 of those convicted of homosexual "crimes" died in the camps.

Historian Dr Klaus Mueller, who has traced the survivors, says: "Many of the gay men who were taken to the camps died within a couple of days. Marked with a pink triangle, they were the lowest of the low, there was no support network as there was for political or Jewish prisoners. They were put into slave-labour squads, subjected to torture and some to terrible medical experimentation.
"At Buchenwald there was a doctor who tried to change them by instituting a particular gland. The operations were crude. Many died as a result of botched surgery. Others were beaten to death, drowned headfirst in water, hung by their arms till they were dead. Some were castrated . . . really, the worst you can imagine."
One man remembers the "singing forest" outside his concentration camp. That is, there was a sequence of concrete poles on which all those waiting to be sentenced were hung - "their screeching, howling and screaming was inhuman - the singing forest. It's beyond human comprehension. So much remains untold".

This is the history of my people.


It scares me, ok? Real deep fear that I can’t quite push away. I came out in the third form. To pretty much everyone – students, teachers, family, friends, youth group… something about that thin line between bravery and stupidity. But it was a fucking hard road. There was the time I was raped by a guy who was “proving” to his mates that I wasn’t really a lesbian… but the worst was the isolation. The girls seemed scared to come near me, and the guys thought it was great, as long as I pretended to enjoy their porn magazines. It was so damn lonely. When, in seventh form, I finally met other glbt young people, they were a pretty messed up bunch. I know people who were kicked out of home after being outed. People who were severely abused. But they were the survivors.

Now I hear kids using the word “gay” like a swearword. Sometimes I wonder if we’re really making progress.


The other headlines that caught my eye this week were the one’s starring my old flatmates. Second Home Birth Death, The Dream That Turned Into Every Mother’s Nightmare, and Midwife Given Wrong Advice in Baby Death.

Well, I was part of that home, and it was one of the hardest experiences of my life, but also one of the most beautiful. I was there for the nine months that baby Saskia was part of the household – don’t worry, I’m not going to go all “Pro-Lifer”… but she was a real, tangible presence among us, and her death was tragic. But does it have to be anyone’s fault? Why do the experts, the judges, the doctors, all get so obsessed with pinning the blame down on someone?

Sometimes, people die. Even babies. And sometimes it’s no body’s fault.

Maybe Saskia just wasn’t ready to come into the world.

I don’t blame her.


Update (further thoughts)

Amnesty International says that in countries such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, El Salvador and Latin America "the targeting and killing of transgender people has become an epidemic on streets." In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Sudan, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and northern provinces of Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death.

In the United States fundamentalist “christians”, not content with the fact that young people such as Matthew Shepherd have been brutally murdered, continue to picket funerals with signs saying “God hates Fags,” and set up websites with pictures of the victims burning and screaming in “hell”.

In New Zealand, on Monday August 23, thousands of supporters of Destiny church will be marching onto parliament, continuing to stand up against the “bad people”. In response to the protest, a rally for human rights is being organised, meeting at parliament at 11:30 on the morning of the 23rd.

If you are in Wellington, I urge you to come along to the rally, to show your support for human rights.

If you bring along children, please, talk to them, explain the issues to them, let them ask questions, let them make up their own minds. Please don’t follow the example of Destiny Church and the Maxim institute in their exploitation of children.

If you’re not in Wellington, maybe you could wear a badge or a sticker showing that you support civil unions, or write a letter to your MP. Pray that homophobia won’t be the dominant voice on the 23rd, and pray that one day the world will be a safe place for all peoples.

Thank you for taking the time to read this rant. Remember that, while many of us take our human rights and safety for granted, there are still too many people living in a world of fear and oppression.

Nga mihi aroha,

Recommended reading:
Civil Unions Campaign
Enough is Enough site
Love, Hate and Homophobia


This is the 1st post relating to the Destiny Enough Is Enough march.
Go to post 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

Posted by Fionnaigh at August 9, 2004 01:48 AM

I was working in Helen Clark's electorate office in 1984-7 and had to cope with the most amazing anger and abuse from people opposed to the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, who felt free to ring and threaten Fran, Helen and/or me with verbal assault, physical violence or eternal damnation. It was a very weird time and I also got dozens of calls from very frightened people who had been forced to sign the Anti petition as you descibe. The not-suprising follow up has been the number of people since who admit to being violently opposed to the reform then who now realise that they are glbt and that that was why they were so angry and frightened then. I wonder what devils are frigtening Mr Tamaki?

Posted by: Judith Tizard at August 10, 2004 01:33 PM

Re: comments about the baby Saskia:
I have two sisters who are midwives, very pro-women, pro natural birth. Every so often, despite their, and colleagues, best efforts, a birth will require hospital-based intervention -
and sometimes *that* doesnt work out either.
Dunno about the baby being 'not ready' to be born into our beautiful terrible world, but I do find
more than covert midwife-bashing in the way these tragic cases are reported in the media.

Posted by: Islander at August 10, 2004 01:47 PM

I have amongst my five wonderful much loved daughters a very special person who lives with her lesbian partner and their two lovely children.She is not "A bad person", indeed she is the antithesis of that. She is an especially good person who I am so very very proud of. A wonderful Mum and citizen par excellence.What on earth is it that these awful immoral so called Christians can put words in the mouths of children like this. Would be as easy to swap words...try Jews, blacks, Maori blah blah.
I have to tell you that this 70 year old male is close to tears as he writes to defend his precious girl and her family but at the edge there is an enormous bloody great hunk of anger Thanks be for good people like yourself and Russel Brown giving us reality and exposing these absolute cruel uncaring sickos. i happen to believe that there is "That of God in every person". It's hard somedays though

Posted by: Neville Lowry at August 10, 2004 01:53 PM

I am a member of Destiny Church Wellington. I have seen many peoples lifes changed for the better during the 9 month since Destiny Wellington started. I went along to see if the 'stories' about Destiny Church were true. I found a fantastic Church, that love God and God's ways and actually live by them!
If you want to make a judgement on Destiny Church, I suggest that you actually visit one first. Destiny Church wants the best for society. They are not afraid to stand up for what is right. They don't sit on the fence, afraid they might offend, instead they speak out and work towards making changes for the better. I respect that.
I am highly greatful of Destiny Church. I love being a part of it. We pray for all of New Zealand, which means we actually pray of you!

Posted by: J at August 15, 2004 01:28 PM

Re: comment by J, Destiny church member

"...we pray of you"-

yeah mate, freudian slip; you meant in your
sad little mind, "prey off you" -
fundamentalism, of any kind, sucks. It is
brain/mind destroying and life savaging.
Soon, may all fundamentalism cease to exist.

Posted by: Islander at August 22, 2004 07:35 PM

i remember when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was being passed in 1984ish.. i remember signing the petition to make it legal.. i was in forth form at the time at a tiny boarding school in Stratford.. and the reason i remember it so clearly is because it was the first time i had ever heard of people desiring their own gender. i must admit my first reaction was eww... mind you i was at an age when i thought that anything to do with boys was pretty much eww and the fact that some of them might want to touch each other was... difficult to comprehend... (I was a very late bloomer one could say but I did get over it.. however that is another story)

anyway I can also remember getting the sixth former who had the petition to explain it to me, which when she did I initially said eww no! however after an afternoon of thinking about it I went back and asked to sigh it.. when asked why I explained in my very fair way of thinking.. well if some boys are attracted to other boys and it makes them happy then I think they should be allowed, it is not right for anyone to tell another person whom they can love and whom they can not based on whether they are a boy or a girl. This all seemed very fair to my sense of fairness.. oh an I thought that the age of consent should be 16 like everyone else.. fairs fair after all..(as I seem to remember that consent age was a part of the bill)

and now the issue has come to marriage or in this case civil union and still I firmly believe that if men who are attracted to men want to acknowledge each other in civil union and it makes them happy they should be able to do so, not only does it acknowledge the love they feel for each other but in bestows legal acknowledgement as well.. like the right to be next of kin, rights in the event of one partner dying and many other such rights that hetro couple take for granted, all of which I believe is fair!!

And finally as an aside of sorts.. it would be a lot cheaper for the government because as it stands today same sex couples who are unemployed (one or both) can collect the dole separately even if they are living together!! Odd that!!

As to the boys are eww… I reccon I am over that now as they are kinda nice and sometimes they even smell nice… so I can definitely see the attraction that other boys might have… *grins!*

so the moral is.. be nice to one another cause it is only fair!

Posted by: Polly at August 25, 2004 11:20 PM

Dont use the example of a few nasty people to justify your anti Christian prejudices. There are nasty homosexuals as well. Arguments based on attacking your opponent's character are specious and irrelevant.

Posted by: robertp at August 26, 2004 01:25 PM

God made the world. The world did not 'just happen'. God is the most powerful thing that exists. He loves us all. It's up to us weather we choose to love him or not, but there are consequences to what we choose.

There is good and evil, God and the devil, and there is heaven and hell. It's real! The devil HATES you - he wants to kill you, to kill your joy and ruin your future. God loves you, but if you don't give your heart to Jesus, then the deal is that you go to hell. Hell is a horrifying place, where there is the worse torment and agony - and it ever ends. If you go there you will stay there for eternity.

God loved us so much that he gave his son to die in our place to pay the price for our sins. God also gave us the word of God - the Bible. It's all written in there - so there are no excuses. Everything we need to know to live a good and fulfilling life is written down! God knows what is best for us because he designed and made us. What he has laid out for us is so much better that what we can get when we try and do things our own way. Once you have really and truly tried God's way, then you will not even dream of going back to your old ways. God's way is soooo GOOD!

Any way, here are a few things that Jesus said about homosexuality. There are many more, but this will do for now.

In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus upheld the commandments in the Old Testament saying he had come to fulfil, and not abolish those laws. One law is Leviticus 18:22 where God commands “do not have sex with a man as with a woman, that is detestable”. So the Jews needed little convincing.

However non-Jews needed to be taught on this subject. Jesus appointed the Apostle Paul (see Acts 9) and used him for the writing of Romans 1 to non-Jews (many of whom would not have read the book of Leviticus). Romans 1: 26-27 reads: “Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Jesus through Paul therefore calls homosexuality a perversion. Reference to men receiving within themselves the due penalty for homosexual sex probably refers to sexual diseases.

The message of Jesus is one of love and forgiveness by His payment for our wrongdoings on the cross and our need to accept that gift (Romans 6:23).

The challenge for us is to not dilute God’s commands by reference only to His love. Jesus’ death for us on the cross was necessary because of our sin. It should motivate us to live for Him and it is not a license for us to live however we please. Only when we live in a loving relationship with our creator do we realise our purpose and reach our fill potential.

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Posted by: amin at October 2, 2004 01:39 PM