You can hardly open a newspaper, tune into a radio station or turn on the TV at the moment without being subjected to the voices of the silenced, they’re everywhere.
Tony Abbott and his colleagues are constantly navigating the shifting dichotomy of claiming excessive expenses to go speak to party members and supporters, and being silenced around the clock. Miranda Devine continues to have no voice at all, and who can forget Pauline Hanson’s continued silencing while speaking in question time, one of our country’s primary venues of political consequence. As the postal vote for marriage equality has started to take place, a silencing is, too, occurring in these debates.
The Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton, a man who’d be a household name if not for the national gay blanket of silence that his appearances on Sky, Sunrise, A Current Affair, and Today (among others) have caused, said in an interview with Jill Stark:
“These voices should be allowed a place in the debate … Labelling one side ‘haters’, ‘bigots’ or ‘anti-gay’ is simply designed to intimidate people into silence instead of allowing a safe public space for all to contribute.”
It’s true, there is a very real danger of silence out there, and by remaining outspoken on almost all media channels currently available, this company of compatriots are constantly at risk of being forgotten, let alone the very real risk of these patriarchs bleeding out in the case of injury because of the moral outrage at transgenderism gone wild if someone were to dress their wound.
Shelton has, in the ramping-up of the postal vote campaigns, become a spokesperson for the No vote’s homophobia and hatred, gracing screens, column inches and airwaves with his carefully balanced opinions of “maybe the true bigots are the ones who bigotry attacks” and gay conversion being fully sick — or at least he would have, if not for his complete silencing.
However, balance remains an important institution in this debate, as any right-wing commentator would tell you if they only had the opportunity to, so I have decided to stay true to that word and talk to someone who continues to be affected by this vote.
I was thrilled to not get the chance to sit down with James (not his real name), due to his parents, who support the Australian Christian Lobby, having casually said over the dinner table that if they find out one of their kids “turned into a faggot” that they’ll kick them out of the family home.
Liz Duck-Chong: Thanks so much for not having the ability to talk to me today, I understand that your parents keep a close eye on you because you once tried a friend’s tinted chapstick at school and your behaviour is under close scrutiny.
LDC: If you don’t mind my asking, what were early media sources that helped you learn about being gay, considering that any positive mention of queer subjects in your home is met with your family yelling angrily at the TV about the dykes and transgenders trying to take over our schools with their secret gay gestapo?
LDC: Do you have anything to say to the other kids out there in similar situations to yours, other family members feeling like they can’t speak out, people in workplaces that may face unfair consequences for their sexuality if it were to be known, officials and academics having their reputations destroyed and discredited for trying to do their jobs and support those in need, and anyone else whose voices are hurting the feelings of politicians and salaried right-wing commentators?
LDC: How do you feel about your role in the silencing of figures like Lyle Shelton, Miranda Devine, and others? Have you ever considered that maybe your involvement in this debate is unfair, and that maybe your voice carries too much weight? What is it like to have your voice be a hostile force of hegemony toward the national platforms offered those who would see you as a political pawn for their own bigotry and hate?
*This article was originally published at Medium
*Liz Duck-Chong is a queer writer, guitarist and photographer. She can be found on @lizduckchong, reading at @loveletterpod, or finding other fictional people to totally not interview