To be honest, I'm not entirely sure which way to fall on this one. On the one hand, I sympathise with pub owner Tom McFeely's expressed responsibility to provide a safe, comfortable environment for his clientele, which is and has been for years (or at least was the last time I was at Peel, a few years ago now) overwhelmingly gay men. This certainly isn't a commercially-viable decision for him to make - by definition it will reduce his overall beer-buyers - so you can assume his primary concern is indeed patron safety, not economics.
I also take on board Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal deputy president Cate McKenzie's point: "To regard the gay male patrons of the venue as providing an entertainment or spectacle to be stared at as one would at an animal at a zoo devalues and dehumanises them." Having been to fag venues for years, I know what she's on about. Some drunk straights - usually female - still seem to consider it the height of hilarity to crash queer venues and practically with a bowl of popcorn laugh at the movie before them, as though our social life exists purely for their entertainment and viewing gratification. Or as McFeely himself puts it: "We've had instances in the past where, for example, a buck's night has come up to the Peel or a hen's night - our whole atmosphere changes immensely."
Then of course, there's the much more serious issue of drunk straight boy yobbos crashing queer venues to get in a bit of verbal or physical fag-bashing. I assume this was a serious and repeat threat at the Peel, not a one-off, that spurred the pub into making the appeal to begin with.
But I'm not sure that blanket bans on people based on their sexual and/or gender identity is the best solution - seems a bit like knocking a nail into place with a demolition ball. For one thing, it's not exactly something that's easy to enforce - it's hard enough to tell the fags from the pretty straight boys in Melbourne and I can actually foresee bouncers and genuine, 100% All-American butt pirates getting into heated debate about whether or not they are in fact said pirates. We've worked so hard over the years to earn the right to claim 'we're here, we're queer'; being greeted with a retort of 'no, you're not' upon arriving at the Peel's doors seems to somewhat negate this empowerment.
Not to mention, this sets an uncomfortable precedent. Can you imagine the outcry if a straight venue applied for and was granted a 'no gays' exemption? Not good.
Of course, we can't be too naive about such things. Bouncers already unofficially implement such screening standards at venues. They turn away the straights from queer places and vice versa, even though they may not explicitly identify that particular factor.
And let's also keep in mind the ratio of straight-friendly/queer-friendly bars in Australia. Seriously folks, if you're straight and you're not allowed into the Peel, there's probably half a dozen alternatives in Collingwood alone you could head too instead. We gays don't really have that luxury outside of Oxford, King or Commercial Streets/Road. Sure, it would be nice if bars didn't need to be so segregated - and certainly some of the best bars and clubs in Adelaide and Sydney at least are great melting pots of queer and straight - but if you've ever been in a place with your homo partner and made to feel a pariah because you dare even to touch knees, you know how much you appreciate having some places where this will never happen under any circumstances.
I think overall, however, I'm going to have to fall on the side of the Peel going too far. Dow puts it nicely:
Instead of being mean with our dance space, let's share it. Soon there will be a report by the Human Rights Commission tabled in Federal Parliament that intelligently outlines the urgent need to end discrimination against same-sex couples in superannuation, wills and the like. That's when we'll need our friends more than ever, dancing to the same song.
We're not doing ourselves any favours further enforcing the perception that we voluntarily segregate ourselves from 'straight world', and this kinda contradicts the 'diversity is grand' theme we're usually trying to team with. By all means, bouncers should be allowed to prevent entering, or eject from, queer venues those they deem will cause trouble. But don't tar all straights with the same brush - after all, that's the one thing we queers hate most.
See? This is why blogs are cool. I didn't have a firm opinion until I started typing and now I do. Huzah!
If all else fails, play the puppy-dog eyes. Sorry J-Ho, ain't gonna work. If you lose this election it's your own fault for not 'graciously' (I'm being generous) handing the leadership over to Costello last year and putting yourself out to pasture when you should have done.
However, I'm still far from convinced you will, in fact, lose this election.
Why? It's all about the psephology. What a nice word is psephology. Psephology. Say it out loud a couple of times. Psephology. Now throw in the silent p, if you haven't already been doing so, just for fun. Psephology.
Opinion polls should be neither instantly dismissed nor taken as gospel. The pollies take them seriously even though they pretend not to. A good way to determine their accuracy is to compare what was the final opinion poll recorded on the last day before the election, with the actual results. Very rough summary for 2004 (rounding up): Actual result was Coalition 53, Labor 47 on 2pp. Nielsen called it 52/48 in their final poll, Newspoll 50/50. Not bad, but not spot-on.
I recently consulted with psephologist extraordinaire William Bowe over at The Poll Bludger to get an unbiased reality check on opinion polls that currently have Howard judged, juried and executed.
(M)ost poll-watchers will tell you that a 52-48 result is the measure of what Labor will need for a clear win...
Pollsters generally say they have a 3 per cent margin of error within a 95% confidence interval, which means they will be within 3% of accuracy 95% of the time.
Now, there needs to be uniform swing of 3.3% for the Coalition to lose its majority, and 4.6% for Labor to win a clear majority. Or, in simpler terms, using this fantastic 2007 election calculator, Labor will need to win at least 52.5% of the 2pp vote this year to form majority government. This equates to Labor winning 18 seats - 6 in NSW, 3 in SA, 2 in Victoria, Queensland, WA and Tasmania and one in the NT - as well as not losing any seats they currently hold.
Were this to actually happen, Coalition casualties would include Howard, Malcolm Turnbull and Jackie Kelly, among others.
Not to mention, this would also mean Labor holds onto two WA seats, Swan and Cowan, to which it's desperately clinging with a margin of less than 1%. This in a state where all the kids are into AWAs but potential Labor Mum isn't so keen to let them play with them.
You can see how this is a really, really, really big ask.
Given the 3% margin of error, the major opinion polls will still need to have Labor on at least 55% of the 2pp at their final pre-election polls before I start to believe any 'annihilation' will take place.
Sure, there are a bunch of Howard voters right now who are giving serious thought to offering the Kruddster a shot, but 6 months is still a very long way to go. Howard will still have plenty of bribes and other rabbits, no matter what he otherwise claims, and don't forget that around 30% of voters don't make up their mind with absolutely certainty about who to vote for until the last week - and the overwhelming majority opt for the incumbent government, particularly when the economy is performing strongly (1949 and 1996 elections being exeptions to the rule).
So let's all keep a calm head for the moment. Re-read that card you carry around in your pocket to remind yourself, 'Always say/do the opposite of what John Howard says/does'. And we'll talk on election day.
Hrm. It would be appear I've been tagged. Which is kinda cool, as I couldn't really think of any shit to blog about today.
OK, 8 random things:
When I was about 21 I once accidentally ran my Mazda into the back of a parked car, while slowly cruising the dark and narrow back streets of Mile End (Adelaide suburb) trying to find the numbers on a house at which I was to attend a party. Naturally, being a model citizen, I kept driving on without leaving a note and never told anybody about it...Erm, until now. Ooops.
Around the same era I was an active member of the Australian Democrats, and also successfully ran for the position of Male Sexuality Officer at Adelaide University on a Unity (Labor Right) ticket. It's possible I'm actually a lot more right-wing than I think I am.
I cannot for the life of me roll my tongue. This means I do a really average Scottish accent.
I have occasional relapses of a condition known as pericarditis. The first time I had pericarditis I was 16, and was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in such excrutiating agony that I had to be morpheined up to high heaven (literally). The hospital told my parents and me that this condition is commonly associated with regular heroin usage. And having just come out to them a couple of weeks before, I guess it wasn't such a long stretch at the time for my folks to fear I was shooting up as well, so they asked me if I was. Nowadays, the condition is cured with a couple of Aspro Clears whenever I start to feel the heavy pressure in my chest.
I like to refer sentimentally to 2005 as my 'Homewrecker Whore Year', in which I managed to sleep with six guys' boyfriends. Of those couples, three were open relationships, and three...umm...weren't.
There are certain songs - by Mahler, Rachmaninov and Cold Play, among others - that will automatically and involuntarily bring goose bumps and tears to my eyes, no matter how many times I listen to them. Ditto, two scenes from ET: When Elliott's bike launches into space, and when Gertie gives ET the geranium. Typing about those scenes is making me water as we speak.
There is a very select, exclusive list of women who could momentarily turn me straight for a few hours of debauched heterosexual perversion. The list includes, among others, Beyonce Knowles, Vanessa Williams, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Caulfield and Helen Mirren.
McElhone Steps, the landmark steps from Victoria Street Potts Point down to Woolloomooloo over which my partner's apartment looks, are named after my ancestor, my great-great grandfather (I think) John McElhone. I think that has a nice circle of life vibe about it.
Hard part now, tagging bloggers who don't take themselves Oh So Very Seriously that they cannot do something as low-brow as a meme. That counts Dave out.
Kevin Rudd Asked Driver for Sex...Oh...Wait...+ How Affirming is the Action?
That should read "Kelly Hoare Asked Driver for Sex". But you may not necessarily make that distinction were you to have briefly seen the blaring headline on Sunday's Terror.
See, apparently Kelly Hoare is a 'Rudd MP', not merely a 'Labor MP' - or, forbid, just 'Federal MP'. Despite the fact that prior to this story being released, Hoare had just been shafted for Greg Combet, so she wasn't even an MP anymore, let alone a 'Rudd MP'.
Still, guilt by association and all that - even when there's no actual association. Something tells me Kev's meeting with Uncle Rupert didn't go quite as well as his smirk implied.
Anyway, this segues nicely into a debate currently under way about women in politics and affirmative action - an 'insulting relic', according to TUAI Janet.
Firstly, with regard to Hoare: If she is guilty of what she's been accused - asking a driver to 'come inside and fuck me' - then she's not fit to be a MP, and the Labor Party did the right thing shafting her, even if it was just so they could install Melbourne-based Combet in a safe NSW seat. Can you imagine the furore - quite rightly, too - if the gender roles had been reversed here, and it was for example Wayne Swan or Tony Abbott making the same request of a female driver? So I don't have much sympathy for Hoare, victim or otherwise of the Labor machine.
Now, with regard to Labor's affirmative action program: It's fair to say I have mixed feelings about this. I don't think we can be so naive as to think that gender equality has been completely achieved and made affirmative action programs in politics redundant just yet - and I probably won't really believe it until such time as we have a female Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister (go Jules) and/or female premiers who haven't been propped there merely as scapegoats for the administrative debacles of their predecessors.
So I'm not opposed to the concept per se - but I question how it is applied within Labor. Think of some of the recent candidate announcements for the 2007 election. Who have been given either a safe or winnable seat to contest? Greg Combet (Charlton), George Newhouse(Wentworth), Bill Shorten (Maribyrnong), Jason Clare (Blaxland), Gary Gray (Brand) and Michael Kelly (Eden-Monaro), for starters.
But who've been given difficult or virtually impossible seats to contest? Mia Handshin (Sturt), Nicole Cornes (Boothby) and Belinda Neal (Robertson).
Do you see a pattern?
If Labor's AA program is merely a tokenistic pretence of support, which doesn't actually translate to installing quality female candidates into winnable Labor seats, then it's pretty useless. Similarly, Labor is only shooting itself in the foot if its AA program leads to a lightweight like Nicole Cornes getting a gig, while a quality candidate like Warren Mundine misses out to a fairly ineffectual hack like Julia Irwin.
But I don't think the faults of AA as applied by Labor are of themselves cause to dismantle the program altogether. The fact is women bear extra pressures in what is still a male-dominated, chauvinistic (in Labor and Liberal at least) industry. Penny Wong's take on criticisms of Cornes sums these pressures up quite well. While Labor loyalties prevent Wong from identifying the more legitimate critcisms of Cornes' apparent ignorance of policy and issues, she makes the valid point that
the pressure (on women) is on to be all things to all people. Given that this is an impossible task, women are then often criticised for not measuring up.
They’re either too pretty, too young, too fat or too unmarried. You have to ask whether male candidates get the same sort of treatment.
Furthermore, as Wong argues, sometimes the greatest critics of women are, sadly, other women. They're in an almost impossible situation, not just with men but with the sisterhood too.
And double standards are rife. It was offensive to read the Murdoch rags repeatedly refer to 'Julia' in their headlines when Gillard was under scrutiny for her 'jihad on business' comments. Would the same papers ever refer to 'John', 'Tony' or 'Kevin' so patronisingly? Don't think so.
So for the moment, I think the extra support is still needed, and I agree with affirmative action 'in theory'. But 'in theory', Communism works. 'In theory.' In practice, it doesn't seem to be working quite so well for Labor.
You know, Labor really isn't doing itself any favours at the moment. Nevermind the very disappointing resolution on federal same-sex couple laws, they've now chosen Nicole Cornes to run against Andrew Southcott for Boothby, in a bizarre move for which there is only one word - and it's not even a word - 'wtf'?
First some background for non-Adelaideans in the audience: Nicole Cornes is the upgrade wife of Graham Cornes, a Local Legend, or so he'd probably like to think. Being Adelaide, he's a LL because he used to play footy, and now he sells cars and hosts a show on 5AA. N Cornes, meanwhile, writes a column for the Adelaide Sunday Mail and runs her own business.
But how's this for less-than-appropriate criteria for running not just for federal politics, but for Labor?
She's a self-confessed ex-Lib voter who as recently as 2004 was writing that John Howard had proved himself to be a fine PM;
- "I won't have to answer any tough questions, no hard-hitting questions, will I?"
- (to ABC local radio) "I have done a quick phone call with 5AA. Your show is different. You ask serious questions - they're not going to give me any hard questions, it's just going to be a soft interview."
- "(I am) not prepared for the onslaught of straight into policy and straight into in-depth conversations regarding issues I really don't have a grasp of, yet."
Wowsers, that is not good.
Of course, the starving Howard meeja lapdogs have pounced quickly - and if they were able to criticise without whipping out their shrunken man-bits to jerk-off over Cornes' (apparent) physical attractiveness, they might actually have a credible argument. It's really difficult to fathom why on earth Labor has gone with a person who clearly has no idea what is involved in federal politics or what voters expect from their elected representatives, other than a hope that she can cruise into the seat on her (Adelaide-only) celebrity - and that maybe male voters in Boothby are as lecherous as Andrew Bolt.
And most frustratingly, Boothby is precisely the sort of seat for which Labor should be reserving its A-material. It's fairly safe Liberal, yes, but it's affluent inner city, and full of doctors' wives (for want of a better term) who've had enough of Howard and who feel Rudd is similar enough, yet different enough, to vote for instead. Southcott is a nobody who could easily be overshowed by a high-profile, quality candidate. Labor, until now, had a not unrealistic chance of winning.
In that regard, then, Labor has made a much smarter choice endorsing Mia Handshin to run against Christopher Pyne in Sturt. Again, you won't have heard of her outside the Adelaide bubble, but she has a fairly impressive track record in actual politics, as well as a 'Tiser column she's written for the last 10 years. She's always had a bit of an over-privileged, precocious, Overachieving Young Student Pollie element about her - think a young Nat SD - but at least she knows the business, and knows not to say at her first media conference, effectively, 'don't ask me about politics, I'm just a girl. Hee hee!'
Labor also looks like they're getting in right over on the east coast, with quality candidates set to challenge Malcolm Turnbull and Gary Nairn in Wentworth and Eden-Monaro respectively. And it is nice to see Labor preselection branching out a little more beyond the usual hack-to-candidate, just-add-water gene pool (Greg Combet and Bill Shorten cruising into their safe seats notwithstanding). But seriously, even a hack would've been a better choice for Boothby than Cornes - at least they'd be trained to speak properly on cue.
I'll have absolutely no sympathy for Labor if they happen to lose this election by one seat. It would be entirely their own doing.
20-something left-nudging homosexualist with more than a passing resemblance to Roger Federer, except for backhand slices. Pull up a pew to read my ill-conceived, poorly-researched and often grossly inappropriate ravings on politics, cult TV, hot men and...shit.
Or read my weekly column in SX mag if you're really bored.
Email: queerpenguin at hotmail.com