Gay men should be political
John Marsden - Guest Speaker on 24 November 2001
John's a man who accepted his sexuality in his 30s and who had spoken to MAG once before. He has many loyal friends among our membership. "I am eternally grateful," he said, "for MAG support."
John Marsden had long been prominent in his profession. So much so that the solicitors of NSW elected him president of the Law Society. And then - in two major programs - Channel 7 defamed him. John sued and the jury agreed with him. Then the nightmare of the 'trial' began. When it comes to damages, after the jury makes its finding they leave the courtroom and the lawyers battle it out toe to toe in front of a single judge.
It's been seven years, said John. A difficult, hurtful and exasperating process: "I stood at the edge of the cliff on many occasions." But now he's "feeling emotionally worse off than during the trial" because he's got to battle for hundreds of thousands of dollars more in costs than the judge awarded. "Eight months after the judgement I am no better off financially or emotionally," he said.
Why was the trial hurtful? (Rhetorical question.) Apart from me, John said, no one else in the court understood our lifestyle. "I suddenly understood the Aboriginal peoples' problem. We too, the gay community, have a long way to go before we get anywhere near equality before the law." Later he said: "There are still 54 pieces of legislation in NSW that discriminate against gay men." Mardi Gras had lost direction when it moved away from political activism - "Gay men should be political. I've got to admit, I'd myself become blase about that."