Age Gays

Articles: Religion

“Getting Involved”, Gay issues in the Uniting Church

by Don Dudgeon

We all know those people who join a group and want to run the show. But far more common are those who just never become involved. They come along to meetings which are of interest to them; they would not dream of taking any office; they whinge when things don’t go their way and when they enjoy something they never bother to say “Thank you.” So how about becoming a doer!

With democracy we choose our parliamentary representative at the Polling Booth. But do we? Most of us vote for a particular party and we vote for that party’s candidate even if he is an utter crook; but in the usual Australian apathetic state we probably don’t know much about him anyhow. If we really want to choose who we vote for then we must get in on the ground floor and join our preferred party and make sure that the person who is nominated is worthy. I would hazard a guess that most gays vote for Labor because of the false conception that they do more for gays than the Coalition. But as Amanda Vanstone pointed out in her interview with Sydney Star Observer a year or so ago it is just that Labor has better PR but doesn’t necessarily deliver. There are just as many bigots in the Labor party as in the Coalition. Our local Federal Liberal member is a staunch supporter of gays. I did have a short go in the political arena but my main area of activism is now within the church.

I know that lots of gays feel that the church is irrelevant in today’s world, but stop for a moment and consider where our society’s negative gay feelings come from in the first place! Right! The church! And even although people have forgotten other church values they still hang on to the religious negative perceptions of homosexuality. In the heady days of Anita Bryant and the Moral Majority in America, young Christians were actually wearing stick pins saying “Kill a queer for Christ’s sake” and many MCC churches were fire bombed with loss of life. Judging by what we see on television things are pretty much back to that state of affairs or worse. And we must act now!

So I set about doing this about twenty years ago when I formed the group called Cross Section for gays within the Uniting Church. I notice they are not listed in MAG but they meet on the third Monday of each month at Pitt Street Uniting Church and you can contact them on 9519 8800. Of course setting up Cross Section brought me into conflict with the local Uniting Church and about 13 years ago in a meeting full of fear and hatred I was tossed out of the Uniting Church. I was at the time accepted as an ‘openly gay’ member of the Presbyterian Church which is a bit ‘way out’ because Presbyterianism is not noted for being liberated. However last December a new minister came and I found myself back out on the street. I have returned to the Uniting Church but there is still that element of fear within the ruling body that makes it almost certain that I will not receive full membership in Nowra.

So why do I persist? Even a masochist must get tired of being kicked in the teeth. I persist because the Uniting Church is the only one to be open about discussing homosexuality and, even although they did not reach a positive decision at the recent Assembly, there was tremendous support for Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon who ‘came out’ at the Assembly. Believe me the rank and file members of the church have had enough of the bullying tactics exhibited by people like Rev. Gordon Moyes. You may have heard how a group of clergy and laity had a ‘sit in’ at Wesley Mission. And even in Nowra, a group of people from the congregation had a meeting, to which they invited the clergy, to argue strongly that I should be reinstated.>

Believe me the Spirit is moving within the Uniting Church. Don’t sit back and do nothing. Get involved! Once we have changed the Uniting Church maybe the spirit of change will move on to others. Today one church, tomorrow the world.

But even if state and church politics don’t interest you, something must. You could even simply do what I am doing and write something for the Newsletter or you could write a letter to the Newsletter and say “Thank you” for something that has appeared in it or merely write to the Editors to thank them for taking the time and trouble to put it all together. And, while you are in a writing mood, write to the newspapers. Admittedly you do have to supply a name and phone number but there is no problem in using a pen name. But do remember the name you used, you don’t want to tell the newspaper when it rings for confirmation that ‘Joe Bloggs’ does not live here.

So get involved. Don’t sit on your butts and leave it to someone else. You might even find you enjoy the new experience.