Ron Hughes: Courage and contrasts
Our cover this issue features Australian diving’s golden boy Matthew Mitcham, who has had his ups and downs since winning gold with a perfect score at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He tells Reg Domingo about the problems he’s had with illness and injury that have dogged him on the road to the 2012 London Olympics; but he still has gold in his sights.
Peter Burdon speaks to another Aussie legend, gay indigenous performer and elder Jack Charles. Some will remember Charles from the early Fred Schepisi film The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith. Since those days, Charles has been on a roller coaster of success followed by the darkness of drugs, crime, homelessness and finally success once more. He’s bringing his “life story in song” to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. He began life as one of the Stolen Generation, “Box Hill Boys’ Home made me a poof,” he says, tongue in cheek. In fact his story is about letting go of the dark past and accepting the good person inside you. Don’t let the past “bugger you up” he says. “I left all that behind a long time ago and it’s one of the bits of advice I give to anyone who wants to listen to me.”
Still in the realm of darkness, if I can be so dramatic, our guest writer Siza Sibanda takes a look at the fate of LGBTI people across the African Continent today. Apart from objections from strong religious conservative elements, in many countries, homosexuality is seen as a practice introduced from the decadent west and is considered “un-African” – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who hears the distant echoes of McCarthyism in that term. “The impact of these cultural constraints for gay and lesbian teens cannot be underestimated in the African society,” Sibanda writes. “Teens find themselves with everything to lose if they come out.”
Tackling HIV is a severe problem, naturally, because the people you most need to reach are invisible. Homosexuality is an imprisonable offence in much of Africa and Sibanda argues that decriminalisation is the first step in removing homophobia and thus ultimately helping the global fight against AIDS.
What rational person could disagree?
Ron Hughes is the editor of blaze.