Dear blaze readers, as the title of Denton Welch’s charming novel informs us ‘in youth is pleasure’; perhaps sometimes excessive pleasure, pleasure to the extent that it enters the ‘danger zone’.
Yet there’s something of the invincible, the ‘never say die’, the ‘it could never happen to me’ about youth. I’m sure we’ve all had youthful escapades that, with the wisdom of maturity, cause us to shake our heads?
The recent, much-publicised deaths of two young people, and the outpouring of public grief, caused me to reflect. Premature death rightly causes grief. It’s so unfair; lives cut short when there’s much to live for. Handsome Power footballer, John McCarthy, dead at 22; gorgeous ABC employee, Jill Meagher, at 29; what waste of life!
Such reflections prompted Will to recount a tale from his youth, in days after the brutality perpetrated by NSW police in The Cross following the pride march of ’78, precursor of Sydney’s Mardi Gras.
He and two friends have wound their way through The Cross and are promenading down Macleay Street. They’d had a ‘big night out’ and are in high spirits, tipsy and chemically enhanced.
They’re falling about in mirth, as a passerby, a strapping ocker youth, sneers aggressively, “You’d be queens wouldn’t you”. Will’s companions are all for ignoring him and moving quickly off. Will however, imbued with gay pride, decides to ‘take him on’. As he recounts, “there were three of us”. So he fronts the assailant and retorts “Yeah, and what of it?” Youthful ocker doesn’t appreciate this. “I want cock and I want blood,” he demands.
Will’s repost? “If you want cock and blood, go back up The Cross. You’ll get both there.” At this point he looks to his companions. They’re not there. He’s alone. Bugger! He decides to walk on briskly down Macleay. Youthful ocker follows. What to do? Judgement’s impaired. “Try not to panic. Perhaps if I suck him off he won’t want blood,” Will considers.
Macleay Street winds down into a sort of dead end. The street’s deserted. Youthful ocker stalks at close quarter. “What if he’s armed? I’m probably for it,” Will shudders. Despair! Then a taxi roars up. A door is flung open. “Get in,” a voice commands. It’s his friends. Into the taxi he leaps as youthful ocker rushes up and bashes at the window. “Drive,” his friends command. They speed off. Deliverance!
Dear readers, ‘in youth is pleasure’; stick with friends if they’re ‘under the weather’ and their judgement’s impaired. May the untimely deaths of John and Jill serve as salutary reminders. Let’s trust that authorities and media don’t sweep the circumstances of their deaths ‘under the carpet’….alcohol, drugs, impaired judgement? Play, yes, but play safe.
- Tags: Adelaide, blaze, Dr Gertrude Glossip, gay bashing, Jill Meagher, John McCarthy, Kings Cross, Mardi Gras, Sydney, Youth
About the Author
Will Sergeant, Master of Health Service Management, Flinders University, and Dr Gertrude Glossip, PhD (Formal Drapery), Curtain University, are two sides of the one coin. Will has been involved in gay activism since the 'Halcyon 70s' – first Adelaide Pride March (1973) and first Sydney Mardi Gras (1978). Gertrude 'emerged' in the 1990s and has made many appearances in both queer and straight communities. She has led every Feast Queer History Walk since its inception in 1997 and has 'scribbled' her fortnightly blaze column since 2003. Her Wild Sex zoo tours are legendary. Both are fierce anti-discriminationists and committed secular polyamorists!