Jacquie Grant’s Speech:
Kia Ora Koutou
First A big thank you to Bishop Brian and Pastor Hannah for being gracious enough to have the korero with myself and others, and for being prepared to listen to what we had to say.
The old saying comes to mind better late than never.
I want to set the scene and go back 62 years to where my teenage journey started in Sydney Australia.
The summer sky was glowing;
The swirling black clouds were casting shadows over the three-storied Victorian style buildings which dwarfed the street and the trees that lined it in Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross.
There was a storm brewing.
Could this have been a sign,
Maybe an omen that it would not be a good day.
At the bottom of the steep, short, narrow street, a flight of giant stone steps, which seemed as though they could have led to some ancient pagan temple, loomed in the gathering darkness.
They were built many years before by the convicts who had helped to shape modern Sydney.
Many of these convicts had been found guilty of very minor crimes and transported to do hard labour in this far away land.
The steps led to Upper Victoria Street and were a shortcut to the hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfare of Kings Cross, where the bright lights shone out like a beacon of hope.
The two attractive girls with their bouffant hairstyles and heavy makeup one as dark as the other was fair, were dressed to kill.
They looked young no more than fourteen or possibly fifteen years old,
however, something did not seem quite right this was not the place to come across two so young not in Sydney’s infamous Kings Cross.
This was after all the habitat of prostitutes,
gamblers, and gangsters.
Suddenly the scene changes.
There is a dramatic squealing of tires, shouting, and a sudden realization from the two girls that this is for their benefit.
One screams and starts running toward the bottom of the street and what she obviously saw as the safety of the steps where no car could travel.
The second girl, a little slower, also starts running and suddenly she no longer looks so fragile.
Her tight skirt is up to her waist, her high heel shoes in one hand, and what a minute ago had been the long, dark, hair on her head, in the other.
She ran quickly overtaking her friend in a sprint any Olympic athlete would have been proud of.
Bang… Bang… Bang…
“They’re trying to shoot us!” screamed the blonde girl as they ran for safety and started climbing the never-ending steps.
Jump over here said the dark girl, her Aboriginal features silhouetted for a brief moment on the skyline.
It’s too big a drop” was the reply and they continued toward the top of the steps to the sound of laughter and taunts from the waiting men below.
Exhausted, and by now minus wigs, shoes, and bags, they reach the top of the steps.
The dark girl pants “Why do they want to shoot us?”
The other replies “You know they hate us.”
“Got you now you queers,” said the policeman who had been waiting in the shadows.
Knowing that their quarry would surely run this way the only other alternative being shot and dumped in the nearby harbour.
They grabbed the girls and threw them into the back of a paddy wagon for the inevitable beating and trip to the police station, the courthouse and eventually prison.
“What charge?” asked the court clerk. Offensive behaviour was the reply.
How do you plead?
“Guilty,” the girls mumbled.
They knew if they said anything else the sentence would have been worse.
Three months, Long Bay Jail said the magistrate and that was that…
except for the final indignity on arrival at the jail.
The girls were paraded in the open,
in front of several hundred prisoners stripped naked heads shaved, and Humiliated.
By now you must be thinking these two must have committed some terrible crime and indeed they had.
They were transsexuals doing what felt to them normal and natural.
They were dressed in women’s clothes.
The year was 1959.
One of those girls, the dark one, died in 1980 from a drug overdose. She was unable to cope with the after-effects of electric shock treatment which involved being shown pornographic pictures while having electrodes attached to her penis, as well as massive injections of male hormones to cure her of her supposed disease.
All those injections did was cause her to have to shave her whole body for the rest of her life.
She died from a drug overdose on a Sydney footpath many years ago no longer able to cope with the trauma that had been inflicted on her and she died as she had lived true to herself a Tran’s woman.
The other girl as you may have guessed was me.
Luckily I survived those early days and eventually made my way to this country I am proud to call home.
46 years later I was standing outside Parliament buildings waiting for the “Enough is Enough march to arrive.
Thousands of men were marching towards the gates chanting “enough is enough” in perfect unison.
Upraised clenched fists,
the military precision was frightening, the foul comments and taunts coming from some of these so-called men of God were fascist in nature.
The Destiny march starts me thinking, what’s really changed over the last 46 years for people like me?
Okay, we have had some law changes,
They don’t put us in physical prisons for nothing? any more.
But, has much changed in the way society, especially the Christian Church, understands or even tries to understand the position people like me find ourselves in, though I would add through no fault of our own.
From my earliest memories, I knew I was different from the other little boys I played and went to school with.
It was not long before they knew it as well.
I was a loner, an outcast.
“Sorry my mum won’t let me play with you” was a common comment and I had no idea why.
It took me quite a while to figure it out. I guess I was about nine or ten when I realised what was wrong.
I was starting to have crushes on boys and liked girls’ clothes far better than what I had to wear.
I quickly realised I was a girl, my parents had it wrong.
I didn’t wake up one day and suddenly decide “I’m going to be gay”. I know! I’ll change my gender, that’ll be so much fun what a great lifestyle choice!
That is as silly as it sounds and is so far from the truth of the matter.
The choice does not enter into the Gay and Trans equation
After hearing our story could you really imagine why anyone knowing they would be vilified,
tortured, and imprisoned thrown of buildings executed as in some countries still to this day would choose the gay or Trans lifestyle? Such a difficult path and one only a lunatic would voluntarily choose as their life.
I am terribly concerned at things that are happening in our society regarding the way hurt, and what I see as bullying, is dispensed via social media under the guise of religious freedom or freedom of the press.
What I don’t like, is people who hide behind a mask of Christianity and use the bible selectively to advance their own prejudices, and dare I say, hatred.
I ask that you think about people from my community, and think about how Jesus Christ would deal with us.
Would he have turned away?
Would he have condemned us?
Would he have ostracised us?
Would he have vilified us?
Would he have told his followers to shun us?
Our young people are suffering from mental anguish.
A large number are self-harming, almost half of the gay and Trans secondary school students recently surveyed had seriously thought about taking their own life in the previous year.
One in five had attempted suicide, compared with one in 20 of their non-queer peers.
Gay and Trans youth were three times more likely to be bullied every week than their heterosexual peers and almost half had been hit or hurt at school in the previous year.
Yes, Enough is Enough.
Being transsexual or homosexual is really no more profound than any other difference between people.
So you may have noticed I refer in other parts to ‘queer’ or maybe ‘Trans’ and I think it should be noted, that people find all these different terminologies confusing, and although it may be applicable to what I am saying at any particular point… I know most of you will not find it simple most people even struggle with what being Trans means in 2019,
Most people are born right-handed, but some are left-handed.
More babies are born boys than girls.
People are born with much different skin, eye and hair colours.
People are a vast array of heights and weights.
There are a huge number of differences among people, and sexuality just happens to be one of them.
Science and the understanding of human biology have come a long way since the bible was written and what was sometimes taken quite literally back then is not always the case today.
These days we do eat shellfish and wear cloth made of different fibres. Both are just instances of how we have evolved.
If you truly believe then you know it was God who has made every person as they are.
Each one of us and every part of each of us is included in God’s plan for us.
That means God must somehow be involved with some people being homosexual or Trans.
That being the case, why would His Word condemn homosexuality?
There has to be a mistake in that reasoning.
Or maybe homosexuals are themselves the mistake? If so, then God is playing a cruel trick, and we know God does not do this.
My wish and my sole reason for being here today is to hopefully help form a relationship between our two communities where we can foster a culture of tolerance and understanding as well as mutual respect for our respective communities and reiterate being LBGTQIXYZ is not a choice we are born that way.
To quote Jesus Christ: when he said “And now I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have a love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34 – 35
James Laverty’s speech:
Good Evening I’m James
I would like to start off by thanking my community for being here tonight, my saying is you only make change by coming together or sitting around the table and tonight is a good start.
I would like to thank Jacquie Grant for all you do.
Not all of our community believe we should be here tonight, but for me it’s important, it’s not about me our you, but more about laying a foundation for the future so that the next generation do not have to experience what I or others experience in the past all to be accepted in this world we live in.
Our community still hold a lot of hurt and pain which will take time to heal so the road ahead will be a hard one and I can only stand here and give you my point of view and my feelings. I can’t change the past, but I can help change the future. We all can !!
I would like to thank Brian and Hannah for opening the door to change, tonight is only the first step on ensuring we do better, and we learn and teach each other on this path that we call life, we have a lot more work ahead and hope to see this from you both and your destiny church family,
You send a strong message to New Zealand and around the world by your actions tonight. Steps like this are very important and are part of the healing, together we will be able to make the world a better place and show the right way for each other to walk this world with love and have understanding.
To the people here tonight, we ask that you keep your doors open to us and not to pass self-judgment on others. We are all Children of God and only he can judge if we truly believe in this.
I speak tonight to ensure my brothers and sisters around New Zealand know that we will keep fighting for change and to ensure they have a better foundation and future ahead and if I can save a life or stop a kid from going down the wrong road because their family have closed the door on them for who they are.
Hear my voice and know your rainbow community will always have you and its ok to be you god made you just the way you are.
Thank you for your time this evening.