words are all i have


Ol’ Maggie Court’s crazy ramblings a reminder that the LGBT collective still has plenty of work to do

Margaret Court says tennis “is full of lesbians.” As if that’s a bad thing.

patti dawn swansson

Moreover, ol’ Maggie informs us that there were a couple of devil lesbians on the professional tennis circuit back in her day and, get this, they would take young players to parties. Imagine that. Young women partying. With lesbians. The horrors.

Ol’ Maggie has been saying a whole lot of oddball things lately and, if we are to believe the preacher lady from the Land of Oz, civilization is caught in the grip of a global plot orchestrated by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender collective. Those pesky gays are stealing the minds of our children, don’t you know?

“That’s what Hitler did, that’s what communism did—got the mind of children,” she advises us. “And it’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the children.”

Hmmm. Kind of reminds me of what the Roman Catholic Church tried to do to me when I was a sprig.

The nuns, when not whacking us on the knuckles with a yardstick, would regale us with far-out tales of fantasy gardens, poisonous fruit, hell fires, voodoo antics like turning the rib of a man into a woman and, best of all, talking snakes in a magical tree. Their stories were better than anything we watched on The Wonderful World of Disney. But apparently Margaret Court believes all the Bible-based, brainwashing blarney that my receptive mind was force-fed, and it’s quite clear that the great Australian tennis champion is convinced that gay and (especially) transgender people are the spawn of Satan.

“That’s all the devil,” she says of transgender kids.

Ol’ Maggie Court

Poor, ol’ Maggie. There’s just no escaping conniving gay men and (especially) lesbians. We’re always shoving ourselves in her face, so to speak. Why, it’s gotten so bad that she can’t even travel hither and yon on Qantas anymore because the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, is a gay man who, not surprisingly, promotes same-sex marriage, which is, in the world according to Maggie, “alternative, unhealthy, unnatural.” The right to wed is “not theirs to take.”

“I believe marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible,” she harrumphs.

Well, it’s about your Bible, Maggie: One person’s truth is another’s fiction.

The prune-faced preacher lady has been battered fore and aft for her Bible-thumping bleatings, which included a disapproving and extremely tacky tsk-tsking of Aussie tennis pro Casey Dellacqua and her partner Amanda Judd following the birth of the lesbian couple’s second child, a joyous event that Court greeted with “sadness” because the newborn has two mamas and zero papas.

I’d rather not join the Maggie-bashing chorus, though, because I think she’s unwittingly done the gay community a small favor.

The hell, you say. How can that be so?

Well, to be clear, I find her drawing a parallel between the LGBT collective and a mass murderer, Adolph Hitler, repugnant. It is not only offensive in the extreme, it shows she clearly has lost both the plot and the argument. She appears to be totally off her nut. But…I also think ol’ Maggie has provided us with a reminder, albeit appalling—at the top of Pride Month, no less—that we still have work to do. The fight for acceptance and equality continues. It has not been won. We must keep society’s feet to the fire.

I suppose we really shouldn’t care what comes out of this nutter’s mouth, but Court is a legendary sportswoman. No one has matched her two dozen tennis Grand Slam singles titles. One of the playing venues at the Australian Open in Melbourne is named in her honor (for now). And she is a pastor (the argument could be made that she’s more of a cult leader given that she created her own church, the Victory Life Centre in Perth). Thus, her voice carries some degree of heft. If not, the pushback from gay, transgender and, indeed, straight people against her homo/transphobic tripe wouldn’t be so robust.

I’ll just say this about that: Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, but so is the freedom to shut the hell up. Ol’ Maggie might want to give that a try.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m stepping out to party with some lesbian tennis players.

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Paparazzi Nightclub: Accusations of owners’ racism are unfounded and out of line

I’ve often wondered why the stewards of Paparazzi Nightclub haven’t bolted the doors to their downtown Victoria venue and never looked back.

patti dawn swansson

patti dawn swansson

I mean, we all have a breaking point, right?

Were it I who held the keys to the kingdom, I believe being branded a racist or racially insensitive would be a breaking point. Being told that I’m hosting what “sounds like” a white supremist night and “at best the whole thing reeks of white privilege and a colossal amount of ignorance on your part” would probably be a breaking point. Especially when you plop that atop the steaming pile of ridicule, accusation, false innuendo, malicious gossip and guilt-tripping that has built up over eight-plus years.

But no. Attila Bassett and Terry Bex are still there, opening the doors to Paparazzi seven days a week to provide the local gay community a safe space to express and be themselves.

Those doors will be open on the final day of Pride Week 2016, July 10, for what originally was billed as White Party, whereby patrons are encouraged to attire themselves in white. It has nothing—repeat, nothing—to do with the hue of one’s skin. Trust me, if anyone were to arrive adorned in a white sheet and a pointy, white hood with the letters KKK scrawled above a pair of crudely cut-out eyeholes, they’d be summarily dismissed. And the cops would be summoned.

That reality notwithstanding, toxic, acidic words like “racist” and “white supremist” and “Trump supporters” and “culturally insensitive” and “tone deaf” have been flung about like so much confetti at a wedding. All aimed at Bassett and Bex.

Some among the loud, vocal minority believe any event with the word “white” in the title is too soon after the Orlando massacre, where 49 gay men and women, most of them Latino, were slaughtered in an unparalleled gun attack on America and the LGBT collective. To some, Paparazzi ownership didn’t gauge the temperature of the LGBT community correctly. To others, their reading is accurate. But how soon is too soon? Who gets to decide if one month of grieving is too much or too little? Who gets to decide when we stop the vigils? What makes your timetable right and theirs wrong?

The one thing I know is this: You can call Bassett and Bex many things, but you cannot label them racist or non-inclusive.

Full disclosure: I performed numerous functions for Bassett, Bex and CEO Helina Kinnersley from June 2008 until about two months ago. Do the math. That’s eight years. So I’ve had an insider’s view. I’ve seen the good and I’ve seen and felt the soft underbelly of their operation. Never was there a hint—not even the slightest—of racism, racial insensitivity or exclusion. More to the point, they have hired people of color, transgender individuals, gay men, gay women, bisexuals, queer, questioning and, yes, straight. They have hired Catholics and Protestants and Buddhists and Jews. They have hired short ones, tall ones, round ones and skinny ones. They have hired saints and sinners. People of all stripes are welcomed to work for and with them, and attend their club.

We won’t even talk about the small fortune they’ve spent on upgrades to the nightclub, nor the small fortune they’ve lost.

The point is, I have a dog in this fight and I’m fully onside with Bassett, Bex and Kinnersley.

Saying that, I do not discount the voice or perceptions of others. Perception is reality. If a person of color believes a clothing-themed event called White Party is racist, then that’s what it is. To that person only. Nothing I can say will sway her or his mindset. I’d have more favorable results if I were to try and convince a Christian that God does not exist.

But I’m not here to convince anyone of anything. I’m here to say I find the attack on Bassett, Bex and Kinnersley distasteful and excessive in the extreme. Also out of line. Surely the naysaying natterbugs can deliver an argument free of the Trumpisms that have been prevalent in the White Party discussion. If not, you might not have a gay club to talk about anymore.

Bottom line: White Party was about clothing, not skin color.