Dear Margaret Court,
You probably don’t know me, but I didn’t know who you were either until just recently. I have visited a stadium named after you to watch people I look up to play. However, I trust you had a deadly Tennis career.
My name is Jake Gablonski and I am a Gay Indigenous man. I grew up in small remote town called Katherine, in the Northern Territory. Katherine is quite isolated, the nearest major city is 300 kilometres away and the nearest major airport is also 300 kilometres away. I think you get the picture that there wasn’t much we knew other than ourselves. Whilst Katherine is home, I never felt comfortable to be openly gay in such a secluded environment. That is something I am working towards changing for others, who may currently be in a similar position. My biggest challenge is with people who promote and make the unnecessary outbursts of negativity. It’s the people who discourage inclusiveness towards social and cultural minority communities. These are the primary objectives of what I am working hard to reverse.
"We never invited you to come to our wedding or sit next to us on a plane."
I note that you are ‘disappointed’ that one of Australia’s most reputable brands, Qantas, has become an active supporter of same-sex marriage. Apparently this now gives you ‘no option but to use other airlines where possible’ for your travel. I also understand that your belief is in ‘marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible’. In addition to that, you feel the response you have received to your public statement has been ‘bullying’. What you are feeling is not bullying, it is the repercussions of your words.
Margaret (I would usually call you Aunty Marg, however traditionally, ‘Aunty’ is used towards people I respect), whilst I do respect your right to freedom of speech, your statement leaves me no option but to ask YOU this:
Have you ever suffered from discrimination because of who or what you identify as - over things that are out of your control…? Or told you weren’t allowed to be happy and free in your own being?
I am assuming your answer will be no.
Let me tell you from experience, it’s not nice... It’s sickening to feel isolated, not to mention feel you don’t have a place in society and it’s frightening to walk down the street knowing people are going to make comments about the person you are. Its draining to think that in 2017, not only do we have; that people of the same sex still cannot (yet) be happily married, we also have people like yourself adding to this isolation and exclusion.
I also noticed that back in 2011 you commented that gay people ‘are aggressively demanding rights that are not theirs to take’. That makes me feel deeply hurt, and I am positive it’s not just me. My perception is that the Bible represents the Christian values of compassion, inclusion and justice… yet here we are, hearing you publicly make these comments that contradict these values. So where do you fit in this process of compassion, inclusion and justice? Its 2017, the bible is mostly being interpreted to fit today’s society. So, what exactly is your problem if it’s not a direct attack on the LGBTI community? You are demonising and stigmatising the whole LGBTI community - and in particular youth. We never invited you to come to our wedding or sit next to us on a plane. In addition, imagine the pressure you are putting on any young, gay AND Indigenous person.
"This is much bigger than same –sex marriage. It is de-stigmatizing the discrimination and exclusion of minority groups, it is preventing depression and furthermore suicide."
Margaret Court Arena being named after you was an honour for your sportsmanship as well as leadership as a public role model. However, I feel that you must realise as a result of the response you’ve had to your comments, that arguably the majority of the public no longer recognise you as a role model. Consequently, I believe you should voluntarily concede that Margaret Court Arena be renamed after someone who is the representation of a positive, encouraging role model. Evonne Goolagong Cawley is an iconic Indigenous Australian, who represents what it means to be a role model for our youth. Rising above the stigmas around minority groups, she represents positive public views and values, especially for the next generation of tennis stars, doctors, teachers, plumbers, for our people.
To conclude, we are all who we are. I can’t change the person you are as much as you can’t change who I am or the way I am. However, I can stand up and speak positively for my social and cultural communities. This is much bigger than same –sex marriage. It is de-stigmatizing the discrimination and exclusion of minority groups, it is preventing depression and furthermore suicide.
I hope you can open your mind to how society is today, and potentially even one day be seen on a Qantas flight sitting next to and/or positively encouraging one of my LGBTI brothers or sisters to take the plunge.