A group to combat homophobic prejudice against LGBTI people in Australia’s Indigenous community has been formed in response to Australian boxer Anthony Mundine saying being gay was incompatible with Indigenous culture.
Black Rainbow describes itself as a group of, ‘strong and fabulous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, sistergirl (transgender) and queer people who would like to highlight our existence and the positive roles we undertake in our communities.’
The group hopes to combat homophobia by providing role models for LGBTI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and highlighting the contributions of LGBTI people within the Indigenous community.
‘Our "Black Rainbow" peoples are making excellent contributions in politics, sports, arts, land rights, health, education, justice, business, science, research, the bureaucracy, healing, community life, family life and most importantly, in cultural survival and restoration,’ the group said in an open letter published in the Koori Mail 20 November.
‘We are your family members, community workers, advocates and leaders. We bring strength and love to our communities.’
Mundine had been responding to an episode of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation series Redfern Now which included a gay character who was battling his child’s grandmother for custody of the child and he took to Facebook to complain.
‘Watching Redfern now and they promoting homosexuality!’ Mundine posted to Facebook.
‘Like it's ok in our culture… That ain't in our culture and our ancestors would have [their] head for it! Like my dad told me GOD made ADAM & EVE not Adam & Steve.’
Black Rainbow has called for Mundine to meet with them to start a dialogue on how to build acceptance of LGBTI people in the Indigenous community.
‘We challenge Anthony Mundine, in the spirit of healing and understanding, to meet with some of us, away from the media, to work together to build a better community for our Mobs and our future,’ the open letter said.
GSN understands Mundine is yet to respond to the group.
Following the publication of the letter, Gregory Phillips of the Waanyi and Jaru peoples, who coordinated its development, thanked the producers of Redfern Now on behalf of Black Rainbow for their sensitive inclusion of an LGBTI themed plot line in the series.
‘We congratulate and thank the producers of Redfern Now for opening their second season with a tender, respectful and ultimately hopeful portrayal of homosexuality in one of our communities,’ Phillips said.
‘We are however disappointed by the homophobic comments that were made in response to the episode. To those bigots and others indulging in such bigotry we take this opportunity to remind you that homosexuality exists in all cultures and in all peoples – always has, always will.
‘There was same-sex attraction pre-invasion Aboriginal cultures just as there is now – to suggest otherwise is both ignorant and disrespectful. Most importantly, we take this opportunity to send a message to anybody in our communities – be they lesbian, gay, bisexual, sistergirl, transgender, intersex, queer or unsure – to let them know that it’s okay to be who you are.’