In this episode I talk with Jack Whitney, an emerging social work leader, and current convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.
Jack graduated with first class honours from the University of Sydney in 2018. Whilst studying he was also elected onto the University of Sydney Union Board.
Since graduating, Jack has worked in Health, and currently for a progressive policy think tank.
In our conversation we explore the intersection of the personal and the political in gay politics.
Jack also reflects on the challenges of coming out in year eleven of high school, its impact on friends and family, and his subsequent evolution as a Labor Party activist.
We discuss the current campaign focus of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby – opposing the Religious Discrimination Bill in its current form. As Jack states on the Lobby website- There is no such thing as equality – but with exceptions… This Coalition Government cannot be trusted to introduce fair, measured and equal laws that protect LGBTI people, women, people with disability, and faith-based communities.”
We also discuss the poor mental health of the LGBTIQ community. Since we recorded the conversation Jack has had a heartfelt piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald, reflecting on the suicide of Will Gavin, the president of the disendorsed University of Queensland Liberal-National Club. He wrote in part,
I am a politically motivated – and progressive – gay man. There is little that Gavin and I would have agreed on. But his death gives us reason to pause. How do we create a civil society in which different opinions can co-exist? This is a question for the LGBT community as much as it is for broader society.
Perhaps the simple answer is the embrace of diversity. That includes gay people who happen to be conservative. If Gavin’s critics perceived him as intolerant, they should have confronted that with reason, not further intolerance, not fire with fire. The alienating and shaming of anyone isn’t helpful.
Jack’s book recommendations are Matthew Todd’s Straight Jacket: How to Be Gay and Happy, Alan Downs’, The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World, and Rutger Bregman’s, Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There.
If you would like to make a donation to the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) or contact Jack, you can find the details on the GLRL website.