Actor Michael Caton is supporting marriage equality
Michael Caton, The Castle actor has given his backing for the ongoing marriage equality survey. For someone who says he didn’t know what homosexuality was as a kid, his public comments are a timely boost for the YES campaign. There is no doubt that Australian media failed to meet its obligation to educate the public on homosexuality by not being objective and independent in reporting about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in Australia back in the days but thanks to Internet, their significance is waning. I recall very well how news and editorial pieces hostile toward the LGBT community were prevalent before Internet era, in which the rights of Australian sexual and gender minorities came under unprecedented attack.Thousands of news and editorial pieces were biased against the LGBT community for decades when few Australians understood what homosexuality was all about and few media outlets tried to educate the public on various sexual orientations and protect the rights of sexual and gender minorities. Caton appearing in the video for The Equality Campaign said, “I’m a child of the 40s and I finished my high school education not knowing that homosexuality existed even.” Caton adds, “It wasn’t until I joined the theatre that I started to meet gay people and I went through two or three years of amateur theatre meeting some great people. It was a bit of a confrontation to me, a conflict in myself because the word poofter was obviously bandied around quite often. But then I started to see them as just people and they became good friends of mine.”Discussion of the protection of LGBT people from violence and discrimination has been an important agenda item in Australian politics for the last two decades following the number of cases of social discrimination and physical abuse against the LGBT community. Caton has realized the importance for citizens to be protected by the law. Every Australian being should be protected, no matter what their sexual orientation is.The success of marriage equality law will help protect the right of every Australian, including the rights of employment and any discrimination that breaches those rights for LGBT people. So, for Caton to actually support same-sex marriage as an essential right is an indication of changing attitudes in Australia.
His comments also proves not much awareness among Australian media those days to portray the LGBT community in a more educative way to change the mindset of the public, which in general lacked understanding especially when he says, “I played the partner, who was a screaming queen, and my friend Alan played the summoner, who was a butch sort of gay,” he explained.“And then I met Alan’s partner, John. They were together then in 1969 and they’re together now. John is 95, Alan is 88, and they live in a nursing home not far from where I live now. When I think of marriage equality, I think of what it could mean to them.” In Australian media today, such despicable hatred doesn’t exist and the media outlets have had a higher number of news pieces that shed a positive light on the LGBT community, while conservative media has been singled out for the opposite in Marriage Equality debate.Opinion steering especially happened in conservative media when survey was launched and there were so many opinion pieces that attacked the LGBT community. Caton adds that, “Now get all of these things out of your mind like religious discrimination, what we’re teaching our kids in schools, they’re just red herrings, this is not about that.“This is about people who want to make a commitment to each other and wouldn’t it be wonderful for Alan and John if before they pass on, they could have their commitment recognized by law. Is that too much to ask, I think not. I’d urge you respectfully to vote yes for marriage equality.” His comments shows just how far Australia was back then from achieving the openness and tolerance toward people of diverse sexualities. A long history of opposition to LGBT community has been embedded in conservative Australians minds and it will take a long time to change their mindset and the move by Caton is a step in the right direction. There has always been deep antipathy toward LGBT people, and rejection, an understanding that is yet to be openly expressed.Australians nowadays are strongly supportive to LGBT rights and are overwhelming expected to support same marriage equality survey, with more than half the population saying that same sex people should be accepted compared to say a decade ago.Acceptance of marriage equality is particularly widespread in Australian cities where religion is less central in people’s lives. These are also among the well educated people in the country. In contrast, in less educated people with high levels of religiosity, few believe marriage equality should be accepted by Australian society. Young people like your blogger have been overwhelmingly backing the same sex equality because there’s no doubt the world need to be a better place for the majority and minority.