On This Gay Day: Senator Janet Rice pulled out her knitting

Back in 2017 Senator Janet Rice started knitting in federal parliament

During the height the debate over marriage equality government minister Peter Dutton had a word of advice for Australian companies who were advocating for change, he told them to butt out and  ‘stick to their knitting’.

At the time the government was hoping to hold a plebiscite on the issue, but their plans failed to pass through the senate as the opposition, business leaders, and rights advocates suggested the issue should simply be decided by a parliamentary vote.

In Parliament Senator Rice asked why the government was persisting with it’s failed plebiscite plan, before following up with a question about why the government was not listening to the 30 business leaders who wrote the Prime Minister the previous week.

Attorney General Senator George Brandis responded blaming Labor and The Greens for blocking the government’s plan to hold a plebiscite on the issue.

Senator Rice asked Senator Brandis if he agreed with Peter Dutton’s comments suggesting CEO’s should “stick to their knitting”, and if Senator Brandis also agreed that politicians should also “stick to their knitting” and bring on a free vote for marriage equality.

Senator Brandis repeated his viewpoint, while Senator Rice pulled out needles, several balls of wool and began to knit. Senator Brandis thanked Senator rice for her “stunt”.

The government never got its wish for a plebiscite, instead opting for a non-0bining national postal survey of the population, which showed overwhelming support for same-sex marriage.  Senator Rice never fished knitting her scarf, but it was donated to the Australian Queer Archives.

George Weinberg, who created the word ‘homophobia’ died in 2017

Psychologist George Weinberg coined the term ‘homophobia’ in the 1960’s and it first began appearing in the press in 1969.

In 1965 Weinberg came up with the word homophobia to describe discrimination to same sex attracted people. He came up with the word after witnessing abhorrence directed towards a colleague who was a lesbian.

The word first appeared in print on May 5th, 1969, in the magazine Screw, and few months later it was used by TIME magazine.

Weinberg explained the use of term in his book Society and the Healthy Homosexual. He suggested that those who harbor prejudice against homosexuals, and not homosexuals themselves, are suffering from a psychological malady, an irrational state of mind.

Weinberg, though heterosexual himself, became a leader in the ultimately successful struggle to have homosexuality removed as a diagnostic category from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders, the professional therapeutic handbook. He was instrumental in shifting public perception of homosexuality.

He died of cancer on this day in 2017, he was 87 years old.

The play M Butterfly opened on Broadway in 1988 

David Henry Hwang’s play M. Butterfly opened on Broadway on this day back in 1998. It ran for 777 performances before closing in January 1990. The play was a finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and picked up a swag of theatre awards.

M.Butterfly, entwines the story of opera Madam Butterfly tells the story of René Gallimard a French diplomat who falls in love with Chinese opera performer Song Liling. He does not at first realise that women are not permitted to perform in China and the object of his affections is male.

The play starred John Lithgow as Gallimard and then unknown actor B.D. Wong (pictured above) as Song Liling. Wong received a mountain of praise and won many of awards including the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent Award and the The Theatre World Award – he’s the actor to win all the major theatre awards for the same role.

During its initial run several well-known actors took over the role of Gallimard including Anthony Hopkins, Tony Randall, David Dukes and John Rubenstein.

The play was adapted for the screen. The 1993 film version was directed by David Cronenberg and stared Jeremy Irons and John Lone. The play was revived in 2017 and directed by Julie Taymor, for this production Hwang updated the script to remove elements of ‘shock and awe’ that were in the original production, updating the work for contemporary audiences who have a greater understanding of sexuality and gender.

Also on this day

Australian author David Malouf celebrates his 89th birthday, singer Ultra Nate turns 55 today, she is behind queer anthem Free, and collaborated with Amber and Jocelyn Enriquez to cover the Gordon Lightfoot song If You Could Read My Mind for the movie 54.  Director and actor Xavier Dolan turns 33, while Australian actor, model, DJ, recording artist, television presenter Ruby Rose is 37 today.

OIP Staff

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