Australian Catholics For Equality

I have recently accepted an invitation to join the advisory board of Australian Catholics for Equality.

This new role provides guidance to the Council of Moderators on issues affecting LGBTIQ Catholic persons, their family, friends and allies. The Advisory Board provides practical and strategic advice to support the total work of the organising community, improving the lives of LGBTIQ Catholics, their families, friends and allies to promote a just and inclusive church and society.

I look forward to the challenge and the opportunities of this new and exciting project.

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Tony Robertson, Advisory Board Member
Tony is a Brisbane based social worker, who also uses his skills as a photographer to promote social change and equity in the community. He spent six years with the Capuchin Friars as a young adult and has been involved in various public ministries of the Church as a speaker, educator and retreat leader. Tony is an occasional commentator on LGBTI issues for the ABC and has extensive media experience writing press releases and responding to interview requests. He is currently the Spiritual Life facilitator for the L’Arche community in Brisbane. Tony is a member of the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group and supports Gar’ban’djee’lum Network an independent social network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, sistergirls and brotherboys (GLBTSB) in and around Brisbane.

Holding The Man

Holding the Man came a generation after my Catholic schoolboy days but the cultural paradigm was familiar. This is a powerful screen production of one of the great Aussie love stories. I was honoured to attend the Brisbane preview and fundraising event for Queensland AIDS Council.

Throughout the story the Catholic Church as institution and cultural guide struggles with the rich dynamic of human intimacy and young love.Although Tim Kroenet gives the Jesuits a gold star for being “relatively progressive and inclusive” the shine is tarnished at John’s funeral the priest who knows that Tim regards John as his husband dismisses their relationship as mere friendship.
Catholic schoolboy life in the 60s and 70s was cruel and unwelcoming for those of us attracted to our peers. I sat for my HSC  in 1970 and for the six years of my life at St Joseph’s College Geelong I had spent much of my break time in the school day with the same group of mates. Of that group three of us were gay but we had neither the language nor community to support each other’s journey into sexuality. We went different ways into life’s joys,hopes, grief and anguish.


I have my own connections to this love story. At one time I had a job interview at Xavier College and one of the members of the panel was disturbed that I wore odd socks.I wasn’t offered the position.
I am proud that my old school is now a participating member of the Safe School Coalition. I have life membership of the Old Collegians and have been invited back as a Gay man to tell my story of a different era and to encourage inclusion and welcome as school and footy oval values.
Come and see this film when it is in your neighbourhood and in these localities.. The acting is passionate, the story is ours. ‪#‎HTMMovie‬
Need a guide to help you unpack the story?  Check out this set of Teacher’s Notes

Celebrating Anthony

Celebrating Anthony

One of the significant days of this month is June 13th, my name  day. My parents made sure I would spend my life gaining easy and instant recognition as a good Catholic boy by naming me after St Anthony of Padua whose feast-day falls on this day

Now this boy should not be confused with the many other holy Anthonys who have front row seats in the celestial realm:St. Anthony / Anthony / St. Anthony the Abbot / Bl. Anthony Baldinucci / St. Anthony Dainan St. Anthony Daniel / Bl. Anthony della Chiesa / Bl. Anthony Fantosat / Bl. Anthony Francisco / St. Anthony the Hermit / St. Anthony Ishida / St. Anthony Kauleas / Bl. Anthony Kimura / Bl. Anthony Kiun / Bl. Anthony Manzi / St. Anthony Mary Claret / St. Anthony Mary Gianelli / St. Anthony Mary Pucci / St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria Bl. Anthony Middleton /St. Anthony Nam-Quynh / Bl. Anthony Neyrot / Bl. Anthony of Korea / St. Anthony of Saxony /Bl. Anthony of St. Bonaventure / Bl. Anthony of Tuy / St. Anthony Pechersky / St. Anthony Peter Dich / St. Anthony Primaldi / Bl. Anthony Sanga / Bl. Anthony Turner / Bl. Anthony Vom

My “Anthony” is a one of Catholicism’s pin-up boys. He is patron for a number of a eternal chores including: against shipwrecks, against starvation, against starving, American Indians, amputeesanimalsassesbarrennessboatmenBrazildomestic animalselderly peopleexpectant mothersfaith in the Blessed Sacrament,  fishermen, harvestshorseslost articles,  lower  animals,  mail,  mariners, oppressed people, pauperspoor peoplePortugalpregnant womensailors, seekers of lost articles, shipwrecks, starvation, starving people, sterility, swineherds, Tigua Indians, travel hostesses, travellerswatermen In his spare time he poses for thousand of popular images and statues that adorn churches homes and religious houses.

Somewhere along the timeline he also featured in his own movie:

It’s always good to remember that saints are often given to us to admire rather than imitate.Anthony was part of the weird and wonderful world of medieval Catholicism  in the early 13th century. He died at 36 in 1231 and never had an intimate relationship. So far I’ve outlived him and have not found the queue for the call to lifelong chastity.

Anthony was a great public speaker and had a pretty sharp intellect. Catholicism has a quaint practice of awarding posthumous PhDs to smart cookies and Anthony eventually got his in 1946.

Iconography of the saints is a big business as Churches, Monasteries, Convents,Schools, Oratories, Retreat Centres,Presbyteries and the humble domestic house have all gone shopping for their heavenly personalities to decorate walls.Anthony has quite large choice for the buyer although these days the neighbours might raise their eyebrows at an image of a grown man swooning with a near naked boy. Despite an attempt to theologise the image I suggest it is one that has well passed its use by date. The icon used in this blog is from the work of Robert Lentz OFM.

Tourism is also part of every saints working life after death. Anthony has inspired a series ofChurches and Basilicas. In Melbourne the local Capuchins applied for an extension of their friary chapel back in the 1950s..By the time they finished Power Street Hawthorn was adorned with its very own Italianate Shrine to St Anthony.

I have also discovered that Anthony himself is on tour for special events. He last appeared in 2010when his less than attractive remains were taken for a lap of honour around his home base Basilica. Close up pic here.

Behind the saccherine hagiography lies the story of a man of faith and service, a man of his time with passion for truth, people and the needs of his era. Yeh, I still invoke him when things go missing and he has been part of my community of faith since my childhood days when his pic used to hang in my parents house over the bathroom door!!!.

So here’s a call out to all those who share variants of the name Anthony! Celebrate, eat some good bread, indulge in some Italian or Portugese wine and make a public statement about  your passions

A Gay Homecoming In Geelong

Brisbane Gay activist, Tony Robertson will attend his first public LGBTI  event in his birth city of Geelong this week.
Mr Robertson will join the 18th birthday celebrations for gasp Geelong on Tuesday 11 November.
The  gasp project provides respectful and safe environments that assist in improving the health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and sex and gender diverse young people.
“I am excited to join the celebrations for a service that was not available when I was a young gay teen in Geelong during the late 60s ” he said.
Mr Robertson lived in Geelong from 1953 – 1972 attending school at St Patrick’s Primary in Geelong West and St. Joseph’s College , Newtown.

“This was an era where the local community did not have the language or culture to embrace issues of diverse sexuality” he said.

Mr Robertson has previously visited St. Joseph’s College as a life member of the Old Collegians to show his support for the inclusion of the International Day Against Homophobiain the annual calendar of student activities.

“I am proud that my birth city now has a safe public space for young people to find support and solidarity as they discover the joy of sexuality in all its diversity and identity.” He said.

Read interview with The Geelong Advertiser, November 15 2014 here

Easter Invocation

Welcome Refugees

 

May the blessings of the Easter Season surround us with courage and confidence. May we stand against the religion of Empire and proclaim the liberating anarchy of the teachings of Christ. 

May we roll away the stones of fear and prejudice in our lives.May we open our tombs and walk in the light of justice,compassion and solidarity with the poor of the earth.

May we sing “Alleluia” with voices that cry out against economic and political exploitation of vulnerable people.

May we walk gently on our mother earth in lives of nonviolence and find the harmony of life that is written in the stardust of our being.

May the love of the Easter story invade our hearts to welcome those who come to our shores as Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

May the mystery of the Easter story call us to live “Dadirri” in solidarity with the First Nations people of our land.

May we proclaim the Risen One by our public commitment to housing the homeless, feeding the hungry and thirsty, liberating prisoners,welcoming the stranger in our midst and standing against the powers of economic and political newspeak.