Community hits back over homophobic letter

STANDING STRONG: BJ Moore is angry about anti-gay comments.
STANDING STRONG: BJ Moore is angry about anti-gay comments. Brenda Strong

Why The Observer published the letter

WE'RE here, we're queer and we're not going anywhere.

Gladstone's gay and lesbian community has presented a united front against homophobia.

The move followed the publication of a vitriolic letter in the Gladstone Observer on Monday.

Gladstone resident Carol Zussino wrote (in part): " "I see another television show has appeared on our screens with the token homosexual character. Forget the warm fuzzy propaganda; homosexuality is a sexual perversion."

Gay man and drag performer BJ Moore slammed Ms Zussino's comments.

>> What you said about the letter

"I don't know what the definition of normal is but there is homosexuality in 1500 species and only one of them is homophobic," the Gladstone man said.

Mr Moore said if gay couples wanted to conceive they could do so through surrogacy.

"There is also the option to adopt, but that be can hard," he said.

"She (Ms Zussino) might think that HIV is only for homosexuals but it's not, there are more straight people with AIDS than gay people.

"There is more education these days and people are smart about using protection."

Mr Moore said there were more than just token gay characters on TV now, with gay men Ricky Martin and Neil Patrick Harris on popular shows.

Gladstone lesbian Tenika Logan, 20, said she found the comments discriminatory.

"Some gay people are born that way," she said. "I'm proud of my relationship with my partner.

"People like Carol are very shallow."

Ms Logan said she was in favour of gay marriage becoming legalised.

"It's been a long battle fighting for same-sex equality," she said.

NOT IMPRESSED: Gladstone residents Emily Patterson and Ashlee Ryland are taking a stand against homophobia.
NOT IMPRESSED: Gladstone residents Emily Patterson and Ashlee Ryland are taking a stand against homophobia. Andrew Backhouse

Teenagers Emily Patterson and Ashlee Ryland are members of Diverse, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning support group that meets at the Gladstone PCYC.

"I was bothered by the letter," Ms Ryland said. "It contributed to the feeling of hate."

Ms Patterson said she thought Ms Zussino had ulterior motives for the letter.

"She (Carol) just posted it to get attention," she said.

Leading gay rights campaigner Rodney Croome, who's the national director of Australian Marriage Equality, said the views expressed by Ms Zussino were less common than they once were, and showed why allowing same-sex marriage was important.

"In today's Australia most people no longer hold the stereotypes and prejudices espoused by Ms Zussino," Mr Croome said.

"This is not because of TV shows, as she suggests, but because most Australians have gay friends, family members or colleagues whose lives are just like everyone else's."

"The lingering perception that same-sex relationships are somehow different and threatening is the reason we need marriage equality."

Gladstone Uniting Church Reverend Allan Smith rejected Ms Zussino's comments, saying that everyone was welcome in his congregation.

"We don't turn anyone away," he said.

Gladstone Baptist Church was also contacted but Pastor Stewart was unavailable for comment.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are.

Why The Observer published the letter

NEWSPAPERS mean many things to many people.

They inform, entertain and, most importantly, encourage debate on the issues impacting their readers.

For hundreds of years, newspapers have run letters.

The Observer is proud to uphold this tradition - not because we must, but because the letters to the editor section gives people from every walk of life a chance to have their say on topics close their hearts.

Sometimes letter writers enter a very dark place - even shining a light on their own prejudices.

On Monday, The Observer ran such a letter. Gladstone resident Carol Zussino wrote (in part) "I see another television show has appeared on our screens with the token homosexual character. Forget the warm fuzzy propaganda; homosexuality is a sexual perversion."

The Observer does not agree with Ms Zussino's opinion - just like the paper does not always agree with other opinions on the page.

But if we censored this letter by refusing to publish it, we would have taken a dangerous step onto a very slippery slope.

Rejecting this letter - which we agree is inflammatory but does not breach defamation and other legal areas - would set a nasty precedent.

Suddenly, the measure we use to say no to Ms Zussino's argument could be applied across a range of topics.

And if we started doing that we would quash the chance to foster debate in our community - and that would be a dark day indeed.

- SHERELE MOODY, deputy editor

Topics:  gay gladstone lesbian

Abandoned mine sites could create 6000 jobs

NEW LIFE: Could abandoned mines bring thousands of jobs?

AS MANY AS 30 high-risk mines could create thousands of jobs.

Investor 'interest' in project to build 217 local homes

FUTURE ESTATE?: A syndicate of businessman are selling a Calliope project that is already well under way.

BUYERS weighing up potential of project to build 217 homes.

Owner of iconic Gladstone motel checking out

FAMILY TIME: After years of service to Gladstone's tourism industry, Mary Moore has put her iconic motel on the market so she can spend more time with her family.

ICONIC hotel with celebrity guests is put on the market.

Local Partners

Bindi Irwin named in MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Britney Spears suffers wardrobe malfunction

Britney Spears suffered a wardrobe malfunction during performance

'You Spin Me Round' hitmaker dies aged 57

Pete Burns

Pete Burns has died aged 57

REVIEW: Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead disgusted me

I'm disgusted by The Walking Dead premiere.

SPOILERS: The Walking Dead premiere disgusted me.

Flick teases intense and entertaining Survivor grand final

Felicity 'Flick' Eggington in a scene from the TV series Australian Survivor.

GOLD Coaster's elimination leaves Lee, El and Kristie in final three

Priscilla concerned people will forget about Elvis

Priscilla Presley source Bang

She says she feels responsible to keep his legacy going

Coles to pay new owner of Tannum servo $320K

UP FOR GRABS: Expressions of interest in Tannum's new service station, which will house the new Coles Express, closed this month.

INVESTORS bid for new Tannum service station under construction.

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June