In my final year of high school I was presented with an award. The ‘award ceremony’ – and I use the term loosely – took place at the monthly Rotary Club lunch held at the Borehamwood Civic Hall. I was told to ‘dress smartly’ which was code for ‘wear a dress’, an item I did not possess. I spent a week worrying about what I’d wear until I was saved by a reasonably respectable suit that belonged to my older sister, Sue.
The award was twenty pounds to be spent on books. That was a big deal at the time and I recall taking the train up to London to go to the ‘famous bookshop’ Foyles in Charing Cross. I bought ‘The Rubiaiyat of Omar Khayyam’, a translation of 11th century Persian poems and four (dead posh, I thought) Collins hardback editions of Jane Austen. ‘Nerdy’ doesn’t even come close.
At the award ceremony, my Headmaster called me a ‘Pillar of the Sixth Form’. That phrase made its way back to my school friends who found it highly amusing and, for many weeks afterwards, dropped it casually into conversations wherever they could. ‘I don’t know. Ask Jac, she’s a Pillar of the Sixth Form,’ ‘Oh Jac will do that, she’s a Pillar of the Sixth Form’. You get my drift.
And what’s really hilarious is that they have continued to drop it into conversations for the INTERVENING THIRTY YEARS.
My Headmaster thanked me for my ‘Service to School and Community’ and commented that he thought I would likely continue to serve the community throughout my life. Little did either of us know the nature of the community I would end up serving. Gay people hadn’t yet arrived in Borehamwood, not even on the telly. And it would be a few years yet until the penny dropped for me.
So why has all this come to mind recently? Well I’m running for the Senate aren’t I! So guys, dust off the old joke and fast forward it to the 21st century. Could there be anything more Pillar of the Sixth Form like?!
I was telling this story to my friend Nathan this week as we discussed my candidacy. It’s true, Nathan said. You are a pillar of the community and you’ve done heaps.
What you need to do is tell people about everything you’ve achieved without, you know, actually telling them. Like, in Kew for example, you want to say that you brought down Access Ministries in their heartland and got rid of Special Religious Instruction in their flagship school – and if you can do that, imagine what you could pull off in parliament!
And for the LGBTIQ community, you should say you ran the test case that kick-started the marriage equality campaign and were writing about that way before it was on anyone else’s radar; and there’s the Love Makes a Family campaign you were involved in which changed the laws in Victoria so non-birth mothers could be on birth certificates and lesbians could access IVF without travelling interstate; and all that work you do for VARTA now talking on panels and facilitating groups; and the presentations and training for people working with rainbow families; and that quiet, behind-the-scenes support and referrals stuff; and over ten years working with the Rainbow Families Council; and now being on the Ministerial Health and Human Services Working Group; and all the writing and blogging and storytelling; and speaking on TV and being in the media.
Work out a way of saying all that and then ask them straight up to vote for you and donate to your campaign. Easy!
Yup. Thanks Nathan. Easy. So here it is.
Would you please donate to our crowdfunding campaign? It ends in a few days so today would be good.
And come election day, vote for the party of your choice in the lower house and, please, Vote 1 Australian Equality Party for the Senate.
My Headmaster is no longer with us, but I like to think that I could fulfill the potential he saw in me at that auspicious Rotary Club lunch by becoming a World Famous Lesbian. And besides, it’s at least…hmm…a week or so? since I heard a Pillar of the Sixth Form joke.