In 2010 one man and a ute took on a mammoth task. To drive round Australia in 38 weeks, tackling homophobia “one cuppa at a time.” Each week Daniel Witthaus called into my morning show, Freshly Doug on JOY 94.9 FM, to report on what he found on the “Beyond That’s So Gay” tour.
Podcasts available at the link below.
At the outset I did not know Daniel well, but I have always admired him for his quiet courage and his steadfast integrity. If anyone was going to persuade outback Australia that homos are nothing to be afraid of, he was the man to do it.
Now Daniel has written a book chronicling his journey. Reading it has been an absolute pleasure, bringing back memories of sitting high above Bourke St in the old Commonwealth Bank building, waiting to bring Daniels latest adventures in, say, Kalgoorlie or Mt Isa to JOY listeners.
His town by town account of gay people all over Australia is a revelation of what it’s like to live outside the sheltered confines of the major cities. It uncovers a surprising level of acceptance – or willingness to work towards it – and rather less homophobic horror than you might expect.
It’s also a revealing personal story, as Daniel tries to make sense of his complex personal life and relationships.
His encounter on the road to Esperance with two homophobic truckers, who he calls Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee (“a large unattractive man with many tattoos who would be cast in one of your nightmares as the cellmate you didn’t want to have”), is classic: listen to him talk about them here.
The other great pleasure of reading this book is, or course, reading about myself. And in this respect, Daniel has done me proud. After being relegated to a footnote in Denis Altman’s “The End of the Homosexual”, it was pleasing to find several generous mentions in “Beyond Priscilla”.
You can’t edit gay newspapers and broadcast LGBTI news and current affairs on radio for eleven years and not make a few fans, and not a few enemies, but it was rather startling – but also gratifying, if I’m honest – to read that I am “revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities”. Not to mention “grandpa-esque”. I never realised I was the LGBTI equivalent of George Pell!
Of course, the same adjectives are often applied to Daniel himself as he carves his own independent niche in life. Except “grandpa-esque”, of course, Daniel being a fit and strong young man in his prime.
More information on Daniel’s largely self-funded work tackling homophobia, especially in the education system, can be found at thatssogay.com.au. I urge everyone to get behind Daniel and his work.
You can start by buying the book: here’s how.
Amazon AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00HRJ3JQE
Apple AU – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/beyond-priscilla/id794128082
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HRJ3JQE
Hard copies available soon through Amazon and good bookshops.