People often ask me, why I support the Australian Sex Party. It’s a very reasonable question to ask, but one that is quite difficult to answer. Prior to joining the Sex Party I belonged to the ALP, I volunteered in an MPs office and handed out how to vote cards for them, in fact I think I still have my Kevin 07 t shirt somewhere. But my heart wasn’t really in it. My father is a former Labor MP, and let’s just say the things I saw as a child really have made me sceptical of politicians. He often told me that the main reason people get behind you in politics is so they can stab you in the back. And there are so many actions that the ALP made that I just didn’t agree with that I didn’t really want to support them that much anymore.
Then I found the Australian Sex Party. They didn’t have much publicity then and hadn’t run in an election, but I liked what they stood for, taking the personal views of the individual out of politics, providing reasoning behind laws as opposed to being morally opposed to them, and having faith in the individual to make up one’s own mind instead of having to tell them what to do.
But there is more to the Party than just the principles behind the policies, there is an ethos there as the way in which the Party is run. There is a lot of extravagancy with drinking, crazy gimmicks and slogans, the stalls at Sexpo and other places somewhat exotic to most political organisations, and of course the drinking which although already mentions deserves to be mentioned twice given the amount of it that goes on. Even though we do try to have fun, there is more behind it, and what the Party in essence is. We don’t discriminate. As strange as that sounds it’s not like we only select the crazy out there ideas, it’s just those are the ones that people notice. We don’t turn down a stall at the annual tractor exposition, it’s just that we accept the offer of a table at the Fitzroy Fetish expo. Most political parties would turn down an offer, or if someone asked if they could hand out fliers at a BDSM club would have it strongly suggested that perhaps marketing wasn’t their best strength and instead could support the party through a cash donation.
The biggest factor I believe in the strength and nature of the Party boils down to the amazing leadership of Fiona Patten, the President and public face of the Australian Sex Party. I must confess that I do love watching her interviewed, and she comes across very well on camera, but she really truly shines when you’re with her. The first pub crawl I went on with the ASP I hadn’t been too much before and only replied to an email, and so didn’t really know anyone. I’m going to make a bold move and come out as having suffered from depression at the time due to a number of factors, not the least of which being social isolation and lack of faith in my communication skills. But sitting down at that table with a few supporters and Fiona at Bimbos Deluxe really was something and I felt truly welcome. There was no judgment or elitism, everyone was warm and supportive. And Fiona was definitely something special. As the crawl went on and we met up with the rest of the group of Sex Party crawlers I still remember telling someone that I’ve never done a tequila shot and don’t even know how to do them, Fiona overheard this, grabbed me, ordered a round, then explained how they are done and without giving me a choice in the matter said there and then I was to do my first tequila shot (just want to point out at this stage that I had been drinking a fair bit that night so it wasn’t like she was forcing me to drink, just to try something new). That night was a great night that I have to say changed my confidence in myself. Everyone was talking about a whole range of issues, no subject was tabooed no opinion was just brushed off everything was talked about openly.
So many people think that politics is just about making laws, that its showing up in Parliament yelling at people across the floor, setting legislation and that’s it. But there is so much more to it than that. As a child I saw my father, as shadow attorney General become the first politicians ever to come out as suffering from bipolar mood disorder. Though he was in the Victorian state parliament, I still remember as a boy being with him on a holiday in Perth, and being stopped randomly in the street by this young man who was extremely excited to see dad. He explained that even though he lived in Perth seeing what my father did gave him the strength to tell people about having a mental illness and helped him to explain and fight the stigma. And this man was not an isolated incident, people not only were changing social views, and feeling less ashamed of such horrible personal struggles which are not their fault, but because of the coverage of an issue that the media would never talk about people were actually getting diagnosed with bipolar. The ALPs response however, was they wanted him to resign from cabinet and subsequentially from politics altogether.
People don’t understand how much politicians moves can make with the way they campaign and behave. A politician’s behaviour and values is and should be projected on their people, not through legislation but as a role model. As wacky as people say that the Australian Sex Party is, and as hard as it is to get taken seriously, at least we are being sincere in our message. We’ve gone from getting about 2% in an election, to recently in Queensland getting around 9% of the vote, so people are starting to see that we actually do believe in what we stand for and have some pretty good ideas under those brightly coloured yellow t-shirts. Not to mention that no matter what people think of our policies, at least our name has made them smile.