A Coochiemudlo Island resident's marriage equality campaign widens

STAND MADE: Michael Burge and his book. He will appear at the Brisbane Writer's Festival in September.
STAND MADE: Michael Burge and his book. He will appear at the Brisbane Writer's Festival in September.

COOCHIEMUDLO Island resident and journalist Michael Burge turned activist this year when he led a petition about marriage equality in the Redlands that revealed major support.

Now he’s taking his equality message to the Brisbane Writer’s Festival.

“I’m more accustomed to writing than I am to activism,” Mr Burge said. “Writers tend to shy away from confrontation and it’s challenging knocking on doors and approaching people in public, asking for your equality. But it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, especially for human rights.

“My partner Richard and I were overwhelmed by the support of this community.

“After six months of cold-calling people in their homes at bus stops and ferry terminals, markets, on the high street and in local businesses in every Redlands suburb, I’ve had my faith in this community restored. 

“Most Redlanders say yes to marriage equality whenever and wherever we are fairly asked. We are no different to every other region in the country.

“The surveys that our federal member Mr (Andrew) Laming undertook were not particularly fair in a number of ways and we knew we needed data in order to counteract them, so we got out from behind our keyboards and put ourselves in the pathway of 1000 locals.

“The conversations we had were eye-opening. So many people in this region have an LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) family member whose equality they are concerned about. Many are angry about the delays in the delivery of equality because it really matters to them and their loved ones. 

“After nearly six months, we had people queuing up to sign, showing their support and thanking us for giving a platform to their viewpoint.”

The couple delivered the results to Mr Laming in person during the election campaign.

“Mr Laming was not very enthusiastic about our work, initially,” Michael said. “He’s enthusiastic for a national plebiscite on marriage equality but whether there’s a plebiscite or not, the issue must be voted on in Parliament eventually, so I encouraged him to ensure he uses his vote wisely.”

Mr Burge’s book Questionable Deeds: Making a stand for equal love tells the story of his battle to have his relationship recognised in the wake of his late partner’s sudden death. Writer Mary Moody described it as: “A tough but ultimately triumphant and deeply satisfying read”. It was written on Coochiemudlo Island.

“We live in a unique region which is very inspiring for writers and artists,” Mr Burge said. “I wrote about some of my darkest days while surrounded by the natural beauty and tranquility of Moreton Bay. It was an appropriate setting in which to safely express pain and endurance.”

On September 9, Mr Burge will take part in a panel discussion as part of the Brisbane Writers Festival at Queensland State Library from 5-6pm. 

“We will be debating the right to belong, which relates directly to many LGBTI issues, including marriage equality. After petitioning in the Redlands, I am very proud to represent the region I live in at this event.”

His books are available at Little Gnome Bookshop, Wynnum, Avid Reader, West End, and  Red Rock Cafe, Coochiemudlo. They can also be ordered from major online booksellers.