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Michael Burge - calling out the gaslighting around gay hate crimes

BY EMILY WEBB


Michael Burge is a writer and journalist based in Northern New South Wales, in a very literary-named town called Deepwater.


In a recent episode of Killer Content: Inside the Writer’s Mind podcast Michael talks about some deeply personal experiences and his advocacy for the LGBTIQA+ community that has influenced his first fiction book Tank Water.

Michael is a passionate advocate on LGBTIQA+ rights, including the historic Yes Marriage Equality postal vote that was announced five years ago on 15 November 2017.


“We were campaigning with a lot of the lobby groups marching, the streets, writing a lot of stuff, writing letters, joining campaign groups. So as a journalist I was writing about it as much as possible,” Michael said.


“By the time the vote happened on the floor of Parliament, only four MPs nationally voted “no”, against it. A whole stack of them ran from the chamber to abstain, but we don't worry about them. And we had a lovely yes result.”

For his debut Tank Water, Michael draws on the issue of gay hate crimes, including murders that were explained away as suicide or misadventure that have oocured over deacdes in Australia. Michael has a particular interest in hate crimes agains gay and transgender people that have occured in rural towns.


Recently The NSW government announced an inquiry into brutal hates crimes committed against members of Sydney's gay community over 40 years.


His novel Tank Water takes place over two critical time periods - 1985 and 2005 with the protagonist James returning to his small country hometown to attend his cousin Tony’s funeral. People believe Tony died by suicide but James has his sneaking suspicions that this may not be the case.


“Let's face it is still in some regions of Australia, not just country regions, but some, some suburbs of Australia would still have decided that, you know, it's actually okay to kill a gay guy...so I'm tackling that culture because the further you go back in time, the stronger it was, and the more gaslighting there is around it.”


Listen to Killer Content: Inside the Writer’s Mind podcast