Monday, May 28, 2007

Lord Malcolm

Photo: Lord Malcolm, Neil (Ninglun) and Sirdan

Like Adrian, I do not know Lord Malcolm. Like Adrian, I feel that I do. So I thought that I would make a few very personal comments.

I grew up in the age when homosexuality was a moral sin. I have deliberately used the old word because it best captures my point.

I still remember my reaction years later when a male friend in Queanbeyan, now dead of AIDS, shared his love life with me. Because he was a friend, I bit my tongue and listened. He needed to talk.

I first came in contact with AIDS in the very early eighties when the brother of a friend living in New York contacted a mysterious disease and died.

Three years later one of my staff came to me to tell me that he had AIDS.

I did not know what to do. The paranoia about AIDS was at its height. For better or worse, I decided to say nothing to anybody whether staff or Department. I felt that if I did it might have an adverse affect on him. I did worry, though, about things like sharing glasses at staff parties.

We now know that these worries were misplaced. Perhaps I should have trusted the Department to protect him. But I wanted to buy time.

The single most important thing people need is love and support. I have stood in awe of the support provided by Lord M's friends in difficult circumstances. I know just how hard this has been.

I have tried to help in a limited way. Here I will now say that when Lord M was facing problems with his public housing I was working in the NSW Department of Housing,

When I saw Neil's post I spoke to Phaedra, my immediate boss. She found out a contact person and we forwarded the story. I knew from experience that the Housing people were pretty sensitive in sometimes difficult circumstances, and Phaedra and I thought that they needed the information.

Lord M is clearly a remarkable person, not so much because of his contribution at an official level in areas like aircraft (a love that I share), but because of his capacity to inspire personal loyalty.

I won't say any more except that my love and thoughts are with Lord M and his friends, people that I would never have had contact with were it not for the modern miracle that is blogging.


Lord Malcolm died on 1 June. Neil Whitfield's blog carries a full tribute to him.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks, Jim.

Jim Belshaw said...

Crikey, Neil, that was fast! But the comment was very hearfelt. I was thinking especially of you when I wrote.