Just a Mum

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A mother’s fight for her sons’ equality

When Australian Human Rights Commissioner Graham Innes AM described Shelley Argent as “just a mother from the suburbs”, he paid her the greatest compliment. Don’t let the diamonds and pearls fool you. Shelley’s love for her son, grit, determination and persistence helped realise some of the biggest human rights reforms in Australian history.

Growing up in conservative 1950s Brisbane, in a poor and dysfunctional family, Shelley dreamt simply of a family of her own. With husband Don, she has faced situations no parent should ever have to face. Their love, determination and strength drew them closer than ever.

Then, when James came out as a teenager in 1995, the only legal right he held in Queensland was to be gay without fear of arrest. Fear, ignorance and stigma were rife. Shelley knew James faced a lifetime of discrimination through no fault of his own; a situation untenable to her.

Today, Shelley Argent OAM is recognized as one of the most successful educators, advocates and lobbyists for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Australia. As Queensland president and National Spokesperson for Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG), her decades of tireless work helped ensure state and federal policy and legislative reform, culminating with marriage equality in 2017.

Author: Shelley Argent

Paperback  Published July 2019

Praise for Just a Mum:  

“The strength, courage and determination that lie within the pages of Shelley Argent’s life are absolutely undeniable. Shelley is the ultimate ‘accidental activist’, who, because of a genetic roll of dice, her own difficult childhood experiences, and an undisputed love for her children, was able to face up to the challenges of an untenable societal and political situation, and make a positive difference for hundreds and thousands of people. Reading Just a Mum, co-authored by the hugely talented Leanne Edmistone, will have you asking yourself what you truly believe in, and then see you standing up to fight for it with all your might! Knowing what Shelley has overcome, and achieved, will give you the courage to face inequality, unfairness, or any unsatisfactory situation in your life that needs changing. This book will make you weep, shout and pump your fists in frustration AND elation!’’ Caylie Jeffery, author, Under the Lino

 “I read Shelley’s story and felt the full range of emotions – anger, disgust, dismay, disbelief. I laughed – she’s a crack that woman! And, I cried. Tears of absolute sorrow and tears of joy. How grateful I am that there are people like Shelley and all of the wonderful people she has worked with and continues to work with, who ensure information and support is available for young people discovering their sexual identity. And, who stand up and speak out for a more inclusive and diverse society.”  Jacinta Finger, The Word Girl

  “Your story is testament to your courage, perseverance, loyalty, inner strength, integrity, authenticity, loving kindness and compassion. I loved the mixture of personal history, local Brisbane history and gay history. The story was full of intimate surprises and humour, and was really comprehensive in sharing a message of advocacy, anti-discrimination, vulnerability, compassion, hope and empowerment. The ‘personal story telling’ hooked me. I laughed out loud and also got choked up in sections.” Dr Kirsty Williamson, clinical psychologist

'If you want to know how to change things for the better, observe Shelley Argent. Be inspired by her dedication, passion, innovation and practicality. Let the rare activist fire that burns so bright in her heart light the same fire in yours. Most of all, learn from Shelley’s example that legal  and social reform is never about those who achieve reform. Like the love of a parent for their child, a better world is a gift we pass on to those who come after us, selflessly, ever-generously and without a passing thought  for what we might get in return.' Rodney Croome from the Foreword


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