'Busted Lung' recounts the story of frontman Jimmy Kyle's roommate, who experienced a sickening queer hate crime in inner-city Melbourne, circa 2015.
The attackers were facing up to 15 years in prison, but the survivor, in an act of courage and compassion, chose to forgive his attackers and even advocated for their freedom and a chance for them to have a second chance.
What would you do?
Here, Jimmy Kyle pens an open letter about the track.
I made a song, we made a clip, but I never made the story.
The film clip is violent, grotesque and as dirty as the streets it happened in, but you can watch it whenever. The story however is timeless. I guess it’s a story of one man, in fact it’s the story of three men, maybe two of them weren’t men but boys, or is it a story of many people? It’s either a story of hate, or over coming it. Maybe it’s a story of forgiveness or resilience.
The story starts well before me but let’s pick it up from when I first came to it. One morning before the sun came up – you know when the birds chirp, waves of anxiety go through your soul! At this point, my housemate had come home from a wild night at a prominent hotel where pride is celebrated and its long running rail against straight women hogging the podiums is no secret. As I was sitting in a window above Johnston Street smoking, he begins to tell me about a similar night. . . Walking home several years earlier and the subsequent fight for his life.
Meeting two men out was nothing new. My buddy was always the life of the party and never lonely, but these two men weren’t men. They were wolves. As the three drunkenly stumbled home, the CCTV captured the rest. He showed me the footage from a local news report online that had documented the premeditated hunt of another human. The hunt for him. The trap was set. As the two men gave a slight nod to one another, I saw my housemate dragged into a side street as they took every inch of their insecurity and self-loathing out on his body. Each punch celebrated, each kick relished, each moment I shrunk smaller and smaller feeling powerless watching on. His body lay motionless in the alley. The wolves returned to the hotel riding high on their adrenaline and sense of victory. So clever to pray on the kindness of a stranger in a pack but too stupid to not notice the cameras that captured both the hate crime and their carnival of high fives, smiles and laughter on their hotel re-entry for their next hunt.
My housemate recovered physically, he covered his bruises in thick makeup and smiled through swollen eyes and shortly returned to work, clumsily carrying his beaten body but never as a victim. I’m not sure if he would present himself as a survivor either but simply as person who wanted to return to his life and not unpack someone else’s twisted world view of masculinity. Shortly after the assault, both perpetrators were in custody. Their prime-time special did most of the work to be the first charged under our state’s new hate crime laws. These laws could see both culprits go to jail for a minimum of 15 years.
My friend could reclaim his power, see justice served, get square for every motherf...er who hurt or harmed a queer person or had made his life difficult. I had heard the comments when we were out, I know the type and ‘these two scum bags had it coming’ vengeance whispered in my ear. It’s seductive. The police were behind him, the evidence was televised, and one perpetrator had turned himself in and gave up his accomplice and older sibling.
My housemate had chosen a different path. I don’t know if it was forgiveness, or maybe a strong awareness of the failing of our prison system to rehabilitate, or whether he was just a pragmatist. Nonetheless, the substance of a person I believe is not their words, but in their actions. He asked that the two brothers in remand be given a second chance. A chance they did not earn or deserve but he advocated they not serve time. They didn’t walk away scot-free, but they didn’t languish serving a prison sentence. Would they have got better locked up for 15 years? Would they have a newfound appreciation for the queer community inside a prison? I wonder if every day they realise that the proud gay man who took their beat down gave them their freedom. I wrote this song to honour my friend for his courage to be guided by his own moral compass, his incredible capacity to not be a slave to anyone’s expectations but his own and his incredible resilience. He is no victim. He is incredible. I wrote the song to ask you the question I asked myself: 'what would you do?'
Shoulder to shoulder in the struggle.”
What do you do in your day-to-day life?I work in retail at Lovisa, I’ve ranged from a casual all the way up to assistant manager, but now I’m settled part-time. Besides that, I’m always planning performances for the future, and also supporting my fellow performers. And eating. Ooft!Read more: