If I'm honest – this is just pure self indulgence

Creeping normalcy

Last night I cried myself to sleep, because I can see which way the wind is blowing in Queensland in terms of LGBTI policy and I feel powerless.

Our rights and advocates like Healthy Communities are being stripped from us (or “rolled back” which doesn’t sound nearly so alarming does it?). Little by little.
Incremental changes that no-one but people it directly affects gets upset about. If you think these changes won’t really, dramatically affect the lives of people you know and love then you’re living in fantasy land.

Reasonable, rational, good hearted heterosexual people might believe the government when they say “oh the HIV infection rates were rising so we got rid of Healthy Communities”. A little later people might, if they hear about it at all, think “Oh they are not allowing two mothers to be recognised on a birth certificate – well that’s just a piece of paper”. Little by little these changes will happen with very little fuss kicked up by the wider community until our lives as couples under the law are as valid as one big fat pretend commitment ceremony.

I’m not going to go into it all here, but this is a great source of info: http://lgbtlawblog.blogspot.com.au/

These changes are already affecting Leigh and I, not to mention the existing barriers we face (we are “socially infertile”). If we do manage to jump through all the hurdles that lie before us and have a child, only one of us will legally be its parent. Only one of us listed on the child’s birth certificate. And I am sure it won’t end there.

At the moment we do not have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. Unless that is also the case with you then I’m not sure how to adequately explain how it feels.

Many friends when it comes to marriage equality give me the whole “it’s just a piece of paper” spiel which comes from the right place I know. But until you’re told your relationship is not recognised, but others are, and you cannot have that piece of paper, I can’t explain it to you.

I feel like one of the few frogs in the pot that has noticed the water is starting to boil.

Want to do something to help? This blog has some good ideas: http://melamoogrrrl.tumblr.com/  We’d be most grateful for a show of support, thanks for reading.

It’s very difficult not to reflect on the year that was on New Year’s Eve. Especially when you’ve watched ALL of series 6 of Dexter, your partner’s having an arvo nap as are the dog and the 2 cats, and you’ve cracked your first beer. Usually I drink to avoid being alone with my thoughts, but today I guess I’ll make an exception.

2011 was an absolutely horrific year for many people.  There were wars, natural disasters, famines and closer to home there have been deaths, illness and of course your garden variety small sadnesses that make up a patchwork of ugh.

Me and my little family have been so lucky. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks mulling over what we’ve got together and it’s a lot, and I suppose it’s good that I know it. I don’t let a day go by lately without thanking whatever gods may be for our good fortune and happiness. We have our problems, but we’re content – we have love and laughter and fun mixed into the ugh.

Yep in 2011 we’ve had more wins than losses, but one of those losses will be felt forever.

Leigh lost a great mate this year – she was 32 and she went to sleep one night and that was that. Inexplicable. Her name was Vicky Babbage and even though I only met her a few times it speaks volumes that every one of those sticks in my memory (and I’m the kind of person who can’t remember co-workers names and I see them 5 days a week FFS!) Anyway one of Vicky’s favourite quotes was “don’t take life seriously.. it’s not permanent”, and that’s what I’ll take with me as we journey into 2012. Well said Babbage – you are loved and greatly missed by so many.

Let’s kick this off by saying I know how lucky I am not to have experienced this until my early 30s. Until I realised I was a lesbian, I had no idea what it was like to be descriminated against, hated, compared to a paedophile or even stared at in the street just for holding hands.

But now I’m in it, let me tell those of you who don’t know that being hated is amazingly shit.  Seems like a no-brainer but when it happened to me I could not have been more surprised. It’s so confronting to have people you don’t know and who don’t know you saying that you should not be allowed to get married, have kids or even that you’re the biggest threat to humanity today (my compliments to Il Papa – that was a doozy).

At this point, I should point out the bleeding obvious that I’m only speaking for myself here, and not for the gay community. In fact heaps of people may disagree with me on heaps of things, and I’m fine with that. I just couldn’t contain myself a minute longer from putting it all down, and hopefully getting it out of my head so I can think of something else. A friend once said to me that he wouldn’t like to be gay for the simple reason that he didn’t want his sexuality to define who he was. Well neither do I, but at the moment it’s hard to escape! I long for the time when we have the same rights as everyone else and we can all just get on with the business of living and loving our families.

If someone’s religious beliefs mean they they think being gay offends god, that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m OK with them thinking that amongst themselves. What I do find outrageously offensive is when they decide to beat everyone else over the head with that belief and demand that we all fall into line! And say the most grossly offensive things about gay people.  Such hatred and ignorance – I hope I never get used to it and just ignore it, because it’s worth fighting.

Having been raised Catholic, and coming from an enormously loving Catholic family, it burns me up to have people try to use their religion as a shield when peddling vile prejudice and discrimination. While Catholic belief states that homosexuality is wrong, none of the Catholics I know use that fact as an excuse for hating me or my girlfriend. I’m pretty sure my Aunties think I’m going to hell, but if so I know they’ll just quietly say a rosary for me and love me, my girlfriend and any kids we may have just as they would any other member of the tribe.

Marriage has a religious as well as a legal meaning to lots of people, which is great for them. Knock yourselves out. I don’t know ANY gay person who thinks they should be allowed to get married in a religious ceremony where that religion disagrees with our sexuality! How ridiculous to say that gay marriage is any kind of threat to society, the instituion of marriage or the “traditional notion of family” (this makes me angriest of all).

Probably the best thing to come out of this for me personally is I’m a much more tolerant person. It’s not that I was intolerant before, but I admit to some apathy and putting my hands over my ears going “lalalala” when discrimination or hatred didn’t affect me or mine. I’m a lot more on the lookout for discrimination these days, and I’m poised to fight unfairness wherever I find it! (Someone get me a cape!)  I know the importance of kind words and actions, and I now do those things a lot more for others.

A lot has been said and written about this in the last week or so. I felt the same anger as Tom Ballard did, and when I read these words by Dave Gaukroger I cheered.

I think it’s wonderful when people who don’t have such a personal stake in the issue take up the cudgels in our defence.  Makes me feel hopeful that this crap will all get sorted out by the sane people.

I was so pleased when literary triple-threat (eloquent, clever, funny) John Birmingham got involved. He said what I wanted to but couldn’t find the words.

I think Catherine Deveny made some great points. But then she posted on twitter that “I do believe Miranda Devine don’t write for shock value. I’ve met her. She is friendly and genuine. Whether you like what she says or not.” I have to say – I’m much more concerned that she ACTUALLY believes what she wrote. I would much prefer it to be a cynical grab for hits/readership.

Ultimately I’m just going to live my life, love my partner (one day I hope to make her my wife), work hard and start a family. Despite how difficult some people choose to make it for us.

This post has nothing to do with religion or my loss of faith. Rather it’s about – where to from here?

People with belief in god – any god – can help people without even leaving their homes, without interrupting their day, without skipping lunch, without spending a cent, without travelling overseas!  They can pray – anywhere, anytime.  And that’s not a criticism by the way, in fact I’m a little jealous. Also – some of my best friends are religious!

So when bad things happen to friends or acquaintances, I’m a bit stuck these days. When you can’t pray for someone the options to help them get trickier. And I know religious people often do both – pray and offer practical support, but I thought we weren’t going to make this about religion? Sheesh get off my case people!

And I have to say – very unfairly I might add – some of the best people I know have had some really shit luck the last 18 months or so.  Bad things do happen to the nicest people.

I can tell them that I’m sending good vibes or my best wishes…  And while I’m sure that stuff’s appreciated, I can’t help but feel it’s just not cutting the mustard.

So I had an idea – every fornight, I could donate the cost of a carton of beer to a good cause, one that’s somewhat relevant to someone in my life. If nothing else I have a vague notion that it might possibly generate something similar to the concept of good karma.  Ish.  Plus – I might cut down on the lagers! Double whammy *ding ding ding*!

How it’s going to work is this – I hear a friend has an illness, I donate the cost of a carton of beer to medical research or a foundation that supports people with that illness or their families.  Or someone I know has had a nightmare time of it and I send a practical gift to their house that will help.  Or a mate is riding a bike a ridiculous distance to raise money  for charity and I contribute. The options are endless!

Recently I’ve done something to help a mate or two, so they think I’m nice – but it’s not true. Or at least, I’m not any nicer than the average person.

I think to be a genuinely good person you should help people you don’t like or don’t know. I don’t do that – but I’m lucky enough to have a partner who does, so hopefully she balances the scales for us.  And maybe she’ll influence me to be more like her and start doing that too!

I help people I know, respect, like/love, am related to, who have helped me or mine, who stand for something I believe in, or whose story I know (when they seem like my kinda people) and who’ve had a rough trot.

So while I think I could be classified a good friend, a good person? Nah!  At least, not for that reason.

When I was at my best friend’s 30th birthday party, I had the urge to kiss a girl I was dancing with. Needless to say – it freaked me out.

For my whole life up to that moment, I thought I was straight. Normal. And maybe I was?

When you’re a teenager you want so badly to be different, original, surprising – but then you grow out of it, or at least I did. Although I never knew how important being “normal” was to me until it seemed that I wasn’t. When I was little I drew endless pictures of my wedding – just me, the bride in a white dress, and about 10 bridesmaids. Each one wearing a different coloured pastel ensemble. I was thinking roses for a bouquet but I did change my mind on that point quite often. So clearly it was to be a small, understated affair! No groom ever featured – but if I had drawn him I imagine he would have resembled one of my Ken dolls. Probably the dark haired one as the blonde was a bit of a good time fella.

My first experiences with boyfriends were great (thank you to Brad and Shane – you guys were wonderful!) Throughout my twenties (tough decade) I often bemoaned the stream of random, mostly awful men I hooked up with and I would trot out that phrase that heaps of women say to their female friends but don’t mean “oh if only we were lesbians we could date each other!”  I kept thinking I was “in love” with gay men, but I never wanted to sleep with them (well not sober anyway).  Unavailable men (not married, just selfish assholes) were also a staple.  But I really don’t know if this means I was gay the whole time and just didn’t know it – or if one night when I was 30 a switch in my brain got flipped.

My mum asked me when I was about 23 if I was a lesbian because I’d been single for so long. I vehemently denied it and to my shame I was a bit offended actually.  Not because I thought there was anything wrong with being gay – for other people – but I certainly didn’t want anyone thinking I was.  It was too soon after high school I suppose where the worst possible insult was to call a girl a lesbian, or a “lemon”.  It seems beyond dumb looking back as an adult – and thankfully I never tormented anyone – but one girl did leave the school because of it.  In a strange twist of fate I’m actually in love with a girl from my high school class – man did that take me ages to get my head around, but it was so worth the MC Escher-esque brain twistery it took to get here.

Telling my mum is the second hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, with telling my dad close behind. Most right-thinking straight people I know actually can’t understand why it’s been such a big deal and why it still is – which I get – but I’m sure all the gay people I know understand. BTW I do have the best friends in the whole world, and I can understand why they don’t totally get it. They accepted it without question immediately. I’m so lucky.

The biggest battle was internal – with my own sense of self.  I didn’t want to be gay! I never thought I was gay before so why now? Was I so conditioned by societal and family expectations that I was in denial until I was 30?  I have to admit it’s a possibility.

Which brings me to the freaking point. And it’s going to sound RIDICULOUS, but I don’t care.

My TV family saved me – they helped me come out pretty much unscathed and I doubt I would have otherwise.  And by TV family I mean Ellen and The L Word. Until I saw those shows (and I watched and re-watched them a lot - still do) I was really lost. They helped me see that it was OK to be gay, that I wasn’t alone, and in some ways even HOW to be gay because apparently I could still be myself AND be a lesbian! Who knew!?

In fact, 5 years on from my friend’s 30th, I am grateful for the Real L Word. We’re coming to a point where we want to have kids and I’m not confident enough as a gay lady yet! Also want to watch that movie The Kids are Alright – surely there’s some good lesbo-affirming stuff in there.

And just so i don’t seem completely nutso – TV has been responsible for a lot of cultural trailblazing – read more here… http://www.afterellen.com/archive/ellen/column/2005/4/backintheday.html

The other TV family I owe a debt of gratitude to is my TPD family, who saw me through the coming out stage with aplomb – lots of friendship, support and a fantastic “don’t let the bastards grind you down” attitude.  I cannot imagine a better place to work at that time – a place where I could just be myself, and I love them all very dearly to this day for those and so many other reasons.

On a day when it’s (almost…) a death sentence to be gay in Uganda – I’m glad I live in Australia. But there’s still so very very far to go. Luckily I’ve got my girl, my friends and my family – TV and real life – to help me. (But if anyone tells my grandma I will kill them and I’m not kidding).

I got straight As once. And when I finished school I took away an OP 3 without even trying. So… what happened?

Now I can’t even spell flannelette without resorting to google (though in fairness wouldn’t you think it would have one ‘n’ and two ‘l’s?)

I used to be able to put forward a reasoned argument, and now I can’t be mentally bothered. I used to find things out – now I base my opinion on decades of biases that I’ve built up as well as sometimes – and I’m ashamed to admit it – what people I love think.

I was going to blame it on alcohol, TV and that fabulous catch-all scapegoat – being busy at work.  But I think it all boils down to laziness in the end.

Don’t get me wrong – I feel very strongly about certain things – gay marriage, the carbon tax, religion in schools and what they did to the gingernut biscuit – but I couldn’t tell you why in a coherent, logical and reasoned way. Backed up with facts ‘n that.

Yes I have strong opinions. And I’m 100% certain that they’re right. But pretty soon I’ll also be able to tell you why.

Step two will be the campaign to bring back the thin, dark, hard as a rock Queensland gingernut. Who’s with me!

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.