In the wake of IDAHOBIT, thank you, but keep fighting

Rainbow Pride flag
Image: iStock

 

17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi – phobia, Intersexism and trans – phobia. (IDAHOBIT). 17 May 1990 was the day when the World Health Organisation officially declassified homosexuality as a mental qaillness.

I said about a year ago about how IDAHOBIT was a great day for the LGBTQ+ community to show appreciation for those who have stood by us, fought for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and stood by LGBTQ+ people who are in distress. This is still close to my heart. Thank you again for everyone who has been a part of making our lives a little bit easier, especially last year during the same – sex marriage postal survey debate.

But, of course , the work is not done; not here and not around the world. Currently,  seventy – four countries still outlaw homosexuality, some of where the death penalty can be carried out for same – sex relations.

 

The Australian LGBTQ+ community won a major battle last year; same – sex marriage finally came legal after 61.6% of survey participants agreed that same – sex couples should be able to marry. The Act now states that two people can marry, with no mention of sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. This is monumental.

The battle for the right to marry for LGBTQ+ people is won. Where we still need to be vigilant is the reversal of anti – discrimination laws. Last year, there was discussion about whether businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples who want to marry on the grounds of faith or conviction. I have expressed numerous times how I think this is a potential slippery slope and how there is no guarantee that it’ll only be cake bakers or other wedding suppliers that will be exempt, but also teachers, other educators, counsellors, psychologists, etc like it has in parts of the US. I plead for our allies to be vigilant about that and, if it comes up, to vocally protest against it.

I still feel strongly about LGBTQ+ students being supported in schools. If not through Safe Schools, I don’t think it would hurt to have another program aimed at tackling homophobia, bi – phobia and trans – phobia etc. As I’ve said before in the context of education and AFL’s Pride Roun, I really don’t think it’s enough for students to have to assume that they are not at risk of being rejected. It needs to be made obvious. The voices in the head of someone even questioning their sexuality can make one assume the worst; that they won’t be accepted, that they deserve to be bullied, etc.

Not all advocacy is political either. Increasingly, the issue of proper LGBTQ+ visibility in the media and pop culture comes up. There are still issues with misrepresentation or invisibility, especially of bisexual people. Negative stereotypes about bisexual and pansexual people still persist and have negative consequences on their mental health.

While things are improving for asexual people,including visbility, things can still improve. For starters, it would be great if people would get to know what asexuality is. Allow people to define their own sexuality and/ or relationships, without resorting to comments that it’s a phase, etc, (often it’s not).

 

The West have made great strides in LGBTQ+ rights. I am really hopeful, although cautious, about the future. The world as a whole has a long, long way to go. Hopefully IDAHOBIT in the future can bribg positive change where it’s needed.

Have you, your school or workplace done anything for IDAHOBIT? Also, what do you think can improve for LGBTQ+ people?

 

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The beauty and heartache of Mother’s Day

Bunch of glowers in glass vase with ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ in heart - shaped card. Flowers surfound base
Image: iStock

Mother’s Day is this Sunday in Australia (I’m not sure whether the US has the same day or not. Father’s Day is different… I think). Looking at shopping centres during this week, I’m amazed at the beauty of the advertising and products. Sure, Mother’s Day is  great for advertisers to pull at the heart strings of consumers. I think they’ve succeeded this year, at least in Lavington! But, to me, it also shows the beauty that mothers bring (or are supposed to bring) to children and adults.

Women, around the country and around the world, do everything they possibly can for their children. There are also foster carers, stepmothers and aunts as well as others, who would give their lives if it meant seeing the children they love so dearly, live happily.

There are also mothers who have lost babies, either through miscarriage or stillbirth. That heartbreaking moment when they are told that their little bundle doesn’t have a heartbeat. The pain must be unbearable. The little child that they never heard cry, talk or see walk will always be in their hearts as long as they live.

There are women who are either childless by choice or by circumstances (prolonged singleness, infertility, etc), who make it an imperative to be a part of the lives of their nieces and nephews. They love them as they would love their own.

Unfortunately, Mother’s Day is hard for some children and adults who have recently lost a mother. It may be their first Mother’s Day without their mother, due to death. For those who are in this situation, maybe for the first Mother’s Day, my heart goes out to you.

Despite the $2 billion industry Mother’s Day has become, I believe it’s a day of reflection and showing love and appreciation to the women that have made such an impact throughout our lives.

 

If you’re a mother, stepmother, foster carer, ‘cool Aunt”, I hope you have an awesome day on Sunday. For those who will struggle this weekend, I hope you will find comfort.

 

Happy World Hug Day

Friend group hug
Image: iStock

 

On a warm and fuzzy note: today is World Hug Day. It’s on the 21st of January each year.

Awwww. Can you feel the love?

Actually, it’s National Hugging Day and is formally celebrated in the US (damn!). However, it is also celebrated at some point around the world. Some celebrate it the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. National Hug Day originated in 1986. The founder of the day was Reverend Kevin Zaborney. He thought of a national hugging day when he realised people often felt down between Christmas/ New Year holiday period and Valentine’s Day.

I think it’s such a lovely idea. I’m a big hugger. I believe in the mental health benefits of hugging. Studies have shown that physical affection can determines a baby’s neurological development, which can determine a person’s state for the rest of their lives. The longing for physical touch is also evident for most people throughout their lives and can have great impacts on well – being.

 

The origin of “National/ World Hugging Day exposes a real weakness in humanity. Too often, we neglect human connection. To be honest, this generation (including  my generation), unfortunately try and use social media and technology as a substitute to real human interaction. Yet, while social media is great in keeping in contact with people, it can’t compete. People need real physical interactions.

“But I’m not a hugger”

Not everyone is comfortable with hugging and certain people will ask not to be hugged. These requests should be respected. I believe in body autonomy and after what has been exposed recently, I think it’s more important now than ever to respect personal boundaries.

Asking for hugs, gender and relationships

Having said that, asking for a physical touch shouldn’t be frowned upon either. In platonic relationships, it shouldn’t matter the gender/s of the participants. I love hugs from people regardless of gender. If everyone is comfortable with it, it shouldn’t matter. Hugs between men and women,women and women or men and men should be allowed and encouraged (when mutual).

Of course, hugs and caresses may lead to something else, but it shouldn’t be mandatory in romantic relationships. Sometimes a hug should be enough… at least that’s what I think. Many relationship experts insist that some form of physical intimacy is needed for a relationship to survive and thrive. In my opinion, physical affection in friendships (i.e. hugging), is also really important. It can create trust and further cement the relationship. It creates security and communicates full acceptance. I think hugs are great and needed during times of tragedy, loss or when someone is upset. To allow yourself to be vulnerable, and being allowed to be vulnerable shows the strength of a friendship.

Friends hugging
Image: iStock

 

 

So, happy “World Hugging Day” or for those in the US “National Hugging Day!”. I hope you all have someone that you can hug today and any day. Give your mum, dad, brother sister, other family member or friend a hug for me.

What have you been doing this National/ World Hugging Day? Let me know in the comments below!