Same – sex marriage is won. My hopes for the future

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Images: iStock

It’s happened. The Upper House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for legalising same – sex marriage on Thursday. There were celebrations and tears across the nation.

61.6% of eligible voters that decided to take part in the postal survey made the decision that people in same – sex relationships should be able to marry. This is quite an optimistic result. It has made me positive for the Australian LGBTQ+ community in the future.

 

Over seven million people believe people in same – sex relationships should be treated legally as those in opposite – sex relationships. They have the choice to make that commitment.

So, what does this mean for young people who are yet to recognise their sexuality or those who have been previously married (in a straight relationship), but find themselves in love with someone of the same sex? Will it easier to admit their same – sex attraction, without fear of retaliation from those who they care about?

The extremes of the ‘Yes’ campaign were right in one sense. This does go beyond marriage for same – sex couples. It should. Here me out and I’ll explain what I mean. My hope is that with this embrace of same – sex couples, that other members of the LGBTQ+ community waill also be embraced – that bisexual and asexual people will be believed and safe. That bisexual men are believed. That transgender, including non – binary people feel safe to come out and express their gender identity. I hope that intersex people will be granted the right to be autonomous and have a voice in what happens to their bodies medically, rather than being forced into having invasive surgeries without their informed consent.

I hope that schools become safer places for LGBTQ+ students and their families. I hope that anti – LGBTQ+ bullying will not be tolerated and that victims don’t have to doubt whether they should speak out in fear of further attacks or rejection from family, school staff, or peers.

I hope that asexual people will be acknowledged in school. I hope that when there is talk about sexuality, there is a separation between sexual and romantic orientation, allowing potentially asexual students the ability to experience their romantic attractions (if they have any), without the worry or confusion.

 

Even though the process was painful for many in the LGBTQ+ community, I hope the vote showed that many non – LGBTQ+ people are willing to treat us like people, not outrageous stereotypes or caricatures. I hope that this means that lesbians and bisexual women are not treated or viewed as a porn fantasy. I hope this means that gay and bi men aren’t negatively stereotyped and attacked because they are not “masculine” enough.

My guess is that over seven million people didn’t buy into the paranoia that gays were out to get kids, or to turn them gay, or that transgender people (especially transwomen) are predators. Like the general population, the vast majority aren’t!

 

So, here’s to love. Here’s to acceptance. And, most importantly, here’s to LGBTQ+ people being free to be who they are without fear.

 

 

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A big call out to LGBTQ+ supporters

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In the eve of the same – sex marriage postal survey announcement, I want to give a shout out to all those who stood by and advocated on behalf of many LGBTQ+ Australians.

Thank you to those who have actively campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights: written to politicians; called them; and used your voice in the survey.

Thank you to the counsellors/ psychologists who dedicated much of the last few months listening to and supporting LGBTQ+ people who were distressed.

Thank you to those who comforted LGBTQ+ friends and family. It hasn’t been an easy process, (in fact, at times for many, it’s been downright hard!). Thank you to those who have offered a shoulder to cry on when needed.

Thank you to the religious leaders who have called for compassion toward the LGBTQ+ community and have aimed to build bridges between, what have been warring factions. Thank you to those who joined campaigns like Equal Voices, and called for healing and reconciliation between the Church and the LGBTQ+ community.

Thank you to older LGBTQ+ people. like Anthony. Venn – Brown and Magda Szubanski, who have offered their advice and advocacy to younger LGBTQ+ people. Also, thank you to other LGBTQ+ people who have been willing to be open about their own struggles, but pushing forward and fighting for what you want. You have been so brave and strong!

Finally, I’d like to thank media personalities for standing by us. Thanks to Mamamia founder Mia Freedman and other staff for being an endless advocate for LGBTQ+ people. Thank you for giving LGBTQ+ people and their families a voice. You don’t know how much that means to us.

Thank you to Sky News’ Paul Murray and Patricia Karvelas for also being outspoken supporters for same – sex marriage. Thank you also, for being, sadly the few, who have consistently called out and condemned abuses from both sides of the debate.

Who would you like to thank for supporting you or the LGBTQ+ community more broadly during this debate?

Anti – discrimination exemptions: a slippery slope?

The issue of anti – discrimination is heating up in the same – sex marriage debate here in Australia. This week, Andrew Bolt interviewed owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who was sued for not making flower arrangemwnts for a same – sex wedding. From what I heard of the case, the case turned pretty callous, with Stutzman receiving death threats. That is horribly wrong. It’s disgusting and whoever sent threats to her should have the law book thrown at them.

Former florist Baronelle Stutzman on The Bolt Report
Former florist Baronelle Stutzman war s Australia that they face similar issues if same – sex marriage gets up here

I was sympathetic to cases like Stutzman. It was one of the reasons why I opposed same – sex marriage for a while.

However, what I worry about — and what Stutzman nor Bolt discussed, is what has happened since then, especially since Trump took office.

This has gone beyond caterers and florists. Last year, Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslain, signed a bill that allowed mental health workers to discriminate against LGBTQ+ clients for religious reasons.

A year earlier, a pediatrician in Michigan refused to treat a baby girl because she was being raised by a married lesbian couple.  Luckily another pediatrician was available.

Then, there was the whole “Bathroom Bill” debacle in North Carolina, which prohibited trans people to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Former ADF officer, Cate McGregor put it quite bluntly on ABC’s The Drum, saying that it was putting trans people at risk of violence.

 

If the issue on same – sex marriage exemptions stayed solely on that, I would be fine with it. i’ve read that even some LGBTQ+ people have rallied behind Stutzman. But what I’ve noted above concerns me.

There’s another issue, too; what if cases like the pediatrician happens in a rural area? Rural areas are always crying out for more GPs, nurses, etc, but they’re not always easy to come by. So what’s an LGBTQ+ person to do if the only doctor they have access to wants to discriminate against them because of who they are? What if an LGBTQ+ person needs mental health assistance and the only psychologist/ counsellor available doesn’t want to treat them because lf ‘conscience objection’?

This has gone beyond cakes and flowers and marriage. This is about whether LGBTQ+ people should be able to access services that they need.

I think there is a possibility that ‘religious’ or ‘conscientious objections’ loopholes in anti – discrimination laws (beyond religious leaders and celebrants) can be widened, widened and widened to the point where LGBTQ+ people, especially in rural areas, are denied essential services, leaving them vulnerable to poor health outcomes.

While I sympathise to a degree toward those who feel targeted, a part of me wants to tell objectors to suck it up. If you own a business, you serve the public. That includes LGBTQ+ couples. And LGBTQ+ people should NOT be refused essential services!

What to you think of the Baronelle Stutzman case? Do you think businesses should be able to refuse services to people, including for certain events (weddibg of a same – sex couple)? What do you think about health workers discriminating against LGBTQ+ people and their families? Should that be allowed?

Let me know what you think in the comments. Sorry for the amount of questions. Just so much I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on. You don’t have to answer all the questions.  Just please let mw know what you think.

 

 

We will rise: Episode of Gaycation offers LGBTQ+ people hope

Screen shot of image of Gaycation: United We Stand
Despite fear about the win of Trump last year, the LGBTQ+ people and their allies’ unity was touching and something Australian LGBTQ+ people can take strength from.

I won’t lie, the last few months haven’t been easy for many in the Australian LGBTQ+ community. That includes me. I’ve been quite strong and have offered my own support to LGBTQ+ family and friends but on and off for the past couple of weeks, it’s finally got me. Old insecurities and worries about how others viewed me came back. And I’m not even in a same – sex relationship. I feel for those who are.

On Wednesday, I saw the end of a repeat of Gaycation: United We stand  on SBS Viceland. It was about the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. Many people were worried about the President’s Cabinet and their links with organisations and political parties that had been opposed to LGBTQ+ rights, including Vice President, Mike Pence, who was responsible for the Religion Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, which permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the grounds of personal belief. (Apparently, he did backpedal in legalising discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, despite anger from conservatives). There was also worry about the rights of trans people and their ability to access medical care.

While the backdrop of the documentary was quite grim, the end of the documentary was surprisingly uplifting. It gave me hope for Australia in the postal vote process. I took strength from the fact that the LGBTQ+ community and allies were determined to stand together and not allow things to backslide to where they’d been in the past. They were not going to let those with homophobic or trans – phobic views win. Caucasian and people of colour were willing to stand together. They seemed to believe in the cause and their right to, not just exist, but live freely, love and express their gender that they saw fit.

It was heartening to see parents of LGBTQ+ people, including co – host Ian Daniel’s father, who were willing to stand by their children and fight for them. I truly think that these people don’t get enough credit. They are such a great source of love and strength. You have seen the same thing with the postal vote process. I’ve been heartened at the number of straight people; including parents and grandparents, who are willing to have their LGBTQ+ children’s and grandchildren’s back.  If you are a parent, friend, family member, educator, who’s been a shoulder for LGBTQ+ family or friends to cry on, on behalf of members of the LGBTQ+ community, can I just say, thank you. You’re love, support and contribution in our lives will never be forgotten. To LGBTQ+ people, please, give these people in your lives a massive hug! They deserve it.

Can I please implore Australian LGBTQ+ people to take heart. It will be OK. If we can stick together, we can get through this and more (if the US is anything to go by, this won’t be the last fight).

If we keep going, we will win this. We will gain the right to love, to be safe and express our gender authentically. To quote Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy: We Will Rise. To quote them again: “United we stand!”

Why doesn’t Andrew Bolt condemn hateful posters against LGBTQ+ families in Sydney and Melbourne?

Trigger Warning: homophobia, homophobic language, Orlando shooting last year

A person has informed Andrew Bolt of slanderous anti – LGBTQ posters that have been seen in both Sydney and Melbourne:

Once again a simple vote for marriage equality turned into a fight for survival by Bolt and the hard right.

Still no mention of those horrible posters, Andrew?

“Nicholas” has a point. It’s the principle not the side that counts, right?

True, true, Bolt has condemned homophobia in the past, including on the assault of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last year. He has also criticised Mark Latham and Ross Cameron for making unsavoury comments about LGBTQ people. Good on him for that. He has also spoken with compassion toward LGBTQ+ he personally knows during this debate.

Pic of Andrew Bolt last year being interviewed on "Think Again" conference
Andrew Bolt expressed regret on the strains on his relationships with LGBTQ+ friends and family over same – sex marriage.

There have been other times when, at least to my knowledge, he’s missed an opportunity, such as the threats against Melbourne’s Joy 94.9 FM last year.

I know, I know I keep bringing these things up. But, what is it, the principle or the side that is important.

Even more important than that, who wants to be told (falsely) that their LGBTQ+ loved ones are more likely to abuse children? I don’t think for a second that Bolt thinks that’s true. So, why silence?

 

I think this is more that the posters are more than just a bit off or espousing an unpopular or controversial opinion. The posters used the F word meant for gay people, especially gay men. Not only is the term considered to be a form of verbal abuse by members of the LGBTQ+ community, but it is often associated with physical homophobic violence.

The myth that LGBTQ couples are more likely to or are the equivalent of child sexual abusers needs to be stamped out, too. The aftermath of the Orlando Pulse Night Club last year sparked fear in the LGBTQ+ community. What wasn’t talked about in Australia was that people —non Muslims, mind you — praised the gunman, saying that the victims should be executed. In their venom, these people equated gay people to pedophiles. One preacher said from the pulpit that Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight”Yes, he and others did receive condemnation, but it still freaks me out. It shows that words do matter. Regardless of your views on same – sex marriage or even LGBTQ+ people in general, comparing LGBTQ+ people and their families to pedophiles, as well as derogatory terms, must be condemned. And it needs to be called out by people with a major social and political influence and voice, like Bolt has.

People have scoffed at the idea that LGBTQ+ have negative feelings about the plebiscite. To be quite honest, for a while, I was in favour of it, even the postal one. Since the postal plebiscite is likely (if it passes the Supreme Court), then LGBTQ+ must be supported. Abuse must be condemned. These posters are not just a matter of “free speech”. This is purporting a dangerous view of LGBTQ+ people, which for too long justified violent attacks on people based on their sexuality or perceived sexuality or gender. In the name of ‘debate’, it’s about time people started calling this out and condemning it.

If this post has raised any issues with you, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. For emergencies, ring 000. 

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Image: iStock

 

Other people affected by the same – sex marriage debate you may not have thought of

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Image: iStock

 

 

I’ve planned to do a few posts on same – sex marriage. And it’s also something that I thought of leaving behind. It’s taxing. It can be painful for LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones.

Same – sex/ marriage equality supporters argue that it’d affect gay and lesbians and them only. Well not quite. I want to list a few more groups that are rarely mentioned:

  • Homoromantic people – this includes homoromantic asexuals.
  • Bi – romantic people in same – sex relationships
  • Bisexual people in same – sex relationships (or who want to be)
  • Pansexual people in same – sex relationships (or want to be)
  • Pan – romantic people in same – sex relationships
  • Those who don’t identify as gay or bi, but find themselves in love with someone of the same sex
  • People in a queerplatonic relationship with someone of the same – sex, or people who want to be

 

The romantic orientations are what I want to talk about because this may affect members of the asexual community in Australia. This will (hopefully), frankly bust this obsession that some people have with equating same – sex relationships on sex and having that reason why they oppose same – sex marriage. For certain romantic asexuals, this affects them too.

Hopefully, changing the conversation in this way may get some heads out of the gutter. I am so sick of LGBTQ+ to being equated to sexual stereotypes or just outright lies about the LGBTQ+ community and every excuse why tbey shouldn’t be afforded same legal rights.

The list I’ve made above only makes up a small percentage of the population, but so what? I get so sick of that argument! That ‘small percentage’ of people may include someone in your family, friends, co – workers, etc.

That wasn’t the main aim of this post. My main point is, I think sometimes we keep revolving the marriage debate around sex. Sometimes, it literally has nothing to do with it. It IS about love and love only for some. Will this change the course of this ongoing debate? Probably not. But I do think it’s important.

 

Who have I missed? Who else is potentially affected by this debate? (WARNING: Any reference to bestiality or paedophilia will be removed and you may be banned from commenting on here again).

Asexuality is becoming more visible in the media!

Anyone who had read my blog Asexuality in A Sexual World would know that I followed media coverage on asexuality very closely.

The years between 2012 and 2016 really saw a surge in media stories about people who identified as asexual. One of the first stories I remember was on Johanna Qualmann in Cleo in 2012. I remember that being a big deal. This was the first time that I saw a mainstream media organisation do a story on asexuality. It was limited, and Qualmann admitted that at the time (i.e, there was no mention of romantic orientations or social issues that many asexual people face).

I also remember The Project doing a story on it. While the story they did was good, I was disappointed at 2GB’s Steve Price’s response. I wasn’t the only one as I found out later. Vitrix from the blog Reflective Ace critiqued a number of his comments very well — a lot better than what I did. I think I came off as a sook. I was grateful at Carrie Bickmore’s defense of the asexual community, though.

I think Mamamia’s post on asexuality that year hit me and made Mamamia’s publisher and founder Mia Freedman one of my heroes in the media.

Screenshot of story featured in Mamamia on asexuality in 2014,written by Jo Qualmann
Jo Qualmann had a story published in Mamamia on her experiences being asexual.

Asexuality visibility broadens

Reporting on asexuality in Australia has suddenly broadened. What I mean by that is that the reporting on asexuality is starting to cover people who are not aromantic or hetero – romantic. well, that’s starting to change. On Friday 7 July, Queenie of Aces of blog Asexual Agenda posted the weekly Linkspam. One of the links was an article from Huffington Post Australia about a British homoromantic couple who were planning to marry on 21 July this year.

Screenshot of Huffington Post Australia article
Huffington Post Australia does an article on a homoromantic asexual couple.

It’s bit more of a coincidence with tge timing of the article, considering what’s been happenibg in Australia recently. But I am so glad that homoromantic asexuals are also starting to gain vosibility. Hopefully, in the future, they’ll gain acceptance along with the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. I think that this article added another dimension to the same – sex marriage debate. No, it is not about sex — that is literally true in this case.

This week, Queenie of Aces linked a Buzzfeed article 19 things asexual people need you to understand about asexuality. Rather than focusing on a particular couple, the article exposed some myths and challenges faced by members of the asexual community. I think, the more of that, at the moment, the better. Hopefully, one day, things like this article won’t be needed.

 

So, what now? I’ve read that some asexual people want more depictions in fiction — accurate depictions of asexuality. Not like the damning storyline of the controversial episode of House in 2012 or the more recent accusations of asexual erasure on Netflix’s Riverdale. Just as a disclaimer, I didn’t see either show. It’s just what I’ve read. Itvdoes seem that there should be better representation of asexuality in fiction. I’m hopeful that this will come. In my opinion, the mainstream media has made leaps and bounds in a few short years when it comes to asexuality.

What have you seen/ read about on asexuality lately? Feel free to drop a link in the comments on what you’ve found! 

How do you think the mainstream media has reported on asexuality? Do you think improvements have occurred over the years? What more do you think can be done? I would love to know what you think.