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!”

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The AFL has every right to support the LGBTQ+ community, including same – sex marriage

Screenshot of Herald Sun opinion piece "Praise AFL for its social conscience' by Justin Quil 25 September, 2017
Herald Sun’s acting media lawyer, Justin Quill has praised AFL’s corporate stance on same – sex marriage

I was going to criticise the AFL’s stance on same – sex marriage. My argument was that they shouldn’t it’s a hot – button issue and they may alienate spectators. Reading Justin Quill’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Herald Sun gave me a new perspective.

Companies DO have a right to express a view on social issues. As Quill pointed out, this is not the first time that the AFL has supported social causes. The AFL has had a reputation of trying to combat racism in the game, starting with former St. Kilda player, Nicky Winmar, who lifted up his Guernsey to defy racism back in 1993.

Now, the AFL has turned it’s attention to supporting LGBTQ+ people.

Over the past two years, the AFL has had the “Pride Round” between St. Kilda and the Sydney Swans. As I wrote last year in another one of my blogs, I supported this as I though it was good that the AFL were taking a stance against discrimination. I still hold that view.

While there are no openly gay or bi men in the AFL, there are two AFLW players in long – term same – sex relationships. It’s great that these women have gotten so much support, both from the media and the AFL.

 

Having said that, the AFL hasn’t been without controversy when it comes to homophobia, or at least, a lack of acceptance. In 2010, former Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions player Jason Akermanis controversially suggested that gay players should stay in the closet to avoid making other players uncomfortable. Maybe Akermanis’ comment revealed that, at the time, the AFL wasn’t openly embracing of gay and bi players.  Last week on ABC’s The Drum, former footballer – turned LGBTQ advocate, Jason Ball highlighted how hard it was to be gay in football. This was largely due to the prevalence of homophobic slurs and jokes in the game.

Screenshot of Jason Ball on ABC's the Drum
Jason Ball talks about how hard it has been for gay footballers when talking about the AFL’s controversial change in their logo in support of same – sex marriage.

The AFL has worked to tackle racism in the AFL and now turns it’s attention to homophobia and bi – phobia. This is great, as players, regardless of background, religion or sexuality should be able to play the game they love.

Likewise, LGBTQ+ spectators, should be free from discrimination and any that does occur will be condemned. LGBTQ+ who want attend a AFL game should be able to without fear of having slurs hurled at them or worse. Same – sex couples should be able to attend and enjoy the football like any straight couple. To be honest, it’s a shame that this still seems to be a controversial idea.

Regarding the criticism that the AFL is trying to enforce same – sex marriage on  the spectators and players, Quill made the point that no same – sex marriage opponent was being thrown out because of their stance. If that was the case, it’d be wrong. What the AFL are trying to do is make LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and that discrimination won’t be tolerated. That’s not a bad thing. Is it?

What are your thoughts on the AFL’s stance on gay marriage or the Pride Round? Let me know in the comments below. 

Madeline should not have been let off for opposing same – sex marriage

18 – year – old, only known as Madeline, was let go from her contract at Capital Kids Parties, Canberra, after putting ‘It’s OK to Vote No’ filter on her Facebook profile.

Her contractor, Madlin Sims made a Facebook post saying that she let go of Madeline because she thought her views were “hate speech”.

There are feelings that there is more to this story, but I’ll go with purely the issue of unfair dismissal and anti – discrimination.

I don’t think people like Madeline should be let off purely because of their political or religious beliefs. And, as long as they are not advocating for the killing of LGBTQ+ people or they are openly hostile towards people because of sexuality, gender, race, etc, they shouldn’t be sacked/ lose their contract.

However, I’ve got a funny feeling that some people who defend Madeline also want businesses to be legally be able to discriminate against people based on their relationships, gender or sexuality. It should be all or nothing. Sims should be able to discrminate against conservative Christians, or it should be unlawful for a business or servicecto refuse to employ or serve LGBTQ+ people. All of one or the other.

 

There is something that I think has been left out of this discussion. Madeline is only eighteen. She’s probably just finished Year 12. She still needs time to grow and I do feel for her. She’s had her work and her beliefs scrutinised in the most public way. Her character has already been debated,bsparked by Sims’ Facebook post. Regardless of who you agree with in this, Madeline is still so young. She has her whole life ahead of her and she’s been subject to public scrutiny already. All over a Facebook filter. That to me, is extreme.

 

I feel for Madlin Sims, too. By the look at her Instagram picture, which supince has been taken down, apparentky,bshe’s also incredibly young. And the abuse she and her brother have allegedly suffered must be condemned. Why this hasn’t been talked about and condemned by mainstream and independent media, I don’t know. (You already know how I feel about the whole ‘debate’ and ommissions,bso Ivwon’t repeat them here).

 

Unfortunateky, I think this case has put a bad light on the ‘Yes’ side, again. It’s also exposed my worst feears about same – sex marriage; a values clash between the Left and conservatives that I believe needs to be sorted before (if) same – sex marriage becomes legal in Australia.

 

What are your thoughts on anti – discrimination laws? Should there be any exemptions on moral grounds?

 

 

 

 

Can we talk about LGBTQ+ mental health?

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

 

CW: suicide, mental illness, homophobia

It’s ironic that World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day came in the height of the same – sex marriage debate. I think there has been a lack of genuine discussion on the issue of mental health of LGBTQ+ people throughout these past few months. Organisations who have brought up the issue like the Australian Medical Association and have been slammed for suggesting that the same – sex marriage debate is deemed a health risk to the LGBTQ+ community.

Couple embracing
Image: iStock

I don’t know how these findings came about and I’m always skeptical of data when the sample size used is particularly small.

However,  Canberra Times reported that counsellors did see a spike in calls from LGBTQ+ people as the debate raged.

 

I’m not saying that those who are going to or have already voted ‘no’ in this survey are responsible for any suicide or mental health crisis that an LGBTQ+ person may experience. However, I am disappointed that sections of the media has quickly dismissed suggestions that some may be affected.

 

While I support a debate and a vote — to be frank I think it’ll be better later on — I’d be lying if I said it has been a walk in the park for a number of LGBTQ+ people. To their credit, Canberra Times, Huffington Post Australia and SBS have brought this up. I’ve also seen a number of Facebook posts giving coping tips to LGBTQ+ people who are finding it hard. Kudos to those who made those posts.

All I ask from the public is this: regardless of your views on same – sex marriage or how you’ve voted, please, please look out for LGBTQ+ you’re close to. Be a soft place to fall. If you think they need it, encourage your loved ones to get professional help.

For those who do need help, contact Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

QLife

 

 

First of postal surveys out today

THe first of the postal surveys for same – sex marriage were sent out today.

The question has been revealed.

Snshot of same - sex marriage postal survey
The question of the postal survey has been revealed (screenshot of ABC website)

 

I’m not going to go on about the debate. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what’s been going on.

I just want to say a word to the Australian LGBTQ+ community. This wasn’t an easy couple of weeks. I’ve been in tears a few times, if I’m honest and I’m not in a same – sex relationship. For those who are in same – sex relationships, I can only imagine how hard it’s been. I want to give you all a big hug.

 

To those who will vote ‘no’, it hasn’t been easy for you, either. Many have felt unfairly demonised. Attacks have been vile. The latest case of tweets from author Benjamin Law and one of his followers were vile. I’m sorry for all those who have been abused like that. It’s wrong. Period.

I hope the results of this doesn’t tear this country, families, neighbours, etc, apart. If you know someone who has been affected by this debate, please continue to support them. To those in the LGBTQ+ community who are desperate for samw – sex marriage to become law, please refrain from lashing out. This won’t help anyone, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community.

If anyone needs help, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636.

Abuse towards Dr. Pansy Lai is deplorable, however her views on ex – gay therapy are worrying

Dr. Pansy Lai on news.com.au website with allegations of supporting ex - gay therapy
News.com.au alleged doctor in anti same – sex marriage advertisement has supported ex – gay therapy.

Let me make this clear — the abuse suffered by Sydney’s Dr. Pansy Lai — some threats have been so serious that police have been involved — is inexcusable. To be quite frank, some in the ‘Yes’ campaign have been absolutely feral. Stop it!

Having said that, allegations, printed in news.com.au that Dr. Lai and the Australian Chinese for Families supports ex – gay ‘therapy’ concern me. She’s denies pushing ex – gay ‘therapy’ onto patients, but claims that there is no harm in the practice. This goes against mainstream medical opinion in the Western world.

I’m not calling for Dr. Lai to be sacked. I just hope her views don’t affect her practice.

To those who dismiss this and say that if you had a sore foot, would you care what her views were; GPs deal with mental health, too. Personally, when I was younger, a GP prescribed anti – depressants and organised for me to go to a counsellor after diagnosing me with mild depression

Secondly, I’ve been to counsellors in regard to issues with sexuality. This was after weeks —  maybe months — of fear and self – hatred. If I found out that the counsellors, Student Advisor (I was at school at the time), or other staff were prejudiced against LGBTQ+ people, I would have just hated myself even more and woudn’t have trusted the staff enough to open up. Just the fear of what could happen was bad enough (the fear wasn’t confirmed, by the way. They were all really good).

I’ll be frank, if I knew that my doctor had prejudices against LGBTQ+ people and/ or they supported ex – gay ‘therapy’, I wouldn’t trust them with my health, period. I would want someone who didn’t adhere to proven and accepted medical practice.

 

For those who still dismiss my critique and say that it doesn’t matter, how would you feel if your doctor had personal beliefs about vaccination that went against mainstream medical knowledge? If your brought a child to this doctor, even for other reasons, would you trust him/ her? I’ve got a feeling many wouldn’t. I feel that way about any medical professional who spreads misinformation about LGBTQ+ people. It’s happened for too long. I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos I’ve watched and how many stories I’ve read online about LGBTQ+ people who’ve gone through ex – gay ‘therapy’. They’re lives were nearly destroyed, until they accepted their sexuality.

Again, I condemn the abuse towards Dr. Lai, especially when police had to involved. I won’t even say that she should be deregistered. What I do think should happen is that maybe there needs to be an overall evaluation of the medical profession to make sure that GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc, don’t have  any harmful beliefs about LGBTQ+ people that is going to turn into harmful practice. LGBTQ+ people deserve proper health care like everyone else.

Has this post brought up any issues for you? You can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beond Blue: 1300 224 636.

Should businesses and government departments get out of the same – sex marriage debate?

Canva images: lawyer, doctor and Quantas plane
Images: Canva

Today, Andrew Bolt criticised supporters of same – sex marriage and the Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, the ACT government, the Australian Medical Association, the ABC and the NSW Law Society for publicly campaigning for same – sex marriage.

In the past, Air b’n’b and Qantas has also been slammed for pushing for same – sex marriage.

This makes me raise a question: should councils, law firms and businesses get involved in political debate? On any issue: gay marriage, climate change, Recognition, etc? What if, as it’s the case with Qantas, the CEO is LGBTQ+ themselves?

Bullying is wrong. Full stop. I pointed that out yesterday.  That aside, there seems to be a push on both sides to limit or stifle debate, to be honest. One of the main arguments that businesses and councils should not be involved in these debates or taking sides is that the customers have a range of political views. In regards to the AMA, the clash is internal, with the organisation being criticised for false claims by some members regarding same – sex marriage and parents. However,  I have to say that I exposed one of the studies Bolt’s cited last year; Mark Regenerus, supposedly the largest study on same – sex families and its impact on children. However, even he admitted to Focus on the Family; a conservative organisation who promoted his findings that his findings actually didn’t prove same – sex families were worse for children.

Qantas has been a target by conservatives, most recently former tennis great and now Pentecostal pastor, Margaret Court who wrote a letter to The West Australian newspaper, threatening to boycott the airline ‘where possible’ because of their vocal support for same – sex marriage.

Now, the Sydney Council is under fire for allegedly supporting the “Yes” campaign financially, but not the ‘no’ case.

So, my question is: should corporations or governments get involved in any contentious political debate? Climate change? Safe Schools? Aboriginal Recognition? The asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru?

 

It’s not only Australia that companies have been under fire for their corporate stance on same – sex marriage. In 2014, Atlanta – based chicken sandwich franchise, Chick – a – fil – a caused controversy when the CEO, Dan Cathy vocally opposed same – sex marriage. He ended up backtracking kind of – not from his opinion that same – sex marriage was wrong, but by promising to refrain from expressing it publicly in the future.

Either the backlash against Qantas, Air B’n’B, the Sydney Council, the AMA and Chick – a – fil – a is justified or it’s not. Either CEO’s and companies can support political causes or it can’t.

Another thing, if a company, council or medical organisation ever does take a political stance, it’s going to have it’s opponents, regardless of the issue or side. Is this allowed or should everyone should be left with their individual views, with the company itself being neutral? I think it’s great when companies support the LGBTQ+ community or  Aboriginal people —the AFL is a great example of this — aiming to promote inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community and people from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. Pushing a political cause though? I”m not sure.

 

What I do think is that all companies and brands should be held to the same standard. If Qantas for example shouldn’t publicly campaign for same – sex marriage, then a company shouldn’t campaign against it. Companies on both sides, I think, should show impartiality. Because, hey, some of their customers may be LGBTQ+ and/ or support same – sex marriage.

Should companies remain out of political debate? Share what you think.