The Granite Block

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This post is the result of much thought. And I know this could be a risky post. Not because of the content, but because I know I am writing to some people who might read it and decide I am having a go at them. I assure you, I am not. I’m really not.

I also want to say that I have friends who are Christians, whom I love. The very vast majority of them have continued to treat me exactly the same way as they did before I came out. And even though there are disagreements regarding marriage equality, we are adult enough to accept that people have different viewpoints. We remember in our hearts that we are human and that our history and the value we see in each other is reason enough to continue our friendship, regardless of differences.

And it’s because I know that you love me, that I want to bring this up:

Those posts you share, full of “buts” – they are doing a huge amount of damage.

I imagine that we all have this big block of granite, which represents our faith – in ourselves, in the god of our understanding, in people, in faith itself. When I was gathering up the courage to come out, I looked at my block of granite. I considered the people who I knew could be offended by what I had been puzzling about for years. I considered my understanding of the Bible, of the god I believed in. And in confidence in these things, I spoke those words: “I think I might be a little bit gay”.

For the most part, there was unending support. And when the US announced marriage equality this week, I loved the surprise of seeing Christian allies with their rainbow-tinted profile pictures. I was so proud of them, knowing all too well what they were risking in doing so.

Image by The Naughty Corner, and by that app thing that put a rainbow over your profile picture.

Image by The Naughty Corner, and by that app thing that put a rainbow over your profile picture.

But this announcement from the USA also saw an increase in those “but” posts.

Posts that share content that compares marriage equality to paedophilia, followed with a “but I am not judging you”. Posts that are prefaced with a “This is what I believe but I love everyone”.

That word.

But.

Now, back to that block of granite. I want you to consider what it is like, from this side of things. Having questioned your sexuality for most of your life. Knowing that being true to yourself risked rejection. Violence. Threats. Hatred. Having to consider and double consider what you say and where you say it and who you say it to. Usually, mental health issues, including anxiety, suicidal ideation, depression, self harm and so on. I’m not saying these are unique to the gay community – in fact, most Christians I know experience exactly the same thing with their faith.

This if nothing else should unite us.

When I first came out, trusting in my granite block, that first rejection was like a chisel rested on the granite and was hit by a mallet. And just like that, a chip was knocked away. I’ve been out for almost 5 years now. And that block of granite has changed shape significantly. In this last week, it has taken some almighty blows. But, but, but. Chip, chip, chip.

I could talk to the people who have shared this stuff individually. But I know that I can’t be the only one experiencing this. And also, perhaps stupidly, I don’t want to hurt them.

I could try to glue those chips back onto my granite block, and not let their well meaning daggers stab me too deeply. But I bet you’d still see the cracks on my granite block, wouldn’t you.

Source: freedomtomarry.org

Source: freedomtomarry.org

I expect that what is left is to either give up on my granite block, or write something that tries to explain what it is like, in the hopes that these words offer comfort to other people going through the same thing.

So here goes:

I love the Christian authors who publish articles, but I don’t love that you are flat out mean. I love the Christian artists that create pictures depicting their beliefs, but I don’t love that you are ignorant and cruel in your captions and assumptions. I love the Christian bloggers who are safe to share their faith without fear of persecution, but I really dislike being persecuted.

I love my Christian friends who share their “but” posts, but I wish you could understand the hurt it creates. Just like, I am sure, my rainbow picture hurts you. Just like my orientation hurts your faith. I get it. I really do. But please, before you hit “share”, consider the impact those words are going to have on all people.

Because really, what we are disagreeing on, is love.

And in the world we have in 2015, to disagree on love is a tragedy.

Colour Me Rainbow

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Like the rest of Australia I awoke to the beautiful news that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favour of marriage equality throughout all of America. And I’ve opened up WordPress on my computer to blog about this, and there’s a rainbow banner. And I’ve had rainbow profile pictures beaming out at me all day on Facebook, and post after post on Instagram celebrating and tears and smiles and laughter and beaming and finally finally being able to say I do and 54 years of waiting, for these two:

Congratulations, Jack and George. Source: time.com

Congratulations, Jack and George. Source: time.com

And I’ve watched as one by one, my friends have tinted their profile pictures with rainbows. I’ve grinned stupidly at the joy and the tears on faces captured by media.

I’m celebrating the joy that my friends, regardless of orientation, have at this ruling. I’m thankful for each of their little rainbow faces. I’m building hope that one day, this will happen in Australia, too. I’m imagining the parties and the text messages and the hugs that are lasting a little longer, and the tingling of anticipation between couples as they wait to see if a proposal is around the corner for them, now it’s legal.

And this is all just about love. It’s just love.

And we’re celebrating it.

And it’s the best thing in the world.

I love this, by Mary Lambert. You might get a bit of dust in your eye or something.

“I can’t change, even if I try, even if I wanted to… My love, my love, my love… She keeps me warm.”

The Lost Art of Thank You

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I’m really aware of the irony of what I am about to write, given that this blog is all about not being too sure about those social niceties that keep society rolling along nicely. But there is one social nicety that I am very good at, and that I think is really important: manners.

Words like thank you and excuse me and sorry. That little wave you give someone when they make room for you to change lanes. Turning your phone off when you’re at the cinema, and having it on silent when you’re in a meeting or having coffee with a friend. Things that, essentially, boil down to one simple thing: respect.

I’ve noticed a real decline in these things, and have been known to call people out on it when required. Beloved and I were at the movies a week or so ago, and there was a teenage boy talking (not texting) on his phone during the film. I leaned over and told him to turn the phone off. He did. Quickly. And shrunk down in his seat. Spotlight (an Australian craft/material/linen/homewares store) is notorious for having extremely rude staff, and also magically morphing their customers into rude and obnoxious people who will stab each other when it comes to the final ball of red wool or the unfair cutting of fabric. It’s really quite bizarre.

Beloved and I had a peculiar experience a couple of weeks ago. We heard the neighbour’s dog barking, quite frantically. Now, we had never heard this dog bark like this before. It was non stop. It went on… and on… and on. The dog’s human has a disability, and when we worked out that this dog had been barking like this for almost three hours non stop, we decided we had to act. Beloved knocked on the door, no answer. She could hear the television, but there were no lights on (by this stage it was night time). She knocked again, and could hear the dog inside, but still, no answer. So we did what seemed appropriate. We called the local police and explained the situation.

They came, knocked, heard what we heard and saw what we saw. They went around the back. The dog would not come out through the dog door. The police called the home, and the phone was answered, but nobody spoke. The police saw appropriate to bang down the back door. Turns out the dog can knock the phone off the hook, and the neighbour was not home. The police left a note, explaining what had happened.

Fast forward a couple of hours and there is a pounding at our door. It’s the neigbour. We explained why we called the police and while he was thankful and understanding, he was annoyed. Then the neighbour’s brother rode up. Threw his bike on the ground. Stormed up our driveway yelling abuse. We were scared. They left. The neighbour returned later and apologised for his brother’s outburst.

We thought that was the end of it, until we had another knock at the door, a few days later, at around 9pm.

It was the neighbour.

In tears.

And if you have seen a grown man cry, you know that something bad has happened.

His little dog had been hit by a car, and can we please help? Of course we could. We made calls, we drove him and his little dog to the after hours vet. We sat with him as his support people. We made cuppas and explained what the vet was saying. We helped out with paperwork. We spoke to the vet about our neighbour and explained that he was currently living on his own because his parents were on holidays, and that he had limited funds til his parents returned. The vets were awesome and worked within that budget. We got them home again. Talked to the neighbour the next day. His brother came over, too, and apologised for his behaviour when he yelled at us and thanked us for helping.

To date? We haven’t heard boo from the parents. Now, these are two pretty significant things to occur when your son is living alone while you are on holidays. At the least we expected another volley of abuse because of the broken back door. At most, a thank you and maybe an update on the dog.

For the brother to come and apologise, and also to thank us – it made us feel good. But manners aren’t about making someone else feel good. I have been thinking about this, and I think manners are more about showing that you know other people matter.

I think that’s what it comes down to.

You know that other people matter. Or, as I said earlier: Respect.

But then in my want for manners, am I not respecting the right of my neighbour’s parents to just want to move on from the incidents? I am not respecting the right for people to “forget” to say thank you, their right to use their phone?

Who knows.

But as fas as I’m concerned? If I let you merge in front of me? I want that wave.

Dusting for Prints

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Woke up. Morning routine. Dog, shower, coffee, etc.

Pretty standard, until I went to go to the GP. Put my hand on the car door handle and it was already open.

Strange.

You see, being slightly anal, I check and double check that my car is locked. It’s one of my “things”. So I know my car was locked, with the doors shut, when I left it.

And then I looked inside.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Now, my car is generally pretty neat and tidy. Again, anally so. For my glove box to be open with the contents thrown around the car? NOT NORMAL. For there to be scratches on the driver side door? NOT NORMAL. This entire event? NOT NORMAL.

Forensics came, and covered my car with dust in the search for fingerprints. Because of the strange circles around the locks on the car, they’ve concluded that it would have been kids or really inexperienced thieves who broke into my car, searching for money (pfft not likely).

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

It was a strange feeling, driving this car. It had been invaded by one or more humans who had no right to be in it. And they knew it. They had chosen to force their way into my car, in the search for… something. Driving it, I felt uneasy, like I was being watched, like a moving target. The feeling intensified after the car was covered in fingerprint dust.

There are, apparently, arseholes in the world.

About the only thing I can do in response to it? Try not to be an arsehole.

So, if you are the person who broke into my car, while it was in the driveway, locked:

If you had come to the front door, and asked for what you so desperately needed, we probably would have helped you. We’ve done it before, as recently as a fortnight ago. We’re not bad people. We’ve already had our share of bullshit this year. You didn’t need to do this.

Next time, just ask. You’ll achieve way more than what you achieved doing this.

Nose

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We’ve taught Scouty to wipe her feet before she comes inside, and usually she’s pretty good at it. Yesterday afternoon she had mud on the tops of her paws so beloved was leaning over to help her wipe them when Scouty suddenly lifted her head, hitting beloved in the nose with such force that beloved fell into the wall. The result? Beloved is currently sporting a swollen, sore nose. That is broken.

Yes, broken. My fur baby broke my beloved’s nose.

And I’m not sure too many other people can make that statement.

This is how I helped make it better:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

My thinking is loud tonight so I think it best to make this a relatively short post. Because the thing is, thinking spills out of my head and travels down my arms and hits my fingers, which then blab to whoever will read. It’s a bit like my computer screen at the moment. I have 13 tabs open, including this one. Many thoughts, some are as important as a game idea that involves the Cubs wrapping themselves in bed sheets then caterpillaring up the hall; others serving to remind me to get back to writing; others still prompting me to get the confidence to start selling crochet stuff.

And then I remember a particular exchange at the pharmacy this week, which is probably a good note to end this post on.

I had just been to the respiratory specialist, who was in the same building as the doctor that diagnosed someone close to me with a significant condition not so long ago. So my head was very mixed up. I was remembering and trying to listen and distracted and it was raining and oh shit the air conditioning and the fans have stopped working in my car therefore the car is going to be all fogged up, and now it’s dark and the foggy windscreen is making the headlights all hard to judge and oh just fuck, just fuck it. Fuck it.

This is where my mind was when I went to the pharmacy with a prescription. My feet walked me to the counter and I handed over the prescription and the chick who served me asked, “Have we had this before?”.

And I had a think about it. Had a come here with this, the last time I got this prescription filled?

“Um, I don’t know. I’m not sure what you stock usually. I can’t remember if I got it filled here last time. Wouldn’t it be just a standard prescription? How would I know if you’ve had this before?”.

Not what she meant. Not what she meant at all.

Hands

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I found this today:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

It’s a little plastic hand. It’s kind of bluey green, and has weaponry built into it. I guess they shoot lasers or act to disembowel enemies, or maybe open tins or remove corks from bottles or pick two nostrils at once or take down jets – no not jets, PTERODACTYLS – as they swoop through imaginations and attack, attack, ATTACK!

Just the hand. No other part of this toy. Just the hand.

It was in the backyard and I picked it up, the hand not the backyard, and put it in my pocket so I could look at it closer later. I took a photo of it and looked closer and I noticed a few things.

I noticed that the shadow that the hand casts makes my thumb nail look slightly yellow.

I noticed that my skin on my index finger is almost finished healing. I’d accidentally stabbed myself with a knife while cooking dinner a couple of weeks ago, and then last week I thought the result scab was a splinter so I spent a solid ten minutes digging and squeezing until I popped out the splinter. It wasn’t until I saw the resulting hole that I remembered stabbing myself with the knife. It was lasagne that I was cooking, at my sister’s, and it was awesome.

I noticed that my fingers are really quite dirty, and dry. I’d been in the backyard when I found that hand. You see, I decided to test myself today. I was feeling OK. Our backyard is relatively small. I spoke to my beloved about it, and then I got behind the lawn mower and slowly pushed it back and forwards, over the grass and the sneaky dog poo that evaded the scooper, the random leaves and the carcasses of tennis balls long deceased. Back and forwards. Across the yard. Back again. It took me probably three times as long as it used to. But I did it.

It was when I was pulling out the longer weeds that I found the hand.

Which is why my hands were dirty.

And now the backyard is mowed and I’ve had a shower and been on the nebuliser and now I am sitting, completely buggered. The cold of the day is settling in, which draws out the whoop in my cough.

But there is life in my hands. And I am using it to tell you about the hand that I found:

I found a hand!

And I know this is a strange post. That I’ve not really said a lot, or changed the blogging world, or offered insight or used hindsight or longed for foresight. It’s just been about right now. This moment in this time in this world, in this body that I am in. And it’s an unwell body at the moment. And for today, I’ve accepted that.

No wanting to do. No wishing I could.

Just being here. In this skin.

Finding hands.

Peculiar

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It can be quite a difficult thing, equality.

Because it suggests that things are, well… equal.

One thing that always challenged equality when I was a kid was sharing. I was (and remain) good at sharing, however I’d often forget to include myself in the equation. I remember, or read about, the solution to this being that one sibling cuts up the item to be shared and then the other siblings can select their sections of the thing to be shared first. This works well with things like cake or chocolate; less effective when it comes to pets or clothing.

It’s Tuesday and I think it’s Monday, or Wednesday. For some reason my brain won’t accept that it is Tuesday. Maybe I had something I was meant to do today, which I have forgotten about. Very likely. We’ve got one of those trashy magazine shows that try to present as news on in the background, and I’ve just realised the story is about farmers wanting wives. The same television channel is also screening a series at the moment that takes two strangers, applies a heap of psychology and crossed fingers, and marries up two strangers.

Now, this blog post isn’t going to be another one of those “let me and my beloved get married”. I’m not questioning the sanctity of the marriage that is being protected. I’m not challenging the validity of these weddings, nor am I asserting the validity of long term, committed relationships between people of the same sex.

What I am writing about is that feeling. That feeling you get when someone says or shares or posts something on social media that applies to you, and your gut just drops and your heart speeds up and you feel a little bit targeted. And you want to rant and point and yell UNJUST or explain that you’re not a criminal and you’re not the same as a paedophile or a bigamist, and you just want to marry the woman you love, even though you’re a woman too. You want to arc up, and say that letting people of the same sex get married is IN NO WAY the same same as allowing an adult who is sexually attracted to a child to marry.

One is a crime. The other is not.

And I’m fed up of being made to feel like I am committing a crime, simply by loving.

Here’s a quote from a particular post that was shared. In this section, the writer is answering the question “What is the point of marriage?”. Strap yourself in:

11294295_10152975478265897_2099065574_o

Did you get that? Marriage is to breed, care for kids, be faithful, and protect women and kids from men, who like to have sex without consequences. Gay people can’t make babies or commit to each other, therefore shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

The person who wrote this is male. Apparently, women and children need to be protected from him. This creates in me some concern, especially given he lives local to me, and has regular access to women and kids via his church, his daughters and their children. The original post was shared many times, and I found myself reading it one morning last week while I was on my nebuliser. Shared by one of my friends.

So we come to point of this particular post. 

I’m all for having different opinions and views and ideas and beliefs.

But I’m also in favour of sharing them respectfully.

I know that people tend to have extreme views when it comes to marriage equality. You’re either for it or against it. You either think it’s no big deal, or that it will result in an increase in paedophilia or beastiality.

But I can say that I have never shared or written a post that has targeted people who think differently to me regarding the issue. I have never likened them to sex offenders. I have never questioned their ability to be faithful, or to parent, or to love. I’ve treated them with respect.

Because we are in a world that needs more respect.

Over the weekend, a mate of mine was bashed by eight males. My friend was targeted because he is gay. Again, local.

So, I choose to act in ways, including on social media, that doesn’t stir up hatred or discrimination or dissension. That could be because I’m a decent person.

Give it a go. It’s not hard. It revolves around thinking about someone other than yourself for five minutes. And you just might find that presenting your opinion in a respectful way actually adds credit to your opinion. Makes people want to consider the content you are trying to present.

But if that does prove to be too hard? I’m still going to feel hurt. And I have a hunch others will, too. So try this method:

Source: themetapicture.com

Source: themetapicture.com