Today is R U OK day. It’s a day where we can put borders on our profile pictures that say “R U OK?” and share statuses to prove that we’re always listening. Somewhere in that, is an attempt to dispel stigma associated with not being OK.
Most of my friends on Facebook aren’t psychologists or counsellors, so I don’t tend to write about it on social media when I’m not travelling well. I absolutely have friends that I know I can shoot a message to if I need support, and vice versa. I absolutely have friends that I know without a doubt would walk with me every step of the way to seek out help. First stop for me is generally my GP.
My GP is pretty good at helping me out when I’m not able to say that I’m OK. She’s equipped to manage that messy side of my head. And she’s able to help me get the help I need when R U OK profile pictures don’t really cut it.
I know this sounds pretty jaded. And to be honest, I’m feeling pretty jaded. I know that a lot of the LGBTQI community in Australia can’t say yes, I am OK at the moment. But who is equipped to actually help us? Not just do the whole “Sending hugs” or “Inbox me, babe” stuff, but to actually help?
Reach Out has published a resource regarding self care, and where to go for support if you need it. You’ll find it here.
It makes me very angry that already, those postal surveys have started arriving in mailboxes across Australia. You can tick yes or no. Then you post it back. And just like that, you get to make a decision regarding the lives of the community I am a part of.
Just like when I got to vote about your relationshi- oh hang on, that didn’t happen.
Just like when Howard asked us if we’d like him to change the marriage act – oh, wait, that didn’t happen either.
I’ve read lots of posts about the Church wanting to protect marriage because the Bible. They’re concerned about religious freedoms. I don’t think religious freedoms include being able to serve in a church if you’re gay, or being made to feel welcome and equal, but they do extend to being able to put money in the collection plate.
Look, I don’t agree with their argument, but I do understand how they’ve arrived at it. But I’d hoped that the overarching themes of love, grace, mercy and compassion would be resulting in a different slant on social media comment sections. Ultimately, it’s really unlikely churches are going to be forced to conduct weddings when both parties are of the same sex. It’s not like churches have a track record of respecting and accepting gay couples as equals, so why on earth would we want to celebrate our love there? I’ve particularly been impressed by the logic that drives them to say that children need a mother and father, which is helpful for single parent families; and that marriage is for creating children, which is helpful for couples who have found themselves unable to have children.
I have Christian friends who are some of the boldest supporters we have.
The No side are absolutely allowed to have their opinion and not be labelled homophobic bigots.
The Yes side are absolutely allowed to have their opinion and not be equated to paedophiles.
We’ve been put into a position where suddenly, the extreme opinions and voices have come out to play. There have been no protections on this debate up until yesterday. But it’s worth keeping in mind that every single thing you have said in this debate, you actually have to be proud that you said it when this is all over. Every comment you have made regarding another human being – you have to be OK with yourself when the dust settles.
Therefore maybe it is helpful that today is R U OK day. People die from this kind of stigma. People die because they feel alone or because they feel like there’s just no point. We have a mental health crisis in Australia – a crisis that could use all kinds of funding. In the past I’ve written about my own experience with mental health; I’ve shared how I’ve gotten through. And each time, it’s come back to the first step of going to my GP and getting help.
Because help is out there.
To Australia’s LGBTQI community, I’m sorry this is happening to us. None of us wanted this – to be made public property and to be at the heart of a huge amount of wasted funding. And in honesty, there are churches out there that really do live out the Bible, so if you are that way inclined, seek them out. If you’re not, head to your GP. Or check out the resources in the link above.
We’re a strong community.
We’ve fought when we shouldn’t have had to.
We’ve risen up with love.
We’ve stood up for love.
We have many allies.
We have people for us.
It may not be what we want, but eventually, somehow, it’ll be OK.