Tag Archives: gay

Uninvited

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When we were kids the ultimate trump card was the birthday party. My birthday was, and still is, in December. If any of my friends or classmates in primary school wronged me in the months leading up to my birthday party, the simple threat of “You’re not invited to my party anymore” soon corrected the situation.

Deprivation of access to something that was going to be good. Refusal of entry, and power to make the decision that would deem someone invited, or not invited.

I am not invited.

In 2017, the common and socially acceptable (and expected) thing is to create a Facebook event for any gathering. We don’t tend to bother with sending invitations, and we certainly don’t stand in the playground with a circle of friends around us as we shuffle through a pile of envelopes, calling out the names of ones chosen to attend said social event.

The reason for this? Well, Australia Post has lost the ability to deliver postal items in a timely manner. Just last week we sent a parcel via Express Post, which has still not arrived at the destination it was sent to. Express Post is, as the name suggests, express. Essentially, the approach I (and many others I know) tend to take is, if it’s important, email it or message it via social media, or courier it. If it’s kind of not really important, or there’s no other option? Then post it.

This morning, our Senate rejected a plebiscite regarding same sex marriage, or as some call it, marriage equality. Or, as I call it? Marriage.

This means that a postal vote will occur. It was cost an estimated $122 million. It is not compulsory to vote, and the result may not be binding.

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I could make a list here of things in Australia that could benefit from a $122 million injection of funds. Health, aged care, education. But the thing is, I don’t know enough about politics to actually talk about those things in an educated way.

But what I do know about is what it feels like to be not invited to something. And to rely on the postal service when it comes to important deliveries.

As a gay woman in 2017, I feel a bit like the government has a pile of invitations at the moment, that they are shuffling while they clear their collective throats before calling out the names of people who are invited to partake in marriage. And I know my name is not on one of those invitations.

You see, the very moment I uttered the words that confirmed my sexuality, I lost my right to marry the person I would eventually fall in love with. In Australia, marriage is deemed to be between one man and one woman. Not two men. Not two women. One man. One woman.

So when you don’t have one woman in your relationship, or when you don’t have one man in your relationship, you are not allowed to be legally married in Australia.

 

We’re about to enter into what is already a pretty nasty period of parliamentary debate. Already, the Australian Christian Lobby has referred to the children of same sex couples as “the stolen generation”. There are going to be words flung around and opinions shrieked. Name calling and finger pointing. And outside of parliament, I anticipate that things will be worse.

The people I see at Tafe will be able to vote on my right to marry. And they won’t all be thinking that I should have that right. The people I see at work will have a vote. The people I stand in line with at the checkout, the people who have just moved in next door. Strangers and friends and acquaintances. They’re all going to have a say on whether or not I should be allowed to be legally married.

And to be honest, it scares me. And I’m out, I’m OK with who I am. Imagine if you were not OK? Imagine if you were still in the closet, waiting to find out if you were safe or not to come out?

My gut reaction, I’m ashamed to say, has been to act out of fear. To try to look less obviously gay. To think twice before holding hands in public.

But then I remembered the ones who are struggling with who they are. Who are still keeping quiet about their truth.

And I remember that at the heart of this, is, quite simply, wanting my love to be recognised as equal.

And so, the answer is not to hide it away.

The answer is to keep loving.

With the postal vote, yes or no, I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I don’t know how vehement people will be in voicing and acting out their disapproval. Am I going to be yelled at? Called names? Physically hurt? Because of who I love?

can’t know. But I have the assurance that I am loved. And that’s what I will rely upon.

And hopefully, as those invitations are shuffled and reshuffled, and voices cleared and names read out, I will one day hear my name on the Invited list.

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They came to dance

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13428361_1084188311627816_6294657720373394192_n Like the rest of the world I’ve been totally horrified and dismayed by the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Beloved and I both are reeling from this act of senseless violence. It’s been constantly on our minds and we’ve talked about it many times.

We’re in Australia, so geographically not close to Orlando. But the people who died, the people who had their life ripped from them: they’re members of our community. And as gay women, the sense of grief is strong.

Imagine.

Sexual orientation is such a deeply personal thing. People spend years in closets and unshared spaces, coming to terms with who they are. Some people never ever come out of those places, the sense of shame or guilt driving them to a life of pretence and half living. And then you find out about a place you can go to. A place where you won’t be stared at. Judged. Laughed at. Brutally beaten. Cruelly taunted. A safe place. A safe place for people just like you.

And so, you go. You meet people. You might dance with someone of the same sex for the first time ever. You might finally say those words – “Yes, I’m gay”. You feel the exhilaration of freedom; the weight lifting from your shoulders as you gaze around and see people who are like you but happy and open and themselves. And in that moment a life outside of the closet no longer seems so scary. You have a community. You have a people. You are part of something bigger and you are totally, utterly safe. And like everyone else there, you dance.

Then it changes.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6 7 8 9.

10.

11. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22.

23.

24. 25. 26.

27 28.

293031323334353637383940. 41. 42.

43.

44.

45.

46.

47.

48. 49.

50.

The dance floor slowly empties.

Joy turns to chaos.

Life turns to death.

Freedom turns to oppression.

The closet becomes the only safe place once again.

You hear tears. Worse than that, you hear phones ringing and going unanswered. Worse still, you hear sobs desperately trying to be stifled.

And worse still, you hear silence where there should be no silence, silence where silence is the devastating reality of no further noise.

This is not about religion. This is not about creed or colour. This is not about gun laws or lack thereof.

This is about people. About a community attacked. About the right to be yourself, being snatched away and scrunched up like some used piece of cling film and flung carelessly into the bin.

They came to dance. To dance.

But now, the steps have changed.

I don’t know what to do from here. From Australia the reality is that I don’t know a single person who was at Pulse, and it’s really unlikely that I will ever go there. But I’ve been to gay venues. There’s a pride festival coming up later this year that beloved and I are going to. But the question dangles.

Will we be safe?

We can’t live, constantly scared that our love might flick the switch for someone who has a problem with it. But maybe we’ve had a reminder that we also can’t assume that what is normal for us, for our loved ones, for our community – we can’t assume that everyone is as welcoming or inclusive as we are. Because ours is a community that was primarily forged through exclusion.

For someone to enter that community, to go to a place that is safe for that community, and to singe handedly destroy exactly what it stands for: maybe that is what’s at the heart of the way beloved and I are feeling. That the physical safeness of our safe spaces are so utterly vulnerable.

But our hearts are strong.

And as a community, we love fiercely.

Yes, we will be targeted. Yes, we will be discriminated against. We will be judged. Denied freedoms. Experience shame. We will forge connections and explore life and get to know that person we kept in the closet, and when we come out you can be sure that the Mardi Gras Parade will be storming proudly through our hearts and our heads as each footstep shows that we are not alone and we are not less than anyone else.

We still can’t get married.

But we can love.

And from what I can see, that’s the true safe space.

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There is a season

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… And it is coming to an end.

You see, I come from a family that has ridden the waves of different sporting seasons. My Dad loves it all. Football. Cricket. Golf. Darts. Nothing – and I repeat, nothing – says boredom like the hushed tones that commentate a game of billiards on television. Lawn bowls is another one that comes with whispered reverence as black balls are rolled towards a smaller ball. And my god, we watched them all. The second my siblings and I tried to change the channel, with Dad fast asleep on the couch, his eyes would open mid snore and he’d inform us that he was still watching. We’d slink back in our seats and wait until his eyes closed again, to stage the next flick.

I honestly had it set in my head that this was solely a male trait.

So when I met my beloved, it didn’t occur to me to ask her if she watched sport on TV.

We met towards the end of football season. I know this because it meant that my flatmate and I weren’t using channel nine in that period of time, which was the channel that televised the footy. Beloved did confess to being a fan of footy, in particular her Manly Sea Eagles. But a part of me assumed that it was something she had caught from her own father, like hair colour or height. I was wrong. Her love of the Sea Eagles is more akin to blood flow, so vital is it to her life. By the time I realised this I quite liked her a lot, and I figured that it might be a handful of Manly games I’d have to watch just once a year.

Wrong.

Every game. Every year.

That first year we were together was the year that Manly won the premiership. And I feel dirty, knowing that it is called a premiership and not just the whole game. But it was at the grand final shenanigans that I really became aware of the world I had become ensconced in. Manly wasn’t just a team playing some game involving crash tackles and tummy sliding and a ball. To my absolute delight they were also a team that once housed the infamous Hopoate, who liked to poke his finger up the bum holes of other players when they least expected it. To date, this is the greatest source of amusement to me throughout football season, even though Hopoate hasn’t played in some time.

This year, I adopted “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality.

I adopted a team to barrack for. I’m still uncommitted though, because to be honest the Panthers let me down this year. We started having Friday Night Pie Night, which is exactly what it sounds like: a home made pie to eat while we watch the footy. Yes, we. This is possibly why my crocheting has stepped up a notch. I encouraged beloved to start her own football discussion page on Facebook, Lozzy Talks League. It’s great. Because first and foremost, my beloved is full of passion and she really does love her footy. So when you combine the two, you get a footy fan page that is knowledgeable and clever and funny and above all, accurate. It’s also home to many a rant. However, luckily for you, there are some rants that have been censored from appearing on her page. I have no such ability to censor, and therefore it is my great delight to present to you:

The Top Three Footy Rants of 2015.

It is important to remember that these rants usually occur in the second half of the game, after the pie and usually at least one beer with a second in her hand. For this reason I am offering you a language warning. I will cleverly disguise some of the more extreme words, because while I have no problem with sharing the rants I am aware one word is the kind of word that is only uttered in these extreme circumstances.

Coming in at number three is a short but succinct evaluation of the referee’s ability to see what beloved sees. These happen quite a lot, but on this occasion, the words flew out of her mouth before she realised what she had said. This was towards the end of the game, and from memory it was at a vital stage of the game. Thus my beloved let loose with the following: “What knock on you queer caterpillar!!” I looked at her in horror then dissolved into giggles, making a mental note to include the phrase in my vocabulary at the next opportunity. The opportunity to use the phrase has yet to present itself.

Number two was a moment that thrilled me to the very core. It was a comment on the local team, the Newcastle Knights. We both fell into the habit of laughing them off as a bit of an embarrassing joke, kind of like when someone farts at a formal dining situation. But wouldn’t you know it, they bloody well up and won a game. This is how my beloved told me: “They couldn’t play to save their mother’s arsehole all season and then they finally get one up!” I wondered what had happened to endanger their mother’s arseholes, however that wasn’t important. What was important was that my beautiful beloved had given me another turn of phrase to use as soon as I possibly could. I haven’t been able to yet.

The top footy rant of 2015 happened on Friday night. It was the Bulldogs versus someone. The thing is, the Bulldogs have earned a horrible reputation for having an army of thugs as their fan base. They throw stuff and they get violent and should be banned from the competition. I was tucked up in bed when this one happened, but from what I can gather, the game unfolded with the other team kicking the Bulldogs in the bottom and beating them very nicely. However, as the win became more secure, the Bulldog fans got rowdy (as they do). And after a happy cheer from her recliner, she spoke the words that I repeated to myself again and again as I drifted off to sleep, so desperate was I to remember them forevermore. It worked. When she awoke to go to work, I immediately rolled over with a sleep drunk grin on my face, and repeated the phrase back to her:

“Why don’t you throw some shit you Bulldog supporting wankers!!!!!”

Ah, footy season! It’s nearly over once again, and this time I think a very small part of me will miss it. It’s a very small part. And I’m yet to survive the grand final. So that could change.

I’m just thankful that she’s not a cricket fan. Deal breaker, right there.

A cute new design

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So earlier this year, I had an operation to help my Achilles tendon move around easier. It worked but my Achilles remained screwed. Tomorrow morning I am going for a platelet injection into my Achilles (yes I am squealing like a stuck pig even thinking about this). The aim is to create inflammation so that the Achilles can start rebuilding itself.

I thought I better go and visit the nail ladies and have a pedicure, given my left foot is about to be shoved into a boot for a fortnight. Take the old polish off, bit of a buff and tickle, and off we go again.

I’ve been doing the pedi thing every month since Mrs Cuppy gave me a voucher for one for my birthday last year. Not being an overly ladylike beast, it was given a bit tongue-in-cheek. I bit back by getting hot pink nail varnish. But the thing is, since that first pedi, I realised I actually like not having to bite cut my own toenails. And I like the massage chair. And I like the spa. So now I do it every month.

Last month, I went for a very fungal green, and in a moment of strangeness, I elected to have a panda painted onto my big toenails. It’s winter, I reasoned. Nobody would notice. I kinda liked them. Yes, when I was barefoot, it did look like I had kicked a pile of birdshit. But they were pandas. On my toes.

I guess it was the nail art that gave today’s nail lady the idea that I had a “thing” for pictures on my big toes.

Because I sat down, and she had a look, and told me she had a really cute new design for me.

I told her I wanted to just keep them plain this time, but she assured me it was very nice and I would love it. So I yielded. Told her to go for it.

At first, it looked like the Mardi Gras symbol:

And I thought to myself, wow, she must be able to tell that I’m gay! Was it the jeans? The Pink Floyd shirt? Gaydar? I mean, I am pretty obviously not a girly girl.

WHICH IS WHY, WHEN SHE CARRIED ON WITH HER DESIGN, I WAS SO FREAKING SHOCKED.

I mean seriously.

She carried on, filling in the two sideways hearts with red. Then outlined them with black. Maybe a butterfly? God, I don’t know. I kept watching.

And then physically recoiled when I realised what she was doing.

You know when you can’t laugh, but you want to? And the laughing gets bigger and bigger because it cannot be released? And your body starts doing involuntary shakes and squeaks?

That was me.

Because THIS IS WHAT SHE DID!!!!!

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Bows.

Big red bows with white polka dots.

I look like I’ve kicked Minnie Mouse in the head.

Nobody looks at me and assumes there are going to be frigging bows!

And I had to sit there and let them dry and lots of people walked past and did double takes when they saw my double bows. One person even suggested I could change them to butterflies if I wanted to. Because the idea of me in bows is totally bloody ridiculous!!! 

This might be a cute new design. But it is most definitely on the wrong feet.

And now I have to find a way to remove them before tomorrow. Because I cannot spend two weeks with a bow peeking out from my big black post-Achilles-injection boot!!!

Or can I?

What do you think?

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.”

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:

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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

Game On: 10 Steps to Understanding NRL

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My beloved is an avid footy fan. The Manly Sea Eagles are her team of choice. And my God, isn’t she a woman of passion when it comes to her boys in purple.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

It’s Sunday morning, there were three (yes, THREE) games on yesterday and she watched two and a half of them. And we’re about to watch the second half of the third game. Even though we know who the winner is. And this season, it’s a pretty safe bet that it won’t be Manly.

But wait, it’s not all bad. You see, I’ve adopted the “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality, and I have now randomly carefully selected a team of chumps sportsmen to barrack for. I like to call them the Pandas, however they’re the Panthers. And now that I have a team, I like to think I am somewhat of an expert on the game. So here is what happens in a typical NRL game.

1. They players are all neat and tidy and they do a funny back slap hug shaking hands thing. Then they make a line and run onto the field. Ladies shake pom poms and the crowd either cheers or jeers.

2. Someone plays the National Anthem. The players put their arms around each other. Most of the players stand there like they have a problem with their footy sock, like it’s slid down in their shoe and they’re not sure if they can do a full game with their sock like that. One or two will sing. Then there is another big cheer and everyone stops hugging and they run into positions on the field.

3. One team gets the ball and they throw it to each other then run forwards, directly into the other team. The other team encourages the player with the ball to have a little rest on the grass, then they do a massive “STACKS ON!” and all lie on top of him. This happens six times, and they either do a big kick or they run towards a white line then have another lie down, this time with the ball as a pillow.

4. Sometimes, during the six run and lie down sequence, a player will do something that is considered thuggery. Everyone yells and dobs and points and waves their arms around. A man, who wore pink last year but this year is wearing yellow, comes and huffs and puffs. Then he will make a decision and the players grunt and groan and wave their hands.

5. When players do a lie down over the line with the ball as a pillow, the man in last year’s pink or this year’s yellow will make two hand signals. The first indicates whether or not the player has tried hard enough. The second is to get someone else to look at the footage to decide if the player has tried hard enough. The someone else is known as the Video Ref, and is apparently a bit of a fuckwit. But the pink (or yellow) ref seems to like to keep the Video Ref in the loop, and so most things go to him to have a look at. Then a swirling sponsorship logo loads on the big screens and if it is red then they player hasn’t tried hard. If it is green then the player has tried hard enough, and everyone does the back slap hand shake cuddle thing again.

6. If the logo goes green, then one player from the team who tried hard gets to kick the ball through the goals. This is called converting a try. I am not sure what they are trying to convert the try to. But this is done by giving the ball an almighty kick and hoping it goes through two metal posts. I think this seems a little unfair. Because sometimes they choose to kick the ball from a very odd angle, or from a very long distance away from the posts. And to be honest it would work better if they could take the ball a little bit closer. The other thing that might help is if the player were to lick their finger then hold it up to see if there is any wind.

7. This continues for 80 minutes. Yes, 80. It’s important to keep an eye out for a couple of distinct moves. The first is the “rooting the air” move. This happens during the STACKS ON moments. The player at the bottom of the pile thrusts his crotch into the air with a tenacity that interests even this little gay duck. The second is the big group hug that my beloved tells me is called a scrum. I’m not certain of the purpose of the scrum. Basically, the two teams cuddle up close and someone pops the ball in at their feet, and then they push backwards and forwards until the ball pops out. Now, given the player who puts the ball into the scrum tends to put the ball as close as he can to his team, it’s a given that that team will “win the scrum”. But it would be more impressive, I think, if the ball was placed centrally.

8. At the end of the game, one team will have had a sleep on the ball more than the other, and they get points for doing that. And the team with the most points wins. They win the right to walk on the grass in a circle and wave to their fans, while the opposition’s fans throws things at them and swears.

9. One player is named Man of the Match, and I think his mum has to wash the team jerseys.

10. Between games, the players like to train, disgrace themselves publicly, and smile at each other when they stand in cold water.

That’s pretty much it, as far as I can tell. And it goes on and on and on. For weeks. And about halfway through the season, when all the players are tired, they suddenly mix them all up into two teams and they then play three Very Special Games, called The State of Origin. It is peculiar to think it takes three extra games to decide The State of Origin, because it would be much quicker to ask each player what state they come from. Then make a special graph, and the state with the most players is the winner. Quicker, and also removing three games of footy from the TV.

Because ultimately, that is what the game is about for me. Finding ways to minimise the impact of it all. And if that means I cheer for the Pandas when they run and lie down and play stacks on and hump the air, then that is what I do.

I’m classy like that.

Wednesday

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Wednesday is the day after our neighbour found Fidge in one of the bushes in his backyard. She stumbled out when he was mowing. She just lay there, with her head looking, unable to move. My beloved collected her and we raced her to the vet.

Wednesday is the day when we picked her up from the overnight animal hospital and took her back to her vet. She’s started to perk up. She’s swiping and while she still has no meow and no real movement, she’s looking better. She’s fighting.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Wednesday is the day that we start boiling the Christmas puddings. I used my Nan’s recipe, and today is stage 2 – the boil. I was a bit tipsy from the fumes of the pudding mix yesterday. My nan taught me that when you make the Christmas pudding, everyone should stir it for good luck. So I rang people and got them to make a wish while I stirred.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Wednesday is also the day after the siege ended in Sydney. It ended badly. One man who died is now being labelled a hero, which is what he is. Sadly though, the Huffington Post has referred to him as the “Gay Hero of Sydney”. I think they were trying to promote equality or acceptance or something, but what they’ve actually done, as far as I can see, is remove those very things. He’s a hero. That’s enough, isn’t it? God knows, I want equality. But I don’t think this is actually going to to anything for the cause. It’s bringing a political agenda into a total tragedy. And that isn’t promoting equality – that’s taking advantage of a senseless and horrific act of violence.

Wednesday is also the day that my Dad celebrates his birthday. I love my old boy. He’s another man that is worthy of hero status.

Wednesday is also the last day of school for most of the kids in NSW. One in particular has her “Year 6 Clap Out” this afternoon – the entire school lines up and applauds the year six students as they leave the gates for the last time. And today of all days, every parent there is going to be thankful that they have the chance to see their kids achieve these things. Because you just can’t assume, and if life teaches us anything, it has to be that.

How is your Wednesday?

Don’t let it rain on your parade

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The first memory I have of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is back in high school. My drama teacher was talking to us about equality, I think. Whatever point he was trying to make was for some reason demonstrated best by him taking on a very camp voice, and strutting about the classroom squealing about having a Heterosexual Mardi Gras. He said it made sense – if gay people wanted equality, then why did they need to go parading up and down Oxford Street? You don’t see straight people doing that, do you?

As a gay adult, I think I know the answer to this: Yes, actually. You do see straight people parading up and down Oxford Street. Every day. And they are safe. They are accepted as normal. They aren’t under any threat. They don’t need to be careful, or to be aware of who is around them.

Recently, there were two attacks on gay men in the Newcastle area. They didn’t really get a huge amount of publicity. But they happened.

When I came out, I lost the right to marry the person I love. I lost friends. I made new friends, and life kept rolling. But it was the first time I realised that things were going to be very different now. Even just a couple of months ago, I was at the local gay bar, and a taxi pulled up. A group of drunk, loud and pirate-dressed men clamboured out of the cab, and my beloved and I jumped in. The cabbie told us that the men had been laughing about going to the gay bar. The thrill of the other, I suppose. But they were going because it was a thing. Not because it was the only pub open. And that’s fine – in fact, anyone seems to be welcome at most of the “gay” places I’ve been to. There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of discrimination being put out from the gay community.

So I guess the Mardi Gras festival is about more than just a parade. It’s about standing up, being proud of who you are and realising, perhaps for the first time, that you’re not all alone in the world.

My first Mardi Gras was this for me. For the first time, I was part of a majority. I didn’t need to worry about things like being stared at or different. The night itself was a total disaster – it was in the middle of Sydney that the girl I had been seeing decided to rekindle the passion with her ex girlfriend, leaving me to find a train back to Newcastle on my own. But all around me, it was party time. Pride and joy and unity and excitement. Crowds of people – more than you could even imagine. Milk crates everywhere.

For the first time, I saw different groups within the community I had joined. Supporters, bears, lipstick lesbians, femmes, queens, kings and of course the dykes on bikes. There are floats and costumes and volunteers and representatives from all over Australia. So many different sub cultures. It was incredible – a full rainbow, I guess. The thing is, I didn’t know that all of these groups existed. I didn’t identify with many of them – but what an eye opener. Imagine though, what it would be like to see a group of people dressed the way you like to dress. Or representing things that you are interested in. Imagine what it would be like to suddenly see that there are more people like you out there. That you’re not alone. That you are a part of something. And that you can be proud of who you are.

That is worth celebrating.

And it’s after the dykes on bikes ride the Parade route that the rainbow flag is raised, officially starting the Parade. And everyone watches, and cheers, and is part of a moment. A moment where the people in the Parade stand, unified, showing that it is OK to be who you are. That you aren’t alone. Proving that everything really can be OK, regardless of your sexuality.

So yes. We do need that one night where the gay community can march down Oxford Street. We need it to create a culture that is accepting, tolerant, real.

Happy Mardi Gras, folks. Stay safe.

Please Don’t Drop the F Bomb

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I had a horrible moment last year when I realised that I was slipping out of the target age group for Triple J. I grew up with Triple J, and found heaps of my current favourite music by listening to the Js as I drove to and from uni, work, pubs, band practice – wherever, really. So it’s been a hard time, coming to realise that fuck… I’m getting old.

I’ve now decided that the problem isn’t my age. It’s the shaping and demands of a changing music industry, and that Aussie artists in particular are being forced to conform to whatever mass marketing sensation is currently the new black. But more of that rant another time.

There were a few things that signaled for me that it was time to find a different radio station. The first was that I was starting to think about finding something to listen to when I had JJJ blaring away in the car. Looking for some music while you’re listening to music? Not a good sign. Another sign was when I found myself mentally correcting grammar and syntax. The third? Lack of patience when it came to overly produced garbage.

The final sign was when content started to make me shake my head.

When I think about things that offend me, at the top of my list would be words and actions that promote inequality. Words like faggot or gay. Because what is actually being said is that to be these things – to be gay – makes someone lesser. Think about it. It’s being used as a put down. As an accusation. As a derogatory term. As a word to shut down someone, or to question their credibility as a human being.

Which ultimately means that being gay is a bad thing, a wrong thing, a thing that automatically make someone lesser.

Who I love doesn’t make me lesser.

The problem we face though is that in Australia, being gay means you do not have equal rights. The day before I came out, I had the same rights as anyone else. The very second I opened my mouth and said it, I lost that equality. And there are people who believe this is just as it should be.

We know the political faces behind the policies and bigotry, but what about when it is closer to home. Your brother, for example. Your workmate. Your friend.

I don’t understand what the divisive issue is.

Why does the gender of my beloved make me lesser than you?

I can’t accept the “biblical” arguments, mainly because of inconsistencies and the lack of love behind them. I won’t accept the political arguments, mainly because the political parties we’re lumped with at the moment don’t seem to have anyone’s best intentions at heart.

So instead, I look at it based in the realistic world of linguistics.

When you call someone a faggot, or declare something to be gay? You are affirming that belief that I am lesser, because of my sexuality. When you try to use words such as dyke to be degrading or as a put down? You are saying that who I love makes me shit.

Which is why I say:

Please don’t drop the F Bomb.