Tag Archives: marriage equality australia

R U OK?

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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’re resilient.

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.

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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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I do.

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Courtesy of the Christian Democratic Party and their Facebook page.

PTL.

It’s a comment that I read again and again this afternoon.

PTL. PTL. PTL.

For the unindoctrinated, it stands for Praise The Lord.

Nicer than this, from a charming character using the Facebook name of Faith InChrist Saves: “Call it a “partnership given over to reprobate minds”, but don’t call it marriage”.

PTL. PTL.

Here’s another picture.

It makes me smile.

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Mrs Woog shared that one with us today. It’s beautiful, isn’t it. How so very happy they look! It makes me just smile.

Until the very moment when I think about how these faces look today.

How would your face look, if you were just told that you were no longer married to the person who held your heart?

That your marriage just isn’t valid anymore?

That in Australia – your country – you cannot assume that you have the right to marry the person you adore.

No wedding. No moment to unite both sides of your family to celebrate your love. No updating of relationship status. No aging together, bound by marriage, holding each other through age and infirmary, weeping when one makes an eternal exit. That you can contribute to your country, you can live here in peace and with the excess that we take for granted – but your love will not be recognised as legally valid.

Do you have any idea what this might feel like? Can you imagine those beautiful faces now?

I have friends who are in support of today’s decision by the High Court. I respect them and their beliefs, just as they do mine. That is what makes us adults, and gives strength to our friendships.

And I hear the argument that says that same sex marriage isn’t the traditional view of marriage – not what marriage is designed for – so, just as our friend Faith suggests, changing the name of the union might be more acceptable. For example, telephones no longer perform the sole function they were designed to perform many years ago, which is why they are no longer called telephones. Except they are. So maybe that argument is a little bit wrong.

Here is what I object to:

nile

Hear the glee? The smugness? The joy stemming from the fact that these unions are to be annulled? That hearts are breaking? That we live in a country that is fast being left behind? Nile’s commitment to hashtagging himself throughout every social network? Himself, and not his Lord? Himself, and not something like #marriageequality?

Wonderful, isn’t it.

At the end of the day I think it is safe to assume that the couples who were wed over the weekend are in no way more or less in love right now. They’ll continue to love each other, after their marriage is annulled. They’ll care for each other, perhaps make a cuppa, sit and ponder what this might mean. Talk to the one they love about better days that might come, realise they have no regrets from the weekend, and then perhaps mow or make dinner or walk the dog.

Who’d want to be a reprobate like that?

I do.

Why I don’t want Rudd to say it’s OK.

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It’s important to me, marriage equality. When I came out, I lost the right to marry the person I love. I lost the right to legal recognition of our relationship in a way that is valid and equal to that of other married couples.

I’ve never understood why one group of people is worth less than another. There are examples of this throughout both history and also today. Think refugees, Indigenous Australians, people with mental illness, people with disabilities.

The movie Mary Poppins has an awesome character: Mrs Banks. She was a suffragette – a campaigner for the rights of women to vote. Aussie women got this right in 1902. Indigenous people got this right in 1962.

It wasn’t until 2008 that Kevin Rudd, then Australian Prime Minister, had the balls to apologise to the stolen generation of Indigenous Australians. It seems pretty straight up, doesn’t it, to apologise when something innately wrong has been done to an entire generation. But it took years.

It’s election time in Australia once again. Rudd announced, in a live debate, that if he were to be re-elected he would put forth a marriage equality bill. He has promised that this would happen within the first one hundred days of office.

I might be a little oversensitive about this, but I don’t want to be a pawn in political game playing.

What’s more, I don’t want my sexuality to be one of the reasons that Rudd returns to power.

If a woman was never going to get a fair chance at making a stand in Australian politics, what chance does my relationship have? What chance did a generation of stolen children have?

How do I know that Rudd’s promise about a marriage equality bill isn’t just a cunning stunt to get a solid foot in the door? Why doesn’t he put forth that bill right now? Before the election?

For the same reason that all promises are made: to secure a desired behaviour. We rely on the integrity of Rudd to actually keep that promise.

So I wonder why Rudd is so hesitant to rely on the integrity of Australian people.

He could put the bill forth now, and then trust us to vote for him.

He could, but he won’t.

Because all my right to equality means to Rudd is a few more votes.

I’m not a toy.

My love for my beloved is not a game.

My right to equality is not a bargaining tool, or an election issue.

It’s a basic human right.

So basic a human right that one day, we’ll be amazed and ashamed that it was denied for so long.

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