Tag Archives: same sex marriage

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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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.”

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

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.

Pride

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There are some pretty fucked up things that happen in the world. Yesterday, Iran was hit by a massive earthquake. Yesterday, people running in a marathon in Boston found themselves running from bomb explosions.

It reminds me of the 9/11 attacks. I was teaching at the time, and was trying to explain to my students what had happened. These students had very limited English. They were away from home, away from family, and in my classroom. I couldn’t even explain what happened to myself, let alone to the students looking at me with fear in their eyes.

In the end, I talked to them about pride.

About how some people are so proud of their country, they will do anything for it. About how some people are so proud of their country, they’ll do anything to anyone who says or thinks that their country is no good. I drew pictures, I let them ask questions, and I did the best I could in answering them.

I’d never felt so useless.

In the end, I took them to the computer room, and let them go to news sites in the language of their choosing. This was one of those times when English wasn’t the most important thing.

Understanding was. Getting facts. Trying to arrive at a point where they could if not make sense of the events that occurred, at least see what had happened a million miles away.

Pride might have seemed like a strange context to put these terror attacks into, but it worked. Because that seemed to be the core issue. We used to talk a lot about national pride, and the students would share their culture in the classroom. To have passion for your country, your beliefs, lead to such atrocities became exactly what it was: unthinkable.

Sydney was host to their annual gay and lesbian mardi gras in March, and as a part of this celebration, a pedestrian crossing was painted in a rainbow of colours. These colours replicated the rainbow flag. The crossing boasted pride and acceptance, encouraging people to be at peace with their sexuality. There was much discussion about keeping the crossing as a permanent fixture.

But then, Sydney woke up to discover that under the cover of darkness, the rainbow crossing had been removed. A similar thing occurred here in Newcastle. For a long time, the community had rallied to save the fig trees that lined a particular street. Again, the cover of darkness was used and the trees were lopped.

A movement started not long after the rainbow crossing was removed. People started chalking their own rainbow crossings. You can’t stop pride. This crossing was drawn by Naughty Corner fan, Shell. She drew it with her kids, with hubby’s full support. You don’t have to be of a particular persuasion to recognise the right to pride.

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These rainbow crossings that people are making are great. They remind me that there are people who support my right to love.

Of the bombings, it has been said that there are always, always more good people in the world than bad. Patton Oswalt says it best, in his now-viral post: “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

I’ve experienced the unconditional love of friends who chalk up rainbow crossings. Who share awesome songs or articles with me. Who make jokes that cross every line in the book as a show of support. Even my Dad got in on the act, sending me a picture which I’ll share with you in a tick.

But at the end of the day, the challenge is simple: There is enough hate in the world already. Just let people love. There is enough bad in the world. Just be good.

image source: www.weknowmemes.com

 

 

On My Honour

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I woke up this morning with my usual morning fart dignity and halitosis grace. Went and sat in the sunshine with my coffee and opened the morning newspaper that is Facebook. My friend Jennifer had updated her cover image:

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This image is heartbreaking.

And if you are unclear as to why, let me fill you in.

The fellow on the left is Zach Wahls. He was raised by two women, who were married in 2009 after being in a relationship for 15 years. He’s an Eagle Scout (highest badge honour Scouts can gain in America). They are a family.

In the middle is Jennifer Tyrrell and her family. She’s wearing her Scout Leader uniform. The little fellow on her right is in his Cub uniform – Jennifer used to be his Cub Leader. A little while ago, Jennifer was asked to step down from her leadership position, due to her sexual orientation and the fact that the Boy Scouts Association of America do not allow same sex attracted people to be leaders. Jennifer is pictured with her partner, and their two sons. They are a family.

Next to them is a badge. It’s similar to the badges that we wear on our uniforms as members of Scouts Australia. It is a statement of support for inclusive Scouting. An amendment to current Scouting policy in America – one that welcomes people from all walks of life, genders and persuasions. The badges have been designed for people to wear, as a statement of their support of inclusive Scouting. It isn’t an official badge. It’s a badge that pleads for acceptance.

The reason I find this image so hard is because this battle exists. It exists for Jen, for her family, and for many others across America. And really, the equality debate is just as fervent here in Australia.

When I came out, I had no real understanding that a simple statement would remove from me the right to become married, if I ever wanted to. I thought the hardest thing about coming out would be telling my family. I was wrong. The hardest thing about it has been witnessing the struggles that normal, everyday people just like myself have had to deal with, because of their sexuality.

Now, as a young person, I never actually wanted to be married. I had no desire to get married, or to raise a family. I wanted to work with kids who needed help. I wanted to be the person who would love and support the kids who had no one else to do it. I figured I didn’t need to be married to do that. Today, I still don’t really want to get married. I’m in a committed relationship with my beloved, and I adore her. She supports my dreams and I support hers. We laugh, we cry, we live.

We’re not allowed to get married, but for us, that’s ok. We talked about this once, and she said she didn’t want to get married again. And I’ve never wanted to get married. So the marriage equality debate in Australia doesn’t impact our relationship – but it is an important human right. A right that I lost when I came out.

I also stumbled across this image:

ImageThis product is questionable, horrific, probably quite comfortable, and legal. The right for same sex couples to be married is not.

Ellen was recently in Australia. She once made a statement, which you can see by clicking here. She talks about the spate of deaths that have occurred due to sexuality. Suicides. Bullying. She says, “One life lost in this senseless way is tragic… Being a teenager and figuring out who you are is hard enough without someone attacking you”.

I constantly rave about Scouting to anyone and everyone I know who has kids. If they don’t have kids, I am in their ear about becoming a Leader. I do this because Scouting, in all the different sections, gives kids and young adults a place to be safe. A place to learn leadership, how to explode things (in my Cub Pack) and how to be members of community. They learn confidence, tolerance, First Aid. They do things they never thought they could do; they achieve things when all their lives they have been labelled as too hard or not good enough. Kids need Scouting.

But in America, there are rules about this. You can’t be gay. If ever a kid needed confidence. If ever a kid needed to achieve and feel like they were a part of something, it’s a kid who is coming to terms with their sexuality.

I wish I had been a part of a community of people as a kid who could have bolstered me full of esteem and self confidence. I wish I felt okay about myself sooner than I had, so that I hadn’t lost all those years denying who I was. I wish I could have bypassed the trips down mental health lane and self harm boulevard. Because this is the reality.

Being a young person is hard.

Being a young person who is unsure about their sexuality is harder.

The kids in our communities need people like Jennifer, like Zach and like myself. They need people to support them and show them how to do life. They need input from people from all walks of life – every element of the society in which they live. Because to deny one aspect of that society is to deny the child.

I understand the passion behind wanting to protect children; really, I do. I agree with it – they are our future and their lives need to be protected. But wouldn’t it be wise to see if there is anything that your child needs protecting from before the anti-gay flags start waving?

If you don’t believe me, find out more about Zach.

If you don’t believe me, find out more about Jennifer.

If you want to know more about Scouting in Australia, click here, or shoot me an email.

The Cub Scout Promise reads as such:

On my Honour I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to my God and to Australia, to help other people, and to live by the Cub Scout Law.

The Cub Scout Law?

Cub Scouts are loyal and obedient. Cub Scouts do not give in to themselves.

It’s easier to stay silent on this matter, but I’m not going to give in to myself.

“Things will get easier, people’s minds will change, and you should be alive to see it.” – Ellen

Source: www.redbluevoice.com