Last post for 2016 and maybe… for good

So, it’s coming to the end of the year. So much has happened; from the same – sex marriage debate here in Australia, the U.S. Election and of course, Orlando. This year has seen a lot of fear and division in the LGBTQ+ community, with people like former Order of Australia, Catherine Mcgregor, lashing out at the mainstream LGBTQ+ lobby. This year showed that as an ally, one shouldn’t assume anything about a member of the LGBTQ+ community and how all LGBTQ+ people are individuals, just like anyone else.

The shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, willl stay with me, as it would many others. The aftermath bought usual debate about Islam and so on, but, also, members of the LGBTQ+ community spoke out. Prejudice and violence against the LGBTQ+ community came into focus. As I wrote at the time, the ONE place where many LGBTQ+ people went to feel safe was targeted. It exposed, I think, who the allies are and homophobia, bi – phobia and transphobia, etc, in it’s ugliest form. Not only did you have the gunman, but also people praising the shooter. Not all were Muslim, either, mind you. Luckily, there was a backlash against them.

 

So, that’s what’s been happening in the last 12 months… well some of it. Next year, I hope for the ‘culture wars’ to calm down, or even better, to cease completely, (I can dream, can’t I?).

Now, I want to talk about the future of this blog. Will this be the last post here? I don’t think so, but, I’ve got another blog prepared to start next year. It’s going to have similar content to what I post here, PowerGirrrl and News, Views and Ramblings. I’m hoping to take it to the next level, ie. upgrade the domain, and so on. Technically, I could upgrade the domain of this blog (and the others), but I always classed this as just an amateur blog, just a start. Hopefully with the next blog, I can start off on a less amateurish, more professional foot.

 

I’d like to thank all those who’ve supported this blog. Special thanks to Bryan Patterson of Faithworks. Bryan, your encouragement, comments and tips have been valuable. Thank you. ūüôā

So, how much longer this blog will be up for, I’m not sure. Some day, I’ll post a link to my newest one then feel free to check that out.

 

Hope all of you have a great day/ night and a great 2017. ūüôā

YouTuber and ‘Christian’ extremist calls National Geographic editor to be ‘burned at the stake’

Well, the heading is self explanatory. This may be distressing to some readers. Hope this gets a severe backlash.I’ll be honest, if you ‘stood in solidarity’ and claimed ‘we are Orlando’ after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in June, then please condemn this and stand in solidarity with the 9 – year – old covergirl for National Geographic. All homophobia, bi – phobia, trans – phobia, etc, NEEDS to be condemned!

YouTuber calls 9 – year – old trans girl a ‘demon’ and says National Geographic editors should be burned at the stake

 

 

Rosie Waterland and LGBTQ+ writers

Contributor to the Mamamia Women’s Network, comedian and author, Rosie Waterland,¬†came out as bisexual on Facebook last Tuesday.¬†Of course, she has the support of the Mamamia staff, including founder, Mia Freedman, which is great. According to a snapshot of her Facebook post, the response to Waterland’s coming out has been positive.

I think this is great. In the past, I’ve ummed and ahhed about taking my blogging to the next level, but a part of me hasn’t felt… normal enough. I know it sounds stupid, but it’s true. American women’s site, Ravishly frequently feature articles from members of the LGBTQ+ community, which is great, but here, not so much. Until now. And for that, I’m grateful.

It should be said that Mamamia isn’t the only publication to have an openly LGBTQ+ contributor. Josh Manuatu has writteen for The Spectator Australia and Catherine Mcgregor has written for Sydney’s ‘The Daily Telegraph’. It’s still great to see Mamamia have and embrace an LGBTQ+ columnist that has articles published frequently on the site.

 

This shouldn’t matter. I know, I know, but when you are under – represented – due to sexuality, race, disability or gender – sometimes, you can’t help but wonder whether you can fit in that industry. Also, it’s great to have allies speak out in the media in support the LGBTQ+ community, and throughout this year, I’ve emphasised the importance of allies and how we shouldn’t take their love and support for granted. But getting representation in the media from someone LGBTQ+ is something else. It’s a face, a person, an idenitity, that represents (to an extent), what LGBTQ+ rights issues are all about. Now, whether Waterland opens up further about her experiences as bisexual, that’s up to her. She doesn’t have to say anything else, if she doesn’t want to. I think her initial ‘coming out’ on such a public forum is enough.

 

So, where do we go from here? I hope that it gets even easier for LGBTQ+ writers to contribute to the media – as themselves. I’m hopeful. Kudos to Mamamia and good on Rosie Waterland for coming out. As herself.

Cate Mcgregor lashes out at LGBT community and why I’m sympathetic to gender non – binary people

Former Group Captain and Order of Australia, Catherine Mcgregor¬†has lashed out publication Sydney Star Observer and the LGBT community, labelling them “capricious”, “discriminatory”, “narrow – minded” and “totalitarian”.She also opposes calling non – binary people “they” without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria:

I do not support bullying of trans or gay kids more than I support bullying of Muslims or Christians or fat kids or rangas. But you don’t just wear a nose ring and demand to be called “they” in the absence of a diagnosis.

Mcgregor isn’t the only trans person to criticise pronouns such as “they” when describing gender and the idea that gender is non – binary. American YouTuber, Blaire White, also a transwoman,¬†totally rejects the idea that there are more than two genders:

Content Warning: coarse language

When I read Mcgregor’s article, I was conflicted. I still am. As a cis – gender female, I will be the first to say that I have no idea what Mcgregor or White have gone through. Mcgregor has said publicly that for her,¬†the struggle was becoming too much.¬†She says that she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria – an acute distress over a person’s gender identity and sex not matching up. The latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), has used the term “gender dysphoria” instead of Gender Identity Disorder (GID), which has has been applauded as being a step to destigmatise trans people.

However, I’m not willing to say for certain that gender non – binary people are making their identity up as a political statement, like White suggests, or whether they (collectively), vary in political persuasions just as people in any other group.

I’m not willing to say that gender non – binary people are making it up, because, until very recently, that’s how many people viewed asexuality. In my teen years, two health professionals told me two myths about asexuality – one was that it doesn’t exist and another said it was a phase that people grow out of. The first isn’t true and the second isn’t true for most asexual people. Asexuality was classed as a part of hypo sexual desire disorder (HSDD), until the¬†DSM V was modified.¬†The idea that asexuality is a phase, doesn’t exist or is a mental disorder has left many asexual people feel confused, broken and isolated.

However, science is slowly proving that asexuality may be a legitimate orientation. According to¬†Lorri Brotto and Morag Yule,¬†research indicates that, like homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, epigenetics seem to play a part in determining whether someone becomes asexual. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I think this is huge! Now, in terms of gender, I understand that there has been some¬†research on cross – sex (MtF/ FtM) transgender people’s¬†brain structures¬†and differences have been noticed. Genetics may also play a part. An identical twin is more likely to identify as trans if his/ her identical twin identifies as trans. This research has only been very recent. In the past, I’ve looked up research on non – binary gender identities¬†and there’s basically none. That’s not to say that non – binary/ agender people don’t exist and anyone who identifies that way is making it up. What I’m saying is, let the science catch up. Until then, I still don’t understand why people are still getting their knickers in a knot over the pronoun “they”. What’s so hard to call someone that if “they” prefer it?

What do you think? Am I wrong? I’d like to especially like to hear from trans/ gender non – binary people about this. Feel free to comment!

Is it necessary to get rid of heteronormative language?

I know it’s nearly Christmas and I wasn’t planning on writing something this heavy, but I think it’s something that needs to be said – again.

Is¬†this really necessary?¬†According to Andrew Bolt, Victorian government workers are being told not to use cis – hetero – normative¬†language, particularly around LGBTQ+ clients. OK, I’m cis – gender. I have never questioned or struggled with my gender identity, so I’d like to hear some views from trans and gender – diverse people about this. Is it really necessary for people to avoid cis – hetero – normative language around you? I mean, sure, it’d probably help if they don’t assume, but is it possible for you just to say “actually I prefer the pronoun X”. Also, when dealing with LGBTQ+ couples, just use a gender – neutral noun like “partner” or another term the couple themselves prefer. Is that so hard?

In regard to relationships, in Australia, marriage is still legally defined as between one man and one woman. I have heard of some parents, other family and friends of LGBTQ+ people¬†blocking their ears at marriage ceremonies¬†in protest of the current definition of marriage in Australia as celebrants are mandated by law to state the current legal definition. I sort of understand that. The issue of same – sex marriage is very real and personal for many people in the LGBTQ+ community and allies. I get that. But I don’t see how adjusting language completely will help combat homophobia and trans – phobia or fight for change in marriage laws. In fact, as I’ve said many times before, I think it’ll end up backfiring on the LGBTQ+ community – even if (when?) – ¬†same – sex marriage is legal.

 

But I wonder whether it goes deeper than that. Is it still treating LGBTQ+ people like “the other”, so to speak? Does it help or hinder the LGBTQ+ community to have bureaucrats to impose an acceptable standard on the rest of society when it comes to simply interacting with the LGBTQ+ community. Shouldn’t we be able to speak up for ourselves? Can’t we say, “this is my partner” or “I prefer the pronoun ze, hir, or they?”. Or even for some asexual/ aromantic people, “this is my queer – platonic partner”?

In the aftermath of the Trump victory in the US, Brexit and the rise of One Nation here, one thing is made abundantly clear – people are tired of being ignored, being lectured at and having bureaucrats dictate what is acceptable. People are tired of feeling guilty and walking on egg shells. Stand up for your rights and the rights of others, by all means. But what is happening now isn’t working. Or, it may seem like it’s working now, but don’t be surprised when people continue to rise in revolt – possibly leaving the people that are¬†meant to be protected¬†even more vulnerable.

Six months since Pulse Nightclub and other thoughts

Trigger Warning: queerphobia, Orlando shooting

How time has flown. It’s¬†been over six months since the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, Florida where 49 innocent people were massacred by a reported supporter of Islamic State. 53 other people were injured and the gunman was shot dead by¬†police.

This caused a media circus. On one hand, you had politicians and media personalities downplaying the role of Islam in the shooting and the hostility between Islam and the LGBTQ+ community. On the other hand, I believe there was a downplaying on the fact that it was an attack directly on the Latino/Latina/ Latinx LGBTQ+ community. As I wrote at the time, a number of American LGBTQ+ bloggers expressed how shook up they were. The¬†one¬†place where LGBTQ+ people have gone to meet up¬†safely for the past 40+¬†was targeted. Not only that, but what wasn’t acknowledged by most journalists and commentators, was that this was only the latest violent attack against LGBTQ+ people. No one in Australia mentioned¬†the man arrested in Santa Barbara, who planned to attack the LA Pride event. Luckily, the event went without any issues. In the US, these were only the¬†latest¬†(at the time), attacks (or would – be attacks) against the LGBTQ+ community. MSNBC reporter, Rachel Maddow listed a number of hate crimes aimed at LGBTQ people since Stonewall in 1969. Apart from a deadly arson attack on a New Orleans club in 1973,¬†most of the attacks didn’t end in fatalities.

 

Most people showed solidarity to the LGBTQ+ community at the time after Orlando, which I think should be acknowledged. I think ¬†Owen Jones made a mistake when he attacked Sky News’ journalist, Julia Hartley – Brewer about how she “didn’t understand” the impact of the attack. What if she (or Mark Longhurst) had LGBTQ+ family¬†or friends. Most people could feel for the victims in¬†Orlando. I couldn’t imagine the anguish of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, etc of LGBTQ+ people that night. That would’ve made them feel vulnerable as well.

 

Unfortunately, the attack also brought out the worse in people and exposed who homophobes really were. Pastor Steven Anderson from Tempe, Arizona, made a video stating that it was “good news” that 50 gay people had been killed. Pastor Roger Jimminez from Sacramento, California made similar sentiments. These people were not mentioned in Australian media, but did receive backlash. Anderson’s¬†PayPal account was shut down¬†and he has been banned from preaching in a number of countries, including the UK. Jimminez’s video was taken down from YouTube for hate speech.¬†Also, Christians have spoken condemning Jimminez’s words. I’ve got to say, that after watching the video of Anderson’s comments on Orlando, it shook me up and made me wonder whether same – sex marriage was worth the risk.

 

The reaction on social media, like I wrote at the time, was overwhelming. I saw memes from friends and family that expressed solidarity and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. That was comforting, given my own struggles accepting my own identity. At least now I know¬†that I won’t be losing too many friends over what I write here.

 

So, what about the future? I hope that 2017 will be a safe year for everybody. I hope that LGBTQ+ people can be themselves safely. Globally, and even nationally, we have a fair way to go (in some countries, obviously miles to go). I’m quietly optimistic about Australia, although I do have some reservations. I hope that in the future, the livelihoods and well – beingof LGBTQ+ not have their existence be treated like never – ending political ping – pong. I also hope that the voices of LGBTQ+ people will continue to be heard and listened to. I hope that people also listen to mental health workers who are concerned about the well – being of LGBTQ+ people, rather than just brush them off as ideologues. If you are a supporter of same – sex marriage, then support same – sex marriage, but don’t use LGBTQ+ families as pawns to gain politically. I, for one have had it.

To all those who have stuck by me and other LGBTQ+ people, thank you for your love and acceptance. ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

 

Anyway, that’s my rant for today. I may post again before the end of the year, I may not. If you don’t here from me, hope everyone has a happy Christmas and a great, safe 2017 full of love, success and joy.

 

Should the LGBTQ+ community be concerned about Donald Trump?

Watchin ¬†the video below, you’d think that the American LGBTQ+ community has nothing to worry about when Donald Trump becomes US President from next year.

While I get Paul Joseph Watson’s critique, I do think that people do have a right to be concerned, not just about marriage rights, but – among other things – anti – discrimination protections introduced by Barack Obama.

If Trump is for LGBTQ protections, then all power to him. But that does not sooth the fears of LGBTQ+ community, especially when his Vice President, Mike Pence and other Republicans have a reputation of being opponents of LGBTQ rights. Pence himself has been knlwn to advocate for the highly criticised conversion therapy. I, for one will be hoping that all legal rights will stay in tact for LGBTQ Americans.

Religious exemptions is a must

According to LGBTQ publication, SameSame,¬†there is a “Plan B” on legalising same – sex marriage in Australia… well, in theory, anyway. Openly gay Coalition MP, Tim Wilson has met with founder of marriage rights activists group, just.equal Ivan Hinton – Teoh to discuss the plan. There is a mood that same – sex marriage should become legal in this term of Parliament, as it’s a debate that’s not going to go away, and provide religious – based exemptions in anti – discrimination law. Wilson has vehemently denied this exemption will be extended to businesses, like bakers (that’s where a lot of trouble has been in the US), but rather it would allow people with convictions that marriage should be between a man and a woman to be able to state it without prosecution.

I think it’s reasonable.

I have expressed fear about how this may turn out multiple times. After the¬†Kim Davis case in Kentucky, multiple court cases, and, most scarily,¬†preachers praising the Orlando massacre in June, my fears haven’t died down. This is why I initially agreed with a plebiscite – to give everyone a chance to have a say, get whatever they needed off their chest, and, if it passed, then at least opponents couldn’t say they’d been ambushed with it. However, like so many others, I got suspicious when I realised the process, the fact that it wasn’t binding, and how there was no real discussion on the mental health of LGBTQ people until MP Warren Entsch brought it up. I firmly believe that this¬†should’ve been a serious consideration for both parties from the start – and by serious considerations, I’m not including the blackmail that Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten tried to use when he used teen suicide and a young teenage boy being raised by a same – sex couple as a political pawn. Why were Labor too eager to bow down to the conservatives while they were in power and openly supported the plebiscite initially? Both parties have treated the LGBTQ+ community as pawn, and neither side has given a damn about the impact. While they may applaud themselves, I put members of the Coalition in that camp because of how they tried to push this, without any protections toward the LGBTQ+ community. They said they’d advertise both sides, without any concern how it’d affect LGBTQ youth and families. The talk about mental health, brought on about Entsch, was too little, too late.

 

Back to the marriage versus conservative debate. I guess with the lack of exemptions for businesses, I guess Australia doesn’t have the constitutional clashes the¬†Americans have and ¬†hold so dear (i.e. the freedom of religion and speech vs. the rights of same – sex couples). So, maybe the backlash against the LGBTQ community may not be so major… or at least people won’t have a leg to stand on. The thing is though, I don’t want anyone – regardless on their views on marriage – to get hurt. I don’t want my LGBTQ+ friends and family members to get hurt. I want everyone to be safe, happy and live without fear. If same – sex marriage does become legal, but there is a backlash against the LGBTQ community, is it really a victory?

Be an ally all the time

Rightly or wrongly, the selection of Donald Trump as the President of the United States has sparked fears in many people for the future. Fears are particular.y being felt members of the Hospanic, Latino, black, Muslim and the LGBTQ+ communities. It has sparked the on – line safety pin camapign, which originally appeared in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in the UK, admidst a spike in racially motivated violence. Now the campaign has hit America due to uncertainty about migration, the treatment of Hispanics and Latinos, police brutality toward often unarmed African Americans and racial profiling and fear of ¬† ¬†anti – discrimination protections meant to protect the LGBTQ+ community being repealed. Already, there have been reports of people of colour and LGBTQ+ people being physically attacked (Trump supporters have also been physically harmed by alleged Clinton supporters, and that’s disgusting, too).

Not unexpectedly, this campaign has some sceptics and downright critics from conservatives and people of colour and members of the LGBTQ community. Some people of colour and members of the LGBTQ community have labelled it as little more than a way for cis, white and straight people to feel good.

 

I get both sides. I think any sign that shows that a person stands in solidarity with minorities is a good thing. Personally, seeing the pin campaign and other social media trends like the rainbow profile filter after SCOTUS ruling on same – sex marriage and memes expressing solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community after the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre in June. These things in themselves aren’t bad. In fact, I found them comforting. It said to me that members of the LGBTQ+ community do have people that care. Personally, it gave me a little assurance that I can be honest on here without the fear losing people I care about (that has been a genuine fear I’ve felt over the years). These fears are starting to subside.

However, any form of allyship – whether toward ethnic minorities or toward the LGBTQ+ community has to be a 24/7 effort. The problem with many social media justice initiatives is that they often die out as quick as they start. It also rarely reflects and examines the scope of a problem. Wearing a safety pin, or changing a profile picture filter, while is most likely coming from a good place, doesn’t substitute real action: criticising racial slurs, actively protesting against racism, working to close disparity between Caucasian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, condemning homophobia, bi ¬†– phobia, trans – phobia, a- phobia, pan – phobia, etc. It doesn’t replace actually BEING there for LGBTQ+ friends and family members and confronting people who compare gay people to paedophiles (yes, that does happen, especially on social media*). If you call someone out in real life, make sure that every precaution is taken to make yourself safe. Be an ally, not a martyr.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t always easy nor do we always succeed. Who hasn’t heard a racial slur, and failed to call it out? I think we’ve all been in situations. Don’t beat yourself up about missed opportunities. Just be willing to stamp it out, and, if you can, make a conscious effort to confront it next time.

Here what it comes down to: Affican – Americans, ATSI Australians, Hispanics and Latinos can’t suddenly throw away their racial heritage. It’s with them ALL their lives. People who are LGBTQ+ can’t just shake off their feelings. Very often, the feelings start when a person is young and often carries on all their lives. They don’t get to opt out. Allies, on the other hand, do. The choice is yours. If you genuinely want to be an ally, be one ALL the time, not just when a profile filter pops up or another Twitter hashtag trend appears. Because we’re talking about feal lives, not a simple slogan.

 

What do you wish allies understood? What do you want them to do?

*I just want to point out that the comparing gays to paedophiles has appeared on different Pages. It has nothing to do with anyone who I’m friends with.

 

Marriage debate – yes, it does effect the LGBT community

Note: some of the content of this post may be distressing and triggering for some readers. 

Even though the plebiscite is dead at the moment (been voted down the second time), it hasn’t stopped the debate – or, frankly, the hostility. The Facebook post below¬†from Sky’s “Paul Murray Live” shows a short story about the plebiscite being voted down in Parliament on Monday for the second time. The next step is anyone’s guess. Some people, like Senator David Lyonhjelm thinks it’s either the plebiscite or nothing, (more on him in a second).

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FPaulMurrayLIVE%2Fposts%2F1476688602360104&width=500

 

Now, same – marriage sceptics or outright opponents, as well as some proponents, argue that we should be able to “debate” this issue. Senator for the Liberal Democrats, David LeyonheljmSamneS, made a speech addressing Parliament on the plebiscite. He himself is a supporter of same – sex marriage, but also supports a plebiscite, unlike¬†most LGBTQ+ people and their allies, according to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays¬†(PFLAG).

Yesterday, Melbourne’s the “Herald Sun” printed an¬†edit of Leyonheljm’s speech, encouraging a vote for the passing of legislation on the plebiscite. Some things he said, that was also printed in the Herald Sun were controversial.

Your (Labor, Greens and other opponents of the plebiscite) suggestion that an acrimonious debate will prompt suicides and other mental health issues in the LGBTI community is obnoxious. These are normal people, not mentally fragile little daffodils affronted by name calling.

This little paragraph alone is, quite frankly problematic on so many levels. While the LGBTQ+ community can’t be all lumped in together in regard to vies on same – sex marriage or mental strength, mental health organisations such asSuicide Prevention, Black Dog Institute¬†and¬†Beyond Blue¬†acknowledge that the LGBTQ+ community are at risk when it comes to mental health issues, especially when facing homophobic, bi – phobic and trans – phobic bullying and violence.

 

Also, I think that this so – called “debate” has gone beyond a bit heated. I was appalled at some of the comments in the comments under the Facebook post above. Throwing false slippery slope arguments that same – sex marriage will lead to the acceptance of paedophilia or that gays are paedophiles, a claim that’s COMPLETELY false!!!! Regardless of your view on homosexuality or same – sex marriage ANY PAEDOPHILE WHO IS ACTING OUT THEIR SEXUAL DESIRES IS COMMITTING RAPE!!! Everyone get that?! Rape!!! All States and Territories in Australia and the Western world have age limits to when a person can engage in consensual sexual activity. In the U.S, who made same – sex marriage law nation wide last year, according to “Age of Consent (US), the age restrictions are¬†between 16 to 18¬†across the country. ¬†In England and Wales – countries that legalised same – sex marriage in 2014,¬†have a minimum age of consent¬†at 16. This goes across the board, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Holland, the first country in the world to legalise same – sex marriage in the world has less straightforward laws. According to “Netherlands – Age of Consent”, the legal age of sexual contact is 16. However, if a person 12 or over agrees to have sex and no complaint is made by parents, then no prosecution will occur.

 

Also, the “debate’ has seen threats of violence toward LGBTQ organisations, despite what some would like to believe. In September, Melbourne LGBT radio station, JOY 94.9 FM¬†had to be evacuated after a bomb threat was made against staff via e – mail.¬†This got almost buckley’s coverage in the mainstream media. The first place I read about it was on Facebook. No hate speech from the “no” side? Yeah right! It hasn’t all been one way, but the fact that this got a little but not a lot of attention is despicable.

A part from that, I truly believe the well – being of the LGBTQ+ community should be (and should’ve been from the start), taken into consideration and not mocked. And, no, it’s not enough for a journalist to just cite the Lifeline number of feature it for ten seconds at a bottom of a screen. Think about what you are saying! Realise that this issue¬†does¬†affect people. Not everyone can brush off hurtful or downright hateful comments, unlike what Leyonheljm or conservatives would like to suggest.

You want a debate, then fine. BUT it’s not without consequences. Lives are affected. And let’s¬†condemn abuse!¬†

 

If this post has brought up any issues for you contact:

Lifelline: 13 11 14

QLife: ask@qlife.org.au or 1800 184 527 3 p.m. onward every day

For those under 25: Headspace:  on Рline or by phone: 1800 650 890

If you need help, please, please get it.