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.

Anti – LGBTQ+ violence and the media – report and condemn all or don’t bother

Anti – LGBTQ+ violence is a topic that, in my opinion, while covered in the media, is only done so selectively. Latest example – members of the media rightly condemned threats against a motel that was holding an anti same – sex marriage conference. However, a bomb threat scare against an LGBTQ radio station in Melbourne was barely mentioned apart from ‘The Age’, news.com.au and Creative Director of Advertising, Dee Madigan raising the incident on Sky’s ‘Paul Murray Live’ on Monday night (I think). Melbourne’s talkback radio station 3AW has allso done an interview with JOY FM’s CEO, Tenille Moisel.  But no comment from Andrew Bolt. No articles on Mamamia. Sunrise. Studio 10 (that I know of). Compared to other events, this threat, from what I see, has been drastically under reported.

 

So, the question is why? Why were large sections of the media fairly quiet about this? I have a theory that may (actually probably will), rub many people up the wrong way… here goes. I think the LGBTQ+ community are being used by the majority of the media as political pawns. For the Left wing of the media, we are largely painted as victims. Since nothing (thankfully) happened, there is nothing to hit Cory Bernadi or Lyle Shelton over the head with. For conservatives, two thoughts come to mind. First, it (potentially) exposes the idea that a plebiscite and debate will harm the LGBTQ+ community as a myth. The hate speech from both sides has now been exposed. Secondly, due to the fact that the identity of those who made the threats is currently unknown, they have no ammunition. They can’t pin it on immigrants, and, of course, they can’t pin this on the gay rights groups.

I find this quite pathetic on all fronts. To put it bluntly, I feel it almost exposes our so – called ‘allies’ as a complete joke. If you are a journalist, columnist, commentator, then condemn ALL threats! For conservatives who condemned the threats against hotel staff, keep speaking up, but don’t be hypocritical about it. The assumption that hate speech has only come from the pro same – sex marriage side has been proven to be inaccurate. Admit it.

 

Journalists, STOP using the LGBTQ+ community for your own ego. If you deem yourself an ally, be an ally. If you condemn abuse in the same – sex marriage debate, good on you, but condemn it ALL, not just the incidents that line up with your own views, and, dare I say it, prejudices. Be there and call out any anti – LGBT threats or abuse during the same – sex martiage debate or don’t bother at all. Don’t pretend to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community when your words – and actions suggest otherwise.

 

P.S. Thank you to those who DID speak up and report it.

Some People Aren’t Straight, Get Over It!

Earlier this week, Catholic school. St. Francis Xavier College, in Berwick, Melbourne, made headlines when it was alleged that the Principal set up an assembly and demanded the children in Years Eight and Nine tear out pages of a health text book that dealt with losing your virginity, how to negotiate sex, same – sex relationships and sexual orientation. The Principal, Vincent Feeney, originally argued that the discussion about sexual relationships and sexual orientation should be discussed in Religion classes, not Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. He later admitted that the move was heavy – handed.

Earlier in the year, everyone (in Australia at least), would’ve heard about the controversy about Safe Schools, a program that talked about tackling homophobia and transphobia in schools. I do think they went too far, especially the program aimed at pre – school aged children. There have also been criticisms and concerns from experts about the accuracy of the information being presented; the number of people who are LGBT+ and the video case studies. I get all that.

 

Here’s the thing. Sex ed has been around years. We had it when I went to school from Years Seven to Ten. Anyone remember the “putting a condom on banana”? Yeah, I do. Relationships were talked about, especially in Year 10 (I remember that vividly), and… no one complained. Not to my knowledge anyway.

So what’s everyone up in arms about now?

Short answer: LGBTQ+ people are starting to be discussed. The gay/ straight dichotomy is finally busted. Now bisexuals, asexuals, etc are starting to be discussed. Frankly, a part of me wishes I was in school now! I thin it’s great; providing the information is accurate and age appropriate, that the LGBT+ community in all it’s forms is starting to become visible. My hope that one day, we’d hear about students being aware of asexuality is coming true.

Here’s the thing. Like I’ve said, I think some of the criticisms aimed at programs like Safe Schools are called for. There were inaccuracies and from what I’ve read, it lacked support for students who experience same – sex relationships/ encounters early in life, but end up identifying as straight. That aside, I can’t help but think that the reason why people are so up in arms is because heteronormativity is no longer pretended to be everyone’s orientation. It’s bringing the LGBTQ+ out of the closet, so to speak and people don’t like it. Yet, for a small amount of people, it’s reality. Why can’t it be discussed in schools? Why can’t LGBTQ+ students feel included? It’s reality. Only for a small amount of people, but still, it’s there.

 

Some people aren’t straight, get over it!

Safe – Schools’ Program

Anti – bullying program “Safe – Schools” has made headlines for it’s alleged extreme approach to tackling homophobia and transphobia. Not surprisingly, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), aren’t happy about the emphasis on LGBT+. And while I’m not a  fan of the ACL… maybe this time they have a point.

One of the issues that the ACL have raised concerns, particularly on the way the Safe Schools program is affecting primary schools, with programs that include binding the chest to emphasise gender change, I guess. Frankly, when I first read about that, I thought it was an extreme exaggeration. But, after reading one comment on the bottom of http://www.mamamia.com.au/news/safe-schools-program/, I kind of understand their concern, if it’s true.

In my opinion, anti – bullying programs should be based on just that – anti – bullying. Maybe talk about homophobic and transphobic attitudes and emphasise that they will be condemned at the school if reported. Secondly, (I’ve touched on this before), teachers and counsellors should be equipped to support LGBTQIA+ kids, with (hopefully), the acknowledgement and respect of kids who identify or suspect their asexual. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think that the majority of counsellors, including ones I’ve personally dealt with, have had their hearts in the right place, but asexuality wasn’t really discussed as a possibility, nor was it talked about at school in general. I’m talking back to 2005 and 2007, so things may have broadened a bit in terms of understanding of sexuality. Apart from the issue of contraception use and safe – sex practices, I really don’t see the point in schools (particularly primary schools), having to emphasise on sexual practices by same – sex couples. If it’s bought up in a high – school context, or is a part of the overall PDHPE sexual development and health discussion about contraception/ avoiding STIs etc, then I can understand. Just throwing it in people’s faces without taking anyone’s feelings into consideration is just going to end in tears.

I fear that this sort of action will only backfire on those who they are meant to protect. The reason why is because of the heavy emphasis of sex and body parts (e.g. breasts), rather than an overall look at LGBT+ as human beings, rather than sexual or gender stereotypes.

Thirdly, is the concern I have is about the possible alienation of people with genuinely held different values, particularly those from a conservative beliefs. How can they support a so – called “anti – bullying” program when concerns are not heard? What if someone is generally uncomfortable, particularly if the curriculum is explicit or focused on politics rather than anti – bullying. In my opinion, Sydney’s Burwood Girls’ School turned out to be a total farce. Concerns from parents were practically ignored, according to the Daily Telegraph and students, ironically, feared of being bullied if they didn’t want to watch the film or participate in events taking place in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). So, kids were worried about not participating in a supposedly anti – bullying event in fear of being bullied? How’s that supposed to work?

Look, talk about bullying (broadly), talk about homophobia and transphobia, support kids across the LGBT+ spectrum, (incluidng asexuals), but please, please, DON’T be so divisive that it drives people away from wanting to be involved in anti – bullying efforts. Keep the politics out of it and focus on the kids.

Asexuality Segment on ‘The Morning Show: Fixing Some Misconceptions

This morning, Australia’s ‘The Morning Shoow did a segment on asexuality, particularly in dating relationships. Now, at first, I’ve got to say, I wasn’t overly offended, however, when I thought about it properly, I did get the criticism that was posted on Facebook about it. Firstly, there is no ‘pesonality traits’ or whatnot to pick out an asexual. You will likely NOT know someone is asexual unless they tell you.

Secondly, we are not against physical affection. Yes, there are some that are touch averse, period, but not all of them. In fact, I’m personally very physically affectionate, always have been.

Dating history (or lack of), is not necessary a factor in determining when someone is or isn’t asexual. In fact, many asexuals do have a dating history and may have been sexually active in past relationships, especially before knowing about the term and applying it to themselves.

Addressing something co – host Larry Emdur said: asexuality is not erectile dysfunction or has to do with libido or genital function. Many asexuals have full genital function and many still have a libido. What asexuals don’t have (or have much of), is sexual attraction to anyone.

And finally, fixing up what a Facebook commenter said No, asexuality is NOT the same as asexual reproduction, nor is it the same as abstinence.

No, Gays Aren’t Equal Because They Can Marry The Opposite Sex

This post isn’t an argument for or against same – sex marriage, but rather about, what I think, is a fallacious argument against it. Many same – sex marriage proponents (mostly straight, mind you), use the argument “Gays can already marry…. a person of the opposite sex”. While, yes, that’s true technically speaking, it’s flawed. Very flawed.

Think about this: why do most people in the West get married? Children are often a factor, yes, but according to Relationships Australia, the number one reason why most people get married is… love. And, for most people, this “love” wouldn’t be platonic, but sexual and/ or romantic in nature. Let’s be honest here! Most people don’t get married to people they are not attracted to! Most people don’t have to either! Most people can take this for granted. Most heterosexual people don’t have to think twice about who their attracted to, how they’ll be perceived in public, who they can take to the Débutante, the Year 12 Formal, who to take home to their parents, etc. But same – sex attracted people* often do, often with elements of fear of rejection and retaliation. For too many LGBT+ youth, these fears are confirmed.

Can mixed – orientation marriages, as in gay/ straight relationships, work? Well, yes, but if your open and read the link, the success rate isn’t high, at least in the US and very often leads to heartbreak.Straight/ straight, (and I’m making a generalisation here), don’t have to go through that. Mutual attraction, usually sexual and romantic, is just there. The same can’t (at least mostly) be said for same – sex attracted people in opposite – sex relationships. Trust me, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to try and force yourself to date someone who your not attracted to. It’s, figuratively speaking, is like hitting your head against a brick wall, as if trying to break it down, obviously without success. Other asexual people can attest the same (Julie Sondra Decker aka Swanky Ivy talks about it in her book Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality).

People are against same – sex marriage. I get it, and, actually, I can understand some of the reasons why. But this argument that “gays already have marriage equality” is, in my honest opinion, ridiculous.

Virginity

Australian women’s magazine “Cleo” has an issue with a story of a 24 – year – old woman who admits that she’s a virgin and is OK with that. I remember when reading about this on Twitter; about being a virgin at twenty – four, and my immediate reaction, was, I admit pessimistic; thinking it was just a virginity – shaming thing.

I was surprised by Cleo’s reply and am pleasantly surprised with the article. The woman, Peta Melrose, 24, is unashamed that she’s never had sex. She stands her ground, not bowing to peer pressure, social expectations or pressure from guys to lose it.l find this very positive.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so cynical, because they have done an article on asexuality before back in 2011, (I think), featuring blogger Johanna Qualmann. They let her tell her story. Unfortunately, no, the article didn’t go into romantic orientations, etc, not her fault, of course. Actually, it was the first time I actually saw asexuality being presented in mainstream media.