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.

 

ABCN scholarship controversy will backfire on the LGBTQ+ community

Content warning/Trigger warning: homophobia, Orlando massacre (only brief mention)

TV presenter, Sonia Kruger has come under fire again, this time for criticising the Australian Business and Community Network Foundation, (ABCN), for asking about a potential scholarship candidate about their gender identity and whether they identify as LGB. She argues that scholarships should be given based on merit alone and she has labelled e ABCN move as ‘reverse discrimination’. 3AW talkback presenter debated this with former Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.

When I read about this, I did a little research on ABCN, including the link to the information and application form to be filled out by Principals, not students or their parents. If you look at the form, the first section asks about student’s academic achievement, and the other part focuses on social, personal or economic challenges that the potential applicant faces. The two questions that are causing uproar are:

What is the student’s gender?

Male

Female

Transgender

Prefer not to say

And:

Does the student identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual?

Yes

No

Prefer not to say

 

Now, the other questions in this section of the form goes on to ask about racial identity, Aboriginality/ Torres Strait Islander identity, disability and so on – to indicate what struggles potential recipients face. I get that. What makes everyone gets their knickers in a knot is on the website, the ABCN admit that this year, they are directly targeting to get students who are LGB to apply.

Is this “reverse discrimination” in the legal sense? Well, according to Triggs, no. The Sex Discrimination Act (NSW) 1984, Section 21 does prohibit education providers educators to discriminate against students on the bases of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, intersex status, etc. The only exceptions (at least in this section) is if a school is specifically aimed at one gender (single – sex school, for instance). Religious institutions, including schools are exempt from anti – discrimination laws surrounding, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy if it goes against their faith teachings. There seems to be nothing in regard to reverse discrimination (not that I can find – if anyone knows anything that I haven’t found about exemptions, feel free to let me know).

 

Sure, not only LGBTQ students are able to apply for scholarships through ABCN, I still think that the fact that they specifically advertised for any applicant that identifies as LGBT and have those questions on the form is a bad error of judgement and, as I’ve said before on a number of issues, has the potential for backfiring on the LGBTQ+ community.

The fact that the scholarships are aimed at disadvantaged youth is praise – worthy. As I’ve written before, LGBTQ+ youth do face a number of personal issues, such as homelessness, suicide/ self – harm and bullying. But is advertising specifically for LGBT people – or in this case – getting the Principal to disclose LGBT status the way to help the youth?

I’ve also said this before, worldwide, there is a push back against the LGBTQ+ community and their allies where LGBT rights – including same – sex marriage, has been pushed down people’s throats without any chance to argue a differing viewpoint. Since the tragic Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida in June this year, two pastors have been exposed as applauding the shootings against the Latinx/ Latino/ Latina LGBTQ+ community. This was less than a year since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), ruled that same – sex marriage was to be legal in all 50 states after the Obgerfell vs. Hodges court case.

Brazil is still a hotspot for LGBT – based hate crime, even though same – sex marriage was legal in 2013. In 2014, Conservatives – including anti – gay evangelicals rose to power, creating concern that progress of LGBT rights will backslide. According to Catholic publication, Crux, a study indicated that a slight majority of Brazilians were actually against same – sex marriage.

 

Closer to home, the “anti – bullying” initiative, the Safe Schools Program has proven to be a total debacle, with one of the creators, Roz Ward being exposed as having a socialist ideology and that the program was not to combat bullying, but to push gender – less, anti – Capitalist agenda. Along with other controversies, like the Daily Telegraph accusing Cheltenham Girls’ School in Sydney of banning the term “girls” or “women” and others banning terms like ‘mum” or “dad”. For the record, the Principal at Cheltenham has denied that they enforce a ban on terms like “girls” or “women”, but I think the damage is already done.

This is why I do support a plebiscite on same – sex marriage. People – especially conservatives, are sick of being backed into a corner. Also, would – be supporters of LGBT rights, including supporting same – sex marriage, are getting turned off by the political correctness and the never – ending outrage from the militant same – sex marriage activists. A number of would – be same sex marriage supporters have criticised the reaction over Kruger and other over – reactions toward those who merely question the length that LGBT rights activists are going to – I hate to say it but… provide LGBTQ+ people with “special rights”. People want equality, yes? Well…this isn’t the way to go about it. I truly think it isn’t.

 

All LGBTQ+ people unequivocally deserve safety. The social challenges that face many LGBTQ+ people, especially youth is unacceptable – period. But we need to do this in a way that doesn’t alienate straight people, especially would – be allies. Pushing this, frankly elitist agenda will only drive them away.

To Our Allies – Thank You

In commemoration for IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) as someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum (not everyone agrees that asexuality is a part of it, but I do), I want to say one thing…

THANK YOU.

Thank you to the parents, siblings and other family members who accept their LGBTQ+ family members.

Thank you to all of those on social media who have been vocal in sharing support for LGBTQ+ rights

Thank you to all the teachers and other staff who are dedicated to making schools a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and their families. Thank you for being a soft place to fall when students feel the need to talk honestly about their feelings. Thank you for not judging them.

Thank you to straight allies who have had friends come out and not let them feel like they need to hide.

Thank you to those dedicated to making faith communities safer places for LGBTQ+ people.

Thank you to those who are dedicated to improving the mental health of LGBTQ+ people

Whatever You Do, Don’t Attack the Allies

It’s easy to look at the unfairness facing the LGBT+ community (incluidng asexuals) and to demonise EVERYONE that isn’t a part of the minorities. But this is a BIG mistake.

Firstly, not everyone is out to “get us”. There ARE people who want to support us. I admit, I’m one of the lucky ones to find people that do support me. I’m not trying to deny the fact that LGBT+ people do not battle with discrimination, sometimes on a daily basis. Even misunderstandings can hurt. But not everyone who is a part of “them” are the enemy. There are people out there who want to stand by our side. There are people who WANT to understand, like really want to understand. Those sort of people shouldn’t be shot down because a few other people think otherwise.

Allies are great. We need people in our corner. The biggest mistake we can make is treat everyone else as an enemy. Please don’t.