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and racial profiling and fear of    anti – discrimination protections meant to protect the LGBTQ+ community being repealed.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.

 

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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).

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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 – line or by phone: 1800 650 890

If you need help, please, please get it.

 

 

If you resort to abuse, not only will you lose support, you lose the argument

LGBTQ+ are fighting back against years and years of oppression, discrimination and, in some cases,. abuse they’ve faced over the years. Many have been harmed, mostly psychologically and spiritually by religious organisations in Australia – so – called ex – gay therapy is an example. As I’ve written before, LGBTQ+ youth have also been over represented in bullying.  Many have been kicked out of home. Many LGBTQ+ young people have felt stung when their parents tell them that they can’t be a part of their lives anymore because of their faith. The saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”, has just been yet another knives in many LGBTQ+ people’s hearts.  Last year, blogger John Pavlovitz, a Progressive preacher even went as far as to call it a “bastardisation of the gospel”. From all what I’ve read about it, it just another blow to the LGBTQ+ person – a confirmation that they will lose the ones who they love because of their sexuality or gender identity if they are live the way that fits their identity..

Now, many LGBTQ+ people are angry. And they’re no longer holding back.

This is both understandable, but, frankly, not good. Why? Because too many LGBTQ+ people and their supporters resort to abuse. Falsely calling people homophobes, unfairly attacking people of faith, telling people to “shut up” instead of arguing the case with facts, or at least backing up a different viewpoint (e.g. different perspective on religious texts, etc).

Deliberate misrepresentations and arguments like the linking of gays and paedophilia are infuriating. Paedophilia is classed as a Paraphilic Disorder in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM V). In 2013, the APA tried to differentiate between atypical sexual or gender expression behaviours and disordered behavioural patterns. This, for example, lead to change in terms and differentiation. For example, sadomasochism, an act in which people use pain and humiliation in sex play has been differentiated from Sadomasochistic Disorder in which a person’s ability to function is impaired and real harm to the persons involved can be caused. Psychiatric Publishing states:

 Most people with atypical sexual interests do not have a mental disorder. To be diagnosed with a paraphilic disorder, DSM-5 requires that people with these interests:

  • feel personal distress about their interest, not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval

or

  • have a sexual desire or behaviour that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury or death, or a desire for sexual behaviours involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent. 

Paeodphiliac Disorder is specifically defined as:

…a paraphilia that involves abnormal interest in children….

Most mental health professionals, however, confine the definition of pedophilia to sexual activity with prepubescent children, who are generally 13 years or younger.

 

The legal age of consent in Australia is between 16 and 18, depending on the State or Territory or, controversially, whether the sex is between people of the opposite sex or same sex. Other Western countries have similar age restrictions. That includes the US – which legalised same – sex marriage last year. In many cases, people more than a few years (about three), years older than the child under the legal age of consent, are able to be charged with statutory rape.And, despite what many Safe – Schools and same – sex marriage critics say, no, Peter Tatchell does NOT support paedophilia, but has argued that the age of consent should be dropped from 16 to 14 (which I personally don’t support).

I could go on with all the slippery slope arguments, but I won’t.

 

Going back to my original point. The more same – sex marriage proponents resort to name – calling or other forms of abuse, the more would – be supporters would back off. Treat opponents or sceptics with much respect as possible – at least let them have their say without being verbally abused.

Same – sex marriage proponents should emulate the tolerance and respect that they themselves say they want. At the very least they should refrain from name – calling and telling people to “shut up”. Otherwise, this battle will be a lost cause.

Symbolic Gestures

Candle vigils

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Facebook memes/ images (found this image on a friend’s wall)

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Lighting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

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So much commemoration. Some people say that symbolic gestures are useless. That they are not enough. Of course they aren’t enough on their own. But, I for one, have been touched by the gestures to (hopefully), bring a feeling of support to the LGBTQ+ community. In Orlando, I do believe we witnessed the absolute worst of homophobia and prejudice last weekend.

People are willing to show their support and be open about being against prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community. It is telling extremists that homophobia, bi – phobia, prejudice against asexual people, etc will not be tolerated; in our schools, in our workplace, in public venues, on – line, etc. And I take comfort in that. I really do.

In showing a zero tolerance to LGBTQ+ hate, I think we can let others who migrate to countries like the U.S or Australia, or who’s parents have migrated, that hate toward the LGBTQ+ community will not be tolerated. Period.

 

I saw a video that was posted on a blog before about the prejudice faced by asexuals in the LGBT community.

(Post continues after video)

Would have Elyssa Tappero posted this if it wasn’t for what happened in Orlando? Maybe. I don’t doubt it. But, regardless, the tragedy has sparked discussion that needs to continue. Homophobia, transphobia, bi – phobia, pan – phobia, a – phobia, etc needs to continue being stamped out.

 

Blogger John Pavlovitz wrote this post encouraging people to continue supporting LGBTQ+ people – to not stop after the news story dies down. And I share his plea.

Continue to support the LGBTQ+ people in your life. Be an soft place for young people to come to if they are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. Support your asexual friend/ family when they come out to you. Continue being vocal against all forms of prejudice and try and make it a daily practice. That, at least, will be one step forward.

Discrimination vs. Bullying

This is the last time (hopefully) I’m going post about the Adam Goodes booing controversy. A part of the debate has been about whether it was discrimination and how it was handled by the AFL and the media. On whether the booing was based on racism is only something that Goodes himself would know. Whatever Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Rita Panahi or even Mia Freedman or Jonathan Green, it wouldn’t affect anything. I’m going to share a personal story that is not based on race, but I think relevant. When I was in high school; Year 10 and 12, I had three different people ask whethe r I was gay. I’ll never forget what I felt after each time. I felt like I was ‘kicked in the guts’. Actually, sometimes I wonder whether that would’ve been less painful. It may sound dramatic, but that’s how I felt. Was it homophobia? To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. But it hurt. Really hurt. One of the controversies has been over the then 13 – year – old girl who shouted a racial insult at Goodes and how she was treated. Again, I can see the dilemma. One of the people that made the comment about my sexuality was younger than me, probably only one of two years older than what the girl was who called out the racial slur at Goodes. I was faced with the dilemma. Yes, this girl was younger than me. That didn’t change the fact that it made me feel like total crap all over again.

Not or everyone may have felt the same way. I’ve heard on TV interview with fashion designer Alex Perry and a YouTube clip with Joan Jett; both who have had speculations and rumours about their sexuality, both seemingly unfazed. That doesn’t take away the fact that it affected me quite a bit.

What i explained here sounds minuscule compared to many other people, I get that. Also, I’m not pretending that I’m speaking on Goodes’ behalf. I can’t. I just wanted to bring my perspective and my experiences to the debate.

Stop Misusing The Term Misogyny!

A conservative commentator was accused of misogyny after criticising the former  Governor General for her role in international matters over a year ago. So a middle – aged man, who’s married, and who has actually vocally condemned a very insensitive comment toward another woman is now a misogynist?

This political correctness and using such terms as a means to attack someone who has made a critical comment, which, by the way, had nothing to do with gender (from what I could understand), is not just political correctness gone mad, but I truly believe, waters down the suffering that women really face misogyny around the world. Real abuses go on around the world. Women are devalued, not given legal rights, are victims of violence because they are women, sexual harassment is often brushed aside and many women find it virtually impossible to get justice after being attacked in many cases. These are what I consider examples of misogyny.

I have said it before that political correctness backfires. We can’t get to the point that terms like ‘misogyny’ are so overused that no one takes cases that should be given the time of day.

People really suffer discrimination around the world, whether misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc. People even die or face severe violence because of who they are. It’s not something to be trivialised.