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.

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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.

 

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?

Would quotas in politics benefit the LGBTQ+ community?

I heard on Sky’s “Paul Murray Live” on Monday that the Queensland Labor government is starting to talk about quotas in government for the LGBTQ+ community. In other words, having parliamentarians/ Senators employed because of the fact they identify as LGBTQ+. I have had two thoughts about this. At first, I thought that it may be beneficial to members of the LGBTQ+ community at least in some areas.Having an LGBTQ+ Senator may be able to directly address issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and implement policies that make LGBTQ+ Australians safe, healthy and productive members of society. They may be able to give insight into issues directly affecting the LGBTQ+ community in Australia. For example, according to Australian Human Rights’ “Face the Facts”  fact sheet (2014), 34% reported hiding their sexuality and/ or gender identity from their doctor. The study showed that, as of 2014, homophobia was still a major issue. The study found out:

  • 6 in 10 had experienced verbal homophobic attacks
  • A fifth (20%) had experienced physical homophobic attacks
  • Another 1 in 10 (10%) experienced other types of homophobia

 

LGBTQ and mental health

According to other sources, such as Beyond Blue indicate that bisexual women especially, suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than lesbian or gay individuals. Transgender people, however, face the highest rates of depression and anxiety at over 50% – especially trans – women.

So, how can an LGBTQ+ senator help with this on a State level? Could they point out where more resources and services are needed to assist LGBTQ+ Australians? What about on issues such as marriage equality, medical services for transgender and/ or intersex people? The fact of the matter is, as much people are tired about hearing and talking about LGBTQ+ issues, sorry, but we’re here. We are your brothers, sisters, siblings, aunts, uncles, work colleagues and classmates. As indicated in the link from the Australian Human Rights Commission, homophobia was still a major issue as recently as 2014. Too many LGBTQ+ hide in fear of being rejected (as indicated again, by the link above).

The problem with tokenism

However, I believe there are some potential downsides. First, in my opinion, governments employing someone because they represent a certain group hasn’t worked in the past. For example, former Julia Gillard appointing former athlete Nova Peris in a bid for the sake of employing an Aboriginal person only ended in tears… literally. Peris ended up bowing out last year before her term was up.

This was a long line of ugly so – called “identity politics” that is still raging in Australia today. It also shows that tokenism should be avoided by everyone. I don’t think tokenism does anyone any good, including the people they are suppose to represent. Gillard’s tokenism only exacerbated Labor’s unpopularity at the time and also did not assist the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, as far as I know. So, I think there’s a chance that if, an LGBTQ+ person was elected or appointed by a politician because of their sexuality/ intersex status or gender identity, it may only add to the groan factor  across the country, rather than being of any benefit to the LGBTQ+ community.

 

My conclusion is that merit, not quotas should be a reason why someone is elected to State or Federal parliament. I think anything other than that will not do anyone – including the LGBTQ+ community any good in the long run.

 

What do you think about my assessment of quotas in parliament to add more LGBTQ+ people? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Short open letter to Mia Freedman – you can’t speak for all the LGBTQ+ community

 

Dear Mia,

You are a great LGBTQ+ ally. Thank you for all that you’ve done to support and raise awareness on the LGBTQ+ comunity, including publishing articles on asexuality. I really do appreciate your voice to increasing asexuality visibility. You’re passion for justice for the LGBTQ+ community is much appreciated, I’m sure.

However, your comment on Liberal Senator Josh Manuatu was out of line. You, or anyone else, has no right to dictate yo how LGBTQ+ individuals feel about issues like same – sex marriage, adoption, or political persuasion. We are all indibiduals, just like all straight people don’t share all the same values and political ideology.

 

Manuatu isn’t alone as someone who is gay, but opposes same – sex marriage. In the lead up to the Irish referrendum, openly gay people opposed same – sex marriage, mainly because they believed that marriage there to raise children in a traditional nuclear family. In a protest that occurred in France to the lead up of same – sex marriage in May, 2013, people who were openly vocally opposed same – sex marriage for the same reasons. I have also heard that here, in Australia, gay peoplesay they’re againsr same – sex marriage, but feel like they can’t be open about their views in fear of a backlash from the wider LGBTQ+ community. This is unacceptable, just as unacceptable itvwould be to bully and ostracise an LGBTQ+ person who felt like they need the right to marriage.

Mia, you are a valuable voice in supporting the wider LGBTQ+ community. The way you’ve allowed LGBTQ+ people to tell their stories and continual advocacy for the LGBTQ+ is to be commended. It really does. However, the way you attacked Manuatu on Twitter is not the way to advocate for LGBTQ+ people. Please keep that in mind next time. And keep on speaking up.

 

Love and respect,

 

 

S.

Do you identify as LGBTQ+ and oppose same – sex marriage and/ or adoption? Feel free to leave comments below.

 

 

 

Thoughts on World Mental Health Week

This week is World Mental Health Week. LGBTQ+ issues and mental health are often tightly linked, considering that LGBT people (especially youth) are, according to mental health advocasy group, Beyond Blue, data showed that 36.2% of trans people and 24.4% of lesbian, gay or bisexual people:

met the  criteria for experiencing major depressive episodes.

Trans women under 30have the highest rate of mental health issues (59.3%).

Gays and lesbians had also been found to have significantly higher rates of anxiety (31% vs 14%sexual people also report having higher incidents of mental health issues at similar rates of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

One of the issues that are faced by asexual people is erasure – a lack of knowledge – or more likely – acceptance that people can be – and are – asexual. This is slowly, slowly changing, with a number of media outlets over the years doipng articles and news items on asexual people. Cleo, women’s site, Mamamia, Everyday Feminism and Ravishly has done articles on people on the asexual spectrum. Despite the controversy around the Safe Schools program, I’ll give credit when it’s due – it was acknowledged in the resource ‘All of Us’ that some people are asexual. Although not directky linked, I had looked at the site Minus18 for LGBTQ+ youth under 25, and realised that they did differentiate between sexual and romantic attraction. That would have madechigh school so much easier! It’s a pity it all turned out to be a political manifesto and that data on sexuality and gender diversity was inaccurate.

Anyway, back to mental health. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was slammed by tying the same – sex martiage plebiscite to gay t thing to sayand lesbian youth suicide. While I don’t think it was the wrong thing to say, and I agree with Andrew Bolt that it was emotional blackmail, mental health of LGBTQ+ does need to be a part of this debate.

 

I know I said this before, but I want to repeat it. To my LGBTQ+ friends and family, I love you and I hope that all of you are doing well. For those who need help, please get it. Don’t bottle anything up.  To all my other friends and family, I say the same. I love you, and if you have any issues, please grt help.

Lifeline number: 13 11 14.