Homophobia in Australia and Not Being Straight

Last night, I cried twice. First time, I was watching the documentary “Frock and a Hard Place”. Second time was in the Q and A special hosted by Tom Ballard. Why you may ask? First, because I was so upset and shocked of the cruelty that LGBT people (particularly gay men), experienced in Australia in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Sure, things may have improved, at least legally, but, frankly, I think it’s still a blood stain on Australia, frankly.

Second time was when the episode of Q and A was on, and Lifeline was mentioned. We may have come a long way, but, truth is, identifying as anything other than cis – gender and straight can be a mind/ soul destroying experience for too many people. Frankly, I do put asexuals in this category (which was mentioned last night on Q and A – wow!). People don’t realise the damage, sometimes the irreparable damage that has been done!

 

When it comes to the issue of same – sex marriage (which some people say is inevitable now in Australia), people give the same old line “why, it only affects a small percentage of the population”. Well, as I’ve posted before, adding LGB plus asexuals who are romantically attracted to others of the same – sex, I guessed it’s probably between 2 – 3%. However, that’s not the issue… or at least it shouldn’t be. These people are still over – represented in the suicide and bullying statistics as pointed out again last night. Why do you think that Ballard quoted the Lifeline number? (For those who don’t know, or aren’t from Australia, Lifeline is a phon counselling service). It’s because for many LGBTQ+ people, realising who they are, and coming out can have major psychological implications! For too many, it’s a seriously isolating experience. It means the risk of losing friends, family and other people that we’re suppose to be able to rely on. And, I”m sorry to say this, but for those of faith, it means the risk of emotional and spritual abuse.

This is why it’s still a big deal! Homophobia and discrimination against other sexual and gender minorities (GSM), still exist, despite our advances. These issues go WAY beyond the same – sex marriage debate that has plagued Australia for the last couple of months. This is about getting to a point where it’s no longer risky to be yourself and being able to be OK with who you are!

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Discussion of Sexual Minorities in Rural Areas

Warning: depression, suicide and homophobia. If these issues affect and/ or trigger you, feel free to skip this post. If you have any struggles, please get help.

On Q and A on Monday night, they were talking about mental illness, as a part of ABC’s “Mental As” campaign. One of the questions that were asked from the audience aimed at Federal Member of Kennedy, Queensland, Bob Katter. The question was:

Thank you. My question is for Bob Katter. The youth in this area that belong to minority groups and in particular homosexuals, have a much higher rate of suicide. In the past, you have not addressed the topic of gay rigfhts, as you see it as irrelevant. Do you think it is appropriate for us to have a discussion about the links between regional Australia and suicide and willilngly omit an entire group of at risk individuals?

(Note: To put Katter in context, about 2011, his party came under fire for being behind an extremely homophobic advertisement that was, for a while, portraying a male gay couple in a most harmful stereotype. I for one haven’t seen that ad in ages, but it was even condemned by conservatives who aren’t for gay marriage. Katter has been linked with that ever since). Katter has in the past continued to ignore such concerns (or seems to) while continaully talking about other issues such as the economy, drought, etc. In reply (in short), Katter said:

I”m quite happy to address the issue any time anyone brings it to me, right? I have an electorate where I have a person committing suicide between Longreach and the Gulf of Carpentaria every two weeks in the cattle section. I have large First Australian communities, where it is absolutely endemic, right, and if you’re saying well, what’s your priorities? Well, the priorities that I got are the people that are confronting me and quite rightly confronting me. That is the problem that i have to deal with. You have a problem that you may have to deal with in your own life and if I can assist you in any way, I’m only happy to do that.

Here’s my point, I can see sort of where Katter is coming from and what his priorities would lie in rural Queensland. Coming from a rural town myself, I can attest that there isn’t a lot of discussion about LGBT issues in rural areas. It’s quite possible that Katter himself hasn’t been directly asked by his electorate about issues surroudning LGBT+ rights. I’m not saying this to defend the advertisement his party was involved in or anything, I’m just saying that the discussion around LGBT+ rights in rural areas is minimal at best. A city near where i live is starting to talk abou it; people are coming out, etc, but it’s still only minimal.

Asexuality, not surprisingly, is barely discussed at all where I come from. I have bought the topic up with one friend directly and I’ve got my blog posts displayed on my Facebook page, but that’s it. Can I really blame anyone for being ignorant about asexuality if it isn’t been discussed directly? I don’t think so. And this is what I felt with this Q and A episode. Bob Katter can only deal with issues that people from his electorate tell him. If people haven’t opened up about LGBT+ issues, then how can he deal with them?

 

My guess is that as time goes by, there will be more honest discussion about LGBT+ people in rural areas, but i think it’s going to take time for people to get their head around. Maybe the more people that are willing to come out, or families share about members of their family to others who may identify as LGBT+, the more media exposure in country areas, maybe then, the more when Members of Parliament around Australia, including rural areas, can really join the discussion about LGBT+ rights.

Empowering Q & A

Last night’s episode of Q and A  was really great and very inspiring. Here are two quotes that really got me and that I think would be of benefit to everybody.

Don’t have sex if you don’t want to and if you do want to, do it, but it should be be for yourself, not because you’re beiaid, because you’re being coerced, because you’re being pressured, but because you feel like it.

Kajsa Ekis Elkman, a Swedish woman who condemns surrogacy as a form of child trafficking and a fierce oppon   ent of prostitution.

The second comment that hit me came from social commentator, Jane Caro:

My advice is to be yourself. Do not allow anyone to mould your shape into something that doesn’t feel like you. Be yourself and always say what you think and do not fear what other people think and don’t seek approval.

There were a number of topics that were discussed, these quotes just jumped out at me.

Did anyone else see it?