Sexism in the gay community

When Jim Wallace sent the ACL’s Credibility up in smoke, I was sure that would be the topic of my second article this week.  But frankly, I’m sick of it.  Everyone has written about it, and many people have written much better material than I could.

So I’m going to talk instead about something more personal, less about rights and more about how “the community” feels to me at the moment.  Specifically, the G in GLBTI.

I’m single. I’m a nice, caring, IT geek. I look online at various dating sites like Gaydar, Manhunt, Grindr, or Scruff.  I see a bunch of interesting profiles and I click on them to look further.  It seems like three out of four make some statement about masculinity.  “masc only”,”looking for straight-acting”, “I’m gay because I like GUYS” and my personal favourite, “NO FEMS”.

So, where does that leave me?  I wouldn’t say I’m full-on effeminate, but I’d never suggest I’m “masculine” either.  What does all that mean anyway?  I’m not typically an action-film person.  I’m not exactly a love-story guy either.  I’ve learned how to hand-stitch a teddy bear, done a short course in flower arranging, know multiple embroidery stitches, and I prefer “pretty” to plain functional.  I don’t drink beer, I’m more of a wine or spirits guy. I bake and decorate cakes, love to cook in general, I build computers, and ride a motorbike too. I may not be “masculine” but I’m still a man – whatever that might mean.

What I think people mean by the above is that they don’t want “the flaming queen”. Well I have news for you, missies!  Those “flaming queens” are the people who fought for your right to be openly gay today.  Open a gay history book and you’ll find out that it was the drag queens and the gays of Stonewall in the 60s who really kicked things off for us, who were persecuted so that you could be “out” without fear of criminal charges!  And guess what?  They were still men too.

But even if they don’t mean that, where’s the “feminine” line, and frankly, why is crossing it such a terrible thing?  We who seek equality and an end to discrimination wind up reinforcing one of the oldest -isms in the world: sexism.  We use “feminine” as a derogatory word even as many of us would call ourselves feminists.

I personally don’t care about whether a guy is masculine or feminine.  I don’t want a guy to be “straight-acting” – what’s the point in putting on an act?  I want a man just to be himself, not caring about the masculinity or femininity of a particular trait or action, doing it simply because it is what he wants to do.

Same-sex marriage: Equality or not?

This post is the result of an interesting response from a member of “Proud to be a second-class citizen” to Marriage equality in Tasmania: the legal and constitutional issues.  She pointed out that the current Bill before Tasmanian Parliament is a Same-sex marriage bill and not a Marriage Equality bill.  I was surprised. I stopped, went and downloaded the bill in question, and it indeed states, instead of the “Regardless of their sex” in the Federal Marriage Equality Bill, that it permits marriage between two people of the same sex.

I had it suggested to me that I should go and research the legislative complexity around including intersex marriage equality in the bill.  I am not a lawyer.  Let me repeat, I am not a lawyer; the reading I do and the research I do is filtered through my limited understanding of the law.  In essence, whatever I come up with here, I might be wrong.  And if I am, I want you to tell me so (and why)!

I’ve had some basic leads, suggestions that Tasmania recognises two sexes and does not recognise any individual as being of unknown sex.  But nothing I can find in a search of the Tasmanian legislation for the term “sex” explicitly states such.  The closest I can get is that a registration of Change of Sex requires the Registry to be changed to note that the person is of “the other sex” and that a notation be put on their certificate to state that they were “previously registered as of the other sex.” (easiest to read here).

The suggestions that I have seen have hinged on including the term “of unknown sex” or “of indeterminate sex” in the definition. e.g. “two people of the same sex, or where one or both of them are of unknown sex”.  I wonder, in a legislative environment where “the other sex” has clear meaning, whether it is possible for a person to be “of unknown sex” or “of indeterminate sex”.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be the cause of the bill’s frustrating so-close-yet-so-far situation.  It’s great for the G, the L, and the B (Provided they’re either M or F); but for the T and the I… it doesn’t help.

If Commonwealth law and State law agreed on the definitions of sex here, it would be easier.  In a world where all people are either M or F, we would then have a marriage act to cover all situations, and in a world where all levels of government accepted indeterminate sex, the state could legislate to cover that too. But we have seen (In the case of C and D, among others) that Commonwealth law does not see intersex people as male or female, and as such statements to the effect of “of the same sex” or “of opposite sexes” do not apply to them.  Rather they are left in a difficult situation while the federal government refuses to legislate, and the state has to tread carefully around the federal law to ensure there are no incongruities that might cause the state law to be struck down by the High Court.  

It is because of this tiptoeing that they cannot simply say something to the effect of “two people, regardless of their gender” like the federal bill does.

The result of my inquiry? I think same-sex marriage is a move in the right direction.  It’s a step closer to marriage equality. But to say that the Tasmanian bill provides marriage equality in Tasmania is not only fallacious, it is dangerous.  That implies that the work in Tasmania is done when this bill passes, where clearly this is not the case.

My personal, heartfelt, passionate response to this is to turn to our Federal government and say “Come on! Just make it law already and save everyone time, money, and heartache!”

What this has really reminded me of is to look for the hidden discriminations.  The laws that look equal, but aren’t. The statutes that proclaim equality while enforcing discrimination and segregation.  To my Trans and Intersex readers, followers, friends, acquaintances, and fellow queer community members, I say: “I stand with you for Marriage Equality.  I apologise for making the presumption that if my needs were catered for, yours would be too.  Thank you for reminding me of the truth. I will try harder to be more perceptive in this area.”

eThankfulness for 02 September

As the week draws to a close, I again come to a time where I look back and recall moments I have either been thankful for at the time, or things I failed to recognise as opportunities to be grateful, and draw them together in a concentrated burst of gratitude.

I am grateful for:

Having the house to myself!

Having work colleagues I count amongst my close friends.

The fantastic holiday I had in Tasmania – snow and all!

The opportunities I’ve had to catch up with friends I haven’t seen for weeks.  I’m also grateful for the opportunity I had in tasmania to catch up with some friends that I haven’t seen for almost half a decade!

My own bed.  My wardrobe. My house. My space.

An housemate who has left the house in better condition than she entered it – I’m going to miss you Lish!

An opportunity to design my office environment! I’ve been drawing and getting quotes and all sorts of things!  It’s been great! 🙂

A chance to read.  Even for a few minutes per day.

Most of all, I am grateful for the general healthiness of my friends and family.  I have just stayed with a  friend who has had a number of relatives and friends who are/were very unwell (I am exceedingly grateful for their hospitality, and hope that my company was as much comfort as they claim). The difficulties they are facing have brought home to me how lucky I am that not only am *I* healthy, but the rest of my immediate family are as well.

Join me in taking a moment out from life and saying “What am I thankful for this week?”  As always, I want to hear whatever you want to share!