The Gladstone Marriage Equality Rally preparations are going well! We took over page 3 of the Weekend Observer, which is awesome. Here’s the article that ran.
It prompted a friend of mine to ask me “a straight person question”. She wanted to know “Is it just me or does it piss you off when they describe you as ‘openly gay’?”
And the answer is, in Gladstone? now? No. “openly gay” is still sufficiently novel here for it to be worthwhile as a descriptor. If I was in Brisbane? I’d probably be wondering why they needed to include it, with thousands of other openly gay men in the city. Her concern was that we use “openly” when it might be considered not the best thing. Like “Openly terrorist” where you would never hear of someone “openly being a child safety advocate”
With that in mind, I started thinking about what it means when we don’t need to attach “openly” in front of gay people in the paper in Gladstone. I think that that is a good indicator of our acceptance in a community. I am openly gay. I stand unashamed, and unconcerned. If you have a problem with my sexuality, it’s you having the problem. I’m probably living a bit more openly than most – not many people get an article in the paper to say that they’re gay, and it’s OK! In future, I might talk to reporters about avoiding “openly”… if “gay” isn’t enough, then maybe “out”,”active”, “concerned”, “vocal” or any number of options might work, without reinforcing that perhaps I should be ashamed of it even though I’m not.
I’ve seen “self-confessed” before and that I would find offensive, much as I would “so-called” or “self-described” – I guess I have this notion that not only is it not something that needs confessing, but that I’m probably in the best position to know whether I am or not, without that being cast into doubt.
So how can we know when we’ve beaten homophobia and heterosexism? When I’m no longer an “openly” gay man, and just become a gay man. When we don’t need an adjective to describe our state of public queerdom. When we don’t need to “openly” be. When we can just be. That’s how we will know we’ve won this war.