Born This Way, Not My Fault.

I recently saw a memory on Facebook which prompted this piece.  I’d linked to a piece by rampant homophobe, Bill Muehlenberg, which linked to a really interesting article by David Benkof. These points are made about being gay because that’s my experience, but I suspect that a lot of this may translate to the fight for Trans rights as well.

A friend and I had discussed Benkof’s piece before Muehlenberg’s article. We explored the sensibility of claiming that sexuality and sexual identity have been the same throughout history, and are therefore immutable across time and space, and whether “Born This Way” was a good strategy for claiming equal rights.

Perhaps in our struggle for rights, we should not be relying on a claim we don’t actually know the truth of.  We don’t really know if or how we are “Born This Way”.

Sexual identity is a social framework built around sexual attraction. That’s how we have straight men who still have sex with men. The way you’re wired biologically combined with the social climate you’re in will affect the way you identify, all of this without making a specific choice. “Being gay” is something that only happens in societies where “being gay” is an option, though same-sex sex occurs throughout human history.

So where do our rights come from?

The right to have a child without being in a relationship is enough in itself to permit motherhood. Or the right to be in a relationship as a de facto couple without having to solemnise it as marriage. These changes were achieved without a requirement of immutability – these rights are, explicitly, the protection of a person’s right to choose what is right for themselves.

The same goes for anti-discrimination. There are lots of attributes that we protect with our anti-discrimination laws.  There are three broad categories these attributes fall into: Things that are inborn, things that you choose, and things we don’t typically choose but might not be inborn.

  • Race is inborn.  That’s the way you are the day you were born, and you can’t really make a choice to change it.
  • Political opinion is something we largely choose. even if you haven’t consciously chosen it now, you can choose to re-examine and change your political opinion.
  • Disabilities are things we don’t typically choose for ourselves, but many people acquire well after they’re born.

In our society, the immutability or innateness of an attribute is not a requirement for its protection.

With these examples in mind, the rights of gay people to carry on a consenting adult relationship is surely enough in itself without us needing to be “born this way” to achieve equality.

The disturbing subtext of “Born This Way” is “Not My Fault”.  And when we’re talking about fault, we’re typically talking about something “bad”. “I was born gay, why should I be punished for something that isn’t my fault?” Thinking like this feels right to many of us because we instinctively know we didn’t make a choice – that’s why it’s such a tempting argument to make. It also has the benefit of being compelling.  But does this throw bi or pan people in same-sex relationships under the bus?  After all, they could have chosen to be in a heterosexual relationship, right?

Why does it have to be “not my fault” in order to have my relationship treated equally under the law when my religious views are protected even if I’m a recent convert to Christianity?

Our right to safety and happiness as queer folks should not and must not require that our sexuality or gender identity is inborn. The notion that “being gay” is not strictly biological isn’t a reason to deny equal treatment to gay people.

Given that we don’t really understand how sexuality and gender identity happens, I worry about building our rights on the “Born This Way” mantra.  Because what happens if that foundation turns out to be false? I don’t want to re-fight the fight for our rights because we picked the wrong basis for our original arguments.

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Tell your loved ones…

So it’s been a while. I try to only write when I have something to say.

Most of my readers would know that Australia is spending $122m on a ridiculous non-binding survey of the Australian Electoral Roll (That won’t actually wind up including lots of people overseas).

At 2:15 on Thursday 7 September, 2017, the High Court ruled that the survey could go ahead.

I’ve already done a bit in the lead-up to this whole thing – I spent an entire weekend walking my suburb asking people to enrol to vote. I asked every person I had even the most casual conversation with (outside of my working hours – our clients pay for my expertise, not my political needs)

But there was one person I was quite worried to ask, worried that I already knew what the answer would be, and that my sister and I might forever have a little bit more distance between us.  And then I considered the price of not knowing, of always wondering whether may fiancé and I were being judged, and I realised that I really didn’t lose much by asking – that not knowing was just about as hazardous to my family relationships as knowing it was a “no” vote. And at least if I knew I could try to change it, right?

But asking that question of family was terrifying.  It was coming out all over again. I was learning if I would ever be fully comfortable at a family gathering ever again.

Fortunately, I was wrong.  That concern, in this case, was based on assumptions I’d made about my sister and her church – I’m glad I asked because it’s clarified something for me that I should have asked more directly about years ago. But I’m pretty sure that if I expand my family circle from “immediate” just one or two layers and asked my parents’ siblings, their partners, and their offspring how they plan to vote… Well I expect that a few would vote “no”.  But without asking I face the prospect of never knowing if the family member I’m having a conversation with at Christmas voted to prevent me from fulfilling my promise to marry my partner.

Meanwhile, my partner’s grandmother is falling out with family who are posting hateful and hurtful homophobic things.

That’s the legacy of this secret ballot. Division, distrust, and suspicion.

If you know someone gay, please, don’t make us ask you how you’re going to vote – make sure we know.

Marriage Equality: the fashion issue of this election

On Saturday in Queen’s Park, a whole bunch of people are going to support the “fashionable” notion of Marriage Equality. This crowd clearly knows how big of a trend it is and wouldn’t be caught dead in anything else. Tony Abbott recently declared that he wouldn’t support “radical change based on the fashion of the moment.”

Equal Love Brisbane, a local well-known group of fashionistas and gay activists, are holding a rally as part of a nationwide campaign to keep Marriage Equality the election issue that it is. And we would like to welcome you to our runway: the streets of Brisbane. Come dressed to impress in your Equality-promoting couture, and sashay through the streets of our city in support of the height of fashion: equal rights for all Australians.

“Tony Abbott’s statement about Marriage Equality? A fashion don’t!”

This election, make sure you stand for someone who thinks human rights are more than a passing fad. Come to Queen’s Park (opposite the Treasury Casino) on Saturday 17th at 1PM and add your voice to the the call. Equality is always in vogue!

The Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/173194766188014/

Gays: An Inconvenient Truth

In recent times, a long-time friend of mine has noticed that I post a lot of gay stuff on my Facebook.  I’m going to call her F.

F uses this piece of rather obvious information as evidence that I’ve changed, and I’m not the same person she used to know…

I accepted her criticism, and accepted F’s statement that I’ve changed. Because it’s true. I’m more outspoken, more active, more confident in myself and more comfortable in my own skin.

I apologised for changing.  I regret making that apology.  We should never have to apologise for growing.

What I don’t think F realises is that she has changed in the 10 years we’ve known each other too.

My friend is straight.  Recently, her child started school – a Christian School in one of the “God in every part of the curriculum” senses. Which is fine.  A bit surprising, but fine.

Since this happened, My friend has been spending a lot more time being involved in the church, from where I sit it seems to have built her confidence and given her a feeling of acceptance, and both of these are good things!

But she’s also started complaining about how much gay stuff I post, that “I’ve become my sexuality” and more.

Recently, on one of my posts about gay marriage, she wound up commenting that kids shouldn’t be exposed to homosexuality, that they should be able to retain their innocence.  When queried about whether they should be exposed to heterosexuality, in that case, she said something along the lines of  “heterosexuality to a point, but homosexuality, no.” (this is from a few days ago and I can no longer find her comments) She expanded on this saying that her child shouldn’t be exposed to “sex, gay, or porn” early on.  Essentially, there was no kissing, or any kind of public display of affection for gay couples, no matter how benign, so that she didn’t have to explain “gay” to her child.  

Being told I have to be less “me” around her child? hurts.
Being told that she views my very nature as similar to “sex… or porn”? Hurts. 

All of this brought home to me that gay parents, on top of the usual “my child is going to school for the first time” jitters, also have to deal with how the kids are going to react to their child having two mothers or two fathers, how the other parents are going to react to their child having two mothers or two fathers?  I have asked myself on more than one occasion “is it fair for a child to potentially cop flack just because I love men rather than women?  Should I really have children?” And my answer is: “Yes. My children will be part of a new generation where gay is not taboo, and they will be loved beyond measure.”  How do I know gay won’t be taboo?  Because I’ll be influencing that generation.  I’ll be teaching my child about the intrinsic goodness of all human beings.

When I get a husband and a child or two, and send my child to school, would my child allowed to talk to F’s? What if he mentions having two dads? Or would my child’s day to day existence threaten F’s child’s innocence? Would F’s child be allowed to come over and play if our children like each other, or would my home life threaten F’s child’s innocence?
What about seeing Dylan Jr, my husband and me in the street after school?  Would that threaten F’s child’s innocence?

In this country, you have the right to bring your child up based on your religious and personal values. But that right ends when it impedes my right to go about my life in a way that would be deemed entirely appropriate if I were straight.  If you’re pressed to explain, couldn’t you just tell your child “Dylan Jr’s Dads love each other like Daddy and I do” and leave it at that?  If you’re in the anti-camp-camp then perhaps “Dylan Jr’s dad and his friend live together in a  life of sin.” or whatever little hateful thing floats your boat.

So no. I won’t turn off my “gay” for the sake of your child.

There is nothing more or less innocent about being gay than being straight, and we, GLBTIQ folks, shouldn’t have to bear a day-to-day burden for uptight straight people’s discomfort.  And we won’t.

 

 

 

Conscience

Well, I know how you all love to look at my gorgeous face…  So I made another video!

This time, I’m reciting a poem I wrote about our politicians voting on Marriage Equality and the Liberal/Labor stances on the issue.

Conscience: Written and spoken by me (Dylan Carmichael):
The leaders of our capital L parties, so great,
Both are straight, and so
They vote on rights they will never use in their life.
And yet, they are rights they already have.
To have and to hold the person they love in the eyes of the state,
Something to which nothing else can equate.
A right granted simply because the one they love is different to them.
A right withheld simply because homophobes hum, haw, and hem.

Concerned about causing offence, our politicians commit one instead.
Failing to stand up for those who suffer in the daylight,
After taking away some of their rights, almost a decade ago.

And to those leaders, I say
That the time has come for you make amends for your vote to pass the 2004 Marriage Act amendment.
Atoning for the moment when the conscience so necessary to grant rights today was not consulted in the process of taking them away. On that fateful day, shut out of the chambers, your conscience ignored, overridden, not given any sway.

All that we want to hear is you raising voices together. An answer to our question that will echo through the years, prompting a flood of joyous tears from those of us who just want to marry who we love. Telling our future countrymen, who will hear that this government refused to be lead by Christian fear.

We crave a government who will right past wrongs.
A government whose final answer belongs
where it will be,
Writ large on our nation’s history.

 

Time to Invest in Equality

Howdy ho Readerinos!

Equal Love and CAAH (Community Action Against Homophobia) are uniting in their goal to raise $5000 between Sunday July 21 and Thursday July 25 to help fund their ongoing campaign for Marriage Equality in Australia. August marks the 9th anniversary of the same-sex marriage ban, and we intend to make these rallies louder, bigger, and better than ever.

Money raised is being split evenly across the 5 Equal Love and CAAH groups in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne.

We call on you to invest in the Marriage Equality campaign in Australia either by direct deposit or Kaching.

Account details:
Commonwealth bank
Name: Equal Love
BSB: 063123
Account number:10436080

Or Kaching to phone number 0403019430 and reference Equal Love

We in Equal Love are banking on your support!

For the skeptics among you, here’s the post on Equal Love’s website:
http://equallove.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61%3A5k-in-5-days

Queer Discrimination – alive and well

I was saddened today to see that the QLD & NSW Firefighters Calendar have actively excluded Same Sex Attracted Communities from their launch events.

20130629-142804.jpg

This event is “ladies only”. I must presume that they will be checking their deeds of nobility at the door… But all joking aside…

You’ll notice that I say “saddened” and not “surprised”; there’s a history of this sort of thing at events like the Chippendales, Manpower, even the weekly show in Fortitude Valley on Friday night, and more. Apparently these boys are freaked out by the idea that men might want to look at them “in the flesh” so to speak.

To make it worse, it was suggested that perhaps they should also do a “men’s only” night. (Implication of the posters was pretty obviously for the male show.) The response: “if the females do a calendar again.”

SSQLDFFFemales

This sounds to me like not only are the male performers exclusively catering to a female audience, but it is presumed that female performers would be for an exclusively male audience.  Apparently there are no Same-Sex Attracted jollies to be had from the QLD and NSW Fire Fighters Calendar Launches, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman.

They say “There’s no offence.”  Actually. They’re wrong.  There is offence. I am offended, and so is the commenter in the above screenshot.  I’m offended by your decision to completely shut out and ignore people who have bought and would buy your calendar unless they’re actually in the act of handing over money and you don’t have to be in the same room as them.

Yes, I understand that they mean “there’s no offence meant”, but a) that isn’t what they said, and b) I have to tell them, if at any point you ever have to say “no offence meant” you’re either a klutz and you’ve realised you’ve accidentally made a double-entendre, or you’re saying something that you know will offend.  Even worse when they say “please let it be this way with no negative feedback”.  I have to say, saying that is like holding up a red rag to a bull.  Why? Because it’s saying “We’ve offended you, and we know it, but play nice and don’t call us on it.” It is basically asking the offended to silence themselves on the issue of their own discrimination for the sake of their reputation

And yes, it is discrimination.  Outright homophobia in fact. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know how I hesitate to apply that label.  But this conscious choice to downplay, ignore, and exclude the Queer community in an in-person setting is homophobic.  The gymnastics required to presume everyone commenting is straight (especially given my Facebook picture is basically a face surrounded by rainbow) belies any other explanation.

I won’t be purchasing the calendar any more.  A part of me is considering burning the two copies I own for the irony factor.

I hesitated to write this article without knowing where the money goes to – I don’t want to damage those causes that rely on these funds. So I’ve discovered from their website that those beneficiaries are the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation and that the support “also assists firefighters to compete in Emergency Services Competitions i.e. [sic] The Firefighters Games.”

Rather than spend $14 per calendar, $3 of which is P&H and another portion of which surely goes to covering costs, can I urge you to donate that $14 directly to the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, so that they can do more with your money. Rather than going to the show – which will have cost them money to set up, transport performers, etc, talk to your local fire station about how you can help Firefighters get to competitions.  Because lets face it. You can look at attractive men for free on the internet, you don’t need to buy their calendar.

Why spend your money to allow homophobes to feel good about themselves for raising money.  Spend it making yourself feel good about contributing to good causes – you might even get a tax deduction into the bargain..

For those of you who want to check out their Facebook thread in its entirety: click here

Join me in opposing homophobia, no matter the source.  

Dylan Carmichael