Everyday life as a second class citizen.

It’s a day much like any other. I woke up far too early and got myself to work on time.
About half an hour into the work day, I overheard a conversation in the open plan outside my office door between the team leader and some of his minions, talking about how long to live with his girlfriend before he proposes. Each of my apparently straight colleagues has some level of response from “not until I’m good and ready” to “I waited x years before I married my wife.”
And I got angry. Angry that this perfectly normal conversation is a conversation that I have no right to enter into, no position I can justify, no position that I can hold for my life.
It brought home to me (again) just how heterocentric our society is, that it doesn’t factor into the conversation that there’s a question about being able to get married.
These people have been nothing but supportive of me and my push for Marriage Equality. They’d be horrified to find out they’d made me uncomfortable in any way. They just didn’t see that talking about something as normal as proposing to their significant other might have any impact on the people around them.

And really, should they? It shouldn’t have any impact on the people around them. It is only through the failings of the Howard Government, Rudd Government, Gillard Government, Rudd Government #2, and now the Abbott Government that it does cause concern, angst, and frustration…

So yet again I have to ask… Why? What do/did these governments gain from prolonging the discrimination against me and my community, when it’s already seen as inevitable? Is there a rational reason politically for the delay in reform? Do the polls suggest that they’ll lose significant votes by legalising it? I don’t think so. Is there significant financial backing within the parties from anti-marriage-equality sources? Maybe, but both of them? If they can’t provide some understandable rational reasons for their refusals to legislate Marriage Equality, we get back to homophobia as the real reason for the delay.

So to the government today, and the opposition too, I say: Your abstract fear and concern actually makes my life concretely more difficult every day. How can you as my representatives continue to do me harm by voting down this legislation every time it comes up? How do you sleep knowing that the prejudice of about 50 of you actively harms around 800,000 Australians directly, as well as their families?

That’s right. Only 50 people in Australia need to grow a conscience in order for Marriage Equality to succeed.

I can only hope that insomnia is rampant in Canberra.

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.

 

Sexism is like homophobia

I just finished reading Michelle Rodriguez made me cry at Comic-Con and can I say, it’s amazing to me how much of this is transferable?!

She talks about how guys in line with her spoke about women, the disabled, and black people. And how she didn’t go and stop it. She wasn’t sure that her outburst would make a difference.

I want to tell you that this is the reality for the Queers who live among us as well. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you already know… We hear all sorts of language that ranges between being casually negative to being outright and intrinsically offensive on a daily basis. And we wonder whether making a point about it brings more good than harm.

A couple of months ago, I had an incident on a training course I went on where someone in my class was talking about the “gay metro UI” of Windows 8. By which he clearly meant that Metro was “bad”. (It’s not, it’s just different, ‘k?) I spent the rest of the day asking myself whether there was a point taking him to task on his choice of language, and failed to speak to him that day about it. Why? Because I worry about being “that gay guy”, being “the troublemaker”, being unliked, shunned, or for people to censor themselves around me more than anyone else.

I did wind up talking to him, and asked him why he chose “that word”. To him it “was just a word” a much like to the guys in Kate’s article it would be “just a joke” He understood my point that he has no idea who’s around him and no clue how it affects them.

I think it’s important to point these things out. People often don’t know/don’t realise what they’re doing, or its impact. I understand that. Just today I had someone pull me aside and say ‘I don’t use “herp” or “derp” because they’re ableist’ which is something I hadn’t thought about in the slightest before. I won’t be using those words again.

But much like there were guys who said that “women talk too much” at Comic-Con, there are people who will (and do) criticise me and other LGBTIQ peeps who organise rallies, protests, and/or write or talk about this stuff with any regularity. We get accused of only talking about gay, and aren’t there more important topics, and told that “straight people don’t need a rally” or “to declare they’re straight”.

But no. This stuff *is* important. People need to understand that for us life includes ignoring the many jibes, many little things that remind us that we’re not seen to be as good as the straight people. That hearing “that’s so gay” uttered by the local idiot at the supermarket is yet another example of things we ignore or deal with on a day to day basis. It’s another decision (or many decisions) we have to make, every day, that many people don’t.

So discrimination in one area is much like discrimination in another. Tolerate no discriminatory language ever. Because when they talk that way about people like me, they’re not far from talking like that about people like you.

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