Posts tagged ‘LGBTI’

NOW I SEE THAT COLOURS ARE EVERYTHING!

I’m on my way to the Pride Parade tonight! I am SO EXCITED! This is something I have wanted to do for literally decades! Daughter Number One had been to a couple of Mardi Gras Parades in Sydney but this will be my first Pride Parade anywhere! I’m going with Son Number Two and a couple of his very best mates. It should be AMAZING!!! If it’s not enough that this years Pride Parade follows the announcement of a YES win in the Marriage Equality Survey, we are actually marching in the parade with PFLAG.

Last week I went to my second PFLAG meeting. I made my way by train and bus and then walked from the train station to where the meeting was being held. A few days beforehand the results of the Marriage Equality Survey had been revealed.

I thought about going into the city to be in the crowd that gathered to hear the results announced but I would have had to leave home before six in the morning. That didn’t rule me out but as I was lying in bed the night before, scrolling through social media, I read a post that said something like “I am preparing myself for another Trump, Brexit upset” and for the first time I allowed myself to really acknowledge the possibility that the result may be ‘No’. Icy cold fear gripped my heart.

The whole process, which has gone on for years and has only escalated in ugliness, has been disheartening and soul destroying but, through it all, I hadn’t really allowed myself to contemplate a ‘No’ result. Reading that post in my bed the night before the announcement slightly brought into focus that inconceivable possibility. And, honestly, I’m not sure how I would have borne it. The thought of a ‘No’ being announced was enough to make my decision to stay home the next morning and face the outcome from the safety of my own bed.

Last Saturday, as I walked from the train station to the meeting place I walked through two tiny parks. Cool, green pockets of peace in the hot concrete jungle of the city. After seeing an advertisement online I had gone looking for MOP DONUTS to buy one of their Pride doughnuts. It was a light delicious circular pillow of doughnutty goodness, covered in white chocolate, filled with Nutella and adorned with an edible rainbow decal. When I looked up the location of my nearest MOP DONUTS I found it was near enough to where the meeting place was for me to find the magical doughnut before going on to the PFLAG meeting. When I looked more closely at the public transport app for directions to the meeting I found the station for the doughnut shop was actually the exact same one as the one I would be getting off at anyway, and if that isn’t a sign I do not know what is! So I collected my doughnut and sat for a time in the soothing shade of a park and then went to my meeting.

It was to be followed by poster making for tonight’s parade, approximately three and a half hours of social interaction with a group of people I had only met once or potentially hadn’t met at all. It was good though, really good. There was only once I had to take a few minutes to myself to regroup but the people there are accepting and welcoming and this is stuff that really, really matters to me. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone tonight. I’m excited to share this with my son and his friends as well as the wider community. There is much to celebrate tonight and I am happy to be a part of it.

After an offhand remark at last weeks meeting I was reading the PFLAG website to learn more. This particular branch of PFLAG was formed the same year Daughter Number One was born. Another sign. And being around accepting, open hearted folk with similar values never hurt anyone!

Yesterday I was at a funeral. It was a celebration of a life well lived. A life well loved. Right now I am in the city, writing this as I travel, and already I spy people walking past dressed for Pride. Very soon I’ll be amongst a sea of people celebrating love and the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

The day before yesterday I met beautiful friends at a scenic location; there was sun and sea and sand. After lunch my beautiful friend’s best boy made a beeline for a gaming arcade and as he played with the beeping machines with their flashing colours in the dim light I glanced past the Terminator pinball machine to the sun drenched marina outside the door. I thought that there were pros and cons to both vistas; the electric, flashing thrill of the gaming machines and the beautiful ocean scene. They were so different but both there to be enjoyed and explored. I listened to the eulogies given yesterday and heard tales of daring and adventure and compassion. A life well lived. A life well loved.

My thoughts for today are these; in this life you have to find the things that matter to you. The things and the people you are passionate about. There are going to be dark times, so we have to find the things of substance in our lives to hang on to. And when you find them, the people and places and things that make your heart sing, that’s where your energy needs to go. Because they are the things that sustain us. This too shall pass but how we pass our time counts.

Follow the signs and they will lead you home.

HAPPY PRIDE everyone! Travel safe x

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DREAMS THAT YOU DARE TO DREAM. 

Not much stuck from my childhood. Actually, that’s not quite true; LOTS of it stuck but there’s not much I choose to hold onto. This week though one thing has resonated.
As I child I was taught that if you feel like saying something you should ask yourself three things – Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? This ridiculous, non binding, divisive, resource wasting postal plebiscite has exceeded the fearful expectations of those who opposed it and the climate is ugly out there. It is being used as a platform for sinister untruths and as a license to spew hate. On a daily basis, on a deep level, people are being attacked for who they love.

Of course, this is nothing new. The LGBTI+ community has never been immune to persecution. It is the openness of the hatred at the moment that appals me. That we are being compelled to choose a side and that an actual campaign is being waged to validate bigotry. More resources wasted to generate and perpetuate hate.

I am a Sagittatarian, it’s kind of mandatory for me to be blunt and I value honesty highly. But I come back to those three questions; Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? The thing about opinions is that everyone has one and I’m not going to argue that you aren’t entitled to yours, even if it opposes mine. What I am sure about though, is the neither of us should take our opinions and use them as the basis of acts that damage other people.

If you do feel you have something to say then be thoughtful around how you express yourself. Check your facts. Make sure they are, in fact, facts. Decide if you really need to say anything. Will you actually be contributing? If so, express yourself respectfully. There’s a school of thought that asserts that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. I don’t agree with that. Lots of the things I speak about here aren’t nice but I feel like I have something to contribute by not staying silent. I hope I am respectful. I try to be.
Daughter Number One’s best friend was gay. Well, to the best of my knowledge he still is! She loved him dearly. She had been to several Mardi Gras parades in Sydney before she died at 14. Son Number Two, my tall, nineteen year old, straight son, also has friends who fall outside of heterosexual norms. So do I. Dearly loved friends, some I have had for decades, some who have walked with me through the darkest of nights. Even Daughter Number Two has a best friend who shows signs of growing up to walk the road less travelled. He’s young, so who knows? My point is that whoever her friend grows up to be my Daughter will not judge him on who he loves. Because she loves him. Just as he is.

I have been so sad about this postal plebiscite. The stories both from mainstream media and people I know are heartbreaking. I go to rallys when I can. I posted off my yes vote. I write about marriage equality here and I share things on facebook. But this issue has been going on for so long now in Australia that I am able to share facebook memories from three years ago that are still sadly relevant. And, in the face of the sea of hatred that is tsunami-ing over us, it doesn’t seem enough.
So tomorrow I am going to a PFLAG meeting. PFLAG stands for ‘Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays’. When I rang up today to register my interest in attending tomorrow the lady on the phone asked me for my story. She asked where I heard about PFLAG. I’ve seen them march behind their banner in Mardi Gras. I’ve watched Debbie represent in Queer as Folk. I’ve heard them speak at rallys. What’s my story? “Do you have a gay child?” she asked. And I don’t. But I could. And that would be perfectly fine with me, because love is love.
I believe in love. With so much ugliness in this world I believe in love. I know and love many beautiful people and I believe they all should be allowed to make the choices they feel are right for themselves, in their own relationships. I don’t believe ‘different’ should equal ‘lesser under law’. So, I’ll go to the PFLAG meeting tomorrow and I’ll go to the marriage equality rally next week and I’ll keep writing here about things that matter.

This article here gives some insight into why straight allies are important and this link will point you in a practical direction if you have time and energy to share. PFLAG can be found here and there are many groups and events you can make contact with in your state.

Travel safe x

WE’VE BEEN POISONED BY THESE FAIRY TALES. 


All we have to do, at any given moment, is take the next step. Sometimes they are big steps and sometimes they are baby steps. Sometimes they are sidesteps and sometimes we take a step back. But all we have to do, at any given moment, is take the next step. 
Last week I had the most lovely day with friends. We took my friend’s two year old, The Best Boy, to the park. Actually we took him to two parks! At the second we met a dog, named Milo, who was swinging on a swing. Chill as you please. Milo was so relaxed he even let The Best Boy push him on the swing. It was very cool to watch. Unexpected and entertaining. Milo, you are a legend. 
I watched The Best Boy navigating both the parks we took him to. His sturdy little legs and boundless enthusiasm taking him further and higher, one step at a time. His Mum was there to offer a steadying hand when he needed it; it’s good to have support around you. 

Incredibly, to me, Australia is still debating Marriage Equality. I am waiting for us to take the next step. 
Change isn’t always easy, even when it is necessary. Even when it is the right thing. Even when we know it will be the best thing. It is difficult to step out of our comfort zones and into the unknown. But if we do we can be Milo the dog, swinging at the park, sun in our face and wind in our hair. Loving life! 

Someone special gave me a little cactus plant. It had grown quite a lot and I was worried that it was getting too crowded in it’s little pot. I don’t have a green thumb and I thought that I might kill it if I tried to repot it. What I knew for sure though, was that it had outgrown it’s little pot. To keep living and thriving I would need to find it a new place to be. It wouldn’t look the same. It would have to adjust to it’s changed environment. But it couldn’t stay where it was. 
So I found a white pot, with ‘Grow! Grow! Grow!’ painted up the side. I found some lush soil and I replanted the little cactus. I gave it a little bit of water and let it have a little bit of sun. I don’t know exactly how it will work out but I know that I have given it the best chance to survive and flourish. 
There are no guarantees in life. Sometimes you just have to make your move and take the next step. Talk to a stranger, climb up a mountain, go to the theatre, walk out the door, open your arms.  Live your life. Grow and flourish. One step at a time. 
❤️💛💚💙💜
Safe onward travel x 

FIGHT SONG.

Images from the Rally for Marriage Equality, Perth, Western Australia, Australia – 25th June 2016. 

SEASONS OF LOVE. 

On Wednesday night I was sitting next to my tall, handsome, teenaged, caucasian, heterosexual son who was born and has lived all his life in Australia. I had met him after school and together we had gone to a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shootings.

Hearing what had happened in Orlando was completely devastating to me and the vigil was someplace I needed to be. The weather was so cold I actually picked up a $7 jacket from Kmart on the way there and my son was wearing his beanie and three layers. 

We sat together on the concrete steps and watched the crowd of hundreds gather. The sun went down and candles were lit. There were rainbows everywhere; on flags, on posters, on people. An Aboriginal elder named Kevin gave the Welcome to Country and while he was speaking, with tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice, he said that he stood with us all today, because he also had a child who had been murdered. And I thought ‘Me too, Kevin, me too’. 
We listened to a choir sing ‘Seasons of Love’ from the musical Rent. We listened to the other speakers who all spoke from the heart with messages of hope and love. There was also an Auslan interpreter who signed everything. 

One of the speakers spoke of the importance to the LGBTI community of having a safe place to go where you could just be yourself in security and acceptance and how the senseless carnage in Orlando was so much more horrific for the fact it occurred in one of these sanctuaries. I can’t profess to know what it is like to be vilified, harassed and abused because of my sexuality but as a woman who has lived through violence in my own home and who has felt my heart rate rise on hearing footsteps behind me when walking alone at night I have some empathy and understanding of the importance of safe places to be. I cannot know the struggle of the LGBTI community on a daily basis, despite my many beautiful friends who identify. That doesn’t prevent me from understanding loss, grief, fear or any other human condition. 

As we travelled home after the vigil on the train a pretty Aboriginal girl started speaking to us. I don’t know why she chose us to speak to, there were no outward indications of where we had just been. Just one of those serendipitous things I guess. “Hey, how about what happened in Orlando? So bad, hey? If I could tell them, I stand with them with pride! You know! Corroboree style – ’cause I’m Aboriginal, see?” And the doors opened and she got off the train. Same same. Love is love. 
In amongst the rhetoric flowing from Orlando has been the assertion that ‘making this about the Gay thing is missing the point’. To that I say ‘No’. Just no. There are many issues arising out of Orlando but that it was a Gay hate crime is undeniable. Most of us in Australia have been proud of our gun laws in the wake of this tragedy. That’s cool, we should be. But to sit in complacency really would be missing the point. In this country we, at a legislative level, discriminate against the LGBTI community. That is truth. That is fact. That is shameful. While ever we collectively do so we need to take our share of the responsibility for anyone who believes that members of this community are somehow ‘lesser’ citizens. And we have to take our share of the responsibility for the actions arising out of those beliefs, because we have laws that support them. After the Orlando shootings one of my friends who lives elsewhere made the link between the shootings and marriage equality. He spoke about “we in the civilised world” and my heart dropped with the realisation that the description did not include us. I felt a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach that came with the acknowledgement that we are part of the problem. We are part of the problem. 

As my son and I sat and listened the other night I pondered the places we have been together. On both occasions I have been honoured to speak at the invitation of Angelhands about my daughter’s death my teenaged son has come with me. Listening to other speakers quote statistics and discuss issues around violence against women. Physically flinching at times but not turning away. He didn’t sit with me when his friend’s grandmother died. When we went to her funeral he sat by his friend. He did not turn away then either. 
I started this post by making note of the fact my son is tall, handsome, teenaged, caucasian and heterosexual. He was born and has lived all his life in Australia. I mentioned all these things at the start because I realised when I looked across at him listening intently to the speakers, that despite the many hardships he continues to face in his life he has much to be thankful for. Just by virtue of the above facts. Along with that comes the ability to be part of the solution.

In the cold night air one of the speakers asked us to link hands and led a rousing chorus of ‘We Shall Overcome’ and my son sang along. When I told my son about the vigil for the victims in Orlando I did not have to ask him twice. Before we arrived at the vigil and continuing after we left my son was involved in a heated online debate about gun control.
As a mother I don’t take much credit for the impressive qualities of my children. In truth, a few months shy of eighteen, my son is more his own person every day. That being said his sister Sam had been to several Mardi Gras parades and peaceful demonstrations by the time she died aged fourteen. So I know without question, because the evidence is there, that it has always been important to me as a mother to share with my children the beauty of our commonalities even while celebrating our unique differences and to teach them the importance of standing up for what you believe is right. Even in the face of objection and derision. Especially in the face of objection and derision. The importance of speaking your truth. One of the wonderful and magical things as your children grow is the realisation they teach you just as much about life, if not more but maybe I have passed on some things of value. 

As proceedings at the vigil came to a close Kevin the Aboriginal elder took the microphone and said “I love you’s all!” and I thought ‘Me too Kevin, me too!’. My son and I stood up and he said “I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be persecuted just for being who you are” and as I nodded he continued with “but what an AMAZING community!” I couldn’t agree with him more! 
On Saturday the 25th June 2016 my son and I will be at a Rally for Marriage Equality in Perth, Western Australia. The Rally starts at 1pm and is being held in the Murray Street Mall in the Perth CBD. There is a page on facebook if you need more information. We hope to see you there! 
Be the change, beautiful people, be the change! 
And travel safe x 

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