Open Letter To The “Different”

The right-wing Australian federal government and their fundamentalist PM are currently trying to pass legislation which would make it legal for religious people to spout hate speech against LGBTIQ and to discriminate against them, including specifically the expelling of transsexual children from private schools.

This has led to impassioned discussion on The Guardian. Amongst the reader comments was a story from a woman in a 20-year-plus same-sex relationship detailing her and her partner’s experiences of life in rural Australia. We live in rural Australia, so I wrote her a response. I’m “reprinting” it here for anyone who’s ever been the subject of horrible treatment on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality etc. This is for you.

Dear Lilacs, I’m so sorry you and your partner went through this BS, and ditto anyone else who went through this or other BS around sexism, racism, homophobia and all other forms of spitting on those who are “different” from the people who think they know what’s best and how everyone should be. Sending you our love. ♥

Like you, my husband and I live in a rural area. The particular place we live sadly has one of the highest One Nation votes in the country and most voters are rusted on LNP, regardless of the depths these parties are sinking to on a personal and performance level and in terms of public policy and what it does to ordinary citizens. We were probably the only people in our neighbourhood who voted “yes” for marriage equality, and we were open about it, resulting in a fair bit of avoidance from the rednecks and in even the case of people we thought of as the nicer community members, surprised questions (because we’re a male-female married couple) about why we thought THEY needed marriage, wasn’t it enough that homosexuality had been decriminalised and THESE people could have civil relationships, why did THEY need to get MARRIED.

I said, “For the same reason we got married and you presumably got married – because people love each other and want to make a commitment.” (It seems to me that a lot of people asking that question seem to think it’s about sex, not about a way to express love and commitment – which makes me wonder, is that why they got married – because they believe it’s not OK to have sex until you do – or do they think love is the monopoly of heterosexuals, and homosexuals are all about sex?)

Then came the usual stuff about marriage being between a man and a woman, and about the ability to have children. Now, my husband and I weren’t able to conceive and didn’t go for IVF as there’s already enough people on the planet etc. So it gives me the opportunity to ask, “Do you think our marriage should be annulled, because we didn’t end up having kids?”

And then you get the stuff about children needing a male and female role model in the family and how it’s not “natural” to have two parents of the same sex and how everything is so much better in a traditional family. And then I cite statistics like the rate of child abuse in traditional families – I’m a survivor of horrific abuse in a pillar-of-the-community, textbook, man-woman, successful man, woman at home, one boy, one girl type family, so people don’t get off lightly on that discussion if they have it with me. And I cite that the research indicates that the rate of child abuse isn’t higher in non-traditional families. Etc etc.

One of those two people isn’t talking to me anymore and I’m no longer welcome at her house. She’s judged herself as my moral superior and I’m sure I’d have been burnt at the stake a few hundred years ago in a community like that, for not agreeing with their hurtful views on how society should be, or their turning a blind eye on abuses of power in the structures they’re so fond of, like their favourite political parties, the heteronormative nuclear family, etc etc.

At first it hurt and now I’ve ceased to care – if you end up losing people in your circle over issues like this, then perhaps that’s a good thing, like a kind of BS filter. You can then take a kinder person into the vacant spot, methinks.

Anyway, just ranting. Did me a power of good to hear Grace Tame talk today. I’m so glad the younger generations seem to have less tolerance for BS and more tolerance for human beings. They say change happens one funeral at a time and sometimes, in the darker moments, I think there’s a lot of truth to that saying.

Sending ♥ to you, and to anyone who’s ever been discriminated against on the basis of their gender, colour, cultural background, sexual orientation, material wealth, connections, etc etc etc. I hear you and I feel it too.

♦ ♥ ♦

In case anyone missed it, this is Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame at the National Press Club yesterday.

WONDERFUL speech here from Grace Tame, Australian of the Year 2021 and sexual abuse survivor advocate. She’s about 17 minutes in and speaks for 20 minutes. Before her is Brittany Higgins, a former political staffer who reported that she was raped in a parliamentary office two years ago and then hounded out of her job when she tried to take steps to bring her rapist to justice. She’s still very teary and it’s sad. But Grace Tame, who’s had longer to recover from her adverse experience, is totally on fire in this and so, so eloquent and to the point. Her speech is an especial pleasure when you’ve been conscious of what’s been going on in Australia’s right-wing government experience of the last eight years, and the current intense spin cycle around the upcoming election, where people are selling words and platitudes on things they’ve dragged their heels on the whole time they’ve been in office.

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