Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion

A Plebiscite Of Hate

This time about a week ago, I sat for an interview on a TV show called The Project, in New Zealand. I was asked out of the blue if I wanted to appear on it to talk about Marriage Equality, or the lack thereof in Australia, and how many of us, for whatever reason, have to fly across the ditch to New Zealand in order to do so.

 

It was one of the most challenging things I think I have ever done. It was a tough day, and a tough week. In one week, I received a visa to go live in the USA, had a funeral and then this. My social network feeds such as Facebook and Twitter were endless posts by friends and acquaintances regarding marriage equality. Each and every voice was pained, emotional, disappointed and bitter, with some angrier than others, yet more were dissenting and apathetic, yet others constructive and collaborative in tone. Day after day more posts, more articles and more dissension filled the space.

 

Suffice to say there was so much in my mind as the hosts [who were so lovely and sweet], asked me question after question.

 

I feel drained. I feel such nervousness and anxiety, which crescendoed last week at the end of the week. I also feel angry, in fact quite so. I cancelled out on my weekly Dungeons and Dragons game which is one of my highlights of my week as quite simply I was exhausted. I feel terrible having had to do this, but I really couldn’t see any other course of action being prudent. I feel like I’m wallowing in my own self pity with all of this, and so much of what has been happening has essentially equated to 1st world problems.

 

Imagine if I was 16 years old, and seeing all these opinions on this issue. Imagine being at your family home, and if like mine, you had parents who were conservative and whose father back then twenty years ago was vaguely homophobic. I was a kid in a household where dad ruled it with an iron fist. People only ever saw the jovial side of living with him, and I recall friends and relatives saying one and all that they wished that they lived in my house. But it wasn’t always so. Thinking back, he was a hard man at times, and his political and social views could be seen as just as problematic and unforgiving.

 

I guess I was always afraid that I was different. Now picture if you or I were this insecure kid today, with all of this arguing to and fro regarding this issue. It would probably drive me into the closet more so. I worry about the psychological impact all of this will have on us, and not just us but those coming to terms with sexuality, or kids of lgbtiq parents.

 

A postal plebiscite. It’s almost too much for me. I feel so plaintive in my emotional state, and I can feel it fast drying out, like a seasonal lake. Having to explain to the lovely hosts of this tv show how enraging it was that we had to go through this really reverberated in me. It feels like society for the most part in this country doesn’t want us to be happy, yet they will gladly take advantage of what our community gives to the greater society.

 

It’s been tough to explain to non-lgbtiq people why I am not on my game for the moment, or why many of us are suffering this malaise. It’s been hard not to snap at people at work. I wish I could explain to some how frustrating and upsetting and demoralising this has all been. I don’t want to play the victim but I really can’t help but feel lost.

 

And, this is exactly what the other side wants from you and I. They want us to be unfocused, sad, upset, confused. They want me and countless others to lose steam, to give up and flounder. They want us to cave in. They want us to fail. They have been given all the cards in this situation, yet in my heart I know they are on the wrong side of history. History is a harsh judge, and I know they will be judged harshly as the side of hatred, the side of backwardness and unyielding refusal for change.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

A long way to go.

Dear Australia,

 

We have a long way to go. A long fucking way. I’m angry as I type this because I, unlike most, have had to go to a foreign country to marry the man who I have had a relationship for almost a decade, despite us having endured as a relationship far longer than the majority of our friends and family.

I’m angry because of the wave of unyielding bickering politicians who are dangerously out of touch with the reality and exigencies of this issue, and of their negating to include the fact that this issue is something that can be resolved so easily and simply, and will bring our country up to speed and standard with much of the developed world.

I’m disappointed that I don’t live in a truly free and egalitarian nation that will allow me to marry the man who I love and have committed to, fought for and treasured these last 8 and a half years. There is something very wrong.

 

I’ve been struggling with my feelings on this issue, as yet again there is more talk of plebiscites, postal votes and parliamentary action. Timing has dictated that my [now] husband, which still sounds strange to me, and I have had to leave to go to New Zealand to get married due to visa issues, with all the new wave of talks and buzzing might equate to marriage equality finally being passed.

 

I feel as though we as Australians have much to learn from our cousins across the Tasman Sea. It is so easy for us to dismiss New Zealand and treat the people as a joke. But the truth is we the joke, and we are lagging behind them. They were so warm and genuine. The looks of surprise when I informed the locals in Auckland that unlike New Zealand, marriage equality wasn’t a thing in Australia crushed my heart and made me feel bitter with grounded up disappointment. Disappointment at my home, my country of birth, my society and community and those who would deny me this which by all rights should be mine to have, just like everyone else in our community. It really is time.

 

We aren’t the cosmopolitan society that we think we are. We aren’t the dynamic, progressive culture that we are known for globally. We present the image [a very WHITE one at that] of a society of modernity yet in truth we are guided by those who would seek to turn the clock back decades. We are led by those whose beliefs have not changed for 50 years; our apparatus of leadership has become stagnant, traditionalist and static, jingoistic, parochial and cabalistic. These are the very people who would have us never change, yet these are the very people profiting off our talents. We seem to have this aura and veneer of sophistication, yet this veneer is thin and it is peeling and it is cracking with every year and every decade and every moment we don’t acknowledge that things are not ok here and restrict true equality.

 

The insidiousness  of this side of us scares me. The lackadaisical and overly relaxed attitudes we have [and by this I include myself] have caused us to fall farther behind, and give permission to those whom are the most strict of traditionalists to dictate our destiny. We are renowned across the world for our generosity of spirit, our arts, our fashion, our produce, our immensely talented and skilled ones of this place, who bring so much to the world. The truth is, this feels all like a sick joke and a bad PR stunt. Or rather, a diabolical one. We have so far to go.

 

We forget, so much of what we see as sophistication and cosmopolitan culture comes from me. It comes from my sisters and brothers of the LGBTIQA community.

 

WE are the ones that have lent ourselves and have created.

 

WE are the ones who experiment and take risks, who put ourselves on the line, WE are the ones who are at the forefront, WE are the ones that thus suffer and get tormented when walking down the street holding hands or wearing attire that isn’t seen as conventional or breaking what is deemed as the status quo re gender and sexuality.

 

Yet those that would dismiss us or abuse us are the ones that will wear the clothes that we design, consume our food or coffee, follow trends that were inexplicably started by someone of LGBTIQA or at least someone involved.

 

WE are the ones that beautify our suburbs only for others to come in and make them staid and urbane.

 

And WE deserve more.

 

I don’t want to be angry and disappointed anymore. I don’t want to hear well-meaning friends or family say it’s just a piece of paper, or that marriage is a failed and heteronormative concept anyways. I haven’t had the luxury of choice in this matter. If I didn’t do this, I would be unable to follow my husband overseas as we are relocating and would have to stay in Australia and let him go.

 

With every news byte of another country legalizing marriage equality my heart sinks as I then see our parochial politicians quagmired in the sensibilities of the middle of the last century respond and go to and fro in what stinks now of desperation. These are the ones who would deny women choice, who would let the indigenous peoples of our country suffer endlessly. These are the ones who would happily close our borders from those who would be looking for a better life and keep us in a time warp forevermore. They realize they are fighting a losing battle and are now simply playing interference and buying time with their perennial calls for a non-binding plebiscite or [incredibly] for a postal joke.

 

But, I know the future will be a better and more accepting time and place than now, and I need to promise myself to be more active, to go to demonstrations and to talk with friends and family about how I feel.

 

We may have a long way to go yet I feel the finishing line is fast approaching, and it is very much worth it.

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2016, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Dear Orlando

Dear Orlando,

This is a difficult post to write. So many thoughts have been running through my mind as I first punch down words on my keyboard. The last week since the tragic occurrence in Orlando has filled me with despair, sadness as well as volumes of guilt.

The portraits of the victims; all smiling, knowable people, the video footage, the imagery and accounts have all had a profound effect on us all no matter where we live. We are all your brothers and sisters. Pain and suffering has gripped us all. I’m sure I’m not the only one to say that we all have been thinking about you.

I was sitting by a pool in an idyllic tropical paradise when I found out what happened, initially via a friend who lives in Orlando who was letting everyone know on social media that he was alright, which made me slightly worried as no details had hit social media yet. This was followed closely by my sister who informed me of what had happened. My heart sank. My eyes welled up. My sister, my boyfriend and I, all three of us being LGBTIQ, looked at each other with shock.

Day by day, more information and more details were gleaned. Social media became absolutely saturated with posts about what happened, rainbow flags popped up everywhere like flowers in a show of solidarity. It became almost too much to take in and process. All of us reined in with posts, thoughts, condolences and information. Many of us changed our profile pictures in support, or re-posted articles. Vigils were held in Orlando as well as cities and locations further afield. A sense of unity grew yet for the saddest and most dire of reasons. Some 49 innocent people died. They died being themselves, being in what was meant to be a safe place. A place that many of our forebears had to fight and suffer and sometimes died to build and protect. These people died enjoying and celebrating their lives, their worlds and their ability to love and be loved and to show this to the whole world. I still look at images of those who died. I feel like I know these people. I think we all have. I’ve met them for coffees, had them over for dinner, met them out dancing and had cheeky romantic interludes with them. They are every one of us everywhere.

Being somewhere like Bali, which is such a haven for decadence, drunken and heinous behaviour and frivolity, I came to feel quite guilty. Guilt at enjoying my time there, guilt when going to a Gay bar, having a drink, meeting new people and yes maybe going on stage to dance with a go go dancer. How could I be there having fun when something so singularly terrible occurred? I still feel this acute pain and sentiment day by day since. How do any one of us feel safe in what is meant to be our own proscribed safe spaces? Should we be feeling this collective sense of guilt? Or is the answer to get into the bars and clubs as well as out on streets and show the wider community that we exist? This is the reason we need our spaces, more now so than ever. Here in Sydney, LGBTIQ spaces are on the decline. I blame our dependency on apps like Scruff and Grindr, which have taken out the middle man of the gay club and bar scene. Sex can be had in our own homes without having to head to a bar or sauna. But that’s another post.

Like my sister and my boyfriend, we were in Bali for a purpose, which was to celebrate my close cousin’s wedding where my sister and I were honoured to be a part of the bridal party. It was difficult for us both, as we were both there in this exotic locale celebrating an event to which we both can’t have for ourselves, and not to mention an event half way across the world which shook us both.

What really upset me was the lack of any response or condolences or a reaction at all from non LGBTIQ people, both in my family or further out. Only a couple close former work friends took time out to send me a message to talk about what had happened. To which warmed my heart. 49 people died viscously. I mentioned in passing to a family member that I was feeling a bit down because of what happened, yet sadly, this person wasn’t even aware. A blank face stared back at me. I guess we all live in our own microcosms of communities online through our online platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which is a great thing as we always will have our finger on the pulse, yet also negative as we run the danger of narrowing our scope. What is important to one person may not be to another. Like in this case. As obviously majority of my friends on Facebook are Gay or Lesbian, much news I consume is very LGBTIQ-centric.

Today, the United States Congress in the worst possible way has insulted this entire tragedy and those who died as well as their families by voting down measures that could ensure this does not happen again. This tragedy has been politicised, the issue at hand morphed and distorted. It has been taken out of our hands as a community. The fact remains that people have died. What is to become of their legacy? It pains and scares me to think of possible future occurrences that could be prevented so simply and with a finality.

The perpetrator of this massacre has become known to be a very broken and hurt person. A person who in hindsight  appeared not able to live with his sexuality and who appears to have wrangled and fought with the clash of his ideological beliefs in contrast with his sexuality. I actually pity this man. A man so torn and disrupted, who has now abruptly and savagely ended the lives of so many people. I wonder what he was thinking, what experiences he went through for him to do this.

I hope that the families of those who died can find some solace somehow and someway in the future.

I also hope we can all continue to look out and support each other. I hope we can all continue to be ourselves in public without fear of persecution, and I hope we can give love to all who need it.

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2016, Australia, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Folly Of Nationalism.

Pride in one’s nation can be a very dangerous thing. An accident of birth determines so much of one’s circumstances, whether being born as female or male, in differing socio-economic circumstances and geographic location determines one’s life to a substantive degree.

The fact that so much human misery and destruction, both to ourselves and to this planet we inhabit is due to what is in essence tribalism and factionalism magnified in macro makes me personally deride national pride. I know this may be a very controversial point of view, but I am against national pride, patriotism and nationalism as these concepts so easily lend themselves to the politics of hate and exclusion, namely right-wing political ideologies filled with hatred and racism such as Fascism.

Being a self-identified Social Democrat, my standpoint is one of inclusion, fraternity and opportunity for all, not to mention basic human rights that should be afforded to all. REGARDLESS of skin colour, gender, age and sexuality. Universal healthcare, education and welfare support to name a few. Luckily, I live in a nation that gives me access me these things, however we are facing a crossroads, one in which we can easily begin the long downward slide into rugged individualism, economic rationalism and 100% free marketeering. The aforementioned concepts of universal healthcare, education et al should not be a source of pride, they are EXPECTATIONS to me. All in all, I don’t want us, a post-colonial nation which has suffered from so much cultural cringe as well as a lack of identity, to become something akin to a 51st state of the USA.  The political, economic and social policies and goals of the current government, a conservative economo/finance-centric one, would have us simply become a facsimile of the United States. I know the likelihood of this is slim, but I find that some political factions in this country would dearly love this country to forgo and forget its important and indelibly widespread, and far-reaching social-based policies which have helped shape us as a nation. Policies, which established by the almost hallowed yet ultimately doomed and somewhat naive Whitlam government in the early 1970’s that have really become enmeshed and a vital component and makeup in our national identity.

Mateship, a buzzword so easily thrown around in a disparaging manner, especially with regards when describing the ‘true-blue ocker Aussie identity’, to me belies the sense of humanist spirit summed up in the classic phrase ‘egalite, fraternite, liberte’. The term mateship to me has a very real cringey self-involved aspect linking to the identity of the average Australian as a sun burnt, beer swilling tradie white Aussie battler, yet we all know this is far from the reality. It to me equates far more to the crux ideal that we are all in this together, that we are all a community and that in short, we are still affected by the plights and suffering of others.  We only need to look at how we have mistreated political refugees in recent years as well as the indigenous peoples of this nation not to mention the very real lag in progress for Gay marriage to see we have a long way to go. So, due to my political ideologies which have more concurrent concerns on the state and welfare of the human being as a part of a greater community than nationalist pride, I find this question, in fact the entire concept of national pride somewhat disturbing.

Australia has had somewhat a strange and if not at times quietly turbulent history. This nation was established on the plight, plunder and suffering of the indigenous populations and peoples that inhabited this land for many an epoch before the first European man set-foot on our shores. The colonies that formed the core of what would later become Australia in 1901 were established simply due to the fact that the British required pre-eminence and predominance in every aspect of society at the time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Competition in trade, military strength and cultural influence was fierce between the imperial powers. Colonies were established simply to deny the other colonial and imperialist powers of the day namely France and Russia a foothold on this continent. Purposeless colonies established in order to restraining other nations from gaining a piece of this incongruous continent. A somewhat strange and wasteful notion. A continent with untold mysteries and clearly very misunderstood. For decades it was believed a large inland sea bisected the continent, where unbound arable lands were to be found. A localised El Dorado, almost. Water has always been much more important than gold here. The truth was, this land was and still is harsh; unforgiving yet also beautiful and compelling in its hardness and alien nature in comparison to Western Europe.

The European policy of Terra Nullius, or ‘Empty Land’, which essentially equated the British or any other European imperialist power having right and reason to plant a flag anywhere that was not according to them inhabited [Farming, structures], meant that this land was forcibly and unjustly stolen from the indigenous tribes that very much inhabited this continent.

Add to this the penal and convict legacy of this country, as well as prevailing casual racism, the mistreatment of immigrants as well as indigenous peoples, and it makes me hard to have pride in my country of birth. In many ways I’m very lucky to be born in a nation that has afforded many including myself so many liberties and freedoms. Of course this is undeniable. A dark side of our culture has come to the fore in the past, and I’m sure will continue to flash and flare in the future. The Stolen Generations, the Cronulla riots of 2005, the plight and abject suffering of the asylum seekers and refugees of Manus Island are some examples to name a few.

No nation is perfect, no nation-state to me deserves pride and patriotism invested in it. Our governments and politicians who are the apparatus and nervous system of all nations deserve to fear their citizenry and treat them with an accordance of respect and deference, as the citizenry are the nation, not the artifice of national identity. Nations are simply lines drawn on a map, the reality is often much messier and much more prosaic and obtuse. There is never black and white, but always grey.

Yes, I know I sound like a raving rabble-rousing left-wing Marxist ideologue apparatchik but the truth is, nationalist pride for me is a very perilous concept, one that can create competition, enmity and disparity which can lead to human suffering and bloodshed.

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2016, Uncategorized

On Being Afraid.

Fear, and feeling afraid of anything can be such a life-halting force. It can deter us from moving forward in our lives, it can tempt us into drinking the bittersweet nectar of self-wallowing. It can drive us off the proverbial cliff; yet at the same time fear can be a potent motivator for many. The fear of failure, or mediocrity in this case for me, is a constant in my world.

I’m afraid of failure, right now at this point in my life. Failure is something that is on my mind a lot these days. Far too much mental energy is expended in my mind to thinking about my life, and how I feel as though I’m not reaching my potential. I’m afraid of mediocrity, of living life in the box, of every year that goes past being identical to the last. A generation of us have grown up with the ideal that we can all be ‘Whatever we want’ as long as we put our grit, determination and drive to it and work hard for it. Is this the truth? Is it possible to work hard and reach that impossible dream, or are we all setting ourselves up for a fall?   For me, I feel as though it has been a long, slow and difficult progression, getting what I want, and where I want to be in life. Right now, my career [or lack thereof] is what has been filling me with fear.

Truly, I’m afraid of being 40 and still being a Human Vending Machine. It all comes back to this. I don’t want to be folding clothes, tidying pillows, putting chairs away and wasting my days away with a ‘hi, how are you?’ I just can’t do it, and I refuse to. Yes, I know that so many other people are struggling with so many problems of much more magnitude than my little conundrum, yet lately I have been putting a lot of brain power and thought to my future, and my escape plan out of my current job. I just don’t want to be there forever, my dream is to be in a workplace where my skills other than that of selling are appreciated, a place where I am motivated to give my all because I actually enjoy being there. Where I am now currently is far from this. It is a factory. Fast Furniture. It’s terribly difficult to face the day there sometimes, to put on a brave face and live day in day out. I started my current job almost two years ago, with the intention of progression. Which inevitably has not happened. I’m forever thinking about my future at work, and formulating little plans and fantasies in my mind, the foremost being the moment I finally attain that job that will lead me to an actual career, and I tell everyone there that I’m leaving, with a big unapologetic grin. Am I placing too much strain on myself? Is this fear something that will leverage the best out of me to get me off my arse and get out into the world, or will it make me drift in a malaise?

I’m afraid of being in stasis,I’m afraid of every year morphing into the next, each segmented division of time being the same as the previous, as well as the next.I’m afraid of not changing, growing or evolving. Of being static. I want to change. ‘I Am Willing To Change’ is something I tell myself almost daily. It’s a simple self-affirmation that I will say to myself in the mirror when I wake up, or at work on particularly difficult days. I Am Willing To Change. We all can change. I truly believe this. We keep the core of ourselves intact, yet we are always in a state of flux. Transforming, discarding and shedding our old selves, and forming our new selves.

What is life without change? Meaningless, stale and fetid. I know this is quite a dramatic statement, but in my eyes we all have to be willing to change ourselves, to adapt, to be dynamic. I’m not the same person I was 7 years ago. Both literally and figuratively. My skin grows, dies and is replaced by fresh new skin. My hair gets greyer each year. My mind grows un-incapacitated, expanding like an infinite USB memory stick. I learn more and more every day. I collect information, no matter how trivial, and I manage to store it away for future use. I collect life experience as well, and snapshot every event in my mind.

I am afraid of losing this ability, of not being able to collect things like experience and information, of taking things at face value, of not looking past the present, of not breaking life down into its core components. I’m afraid of my world being confined like an ornamental garden: manicured, pleasant and placidly safe.

Fear and being afraid can be a positive thing; it’s what makes us strive to achieve foremost. What would life, the world and existence itself be like if it weren’t for a small dose of fear to motivate us into doing things? Into achieving and reaching higher and higher goals? It can help us grit our teeth and carry on towards the light on the hill. Perhaps I should choose not to be afraid, but to look forward to my future, to take every step towards that future with a determination and undaunted, unbowed outlook.

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2016, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Hetero-Normativity In Gay Relationships.

The other week I had a fight with my boyfriend of almost 7 years about ham. Ham. I went to the shop armed with a list of items to get for dinner as provided by my culinary genius husband-man, one of the items listed being simply ‘ham’. So I picked up some sliced ham at the shop and returned home, little to know what a giant shit-storm was about to take place once I got back.

To cut a rather long and incredibly dull story short involving accusations of idiocy, lack of intelligence and logic, I came home with the wrong ham. The boyfriend blew up at me, I blew up at him, and once the initial wave of hot-blooded Italian tempers gave way and reason returned, we realised we were fighting about HAM.

This is a relatively normal occurrence for us. The bi and sometimes tri-monthly fights about things which are so inane and rudimentary yet at the time seem monumental and colossal in importance for us are a fixture in our otherwise serene 6 and a half year-long relationship. The both of us share very similar upbringings, including Italian backgrounds, which means, aside from consuming way too much pasta and carbs in general, we like to lose our tempers and proclaim vendettas against eachother quite easily and quickly, leaving logic and reason far, far behind. Knives and any sharp objects in general should be well hidden and secure. In short, we’re honouring the time-old Italian tradition of Vendetta, but without all the dueling and bloodshed. We both feel however that it’s better getting the crazy out and yelling at each other than bottling it up and creating yet more fun neuroses for us to enjoy.Again this is because of our similar upbringings, where emotion and passion go hand in hand.

I feel like most couples have the same, or a similar experience in life, regardless of sexual orientation or socio-economic circumstance. Which made me think how alike to straight people LGBT co-dependents can be, or have become; which then in turn led me to think about what the status and/or validity of Gay/Lesbian/Trans et al relationships.

 

Find your soulmate, pair off, buy the house in the ‘burbs with an accompanying purebred dog and a Range Rover or VW Golf. Possibly have kids down the track and many a wine-fuelled soiree along the way.

 

Increasingly to me, this is becoming the status quo and norm of LGBT relationships. Is it because I’m getting older and leaving my so-called party days in the past? This may not apply for all members of the community who are in relationships obviously; yet more and more it seems that a ‘hetero-normative’ conformity is becoming the standard. What’s this mean? That Gay and Lesbian relationships which are stable and monogamous are on the rise. Something akin to a traditional straight relationship. Which leads many [including myself] to wonder what is to become of us. Are we wrong to want to instinctively seek out monogamous or monogamous-appearing relationships? Does this mean we are becoming simply facsimiles of what many of us don’t want to be: the stable, unexciting and dull loveless heterosexual couple? There are many LGBTIQ people out there who rail against and abhor this supposed heteronormative conformity, the catch cry always: ‘Why do I want to be married? I’m not straight and I don’t want to be’.

The well-appointed house or flat, the fancy car and/or purebreed pets. A steady and high-paying job with a lot of upward mobility. Preferably in a design/creative field. All the trappings of a typically urbane, staid and comfortable existence. I for one can’t talk as I live in one of those ‘well-appointed abodes’, or ‘Hipster Apartment’ as a friend remarked the other day. Is this all a positive evolution? Through the rise of the stable monogamous relationship, are we able to prove to the wider world our worth; a place where we can have our rightfully fought-for and earned position in society along with the responsibilities that go along with it?

Do we even need to prove this point to the mainstream community?

Do we need to actually prove anything to anyone at all?

If we can have the freedom to marry [something which we in Australia cannot do yet but that’s another blog post], do we become something very akin to the run-of-the-mill straight couple in every suburb in the country? Or are we as a community, by entering in very ‘hetero-normative’ relationship becoming the very things so many brave and fearless individuals have fought against? Do we lose our Queer identities and richly vibrant culture by evolving into what is expected by the wider society: coupled-off interchangeable hetero-induced straight-for-all-intents-and-purposes couples?

I recently read an article posted online at HuffPost about the ramifications of LGBT relationships being legitimised by the wider society, foremost being the fact that the poster boys and girls of this wave of controversially titled ‘LGBT Assimilation’ in terms of hetero-normatised relationships are generally going to be Middle-Class or above, Caucasian, cisgendered [I still struggle with that term], and relatively prosperous. As author of this article Colin Walmsley states, with the fight for marriage equality almost at an end in the Western world, have we lost the very essence of what it means to be Queer? Have we also left behind those who aren’t so fortunate, such as transgendered, homeless or other marginalised segments of the LGBT community?

‘After all, although marriage is a declaration of love, in many ways it is also an expression of interpersonal stability, economic security and social respectability — attributes that many marginalized LGBT people do not have. So while love may have won for middle and upper class gays, many transgender people, queer people of color and queer homeless youths instead find themselves left behind by a community that has become increasingly defined by the interests of its white, cisgender, middle and upper class members.’ 

Another point made in this article is that because of the rise of the so-called onrush of LGBT assimilation, more LGBT people are transitioning from being on the fringe of society to ebbing towards the hubs and centres of societal power and authority. As many of us prosper and climb the ladders of success, what effect does this have? As concluded in this article, those who fought for Gay and Lesbian rights from some 50 years ago were the ones whose unconventionality and diversity gave birth to the very idea of Queer/LGBT culture and the fight for equality.

And they’re the ones being forgotten.

We all know about the ‘whitewashing‘ of the new film based on the historically important Stonewall Riots, where important figures in history who are non-white, non-cisgendered individuals have been replaced by stereotypically handsome white youngsters. This is just the latest.

With our expensive clothes, exclusive club nights, gym memberships, vintage cars and elegant homes, are we killing the very thing that has brought us to this point in time? Or is it simply logical once full equality is achieved to want to be ‘like everyone else’ and fit in?

As the well known artist and long time advocate for the Bohemian lifestyle David Hockney recently stated in an interview,

‘Too many gay men have become ‘boring’ and ‘conservative’… too many gay men were determined to lead ‘ordinary’ lives by entering into civil partnerships and having children through adoption or surrogate mothers;
“They want to be ordinary – they want to fit in,” said Hockney, “Well I don’t care about that. I don’t care about fitting in. Everywhere is so conservative.”

He has a very valid point. Our sense of ‘Bohemia’ is fast becoming a thing of the past. You only need to see the state of things in my hometown Sydney for yourself. Gay-friendly venues are shutting doors more and more frequently. Why is this? Because traditionally LGBT communities have been ones living and growing on the far-flung fringes of society, away from the societal structures of power, protected by this protracted distance which meant that new and previously unseen support networks, subcultures, art and concepts emerged and arose. You only need to recall the impact of LGBT people on so much of society which stems from these communities in history, how much art and culture and innovation has been borne of these petri-dishes of new and experimental cultures that were created out of necessity. Warhol, Mapplethorpe, Oscar Wilde Turman Capote Annie Leibowitz. I could go on indefinitely. The one thing besides being supremely talented and Gay or Lesbian was that they were all involved with the subversive and underground Bohemian LGBT cultures of their times.

Will we loose this streak of creative fury and inventiveness, as well as our zeal, steadfastness and willingness to dare and fight for what’s right? Is the future of LGBT/Queer culture to be one of ‘beige’ sensibilities, where the acceptance of full marriage equality has led to a loss of this once-vibrant culture? Is the first thrown brick through a window going to be replaced with a French Bulldog or some other trendy purebred dog, clutched in a well-toned arm as opposed to being flung into a window of course. I fear that this may be the case, or that there will somewhat be a growing divide in our community between those who long for a ‘conventional’ relationship and those who don’t. I know that relationships aren’t for everybody.Which is ok with me. I know marriage isn’t for everyone, again which is ok. My life with my partner works well for me, but I don’t disrespect those who believe that being in a relationship tends to be a hetero-conformative concept placed on us from above. And I’d like those who have the opposite viewpoint to not disrespect me for being in a relationship.

For me personally it is quite difficult for me to say which way I feel about this argument, as I agree with both sides. LGBT people need to continue to work at being accepted in our society in general, and one way this can happen is if our modal relationships are somewhat normalised to a degree. However, I accept that we are far from dull and normal as a segment of society, and that we should be all inclusive and not forget who and what makes us, and our special community great.

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2015, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Uncategorized

Male Objectivity And Fear Of The Peen.

Recently, acclaimed fashion designer Rick Owens [let’s be honest, I’d never heard of him before either], drew attention, astonishment and some ire from the indignant masses of the internet-bound public for sending out some of his androgynous, handsome and emaciated male models in garments that were cut right up about to the crotch, which meant that some ‘peen’ was slightly visible when said skinny-boy models trounced and hoofed down the runway. Slightly NSFW pics below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Owens : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2015-2016      Rick Owens : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2015-2016

 

Aforementioned ‘peen’ was briefly visible, sometimes dangling through the finely delicate folds of what is I’m sure very expensive material. I won’t lie, it was an oddly beautiful, unexpected display of male objectivity. A nice change if you will from the constant barrage of female bits on display everywhere one looks. Objectifying women is somehow acceptable as of course media is run by the SWM [Straight White Man], but once a man is sexually objectified, the floodgates are let loose. The blasé and uninterested looks on the chiseled-featured and hungry looking model’s faces as they purposely and confidently strode down the catwalk, combined with the flash of a bouncy dick was in a strange way attractive. Heroin chic mixed with a bit of kielbasa. Also, the scenario of male nudity in such a public space is always something that I find oddly fascinating. But of course, I’m gay so any tidbit of a sausage and two veg will get me excited.

Articles then made the rounds, were shared and discussed [most vehemently] in the most modern agora of discourse: social media. I myself shared an article about this show with a small comment relaying to how I’m looking forward to this ‘peeping penis’ look trickling down to the high street fashion retailers like Top Shop for next season. Much of the feedback of course was negative. Much of this negativity was linked with the penis being an inherently unattractive body part, something that should be tucked away, hidden and harmless, and not out for show.

Why is this? The penis itself is traditionally viewed as an instrument both of masculine virility yet also revilement. A dichotomy of sexual potency as well as potential violence. Going back through the annals of history, the penis has connotations with phallic symbology and discourse such as swords, knives and other instruments of violence. Closer to the present time and we get ‘Penis Envy’, where a man’s junk is an object to be both desired, coveted and yet reviled at the same time. Gay men whose main concerns sexually are the size of one’s business end are commonly referred to as ‘Size Queens’. Even more extreme is anti-nuclear proliferation proselytiser Helen Caldicott’s ‘Missile Envy’, which takes the concept of Penis Envy to an utmost exaggeration where both sides in the Cold War competed to build bigger, taller and more potently destructive missiles, a theory which was associated back to male strength and superiority in the Patriarchal-run world we live in.

So. We’ve all grown up with the penis being something associated with strength, virility as well as violence, and more importantly, underlining disgust.

In this case, it was a case of subtlety in context of fashion. Said penis was, like was stated in a recent Dazed And Confused article which can be read here, quote: ‘Discreet, tucked away, quiet – these aren’t the thrusting phalluses from Tom of Finland. Nor are they the cheery, candy-coloured penis shoes of Walter Van Beirendonck. And they’re most definitely not the questionable bulge of Justin Bieber’s Calvin Klein campaign.’ 

Enter the many comments, posts and shares with many a pun based on the good old reliable Dick Joke. It’s funny how the penis can be such a punchline for low-brow humour. And also how physically, without the constraints of underwear to hold everything in place, just how hilarious a penis looks bobbing up and down flaccid. As is evinced by all at the Rick Owens show.

Why is this the case? Does the penis have to be forever erect in order to be feared or respected? Visual imagery of the phallus has gone through many changes in history. Rick Owens himself responded to the complete shitfight that erupted about the little dick slips in his show. He puts it best when he stated: “I pass classical marble statues of nude and draped figures in the park every day, and they are a vision of sensuality — yes, but also of grace and freedom. As a participant in one of our most progressive aesthetic arenas, am I not allowed to use this imagery? Is it only appropriate for a Michael Fassbender movie? I thought this might be an interesting question.”

He’s absolutely correct. The penis or even just the hint of one is enough to get us all in a frenzy. Yet despite this it can’t be denied that the nude male form is one of beauty, admiration and sensuality, as Rick Owen stated.

Women have forever taken the brunt of sexually objective imagery and have always been the objects of the male gaze. Titillated over by men, stripped down bare and reduced to little more than sexualised imagery for the gratification of said men. They are forever the receivers of validation in our male-run, sexualised and sex obsessed culture. Why, then, was such a furore caused by just a subtle peek of peen? How many instances of female objectification occur on a day-to-day basis with barely any comment by media, traditional or social or otherwise, in comparison to examples of men being objectified? Let’s not forget the case of Halle Berry displaying her goods for a purported seven-figure sum for a diabolically terrible action film. this was of course a big deal for the time. Yet of course, it was made bigger due to the want and desire of the male gaze to see Halle Berry bare at any price. Or, as I was told by a fellow on Grindr who had a good point, characters getting their bits out on Girls, or the rampant sex and violence we see in shows like Game Of Thrones. Yes, Game Of Thrones differs slightly in terms of male nudity, yet it is always the female naked form which takes centre stage. Examples of male objectification are much more underground and generally not quite as high-profile.

The answer is, the male form and masculinity cannot be an endpoint of desire to be viewed as a proprietary sexualised identity. The man is a predominant figure in our society and must be seen as authoritative and strong. The male is seen forever as the giver, the active side whereas the female is the submissive receiver in this symbiosis. Can this change? Can the male form be seen as a touchstone of tenderness, softness and sensuality, without the need to militarise it in context of strength and dominance?

To me, what this fashion designer did was both not that crazy; not even that controversial, yet also a right step in the correct direction. Is a small amount of male nudity enough to really get people so riled up? Is our society reverting back to an approximation of the Victorian era, wherein social mores, values and ideals were stifling and stuffy? Is sexual and gender identity to be yet again repressed and banished from mainstream discourse? More male objectification needs to occur. The male body is a thing of beauty, grace and a virile raw strength, and yes, the penis is a part of that. Like ’em or not, dicks are here to stay, and to me both sexes should be objectified equally or not at all.

Male objectification seems to be a continually and cyclically touchy and controversial subject, something that I feel will take quite a long time for any change to occur, if it ever does. People’s perceptions to public dick doesn’t look to change any time soon, and will continually be viewed in twin frameworks of humour or revilement; yet as my friend on Grindr said to me, ‘it’s time to #freethepeen!’

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