Sunday, 31 August 2008

Inside my skin

This poem was taken from "writing themeselves in again: 6 years on The 2nd national report on the sexuality, health & well-being of same sex attracted young people in Australia"

AMBER, 18 years
Inside my skin;
I saw that inside me was outside of them;
And I feared that I would never be able to speak;
What was on the tip of my tounge waiting to fall out;
It's inside me that knows where I am and who I am;
Yet outside I can't make sense. Because sense betrays me;
I look at them opposites of each other, complimenting one anothers contours;
And I see us like a mirror one and the same;
Curves and soft skin;
Touching curves and soft skin;
You're waiting to come in;
But I can't let you in, Inside me.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Union Solidarity

So I was feeling a little bit depressed last night. The authorities at school (our lesbian principal) have been making our school queer movement (not that we're allowed to say queer or movement...or make, end or a host of other seemingly inoffensive words) incredibly difficult. I recently copped a bit of shit from the knuckle heads who sit in the back row of one of my classes (need I say more) and sadly had even experienced some transphobia from a friend from within the queer movement and I had bad tooth ache : (. Though I was offcourse no where near ready to throw the towel in, that huge task ahead of us (eliminating queerphobia) appeared to be getting larger instead of smaller, so I rummaged through my queer and feminist political literature for some inspiration and a boost in motivation. I found it, in the story Of Jeremy fisher as recorded by himself:
Pink BansThe historic role of the New South Wales Builders Labourers federation in support of Gay rights
Late in the evening of May 26, 1973 in my room at Robert Menzies College, an Anglican residential college of Macquarie University, I attempted to kill myself. I was very nearly successful. Why I did so has a lot to do with the fact that I was 18, from the country and gay. Unfortunately, many 18-year-old gay males, especially those from the country, still try to kill themselves and some of them succeed. But that is another story.
[Extensive construction work was occuring at Menzies College, and other campusses of te university]
I had joined the small gay students' group on campus. In their book green Bans, Red Union Meredith and Vertit Burgman recall I was elected Treasurer. It was no big thing, though. There were no more than ten or twelve of us gays and lesbians in the group at any one time. As treasurer, I was never responsible for any amount greater than $20.
I didn't advise the College, especially its dean, the Reverend Alan Cole, of my on-campus activities. I sensed the information wouldn't have been received well. As well, in the College I was being encouraged to join in the prayer and bible discussion groups, but I resisted. While the College might have been run by the Anglican Church, I didn’t see why I had to subscribe to the church's teachings. The College's information pack clearly stated that it accepted students of all faiths.
I'd chosen to study at Macquarie because I had vague thoughts that I might become a teacher, but I knew I wouldn't be allowed into schools if I were open about my sexuality. Homosexuals were not accepted as teachers in New South Wales schools in 1973.
Following my suicide attempt, my parents came down to Sydney from Newcastle as soon as they heard I was in hospital. After I was released into their care, Allan Cole had a conversation with my father and me, meant to offer solace and care. He said he believed that I was possessed by a satanic mask that I had hung on the wall of my college room.
[While Jeremey was in hospital the Cole had investigated and discovered the existance of the Gay and Lesbian group at Menzies and had discovered that Jeremy was the Treasurer, he had found the money in Jeremy's room, Jeremey joked in a tallk he gave at QC that there was probably only about $5]
No doubt Cole meant well and was sincere in his views, but there was something disconcerting about the passionate way he put them...
A day or so after my conversation with Cole I walked down the concrete steps from the ground building into the basement Students' Council offices at Macquarie University as Rod Webb and Jeff Hayler were preparing the final copy for the next edition of the student paper, Arena. Bearded Rod Webb (latter program director for SBS) was editor of the newspaper. Rod was heavily involved in what was then known as the Socialist Workers' League, a Trotskyist organisation following a philosophy espoused by an American group called the Socialist Workers Party. Jeff by contrast was the product of a western suburbs Catholic school and more of the pragmatic left. He acted as the oil that smoothed the differences between the Left coalitions that then dominated the Students' council. During my time at Macquarie, the council was the training ground for future politicians such as senator John Faulkner, union activists like David Carrey of the Public Service Union, and future journalists like Jenny Brockie of SBS.
I told Jeff and Rod I needed to talk to them. They asked me to wait while they finished what they were doing. They were on a deadline...
Once the delaine had been met and the proofs despatched, attention fell on me. I hesitantly spoke to Rod and Jeff about my problem with Robert Menzies College and they immediately went to work, ringing their contacts across Sydney. Suddenly the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) had green-banned construction at the college over me. Almost immediately I was a media event. Even back then with the clumsy technology of the seventies, television could act fast. Within hours of Rod and Jeff's first calls, a reporter from the ABC's This Day Tonight and a silent cameraman interviewed me under a grevillea on a rise near Chancellery.... The interview was technical and unemotional.
When the results appeared that night on the ABC the power of the medium hit me. That was me talking to the world and telling everybody that I was gay and that the Anglican Church had discriminated against me. Overnight I became the 'Jeremy Fisher Incident' and received an object lesson in the power of television. But it was too late to turn back. I had to keep going.
It was only days after I'd been in hospital. Possibly I should have allowed myself more time to recuperate. But Cole's attitude had annoyed me, telling me I had to be something different to what I was because his God demanded it of me. However, Cole's attitude to me, to homosexuals, infuriated me, gave me back some pride in myself, defined my homosexual persona enough for me to take umbrage and make a stand. I am sure Cole never expected the resulting fuss. He was completely convinced of the correctness of his actions.
But so was I.
When we came out of the meeting with Cole, my father has said: 'You're not going back there', meaning the college. I didn’t want to go, either. I wasn’t objecting to Cole's attitude because I wanted to return to the College. My point was simply that Cole shouldn't be imposing his own religiosity in a secular, university environment. It was a point of principle. The BLF assumed I wanted to go back until, one day back down in the Students' Council basement, Bob Pringle, then part of the BLF's leadership, asked me:
'why do you want to go back into that place?'
'I don't' I said'
But we're out on strike to put you back' he said, a hint of anger in his eyes.
'I thought I'd been kicked out because I was gay' I answered.
Bob looked at me for a moment, directly into my eyes. All sorts of thoughts whirled into my head. Was he going to withdraw BLF's support? Did he think I'd tricked him? Did he want to hit me? Then he said:'I guess you're right. It's the principle of the thing. They shouldn't pick on a bloke because of his sexuality.
It was now early June 1973. The Builders' Labourers had green-banned further building at college and were threatening to do the same for the whole university if the college were threatening to do the same for the whole university if the College wasn’t disciplined for it's anti-homosexual attitude. It was a brave decision for a union to take.
...The union had been earlier approached by Jean Curthoys and Elizebeth Jacka at the University of Sydney when the university refused to approve a course on women's social liberation. Curthoys and Jacka asked the union to give support, since the proposed course was supported by staff and students, but resisted by the administration. Both women addressed a meeting of union members at the University and as a result the members, all men voted to stop work in support of the course. Mundey (then secretary of the BLF) says: 'And this of course was taken up in the newspapers as a...big issue because here is an all male, union...that has never been involved in women's issues taking action to support the rights of women.' The union’s action encouraged the University administration to have a change of heart and approve the course.
With regard to Macquarie University and me, Mundey says because 'these students and workers had been together against the Vietnam War and anti-apartheid, it was taken that there was a relationship there, between the progressive students and the...workers, the progressive trade unionists. And again, as a repeat of what happened at Sydney University, Bob Pringle, the president, went out to that university. Again there was substantial building taking place because Macquarie came together and they, like [at] Sydney University, took action and said, they'll go on strike until Fisher is reinstated.'
Mundey notes that 'not every builders' labourer was a galloping conservationist or women's' libber or even supporter of the rights of gays', but nevertheless the union developed a more mature position on these issues in the face of hostility from some of the more extreme elements. While the union still agitated on basic employment issues, it also developed policies that addressed 'such things as how people live, the question of what the next generation is going to leave them.' The union also encouraged people from the gay movement to addressee 'such things as how people live, the question of what the next generation is going to have, what are we going to leave for them'. The union also encouraged people from the gay movement to address its members at their work sites and highlight the discrimination suffered by homosexuals at a time when their sexual orientation, at least for males was still illegal. Homosexuality wasn't an issue that the BLF membership felt strongly about, as Jack Mundey notes, but regardless the union acted in support of my right to live openly as a homosexual on a secular university campus. Previously, green bans had some environmental focus. This was the first time the union had acted on an issue of this nature, and as far as I'm aware the first time any union anywhere in the world supported gay rights as a matter of principle.
Verity Burgmann has written 'One of the famous early battles of gay liberation was over the expelling of Jeremy Fisher from a residential college at Macquarie University, for being gay, in June 1973. The NSW Branch of the Builders Labourers Federation stopped work on the uncompleted college in protest, in solidarity with gay liberation.' she and her sister Meredith Burgmann, then a philosophy lecturer at Macquarie and now President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, also described the events in their book Green Bans, Red Union as a 'pink ban'. And so it was: the very first.
-Jeremy Fisher

In more recent times the Fire Fighters union has taken a stand for queer rights. The fire fighters union encouraged their members to vote green over Labour for their stance on same-sex marriage.

The struggle for Queer rights is tied up with the struggles of workers and of unionists as we struggle against the same oppressive system.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Sexuality Nazzi's

The term ‘Queer’ as mentioned before highlights a fluidity in both sexuality and gender identity. I choose not to be pigeon-holed into a specific role. Queer is anything outside heterosexual. Awareness of sexuality and gender diversity means not only tolerance but acceptance of EVERYBODY and not creating ridged roles (hetero sexual/homosexual, fem*le/male) which we demand people follow in order to be recognised and respected. Not queer enough:
Diversity-Awareness and Acceptance
"You're not a REAL queer, you just don’t even know what you are, you're just EXPERIMENTING, you are a TOURIST LESBIAN”
This is what I was told by a friend of mine who identifies as a lesbian recently.
I identify as a queer. I choose not to identify as a specific gender or really a specific sexuality, though for convenience sake I'd probably be referred to as bisexual and bi-gendered. My identifying with my assigned-birth gender (at times) and my sexual attraction to members of the opposite sex (as well as the same) does not make me any less queer.

Key to the Queer Liberation movement is the idea that we should be free to love who we choose, why should this exclude queers who choose to sleep with/ be in relationships with members of the opposite gender.
The fluidity of sexuality and gender identity are challenged when we prescribe to a heteronormative view of relationships. How can we as queer and queer allies confess to challenge this view of “normality” if we too define things by their opposites, in black and white: Homosexual and Heterosexual?

Gleaned from forums populated mostly by people aged 12-20, are some common misconceptions of bisexuality Compiled by queer activists; Jessica Rodgers and Zienobia Frost in “Freedom to love whom we choose” in Querelle08:
· Most label themselves as bi ‘just to be cool’ or ‘to attract the opposite sex”
· Bisexuality is a phase between identifying as straight and coming out as gay
· Bisexuals will leave a same-sex partner at the drop of a hat
· They are untrustworthy and are uncommitted to queer rights
· They ‘cant make up their minds’ and therefore lack direction in life and above all, they are promiscuous and greed
What does it really feel like to be in the grey zone? Also compiled by Jessica Rodgers and Zienobia Frost in “Freedom to love whom we choose” Querelle08:
“It feels like being bisexual means always feeling like an outsider. People make you feel like you are just pretending (pretending either not to be a lesbian or not to be straight), or that you’re just trying things. There are assumptions that being bisexual means not knowing what you want” –Alex
“I feel guilty saying it now, but I can remember, as a teen, taking on the view that had been drummed into me: bisexual people were less queer than gays and were therefore less cool”-Marian
“…The overall attitude: You’re either with us, or against us. Perhaps queer solidarity is working against itself; our insecurities as a community are getting the better of us…As long as I say I don’t say I might be with a guy at one point in my life I feel like I belong to the queer community”-Alex

Heterophobia also appears in the prejudice aimed at “suburban” gays and lesbians who formalise their relationships and raise children. These people have in the past been accused of modelling or even creating Heteronormativity -rather than being applauded for challenging these norms. These people along with bisexuals and asexual people are sometimes regarded as “less queer” On measuring queerness Dean Kiley states: “Evidentiary processes to establish hierarchies of queerness or authenticity of poofdom would be the literary equivalent of random DNA testing on potential Mardi Gras members” (Querelle08)

Heteronormativity wins when we begin ranking ‘queerness’! Being queer is whether or not by choice (in part) about transcending socially constructed boundaries on our sexuality and gender identity. As queers and queer allies we are called upon to keep an open mind, to be part of a campaign of sexuality and gender diversity awareness. We should not mimic the narrow-mindedness of the homophobes we rally against. There is no room for narrow-mindedness and moralising judgements whether it be on a persons sexuality or gender identity what ever that may be or their “promiscuity” How can we preach acceptance and tolerance if we are critical of people who have relationships with or sleep with multiple people, people who engage in relationships (sexual or otherwise) with members of the opposite sex, people desire to forgo sex or indeed queers who choose to formalise their relationships and/or bring up children.

It is a mistake to think that what we do with our genitals is integral to our identity!
Asexuals (and their allies) unfortunately are largely still be fighting in some circles to have asexuality recognised as a legitimate sexual orientation. To by knowledge there is no clearly identifiable and recognised symbol of asexuality other than the black ring. This is a symbol which has received minimal publicity and it's effectivness is limmited as many asexuals do not know of ith themselves and many non-asexual wear black rings totally unaware of it's significance to the asexual movement. AVEN (Asexuality Visibility Education Network) is a group which fight for the recognition of asexuality as an orientation.





Saturday, 23 August 2008

Coming Out Story






Here is an interesting coming out story...






I have a dear friend who I will call Peter (for simplicity's sake), he's gay but unfortunately he is or I suppose, was; deep, deep in the closet. He comes from a strict Italian Catholic family, he'd never felt he could be open to his family and sadly he wasn't comfortable telling most of his friends either. He used to tell me of all the horrors that would befall him if his family ever found out.

Earlier this year his friends and family had become very suspicious of his sexuality. At first he started trying to hit on me, flirt with me and stuff, which didn't seem to fit at ALL with who i knew him to be, not because I was aware of his sexuality but because he had never spoken to me in this manner before. Eventually with some prodding from me he came out to me and the asked for my help. Begrudgingly I agreed to pose as his "girl friend"-a term i detest by the way.
So from then on I occasionally went out with him and his mates or him and his family. It became a bit of a game with his family, we decided that if we were going to play this game, we'd play it well you know RELAY lay it on thick. We acted so painfully "hetronorm" Like we conformed to gender roles so much that it was so plain we were taking the piss out of the image of the traditional heterosexual couple and yet this when totally unnoticed to his family. It was our little in joke.

Recently I was having dinner with his family, i was dressed very proper in my a-line black skirt with the suspenders and a light blue shirt underneath. When a man looks at the colour light blue he cant think any impure thoughts, he can only think of the Virgin Marry-Sound advice from my grandmother. We'd had dinner and his father declared "ahh thank you Maria, I think we're done" I knew all too well that this was our cue. Maria and I began clearing the plates. I followed her into the kitchen and began helping her prepare dessert. While I cut up the fruit cake I'd brought (and bought but they didn't need to know that) she boiled the kettle and made tea. She then handed me a tray with some cups and the tea pot and asked me to take it out while she arranged the cake, apparently it needed to be arranged? Anyway I walked into the dinning room to see Peter, he's brother and father. They were all looking at me silent, I figured they were talking "men's business" I smiled at Peter, it was our secret the smile. the one that showed everyone else how Lady-like I was but was a joke to Peter and I. The smile was not returned. I put the tray down at the end of the table and asked Peter's father if he'd like a cup of tea, he sort of grunted as men tend to do. I took this as a yes and began poured the tea. I asked if he'd like milk, again not much of an answer but i was fairly sure from past experiences that he took milk so i picked up the milk jug and thought to myself "i have no idea! how Maria puts up with this asshole" Just as i was about to pour the milk, his father looked me directly in the eye, for the first time since..well ever, i think and says "are you a man?" needless to say I missed his cup when i went to pour the milk. Maria who had just walked in dashed out saying "it's all right deary" I looked at Peter, sort of hoping for some guidance I guess. I had no idea what had been said while I was out, I remember thinking what the fuck is Pete playing at? I found out latter that while Maria and I had been out Paul had said to his father "Peter is a p**fter, and she's a cross-dresser" Paul spoke before I had gathered enough thoughts to say anything. Maria ran back in with a tea-towel as Paul said "No Dad! She's a woman who dresses like a man" Maria scolded her son, "Paul! that's awful Kathleen looks very nice this evening" Peters father was clearly confused. So Peter stood up and said "I'm gay dad" It was now Marissa's turn to be confused. "what do you mean" Peter was flushed, i don't think he expected that question. It is after all a rather stupid question, "I'm gay" can mean only one of two things and Peter was quite clearly not happy at that moment, his awful little brother was though! I could tell! "What he means Maria is that he's attracted to men" "How?" she asked. What it God's name was i supposed to say to that? Everyone was quiet for a moment. It was horribly awkward. Then Marc, Peter's father sat down. "It's okay" That was it. "good" said his Maria and then proceeded to clean up the milk and offer tea around the table. Everyone had to have their turn to be confused, now it was Paul's turn. He just sort of sat their like a stunned mullet. Peter announced that he wasn't hungry anymore and he was going to take me home. His parents said good bye to me surprisingly civilly and his mother even wished my good luck with My exams.

When we got in the car Peter began to cry. I attempted to comfort him saying "I think they're ok, your Dad said it was ok" He didn't answer me for a little while, when he did he told me that he was just relieved. I mean, no so it wasn't the best way for it to happen, but they didn't yell and scream, they didn't call him names, they didn't demand he leave the house or threaten to disown him, they offered him a cup of tea and were civil to his fake girl friend, his cross-dressing fake girl friend.

The cross-dressing thing was bizarre actually, I'm not too shore where that came from. I've actually thought about cross dressing in the past, thing is I don't know if people would even notice? I mean "boys clothes" can be so not gender specific, i already wear baggy T-shirts, baggy jeans and track-pants most of the time. I suppose I should be glad people think I'm a cross-dresser, I haven't even started trying yet :P

As for Peter, well it's not long at all since this has happened. so far his family haven't spoken to him about it, his brother is being a bit of a Prick, but his parents seem to be acting like everything is "normal" I reminded him that everything IS "normal." It remains to be seen whether Peters parents will ever be totally supportive or accepting, it appears however that they are atleast mustering up tolerance.

Though his "coming-out" experiences wasn't quite what he might have wanted it to be Peter tells me that he feels relieved and to a degree liberated. He reported that when he got home from dropping me off he felt energised and excited, he'd always shyed away from queer politics, queer-clubs anything related to being queer really. He says he's excited about telling all his friends, going to queer-night clubs and getting involved in queer activism.

Peter asked for his story to be in pink : )

The whole idea of "coming out" is something that really shits me. While there are political and emotional benefits to being open about your sexuality it seems sort of unfair that you should have to announce it to people. I mean if you're heterosexual you don't have to bare your soul to the world, announcing your sexuality. It's sort of discriminatory that we even have to do it.

There are also problems with coming out. If people judge that you are "too young" to know they tell you that you're "just going through a phase" Then what? Are you meant to wait until THEY decide you're old enough and come out AGAIN. People don't say heterosexuals are just going through a phase, no one assumes that they'll grow out of "heterosexism" They're never judged to be to young to be "heterosexual"

Sexuality and gender identity is fluid! what you may identify as at one stage in your life, may not be the same at another stage. Do you have to come out repeatedly? The other problem with the idea of sexuality and gender identity as being "fluid"is that if you explain this to parents, they may become...for lack of a better word "hopefull" which can lead to a significant amount of nagging and annoyance.....erghhh

Each sexuality and Gender identity poses it's own problems. I know my father simply does not BELIEVE in "bisexual" I have a friend who's parents always suspected him of being gay because he never had any "girlfriends" They confronted him about it once and he explained that he was asexual. Their reply: "It's okay you don't have to lie to us, we love you, it's okay to be gay." He knows damn well its okay to be gay, but he's not, telling them that however proves to be impossible

ahhh the joys of coming out

Friday, 22 August 2008

Myth Busters

Family Planning NSW runs anti-homophobia activities in high schools through their Same Difference Program. During QC 08 Annaliese Constable gave a talk in which she led a workshop that they do with students in high schools. Students sit in a circle and pass balloons around the circle; it works best with one balloon going around at a time, each balloon has a myth written on it. Music is played, sort of like playing pass the parcel, whoever is holding the balloon when the music stops, pops it..."busting the myth" Inside the balloon is a bit of paper with the "myth buster" written on it.

Here are some examples of myths and busters that could be used:
These have been taken from the sexuality page of the Young Adult Health website:
http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=240&np=299&id=2057#5

Myth No. 1
There are very few bisexuals. People are either completely homosexual or heterosexual.
Busted:
Research suggests that few people are predominantly heterosexual or homosexual in their actions, feelings, thoughts, or sexual fantasies. Most people fall somewhere on the continuum between these two extremes and have the capacity to experience both affection and sexual feelings for members of both sexes.

Myth No. 2
GLBTIQ are only a small percentage of the population.
Busted:
Research has also shown that approximately 10% of the population is predominantly same sex attracted. Approximately one in every four families has a member who is predominantly same sex attracted.

Myth No. 3
Same sex attracted people can ordinarily be identified by certain mannerisms or characteristics.
Busted:
The vast majority of same sex attracted people cannot be identified by looks or effeminate/masculine characteristics. The small number of same sex attracted people who behave like this do so because they want to be known as same sex attracted or in rebellion of traditional sex roles. Many straight people appear to be same sex attracted for this last reason. Stereotypes persist due to the way sex attracted people are portrayed in the media.

Myth No. 4
Going through puberty and developing your sexuality is easy.
Busted:
No way! Some people have forgotten how difficult and confronting this time can be in your life. It means getting used to a whole new set of feelings and learning about who you are and what it is you like and dislike.

Myth No. 5
Same sex attraction is not "natural"; it does not exist in nature and is therefore dysfunctional.
Busted:
From a scientific point of view, it is 'natural'. Any animal, including the human species, is capable of responding to homosexual stimuli. Research suggests that same sex attraction is almost universal among all animals and is frequent among highly developed species. One anthropological study of non-western cultures found that 64% of their sample cultures considered same sex attraction 'normal' and 'acceptable' for certain members of the society.

Myth No. 6
Same sex relationships don't last.
Busted:
Many people believe that same sex relationships are just short flings and never long lasting relationships. This is not true. They are relationships just like any other, and like any other, some last and some do not. However they may be under more social pressure than other relationships and this may affect how long they last.

Myth No. 7
People chose to be GLBTIQ.
Busted:
There are many theories about how people 'become' GLBTIQ. Some suggest there is a genetic reason, that is people are born with a tendency towards a certain sexuality. But sexuality is just one aspect of person, and the different ways of being reflect the diversity in humans in general. It is interesting that people don’t often look for a 'cause' of heterosexuality, eh?

These ones I thought of all by myself….

Myth No. 8
Any sexuality other than heterosexuality is sinful.
Busted:
WRONG: the section of the bible most often quoted by Christians arguing that people of the same gender should not have sex is Leviticus. Leviticus 18 (Verse 22) "lying with man as with a woman is an abomination." The same section of the bible would condemn us all for wearing clothes made of more than one thread (i.e cotton, polyester, wool etc).

Myth No. 9
All lesbians hate men because they’ve been hurt by men or they cant “get” a man.
Busted:
As surprising as it may be for some ignorant heterosexual men the world actually DOESN’T revolve around them and they are NOT God’s gift to women. Women don’t “turn lesbian” because they cant get a man to go out with them or because they’ve been hurt by men. Sexuality is fluid, it is not something that can be controlled or chosen.

Myth No. 10
People who claim to be bisexual are either straight people trying to be “cool” or gay people who hope that people can connect to the “straight part” of them.
Busted:
Most queer people will tell you that their sexuality has not been embraced as “cool” by society, quite the contrary many queer students experience sexuality and gender stereotype based bullying. While some homosexual people may choose to identify as bisexual in the hope that this is more accepting to society, many bisexuals who identify as bisexual, are bisexual. Sexuality is fluid and occurs along a range of scales. While you may identify as straight at one time in your life you may identify as gay at another and at yet another bi.

Myth No. 11

There are only two kinds of sexuality: Homosexuality and Heterosexuality.
Busted:
WRONG! There are many different sexuality identities, such as: homosexual, heterosexual, asexual and bisexual. There are also a variety of different gender identities such as trans-gender, intersex, bi-gendered, neither-gendered etc.


Myth No. 12
Homosexuals are always flaunting their sexuality.
Busted:
Non-heterosexuals frequently feel pressured to do quite the opposite, hiding their sexuality which often hurts their self esteem as a result. Think about how often you see couples of the same gender kissing or being openly affectionate in public and contrast this too how often you see couples of the opposite gender doing the same.

Myth No. 13
Homosexuality is a disorder
Busted:
A disorder is something that makes you incapable of functioning and is essentially an illness. Homosexuality does no limit your capacity to preform tasks, and has no "symptoms" which indicate illness.

To add to the effect of the game you could select relevant music to be played.
I tried to brainstorm some music that related to queers...i didn't come up with Much


"Dear Mr President" by pink, sexuality is only one themes listed in the song
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q56pHCGrlc4


"Billy Joans" by the Waifs, this is a story about a MTF transsexual
http://www.musicsonglyrics.com/W/thewaifslyrics/thewaifsbillyjoneslyrics.htm

"I kissed a girl and I liked it" by Katy Perry; depending on how you interpret it
http://www.youtube.com/user/KatyPerryMusic?ob=1

Does any one else know of any "queer friendly" songs or have any other queer-related myths.


Pirates and Ninja's

Minus 18 Is a dance party for underage same-sex attracted youth and their friends

I wish I'd known about Minus 18 years ago....


Overview:
Minus18 was established in 1998 to provide a safe space for the same sex attracted youth of Melbourne to meet new people and have fun, whilst also providing a safe way for them to explore the gay 'scene' in a drug and alcohol free environment. Minus18 dance parties have grown to an event which is unique throughout the world attracting in excess of 250 patrons each event. In addition Minus18 has become involved in the greater gay community of Melbourne giving this oft-forgotten segment of the community a voice.
What to expect:
In short, lots of fun. Minus18 events are unique in that they cater for a very diverse group of people. We recognise that it would be impossible to run an event that is perfect for each and every person as far as music and entertainment goes, and so our main focus is providing somewhere that our patrons can meet each other. Of course we have DJs, Drag, the occasional Live Band, and plenty of video clips & presentations, but these simply enhance the atmosphere. Our DJs play a wide range of music: Dance, RnB, Pop, House, Rock, Retro, and the list goes on. You are sure to hear something you like. Minus18 events have free soft drink provided, and the committee constantly work to improve the overall event

Thursday, 21 August 2008

I kissed a girl and I liked it

Queer Wom*n, getting stepped on twice
Sexism, it tends to come up a lot, in conversations with me anyway. There are two significant elements of Sexism.
1. Attitudes or behaviour based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.
2. Discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex.
This definition, taken from dictionary.com explains the two elements of sexism; the enforcement of gender roles and discrimination of a person based on gender. The definition lacks an explanation about WHO is discriminated against. It is of course: W
om*n.

There are people who claim Wom*n's liberation is here, that's it's been achieved. While yes feminist activists have achieved significant legislative reform and have changed society's views, wom*n are still subject to discrimination and the enforcement of gender roles.

Men are grossly over represented in positions of power around the world. The table shows how much less wom*n earn on average in various industries compared to men, despite obtaining the right to equal pay in 1972 after fighting tooth and nail for decades. Table from: Sydney Morning Herald 18th May 2007. (Click here to see Jessica Irvine's article: "Wages up but women still earn less than men" http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/wages-up-but-women-still-earn-less-than-men/2007/05/17/1178995324045.html)

The institution of the family; a socially constructed socialisation unit, plays a primary role in the oppression of both women and queers. The "nuclear family" what is seen to be the "norm" or to be in some way "natural" is in fact a construct of capitalist society. (This is not an attack on all those who are from or who have a nuclear family) Marriage began as something for for the ruling class. Wealthy men wanted their money to be kept in the family, to do this they had to ensure the wom*n bearing their children were in fact bearing THEIR children. Marriage is a legally binding contract. We know that marriage laws used to refer to a wife as her husbands "shackle" he was her property and could do as he liked. Divorce laws were skewed to benefit a man. It was soon realised however that marriage and family life could be used also for socialisation into gender roles and to control workers. A Man who had to support his wife and children would not be as likely to quite, strike or protest. The myth that children need both a mother and a father is related to the fact that society has set gender roles, so children must learn within their family what Men should do and what Wom*n should do, hence the argument againts same sex marriage and adoption. These family units allow for the extraction of a woman's unpaid labour.

Wom*n were once house keepers and Men; the "bread winners" Now Wom*n are expected to "do it all." Married Wom*n (wom*n in de-facto couples are also effected) and mothers are expected not only to work for a wage but also to cook, clean and look after the kids. The lack of egalitarianism in couples regarding housework, especially in married couples is depicted in the studs conducted by the University of Queensland:
"Women in de-facto relationships reported spending 19 hours a week on housework, while married women reported spending 25 hours a week. Both married and cohabiting men reported spending nine hours per week on housework...Women with careers still take on the lion's share of domestic chores, often juggling more tasks in less time, Dr Baxter said."
(click here for a more comprehensive detailing of the study http://www.uq.edu.au/news/?article=1991)

A significant element of wom*n's liberation is sexual liberation, owning our own sexuality. Unfortunately this has also made it easier for wom*n's bodies to be exploited. will someone please explain to me what scantly clad women have to do with a phone company? (Dodo). I was infuriated when I saw a billboard depicting a blond woman (yes we all know where this is going), with large breasts (clearly visible of course) with a perplexed expression on her face. Regrettably my anger at the time prevents me from remembering the precise slogan or the company. Perhaps some one else has seen them? The slogan however was something along the line of "make insurance simple" Perpetrating the stereotype that wom*n are unintelligent. Beer adds! now couldn't we all rant about beer adds. Beer advertisements are primarily aimed at men as we all know it's a "man's drink." Beer adds present us with one of most obvious image of the exploitation of wom*n's bodies and their sexuality. It is particularly. dubious as there is an implied message that drinking leads to sex. Most young wom*n i know have at some stage in their lives been taken advantage of by men while drunk. Though it'd be hard to prove it court, and most women don't pursue it legally, not least of the reason being the stigma that would be attached to them, this is in fact RAPE!

On that note, I'm sure we're all sick an tiered of the double standards of our society regarding sexual intercourse. A man who "sleeps around" is a stud, while a wom*n is a slut, a whore, etc etc. The double standards extend beyond this, in that a woman who does not "put out" is a frigid. And yet another wom*n who perhaps dresses "promiscuously" is a tease if she doesn't "follow through"

A wom*n should be able to wear what ever she wants, without judgment and stigma. "Where ever we go, however we dress; yes means yeas and no mean NO" We can not however confuse sexual liberation and sexual exploitation.
On top of the stereotypes, the enforced gender roles and the discrimination of sexism, queer women must also put up with queerphobia and homophobia. Lesbians and bisexuals are on one hand revered as some "great sexual fantasy" or are disregarded and mocked as "dyke's." While sexuality is not something you choose to make a political stance. Queer women do in their sexuality and/or gender identity refuse the gender stereotypes which are so prominent. This can be listed as a reason for the discrimination directed aimed at queer women. (Queer men also refuse these gender roles but queer men are oppressed for being queer, not for being male)
Interestingly enough, while on the computer today my family had "so you think you can dance" on in the background. Katy Perry came on and preformed her song "I kissed a girl and i liked it" On first hearing the title I was impressed, it sounded like a headline for a lesbian/feminist article. I was less impressed when i discovered the unintentional irony of the songs title when I listened to the words. (Click here to see the lyrics:http://www.lyriczz.com/lyriczz.php?songid=59497)
"I hope my boyfriend don't mind it"
Why should a wom*n's boy friend control anything about her, least of all her sexuality.
"No, I don't even know your name It doesn't matter Your my experimental game"
While I am the last person to suggest that we should all settle down into monogamous, stable relationships this particular line shows a total lack of respect for the wom*n she kissed. It's a typical misogynistic line, many of us would be up in arms hearing a man talk like this, as they so often do. We must remember that wom*n can and do project sexism onto other wom*m.
"It's not what, good girls do Not how they should behave My head gets so confused Hard to obey"
On one hand this line could almost be seen as challenging the gender stereotypes that i have been discussing and could in fact appear to be an example of sexual liberation. In the context of the song however it is clear that Katy is meant to be playing up to that "sexy bad girl" image which is of course aimed at men.
This song is to my mind a neat example of the double stomp experienced by queer women, it is both homophobic and sexist.
This song presents us with one of those situation in which me must decipher between sexual liberation and sexual exploitation.










Sunday, 17 August 2008

I'm Gay, Deal with it!


This is a poem taken from "Love, Sex, Desire" The book published by the 'rainbow group' at Northcote High School in 2006

I'm Gay, Deal with it!

My mum used to tell me not to go dyke,
But I never would listen, I'd do what I like

If she said no, I would say yes,
If she went east, I would go west

But this was a decision of my own.
If it wasnt for mum I wouldn't have known

I am gay, and that's the way it is!
And if she don't like it she can stay out of my biz

Coz that's the way I am and I'm not going to change,
If you haven't noticed Gays part of the society range

There's not only str8's, there's gays and bis,
So dont tell me i can only like guys!

Sky F



If we allow gay marriage what comes next?


The Debate on Same Sex Marriage

In 2004 the Howard government changed the marriage act to include a definition of 'marriage' which excluded same sex couples.

The opposition...

1. "[The amendment] inserted a definition in the Marriage Act which gives formal expression to what most people regard to be the case - and that is marriage, as we understand it in Australia, is between a man and woman...This is not directed at gay people. It's directed at reaffirming a bedrock understanding of our society."
Mr Howard said the existing law did not contain the formal definition that marriage was between a man and a woman.
"I just believe it. There are certain institutions that we understand to have a certain meaning and why not say so?" he said.

-John Howard quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald April 27 2004

"I certainly don’t think you should give the same status to homosexual liaisons as you give to marriage"-John Howard in a triple J interview in August 2001 (Not only does he disapprove of same sex marriage but refused to even give relationship status to gay and lesbian couples, preferring the tawdry term ‘liaisons’)


2."When it comes to the Marriage Act, that is the responsibility of the Federal Parliament," Mr Rudd said. "And the Marriage Act relates to a union between a man and a woman, and that remains Labor policy as it has been into the past and as it will remain into the future." - PM Kevin Rudd quoted in The Age October 24 2007

3."The Interests of children must always come first, and it is in the child's best interest to be raised, where possible, by a mother and a father, who have made a lifelong commitment to each other through marriage...Marriages bloom between a bride and a groom...marriages can produce children...If we allow gay marriage, what comes next? will we have laws banning the words "Mum" and "Dad" from school textbooks? Will the words "mother" and "father" be banished from our TV screens and movies?...sadly this is already happening. Just recently we learned that Victorian schools are being advised to dump the words "mother" and "father" in a campaign to promote same-sex parents. The new teachers' manual also says pupils as young as five should act out plays where they have two mothers...there is no doubt marriage is under attack"
-Steve Fielding leading Family First Senator speech on the ACT's Civil Unions Act 2006

4. "Isn't marriage a religious thing? The government cant do anything, it's in the hands of religious authorities" -a common misconception


5.I want to know how queer activism got so boring. Have we given up on liberation and settled for assimilation? The old chants of "Fuck off breeder scum" have been replaced with "We're just like you!" as we beg for a place at the table of heteronormativity. Instead of critiquing a system and an institution that structurally oppresses us as queers we are lining up to be good heterogays and disappearing into the suburbs with our superannuation, mortgages and tax cuts. Thing is, not everyone can or wants to do heteronorm, and this marriage thing has the potential to marginalise those who don't fit into the new mould of acceptable queerness...It is ironic that the campaign for marriage be called 'equal love.' Marriage is an institution necessarily based on inequality between its participants and has traditionally had little to do with love. It is more to do with the exploitation of wom*n and the extraction of their unpaid labour...It seems contradictory to fight FOR marriage when the relationships I have are precisely about breaking down the harm institutions such as marriage have done to us...It [the same sex marriage campaign] sends a clear message to people who may be bisexual, queer, trans, intersex, single or non-monogamous queers, that they do not belong...Queers that are 'too queer' are told to shut up and sit tight, that once we can get married we can destroy the institution of marriage and fight for more inclusive relationship recognition. This logic seems similar to trying to argue that having queers in the military would stop war. I am yet to be convinced that having access to an institution which is an integral part of the structural oppression of queers and wom*n is fighting homophobia, or that it has any potential for reform... We do not need access to marriage to [obtain our liberation and freedom]: historically it is those outside of privilege who enact social change. Let's not stop at making our own lives comfortable and get back to our radical fighting roots and change the world" -From an article "There Should Be Nothing Civil About Our Union in Farraco, 2006 Curtis Redd, former MU queer officer


I would just like to point out the flaws in the oppositions arguments....

1. Excuse me for stating the obvious, but: John Howard is full of shit! NOT a deliberate attack on the queer community? MY ASS! If indeed everyone already believed that marriage was between a man and a woman why codify it in law? Did we see him codify conventions of our parliament which ensure our government remains accountable? no indeed we did not! In fact quite the opposite we saw him undermining many of these conventions!

2. Mr Rudd, Mr KEVIN07 the glimmer of hope to naive voters so desperate for change after the evil 11 year Howard regime! Rudd is unable to provide any solid rationale (because there is none, other than discrimination) for his party's position beyond "tradition." TRADITIONALLY Interracial marriages were illegal, TRADITIONALLY women were the shackle of men that does not make it right!

3.The reason it is stated that children need both a mother and a father is presumably so that they may have male and female role models. Why is it necessary to have a role model of each gender? To enforce gender roles of course!
OMG!!! 5 year olds are pretending to be lesbians, alert ASIO this is a disastor!!! This reminds me of the play school 'mums' That ridicules idea that children should learn about same sex relationships should be hidden from children until they're i don't know old enough? to understand same sex relationships? It's totally illogical! Having same sex relationships as something separate, hidden and taboo adds to queerphobia in our society and is the reason for the confusion, ignorance and lack of understanding.

4. Marriage is a legal term as well as religious one, the government most certainly does have the power to remove legislation preventing same sex marriage just as it CREATED the legislation preventing same sex marriage.

5. Curtis Reed makes several valid arguments concerning the institution of marriage and it's significant role in the oppression of wom*n and queers (to be explored in a latter post). However to force the government to recognise our relationships would drive home a strong message to the community. When the issue of same sex marriage comes up (as it frequently does) in my legal and politics class regardless of any arguments made by myself, queers, queer allies and advocates of equal rights the disgusting homophobes in those classes remain may content in the fact that regardless of their inability to string together coherent sentences or valid arguments they sort of win the argument because the government supports their position.
I understand that the ability to get married is not the desire of all queer, however you cant reject something which is not optional. We can not consciously make a true stance against marriage until we're actually told we actually CAN get married.
The 'equal love' campaign is also something which has been successfully in obtaining the attention of non-political queers and non-queers. The campaign has given us space to introduce 'others' to a variety of queer identities and issues.

So what does everyone else think....?





Saturday, 16 August 2008

Glossary of Queer Terms

This post comes as a request. It is an attempt to educate people about queer theory. Please add other definitions and terms in the comments if you find any lacking. Many of these words were new to me when I went to QC.

Words in green (a happy non-gender specific colour) relate to sexuality and gender identities. These is taken from the glossary of the "welcome book" I received @ QC this year:
Ally: In its verb form, ally means to unite or form a connection between. In the gender community, allies are all those wonderful folks who have attempted to educate themselves about gender issues, who work to reduce transphobia in themselves, families and communities, and who try their best to support Transpeople in the political, social and cultural arenas.

Ambiguous genitalia: Many intersex activists contest the use of this phrase to describe their bodies because the ambiguity is with society's definition of male and female rather than their bodies.

Asexual: Lacking interest in or desire for sex. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/asexuality)

Assigned Sex of Gender: The sex/gender one is considered to be at birth based on a cursory examination of external genitalia
Bi-Gendered An individual who feels that they have both a "male" and "female" side to their personalities.

Biphobia: The fear, hatred or intolerance of bisexual men and women.

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to people regardless of gender (a person does not have to have a relationship to be bisexual)

Closeted/In the Closet: Hiding one's sexual orientation

Coming Out: The process by which lesbians, gay men and bisexuals recognize, acknowledge, accept and typically appreciate their sexual identities.

Cross-dresser: an individual who dresses in clothing that is culturally associated with members of the "other" sex. Most cross-dressers are heterosexual and conduct their cross-dressing on a part-time basis. Cross-dressers cross-dress for a variety of reasons, including pleasure, a relief from stress and desire to express "opposite" sex feelings to the larger society. cross-dressing might also be termed gender non-conforming behaviour.

Discrimination: Differential treatment that favours one individual over another based on prejudice

Drag/In Drag: Wearing clothes considered appropriate for someone of another gender. Originally used in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to mean Dressed As Girl (or Dress Resembling A Girl) referring to male actors who played female roles.

Drag King: A biological female who dresses in "masculine" or male-designated clothing; a female-to-male cross-dresser. Drag Kings often identify as lesbians and many cross-dress for pay and entertainment purposes in GLBT or straight nightclubs. A drag King's cross-dressing is usually on a part-time basis.

Drag Queen: A biological male, usually gay-identified, who wears female-designated or "feminine" clothing. Many drag queens may perform in bars by singing, dancing or lip-synching, often for tips or pay. A drag-queen's cross-dressing is usually on a part-time basis. some prefer the term of "Female Impersonator"

Dyke: a barrier constructed to control or confine water; also: slang, sometimes offensive (depending on who's using it) word for lesbian.
FAGGOT: A bundle of twigs, sticks, or branches bound together.
This is a particularly nasty word given it's historical significance.
In England, when people were burnt alive, the bodies of homosexual men were used as "faggots" to burn women who were charged with sexual/sexuality related 'crimes'.
During the Spanish inquisitions homosexual men were made to go and collect the faggots which were then used to burn them.
The homophobic 'F' word is at least as bad if not worse than the racist 'N' word.
(This is my own deffinition, provided on request)

FTM: an acronym which stand for Female to Male. This term reflects the direction of gender transition. Some prefer the term MTM (male-to-male) to underscore the fact that though they were biologically female, they never had a female gender-identity.

GLBT: An acronym, which stands for "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender" Other versions may add Q for Queer or Questioning, "I" for Intersex, and "A" for Allied. Some may prefer to list the acronym as TBLG to place Transpeople in position of importance and to rectify the way trans has historically been omitted, devalued or excluded.

Gender: A complicated set of socio-cultural practices whereby human bodies are transformed into "men" and "women." Gender Identity refers to an individual's self-identification as a man, woman, transgender or other identity category. Many tomes have been written on gender, and there are countless definitions But most contemporary definitions stress how gender is socially and culturally produced and constructed, as opposed to being fixed static coherent essence. Gender Bender: An individual who brazenly and flamboyantly flaunts society's gender conventions by mixing elements of "masculinity" and "femininity." The gender bender is often an enigma to the uninitiated viewer, who struggles to comprehend sartorial codes, which challenge gender bipolarity. Boy George, a popular culture icon, was often referred to as a gender bender.

Gender Dysphoria: A term of the psychiatric establishment which refers to a radical incongruence between an individual's birth sex and their gender identity. A "gender dysphoric" feels an irrevocable disconnect between their physical bodies and their mental sense of gender. Many in the trans community find this term offensive or insulting as it often pathologies the transgender individuals due to its association with the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM)

Gender Identity: Refers to an individual's innate sense of self as a man, woman, transgender or other gender category. Gender identity may change over time and may not accord to dichotomous gender categories.
Gender Illusionist: An individual who cross-dresses in a glamorous manner, in order to perform for money in a night club or other entertainment venue.

Genderqueer: A term which refers to individuals or groups who "queer" or problematize the hegemonic notions of sex, gender and desire in a given society. Genderqueers possess identities, which fall outside of the widely accepted sexual binary. Genderqueer may also refer to people who identify as both transgender AND queer, i.e. individuals who challenge both gender and sexuality regimes and see gender identity and sexual orientation as overlapping and interconnected.

Gender Outlaw: A term popularized by trans activists such as Kate Bornstein and Leslie Feinberg, a gender outlaw refers to an individual who transgresses or violates the "law" of gender (i.e.: one who challenges the rigidly enforced gender roles) in a transphobic, heterosexist and patriarchal society.

Gender Phobia: Hatred and fear of differing gender identities and expressions.



Gender Role: The clothing, characteristics, traits and behaviours of an individual which are culturally associated with masculinity and/or femininity.



Gender Transition: The period of time in which a person begins to live in a gender role which is in accordance with their internal gender identity. This could include, for instance, the period of time when a person assigned "female" at birth who has a male gender identity begins to live "in role" by dressing as a man, taking testosterone therapy or getting surgery.

Gender Variant: A term that refers to individuals who stray from socially-accepted gender roles in a given culture. May be used in tandem with other groups, such as gender-variant gay men and lesbians.

Hermaphrodite: An old medical term describing intersex people. Many intersex activists reject this word due to the stigmatization arising from its mythical roots and the abuse that medical professionals inflicted on them under this label. Some intersex people use this word as a "pride word" like "queer" and "dyke," but non-intersex people should avoid this term.
Hetrosexism: The societal/cultural, institutional and individual beliefs and practices that privilege heterosexuals and subordinate and denigrate LGB people. The critical element that differentiates hetrosexism (or any other "ism") from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviours in systematic ways with far reaching outcomes and effects.
Heterosexual ally: Heterosexual people who confront hetrosexism in themselves and others out of self-interest, a concern for the well-being of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, and a belief that hetrosexism is a social injustice.

Heterosexual Privilege: The benefits and advantages that heterosexuals receive in a heterosexist culture. Also, the benefits that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals receive as a result of claiming a heterosexual identity and denying their lesbian, gay or bisexual identity.

Homophobe: One who fears homosexuals and homosexuality (this is a literal definition); however this term is generally applied to anyone who dislikes LGBTIQ people, who uses and derogatory sexuality or gender based terms, who feels that LGBTI people want "special rights" and not "equal rights."

Homophobia: The fear, hatred or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived as lesbian or gay men, including the fear of being seen as lesbian or gay yourself. Homophobic behaviour can range from telling jokes about lesbians and gay men, to verbal abuse, to acts of physical violence. (Some people choose not to use the word "Homophobia," preferring instead to include anti-GLBT attitudes and behaviours in how they define "hetrosexism.")

Intersex: Formally termed hermaphrodites, Intersex people are born with the condition of having physical sex markers (genitals, hormones, gonads or chromosomes) that are neither clearly male or female. Intersexed people are sometimes defined as having some combinations of "ambiguous" genitalia. Dr Anne Fausto-Sterling estimates that 1.7% of births are to intersex infants. The Intersex Movement seeks to halt medically unnecessary paediatric surgeries and hormone treatments which attempt to normalize infants into dominant "male" and "female" system. Surgeons often assign the infant as a sex which does not match their gender identity. In addition, many surgeries affect the sexual functioning of intersex adults, which may include causing the inability to receive pleasure or reach orgasm.

Intersex Genital Mutilation: The home-grown version of Female Genital Mutilation. The Intersex Society of North America estimates that about five intersex infants have their genitals cut into in the U.S hospitals every day for cosmetic reasons, a procedure preformed by accredited surgeons and covered by all major insurance plans.
MTF: A male-to-female transsexual, or a transsexual woman. Some transsexuals reject this terminology, arguing that they have always been male or female and are only making that identity visible. Others feel that such language reinforces an either/or gender system.

Oppression: The systematic exploitation of one social group by another for its own benefits. It involves institutional control, ideological domination, and the promulgation of the dominant groups cultured on the oppressed. Oppression = Prejudice + Power (the "isms")

Outing: when someone discloses information about another’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their knowledge and/or consent.

Pass: Gendered passing refers to an individual's ability to be regarded by others in accordance with one's preferred gender role in a socio-cultural context. For instance a biological male who has a female gender identity and lives in a female gender role is able to "pass" as a woman to the people who surround her. Passing generally refers to the effort made by members of subordinate groups to be accepted as members of dominant groups, e.g. light skinned black people being perceived as whites, or traditionally-gendered gay men being perceived as heterosexuals.

Prejudice: A set of negative beliefs or feelings that are generalized to apply to a whole group of people and any member of that group. Anyone can be prejudiced towards another individual or group.

Pride (or Rainbow) Flag: The colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple are used to symbolize equality and diversity among all people. Sometimes with a black stripe along the bottom in honour and memoriam of those who have died of AIDS.

Queer: is a terms which has been reclaimed by the GLBTAIQ community to refer to people who transgress culturally imposed norms of heterosexuality and gender traditionalism. Queer might be broadly defined as resistance to regimes of the "normal." Although still often an abusive epithet when used by bigoted heterosexuals, many queer-identified people have taken back the word to use it as a symbol of pride and affirmation of difference and diversity.

Racism: The societal/ cultural, institutional and individual beliefs and practices that privilege white people and subordinate and denigrate people of colour.

Sex: Sperate from gender, this term refers to the cluster of biological, chromosomal, and anatomical features associated with maleness and femaleness in the human body. Sexual dimorphism is often thought to be a concrete reality, whereas in reality the existence of Intersex point to a multiplicity of sexes in the human population. Sex is often used synonymously with gender in this culture. Although the two terms are related, they should be defined separately to differentiate the biological ("sex") from the socio-cultural ("gender")
Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS): The term given to an operation and procedure which physically transforms the genitals using plastic surgery, of called a "sex change operation" in popular culture. MTF SRS is called a 'vaginoplasty' while FTM SRS is termed either a genitoplasty or a phalloplasty. GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery)is coming to be a preferred term among many in the TG community.

Sexism: The societal/cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that privilege men and subordinate and denigrate women.

Sexual Prejudice: a more comprehensive term than "homophobia", "transphobia" or "hetrosexism." a term which covers all of these.
Sexuality: An imprecise word which is often use in tandem with other social categories, as an: race, gender and sexuality. Sexuality is a broad term which refers to a cluster of behaviours, practices and identities in the social world.
Sexual Orientation: This term refers to gender(s) which a person is emotionally, physically, romantically and erotically attracted to. Examples of sexual orientation may include homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual and asexual. Trans and gender-variant people may identify with any sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during or after gender-transition.

Sister-girl: The acceptance and visibility of sistergirls is often considered far greater than gay men or lesbians in aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Sistergirls are biological men who are effeminate or live their lives as women. Communities will often accept and recognise sister girls as women. Sistergirls undertake the roles and responsibilities of women having relationships with straight men. However sistergirls do not generally identify as transgender.

Stealth: Also termed “wood working,” this term refers to (usually) post-operative transsexuals who blend into the dominant society, erasing their transsexual past.

Stonewall: On June 28th 1969, New York City Police attempted a routine raid on the Stonewall Inn, a working-class gay and lesbian bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. Unexpectedly, the patrons resisted, and the incident escalated into a riot that continued for several days. Most people look to the event (and similar events in San Francisco and other major cities in the days and weeks that followed) as the beginning of the American Gay Liberation Movement and other “pride” movements around the world. It is too often forgotten that the people on the frontline of the resistance were transgender women, drag queens and lesbians.
Trans: An umbrella term which refers to cross-dressers, transgenderists, transsexuals and others who are permanently or periodically dis-identified with the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans is preferable to “transgender” to some in the community because it does not minimize the experiential specificities of transsexuals.

Trans-Friendly: Sometimes abbreviated as simply “T-friendly,” trans-friendly means an organization or institution which is open, affirming and accepting of transpeople and their social, political and cultural needs.

Transgender: A range of behaviours, expressions and identifications which challenge the pervasive bipolar gender system in a given culture. This, like trans, is an umbrella term which includes a vast array of differing identity categories such as transsexual, drag queen, drag king, cross-dresser, transgenderist, bi-gendered and a myriad of other identities.

Transgendered Lesbian: An individual, regardless of biological sex, who identifies as both transgendered and lesbian. This could include MTF transgenders who are sexually attracted to women or to biological females who identify as lesbians and who “pass” as men or who identify to some degree with masculinity or with “butch.” Sometimes referred to as “tranbians” or “trykes”
Transphobia: The irrational fear and hatred of all those individuals who transgress, violate or blur the dominant gender categories in a given society. Transphobic attitudes lead to massive discrimination, violence and oppression against the trans, drag and intersex communities.
Transsexual (TS): An individual who strongly dis-identifies with their birth sex and wishes to utilize hormones and sex reassignment surgery (or gender confirmation surgery) as a way to align their physical body with their internal gender identity. Some persons prefer the alternate spelling of transsexual (one s instead of 2) A TS can be MTF of FTM. He or she can also be pre-op, post-op or non-op.

Transvestite: An older term, synonymous with the more politically correct term cross-dresser, which refers to individuals who have an internal drive to wear clothing associated with a gender other than the one which they were assigned at birth. Transvestite has fallen out of favour due to its psychiatric, clinical and fetishistic connotations.

Triangle: The upside down triangle is a symbol used by the GLBTAIQ community as one of pride, despite its use by Hitler during the holocaust. Women accused of being “antisocial (not specifically lesbian) were forced to wear an inverted black triangle, while gay men were forced to wear an inverted pink triangle.

True hermaphrodite and Male-or Female-Pseudo-Hermaphrodite: Medical taxonomy of intersex people, also known as “herm, merm and ferm” Aside from the fact that these distinctions are virtually meaningless in the lives of intersex people, the terms imply authenticity and ranking of intersex people and thus are disempowering.

Two Spirit: A native American/ First Nation term for people who blend the masculine and the feminine. It is commonly used to describe individuals who historically crossed gender boundaries and were accepted by Native American/First Nation cultures (preferred term to “berache”). It is also often used by contemporary GLBT Native American and First Nation people to describe themselves.


Friday, 15 August 2008

Queers in High Schools

This is an adapted version of a the speech i gave at the 2008 Queer Collaborations (QC) 2008:

"FREEDOMS ARE WON, NOT GIVEN"
I’m Kath and I’m a year 12 student at Northcote High School, I moved there at the beginning of this year after being at Santa Maria College (a catholic girl’s school) for 5 years.
My experiences as a “queer” has differed at the two schools. Something I unfortunately do not have time to discuss now, so let it suffice to say that queer-phobia exists in both schools though it manifests itself in different ways. At Santa Maria there was no teacher support of queer students, queer students did not feel they had an ability to reach out to teachers regarding issues of sexuality and gender identity. The school itself perpetrated acts of queerphobia such as banning students from bring women to the formal. Where as Northcote High, being comparatively left wing, support groups have been created with the assistance of Welfare coordinators and the Equal Opportunities coordinator. Until recently, however there had been no queer group for the past two years. My self and a number of other interested students have recently begun to introduce a queer action group. The above picture is one of the posters we've been using to advertise the meeting.

Each student in each school experiences queer-phobia differently. One thing that can however be assured is that they do experience it. Whether its student bullying or unfair treatment from teachers or the well meaning but condescending actions of councillors or well-fare coordinators.

We’re told that schools are places of education, but they’re also places of socialisation. We’re trained in obedience and conformity. Any student rebellions within schools are generally quashed swiftly from above. I myself was labelled a “ring leader” and the senior staff and teachers quite openly engaged in a vicious smear campaign against my character and totally dismissed the validity of a petition that more than half the students in the year level had signed. It’s completely demoralising to be told that you’re opinions don’t count and to be punished for asserting the democratic rights which you learn about in school. However specific acts of rebellion aside every element of school life prepares us to conform and obey. Everything from uniforms; “girls uniforms” and “boys uniforms”, sitting at your desk with a teacher standing over you, moving in accordance with bells and the general expectation that you will do what ever you’re told. To be queer is to step outsides of the “norms” of society, it is to be prepared NOT to conform. Likewise to accept queers is to refuse conformity. The taught discipline to obey authority discourages any voice of descent not only in school but in the wider community.
Schools also reinforce gender roles. Young men are asked to be ‘helpers’ when physical work is necessary. Young women are asked to help out in things like open days where we can act in “hostess-like” roles; smiling, making tea and coffee and using our “charm” to speak with prospective parents.
It should be noted that these gender roles are projected in Primary school just as strongly, if not more strongly.
The education program reinforces these gender roles most strongly. Sex is discussed in the class room as a biological process something which occurs between a man and a woman for the purpose of reproduction. Sexuality, desires and gender roles are not discussed let alone any compulsorily required teachings about Queer issues and acceptance.
As I mentioned before schools quash dissenting voices, this doesn't only have the effect of discouraging questioning of societies values but also teaches young people not to have opinions and that they can’t have opinions. I only recently became aware of the fact that it is ILLEGAL for high school students to protest! This condescending attitude towards young people is experienced doubly by queer students who are told either explicitly or subliminally that “they’re just going through a phase” or that they’re “to young to know” Many students engage in heterosexual relationships and identify as heterosexuals so why is it so different to be involved in queer relationships or be gender-queer.
This condescending idea is one that we all need to be actively disarming at all times. students should be prepared to take a stand for what they believe in, get involved in political campaigns, be part of or begin political and/or queer groups at your own schools if they don't already exist. Our opinions are no less valid than those older than us. Political and Queer high school students should not be regarded as some strange freaky phenomenon. Many high school students are politically active and or identify as “queer”.

Apart from all the above supporting the queer-phobia of the rest of society it has some very obvious and real effects on the mental health of queer-students, whether they’re open or not. Queer students often feel isolated; this was certainly my experience at Santa Maria and the experience of many queer high school students I have spoken to. A book which was published by the queer support group at Northcote High in 2005; Love Sex Desire is littered with stories of students who felt alone and self-loathsome in their dealings with their sexuality or their coming out. Many students made references to experiencing depression or suicidal tenancies. Queer youth are six times more likely than the rest of society to commit suicide.
We have no way of combating these very real problems until we address the aspects of the education system which I have just mentioned.


ALL students have the RIGHT to feel SAFE and WELCOME at school!