Sunday, 31 August 2008
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
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
"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!
Saturday, 23 August 2008
Friday, 22 August 2008
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
"Billy Joans" by the Waifs, this is a story about a MTF transsexual
"I kissed a girl and I liked it" by Katy Perry; depending on how you interpret it
Does any one else know of any "queer friendly" songs or have any other queer-related myths.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
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: Wom*n.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
This is a poem taken from "Love, Sex, Desire" The book published by the 'rainbow group' at Northcote High School in 2006
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!
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 20073."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
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)
Stealth: Also termed “wood working,” this term refers to (usually) post-operative transsexuals who blend into the dominant society, erasing their transsexual past.
Friday, 15 August 2008
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.