Trust a bigot to get me writing again. Hi, how have you been? So Margaret Court, hey? What the fuck???? I have to say, this is not going to be a rant of outrage, I actually feel sorry for her. First, she thinks her ‘frequent flying’ haul has some kind of pull and will cause Qantas to stand up and take notice. Second, she has misread the public sentiment. Third, she is hate filled in an climate of anti-Trumpist desire for change, love and tolerance.

My limited understanding of the industry in which Qantas has – surprisingly – thrived is that they do not make the dosh from the bums on seats. They are not a little pop-up start-up business begging customers to buy their $5.00 fake cactii. So the rules of ‘the customer is always right’ do not strictly apply, well not to the most obvious customer, the passenger. If it did, I wouldn’t be shoving my 20 inch ass into 16 inch seats. So error number one, Margaret, nobody at Qantas cares if you stop flying.

On the misread of the public: Sure, there are people who agree with her. And my (admittedly left leaning) local public ridicule them equally. It is no secret that stoopid people are the most biased. It is also no secret that there is a body of evidence suggesting those most homophobic are homosexual. So whoops, Margaret you just stumbled upon how to be uniformly hated by smart people, whilst simultaneously making people go ‘hmmmmmm’.

Finally, how utterly fucking sad for her. Truly. Think about the image of that English grandma and her trans male grandson on Youtube, talking about their love and adoration for each other. Think about the unity of thousands at marriage equality marches internationally. Think about the Yarra Town Hall public notice that refugees are welcome. I do not think I am going out on a limb to suggest that love and acceptance, as well as tolerance, make lovers a wee bit happier than haters.

I have to go out now, with my wife, our marriage being legal in Canada, but not here. We are going to have a pub meal in a Bogansville sleepy town where the bakery supports One Nation. But where, overwhelmingly, the locals hate the bakery. And fully embrace the lezzies.

So suffer in ya jocks, Margaret. When you recover from the bitch slap you are universally receiving, I accept, and tolerate you, and wish only love and acceptance for you. You silly twat.

 

 

 

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Life is heavy at the moment, in terms of war, discrimination, racism, Islamaphobia, terrorism, mass shootings, media representation, and in the background of what has always been there: inequality. Inequality of race, gender, gender identity, identity, class, education and circumstance.

People who have the interest and opportunity to study the trailblazers can explain this to you in terms of intersectionality, genderqueer, mysogyny, non cisgendered, non binary, non conformity, whitewashing and white privilege. I will leave them to their heavy and complicated language, as this only excludes those who are not educated in social, sexual, gender and other politics.

The concepts are harder to describe without specialised words, but not impossible. Basically, we live in a world where the most power lies in the hands of few, and the most in control of how we see the world, and how we are able to engage in it, are white men.  The way history is described, the way events are reported, the way media portrays real life and fiction, is overwhelmingly dominated by the image of middle class, white, heterosexuals.

You only need to look at the 1950’s and what images you immediately think of, to see where this came from. As we developed into a world where more and more information could be shared, in books, on the internet, on radio, on television and in movies, we have come from a history that tells us the white nuclear family, the male breadwinner and the picket fence is the healthy norm.

I was involved in a heated emotionally charged interaction with a handful of individuals the other night, at the most inopportune of moments, in the most unfortunate forum. I got involved because I saw a man express a view, and be immediately reprimanded for it. I read the post, and it triggered a niggling sense of rawness. So I went with it. In essence, the thing I felt was defensiveness. For the organiser of the first memorial for Orlando in Melbourne, who had no intention to exclude latinx people but who through the hurried circumstances, did. For the man who posted, who had no sense of how not hearing latinx people speak effected them, by fact of his own experience. And in the end, for me, who from the moment I responded, was cast as the racist, privileged ignoramis. By having this platform I speak from now, I realise some with conceive me as yet again taking a stage when I should not.

I am a person who is as happy to react to something that moves me as I am to reflect on my own responses and errors. So it will not surprise my friends or blog followers that I respond now.

When I first responded, my only knowledge of the Orlando shooting was that it was a mass shooting of gays, by a closeted gay man. I had not heard that the media in America had not reported on the amount of Latinx killed. I had not heard that on the night in Melbourne, only white people spoke, and a person of colour wanted to and could not. I had only heard that innocent people died because of homophobia. Being a lesbian, I related in a very real way to that. I also saw the colour of the people. I didn’t see the racism of the attack. I still don’t know. With reports that the murderer said he had ‘no problem with blacks’. That he hated women, lesbians and latinx people. Who will ever know, he was undoubtedly disturbed.

When I responded, I never thought that I would be told things like: stop making people of colour deal with your white guilt, whities being shit, go away, fuck off and stop messing things up, you have occupied enough space, google white fragility, you are so ignorant. Of another man who posted: I am glad you are not coming. The secondary experience was of people talking about me as a racist, borderline violent, reactive dickhead, and the likes they were getting in support.

Not many white people openly engaged, but many privately messaged me to inquire as to my well being. As I write this I realise that there might be a small harp being played ‘like poor white privileged person’. But please try to see beyond your anger, as I am trying to, to see the greater complexity in this. I know you may also be thinking I am writing this to explain or appease my own guilt. I am not. In fact, as a lesbian from an economically disadvantaged background, having been the victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and domestic violence, I have to tell you, I don’t have any white guilt. I don’t have white shame. Like many people angry with me, I fucking hate the white patriarchy.

That is a big statement for me, particularly as I know for the extreme left of this it makes me racist. I have had arguments with friends, such as my Chinese Australian lesbian friend Shirley, where I have declared adamantly that there can be no progress without people like me admitting I am racist. She never accepted my admission as much as I talked about the structural bias in my favour. I have had the argument with one of the many psychologists I have had to see over the years, in terms of insisting on perceiving myself in the framework of white privilege only prevents me from validating my own experiences.

I read a brilliant article that made everything make sense to me today, the title being “Whitewashing the Orlando shooting victims only makes LGBTQ people of color more vulnerable to violence‘and written by Michelle Garcia. Brilliant. Nailed it.

One of her comments was:

“Being bisexual, lesbian, gay, or sexually queer in a heterosexist society means you’ll be subject of heterosexist violence,” H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, PhD, told Vox. “Being female, feminist, transgender, or genderqueer means you’ll be the subject of sexist, misogynist, or patriarchal violence. Being a person of color means you’ll be the subject of white supremacist violence. Being two or more of those things compounds the violence you experience and the reasons you’re experiencing it. It also makes it more difficult to feel some semblance of safety because you could be targeted for one of those identities in a space that is set up to be safe for people with [an]other one of those identities.”

I am two of those things. Lesbian and woman.

I have always loathed the line Í am not racist but…’so to make this make better sense I am going to say Í am racist and”. I am racist because I am one race. I do not understand what it feels like to be in a minority race. I am racist and I do not hate anyone from any other race. I am racist and I do not believe in oppression. I am racist and I believe we need the voices of the unrepresented heard. I am racist and I make mistakes.

My desires are two fold around this. The first is to openly acknowledge I did not understand, and to say that now I do. My second is to say that I do think most people misunderstood me to have a beef with people of colour or latinex people taking priority in representation. I don’t. My error was being uninformed.

I grew up in a neighbourhood with a large coloured south african and sri lankin population, and spent most of my adolescence as the only white at parties, dances and celebrations. I copped being called a skip on jaw because I held a privileged position. The first person to ever break my heart was a coloured south african. I hung out at clubs (like Billboard in the 80s) where I only got in by being with a black person. I would have been that one white guy shot at Pulse.  That touches me.

An additional way this grief affects me directly and is raw at the moment is that one of my best friends is dying. I am watching him die.

My hope in this is that all of us involved in that online experience can check our hurt at the door for long enough to hear each other fully. Not all whites are whitewashers. I am not whitesplaining. We all fuck up, and can only be educated with accessible logic and dialogue. I know from comments some may think this is me, again, expressing white fragility or white guilt. If I reach one person to see me for me, that would be awesome. If I don’t, take away from this only my apology, and my promise to be the greatest proponent for fighting erasure in the future.

I recall being about 24 years old and knowing everything. The clarity, that this humble little mind told me I had, was startling. Sure in some respects, I did know it all. I was in a super privileged law course at an equally privileged university, learning a heap of smart stuff. Do not get me wrong, I completely struggled with the working class necessity to learn it all from scratch whilst my Ponsie private school cohort threw language and experience around that was foreign to me. I was aware that I was the outsider.

I wrote an essay called Queerying the Legal Definition of Marriage (spelling error intentional), in the elective Law and Discrimination unit I took. It was 1993 or 1994. Queer theory was enjoying its first blush of respectful recognition. Much to the disgust of several of my over-achieving colleagues, I scored a solid credit, which by Monash Law school standards, was high. A good 5 – 10 points higher than said colleagues.

So my thesis was this: I did not support same sex marriage because I did not support the patriarchal institution of marriage and sought, at all costs, to deconstruct it. It served no purpose but to devalue other-ness. It is the very same argument that Gillard hid behind. I cannot tell you how many times during the Gillard years I bored my wife with my “that is so 1994” derision of her belief system.

Yes, that is right: My wife. We married in 2009, in a hotel room in Toronto. We got engaged a year and a day earlier, in Chopper Read’s pub in Clifton Hill. There were over 100 guests at our engagement, and we married in front of three complete strangers. Sure, there was an excitement about eloping. We caught a private car to business class airfares and dined in New York that night. We met Woody Allen, and hungover, we opened curtains to a view of Central Park. But we flew across the globe, away from family and friends, because at that time, Canada was one of the few places we could marry.

I sit here now, with many of the same leftist belief systems that catapulted me through youth, but I am middle aged. You don’t need to be older to get this, but for me, being older, I finally do. Marriage is an institution that will not go away; it is understood across cultural divides, and across nations. It possesses the burden of expectation, the attraction of tradition, and cultural ‘norming’. It also allows people to feel that their commitment is the same as everyone else who has dared to.

The leftist anarchist in me still wishes to demolish most institutions. However the moderated middle aged me recognizes we cannot, and within that, if there are to be institutions, there must be equal access to them.

People opposed to same sex marriage do not stop gays from marrying. They simply force us to go off shore. On a purely equal rights platform, the only thing denied is the capacity to marry at home, surrounded by family. That, wearing any hat or bearing any political persuasion, is just fucking bullshit.

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I must critique my  place to share the following thoughts before I share at all.  I acknowledge that my insights will not cure me of my post-modern, post-existential, posting compulsions. I am also acutely aware that I am as much the subject of this post as anyone reading it. 

I also need to preface this post with the  message that what I say is not a judgement of the individual. I theorize in fact that we are all being gently manipulated by a phenomenon not previously seen played out over the Internet.

What I do want to say, as my reflection on 2015, is that the selfie sticks we all got for Christmas the year before may have been shelved but our self obsessions have been ignited. 

I feel that if there is one unifying movement that emerged in 2015 it was an explosion of self expression. We invented a new wave of overshare, and with it, a new desire for positive reinforcement: tip top status updates like ‘having   a chai latte and super salad’ and here is a photo of me doing so. Followed by the terrifing hour of waiting and then ‘What, only 21 likes?’. 

With the insecurity of caring how many likes is the power that mass opinion has to change you. That repost of the dying child and a message about the futility of war, 66 likes, ah that is better. I have value.

We say a lot to so many people these days. We also share too much of what other people say. I say this as a negative because I feel like we are compromising ourselves a little in doing so.

Given that our evolving habit ofsharing everything is growing stronger, why do I feel like I have something to say that is worth sharing? I have a knack of throwing words together, but really so what?  

I could seriously do my head in sometimes, just trying to understand where the hell we are heading and the irony of postulating this in the very medium I am deriding. Imagine if Woody Allen was born in 1980, what kind of neurotic torture chamber would his life have been? I hope before his time we see his thoughts on these issues come through in his final films. 

Selfies, proclaimations, rants, whitticisms. There are millions of us contributing to the ever deafening noise of social media. It also seems that we have worked out a way to streamline it, simply by grabbing a quote, unverified, from another person’s timeline with an inspirational backdrop of sunsets, rainbows and stars, and paying it forward.

I fear in our compulsive ‘share if you agree’s, and ‘wow this is so true’s and ‘I cant say this better’s that we are doing little more than butchering philosophical, ideological, political and spiritual knowledge. We are mixing all the metaphors, spreading propoganda, misinforming ourselves and boring the fuck out of our more rational facebook friends. 

We have turned facebook into a fridge door full of motivational magnets. We have turned world politics into an exercise in taking misinformation and spreading it. 

I fear for what we will see in 2016. The memes will not run out, but if we keep spreading them in the absence of context, I fear we will dumb ourselves down to the point of stupidity. 

So is that it? Has Facebook homogonised the masses? Is Mark Z an evil mastermind sitting in his ivory tower watching the developed world evolve into hybrid robot-narcissists, capable of succumbing to crowd hysteria whilst posting our smiling faces at just the right angle? 

They approach trends the achingly polite way they would any transaction, with norms and custom. It seems that this is how it is possible to fetishise America without breaking tradition. Sweet rebellion, without the rebel.  

 It’s a loose embrace. Like a nun spraying FYG because she likes the colour of the paint. It is not a bear hug. That would be Australian.  

 It is as if seeds of US patriotism were planted alongside courage such that the rebuilt Nation mistook candy for cherry blossom.  

 The irony drinks Plum wine from a beer glass and raises a toast to the culture that slapped them down, picked them up, and told them it was time to move on. Preferably on foot, wearing Converse and Levi Strauss.

I rarely post on WordPress. I apologise to die hard yahoo/wordpress people. I am southside – you know, google/gmail. Such a divide.  So 2014 heads towards 2015 now and I reflect on some good, decent men who made a difference in this world and left it in our hands, this year.

1. Allen Martin – the man who got Ventolin on the Medicare pharmaceutical list, and steamrolled out submissions on things that really mattered to people in dire need. You wouldn’t know because he never bragged. He just did it.  He founded the Victorian Brain Injury Recovery Association and was a genuine decent human.

2. Ben Naz – the one and only Guerrilla artist who lived life without regrets, and championed principles of equality, fairness and truth. He truly was and is, Manila’s finest. He gave many in the street art community a feeling of solidarity and reminded us of what matters, and why.

3. Gough Whitlam – 21st Prime Minister of Australia – the man who gave us Medicare. He believed in the rights of the Indigenous traditional owners of this land we live in. He gave us legal aid. He gave us an awareness of what equality is. There has never been another like him.

4. William Wood Cullen – My Uncle Bill – by his own description, he was a laborer. A fighter in his youth with regret in later years, but he came from Springburn, Glasgow, where razor gangs bumped up against survival daily. He was kind, decent, principled and pragmatic. He was my Dads keeper, his best friend and confidant. He could croon, recite the International call of Marxism and every line of Tam O’Shanter.

Dad and Bill