It will probably be difficult for you to believe that I was ... a teenager once. Yeah right! I hear you cry ... alas, it is true.
I was angry, I hated my parents, I just wanted to leave school, I only wanted to speak real words with my friends and grunted at adults, I knew everything (wish I had written it down) and, I called a spade a spade! ONLY, because I was ALWAYS right; which happens when you know everything! Right?
I had time for only those that I considered friends (which, when you are a teenager, is any friend who is speaking to you on that particular day) and, as I was a bit of a social butterfly, I had many passing conversations with just about anyone, so I had many "friends".
Which is why, when I organised a school reunion some 20 years later, I was surprised to find out how many people I went to school with who actually had life long illnesses, family tragedies, different sexual orientations* to me, genetic disorders, drug or alcohol addictions and a list of other things that I thought I would have known ... particularly since I knew everything! Right?
It turned out that while I thought I knew it all, I had in fact been walking around with my head in the clouds. Which for a teenager is pretty normal, and all I really knew about was me! My needs, my wants, my needs, my wants ... you get it? Right? This probably explains why I really didn't understand much about Sexual orientation* or our Gender Diverse* communities, OR .... The Hate!
I simply wasn't aware of it. Didn't concern me? Right?
So, it was quite a surprise for me to learn, many years later, that until South Australia decriminalised homosexuality* in 1975 (first Australian State to do so), that it had actually been illegal to be Gay*, and not just in Australia!
Hang on ... I went to school with two people that were Gay*, right? I know that because they were my friends too (on the days they spoke to me). Right?
BAHAHAHAHA - YOU!!! YOU WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING!!! JUST TWO PEOPLE GAY* ... BAHAHAHAHA I say again ... (just for effect)
There were approximatley 180 people in my Year 10 at High School, so based on what we now know statistically, that meant I actually went to school with at least 18 people who identified as GLBTI (Gay*, Lesbian*, Bisexual*, Transgender*, Intersex*) and more who were probably gender questioning (Q*) and probably never resolved their gender or sexual orientation* because of the disgusting discrimination and abuse that was rampant at that time. (And lack of information or support) 1970s. Thank God much has changed ... but not enough!
(If you or someone you know are seeking support or information about any of this, I have supplied some links at the end which may help.)
I now know of men and women who simply married the opposite gender, had kids and built a life (probably in misery) just so they would not be a victim of abuse or worse ... murder! Which by the way still happens today in other countries. See here (with caution). Simply to preserve their opportunity to have a fair shot at a "normal life" like their heterosexual* peers had the legal right to!
Discrimination wasn't just obvious then, it was an expectation! If you were different and you wanted to be seen in the "normal community" for who you were, you were expected to cop the crap that was dished up to you. That was your CHOICE!
AND .... there it is .... that ridiculous, uneducated opinion. YOUR CHOICE!
The GLBTIQ community do not choose their sexual orientation, NONE OF US DO!
AND, as some famous person once said "Baby, I was born this way!" ALL OF US WERE!
While I am on THAT discussion, saying you do not choose to be a specific sexual orientation*, does not mean you wouldn't choose it!!!
Being GLBTIQ is not like being a member of any Religious or Political group that we do choose to be a part of, (not to target anyone in particular by providing theses links Gaynor, Corbett).
We can not only choose the group we wish to be a part of, but we can also choose how to incorporate the teachings of that group into our lives. We can take or leave as much as we like of what we learn when we go to these meetings at those places of worship or group studies. We can apply it to our lives firstly based on our own interpretation of those teachings and, how we logically choose it will fit into our lives based on the person that we are and how we choose to present ourselves! So we research, assess, decide and apply, all by choice. And have a great deal of faith, that at the end of the day, we have got it right. However, not everyone gets it right! Like here for example. Where religious beliefs were imposed on others, and ruled discrimination by a court of law.
Even if we have been raised in a home where specific beliefs have been instilled and demonstrated to us, we still have an ability as humans to think for ourselves and decide what side of an argument we will take. (like Jimmy Carter did after a life in the church, read here in Losing my Religion) What is moral and what is not, what is right or wrong! Those are choices, such as how we choose to think about other people's differences, how we speak of them and ultimately, how we treat them! All Human Beings are capable of undergoing this decision making process.
These processes of choice are not something that we can apply to our sexuality/sexual orientation*! NOBODY CAN!
Sexuality/sexual orientation* is not a choice, it is a part of who you are! Baby, you were born that way! "No matter gay, straight or bi Lesbian, transgendered life" etc Full Lyrics "Born This Way"
So, simply because specific people have a set of beliefs/values that were taught to them by people who quote from books that were written before even our Great Grandparents were a twinkle in their Father's eye, does not mean those opinions can be imposed on others in an attempt to disguise those opinions as law! Just because you think you know everything. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how you disguise it. Let's stop the hate!
The Happy Ending in all this, will be when the laws of our country reflect the view of the people who have grown beyond thinking like I did as a teenager, the laws will reflect that all people are to be treated as equals, morally and legally, it is a matter of equality in HUMAN rights. Full stop.
So who will you be? Will you be a person who accepts others for who they are and respects the way they live their lives? Or will you be, to quote a friend of mine, "an ignorant bigot ... pure and simple"?
Helpful Supportive Links:
If you are a part of the GLBTIQ community or have a child who is coming out and would like some support please find some links below.
If you have a family member or are the parent of a child in the GLBTIQ community you may like to know about PFLAG Australia to help you to learn to support your family member.
Perth WA Gender Project
Canberra Based - GLBTIQ Rights (Human Rights) A Gender Agenda
Australia wide Lifeline
USA Our True Colors