What's NOT ok is when our differing opinions hurt, vilify and harm other people.
ALSO, it is NEVER ok to threaten physically, verbally or emotionally another person. Online or in real life. Ever. Ok ?*
So, it has come to my attention, rather harshly, that I live in a bubble.
Oh, it's a nice bubble ! It's a bubble where people genuinely care about the rights of asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence, the rights of women and the right to love whom you choose without fear of discrimination or harm. Sure, it's a Green Party voting, craft beer drinking, supporting local business, inner city (kind of) living bubble. But it's really, really nice here.
Perhaps I was a little naive. I mean, I do read the papers, watch the news, and have a twitter and facebook feed that sometimes horrifies me. However, I'd (very) inaccurately assumed that our politicians, lead by some misguided beliefs and policies, were out of step with the vast majority of my fellow Australians.
However, if you follow certain Australian blogging circles, you'll know that this week a blog post written by a fellow Australian female blogger caused a 'bit' of a stir. The post was written in response to the rainbowing of profile pictures that spread like a glorious sea of acceptance and pride and love over facebook in response to Pride celebrations across the USA and Europe.
This blogger as a Christian does not support my right to marry my female partner. That's fine. I don't begrudge her right to her opinion. Nor do I begrudge her right to post that opinion on her blog.
However, I do, very strongly believe that her opinion DOES NOT give her the right to spread a very hateful message of intolerance. I felt physically ill when I read this blog post.
Physically ill, like I'd been punched in the stomach. The words hurt. The following threads of comments in a blogging community hurt even more. The old arguments of the sanctity of marriage, the purpose of marriage to be purely for re-production and "but where will this all end ??" were raised and re-hashed. Sometimes not very eloquently. Always with rancour, fear, hatred and disgust.
I'm not going to defend these arguments because frankly I'm a bit bored by them. My happy, healthy and loving relationship does not in any way effect any one else's. At least, not negatively. I would argue that happy relationships, straight or gay, create a better society for ALL of us.
My overwhelming issue with the blog and ensuing hateful comments is the complete lack of empathy. So often in this 'debate' the PERSON is completely removed from the argument.
Gay people become some arbitrary threat to society. A random image of men in chaps and lesbians in sensible shoes kissing under rainbow flags aiming to destroy marriage and our society as a whole.
Where's the personal connection to your neighbour, friend, family member (I am looking directly at YOU Tony Abbott) or fellow blogger ? Where's the empathy ? Where's the understanding that we are all born differently. Created (oohhhh I went there) to love and be loved but just not necessarily in the same way that you are.
And, my grave concern with posts and opinions like this one, is for the young and vulnerable gay, bisexual, transgender and sexually curious or confused kids. There still growing up in a world and country where (to many people, including our PM and many aspects of the media) to be gay is BAD. A sin and you should be punished, ostracised and hated for it.
For being yourself. The way you were born.
From BeyondBlue :
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and transgender and gender diverse people are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader population. They are also at a greater risk of suicide and self-harm.
Among LGBTI populations, research clearly indicates that discrimination, abuse (both verbal and physical), exclusion and prejudice are key contributors to the increased rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm."
Blog posts like this week's only give weight to the fear and stigma that is held by a minority.
But is heard very loudly.
I come to this debate having had a relatively easy 'coming out' experience and generally have only been surrounded by love and acceptance. I am eternally grateful for that and do not take that acceptance lightly. But really, should I have to be grateful for that ???
I don't believe that my sexuality and my relationship define me. Certainly not as a blogger. Which I think partly explains why I found this blog and response so hurtful and alarming. This was a 'safe' space. I'm used to defending my rights at the poll booth, or choosing a LGBTI medical professional or checking the LGBTI friendliness of an organisation before I utilise them. I'm very accustomed to choosing when or to whom I declare that my 'partner' ifs female. But not here. Not in a blogging sphere of like minded women. Surely ?
Well I was wrong. And yet I wasn't, because amongst those voices of hate were louder voices of love and acceptance and with me, shock. The care was (as it should have been) shared equally for the original blogger and 'us' gays. That care wasn't an acknowledgement or validation of the blogger's opinion but rather care for her well being after being abused online for her post.
I'm sure that's because we ALL know a neighbour, brother, cousin, sibling, for some of you, children, that are or maybe gay. And don't we want them to be free of discrimination, hate and fear ?
For being themselves ?
I'm sure this post is not particularly well written, but I'm going to hit publish anyway. It's been swirling around in my head and heart all week and needs to be out.(maybe I intended that pun!)
I'm going to walk the dogs, hold my lover's hand and go about my day.
Thanks for reading. Yes, please comment (I may get someone else to monitor them) but please reread my disclaimer at the top of this post BEFORE you comment.