Laws criminalising who I was didn't change till I was a teen. But by then the damage was done. I'd already learned about what it meant to be who I was. Like many (most?) I suppressed my nature and hid within myself. That's what society taught me to do. That was what was expected from me. Don't ask. Don't tell. Keep your head down and your mouth shut or we'll ruin you.
While I never had the courage as a young person to ACT UP or speak out, others did.
Before the internet I vividly recall reading about the radical actions of Queer Nation, and learning about Australia's Gay Rights Movement by sneaking looks at gay magazines in newsagents, and hiding in the corners of public libraries.
With gratitude and respect to all those who came before us and upon whose shoulders we now stand, we can tell our young people today – It does get better…
I've seen the changes in attitudes and responses as society shifts.
We're moving from tolerance to acceptance. For the most part My fiancé and I recently traveled back to my hometown for my father's 80th birthday. Family converged from around Australia. Most over the age of 70 showed us tolerance. Sometimes awkward and strained, but for a long time tolerance is what we queers craved. Don't hurt us. Don't reject us. We'll keep our curtains firmly drawn.
As social research shows, the younger generations are far more accepting.
Normalising the deviants. That's the claim now.
We see queer representation on our television screens growing. Causing a little stir recently the US family drama The Fosters gave us a chaste little kiss between two actors playing young gay teens even though much raunchier encounters between the straight teen characters on the show don't seem to raise much of an eyebrow. Modern Family works to normalise same-sex marriage and relationships but still, as comedy must, tends towards caricature and stereotype. On Australian screens reality TV shows now include openly gay couples and contestants. And Please Like Me from Josh Thomas stands out well above the fray.
We've come so far, but still have so far to go.
That's why the debate a plebiscite on marriage equality will be so hurtful and harmful. And never mind, even by it's "same-sex" focus the very nature of the draft question excludes transgender, intersex, and people without a binary gender identity. The current Turnbull Government proposal seeks to create a segregated system of parallel marriages, one for the straights, and one for everyone else it seems. So much for marriage equality, let's just further entrench difference in law.
Meanwhile it's politics as usual for the ALP, the Liberals, and The Greens.
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