Category Archives: Pride

A clunky unedited book review!

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Sacred Band, by Joseph D. Carriker jr.
 
Where to begin? I am emotionally compromised, that’s where.
 
My favourite thing about this novel is the characters. I’ve been thinking about how best to describe them, but then, describing people has never been my strong suit. I describe characters well enough, using the labels assigned to them: troubled, gentle, loving, queer, trans, motherly, a person of colour, powerful, traumatised.
I struggle with describing the powers at play in this book because they’re not characters. They’re people. They’re alive and delightfully complex, each one more than their assigned archetype, each one richly developed with backstories that are not laid bare and tossed in your face for easy consumption. They tell you as much as any person would, and in ways that people do: in action, in small talk, in expression and emotion. Their defining traits aren’t tossed and jumbled into a single paragraph early in the chapter. They’re complicated in the ways I am complicated, or you are, or the ways the people you love are. They’re messy. They grieve. They get scared. They can be irrational and clingy. They can project their insecurities onto others. They also love and feel in a very, very real way, and that is the core of what makes Sacred Band so brilliant. A superhero is a symbol, a representation of a concept, and it’s important that you understand the face beneath the mask before you can begin to grasp the hero. These people are heroes, and not because of the (overly tight) outfits.
 
My second favourite thing about this book is the sheer diversity of cast. Gender, sexuality, race, and background mix and merge to bring people from various walks of life- with respectful appreciation of the reality of their existence- into eachother’s company. Each has different strengths and different obstacles. Sometimes they chafe, sometimes they soothe. Difficult situations are dealt with in unexpected ways, and I’m not just talking about the fight scenes. A friend of mine uses the phrase ‘A balm to my soul’ and that’s exactly what this story has been for me. Familiar struggles (especially the queer kind) played out on these pages are mysteriously lacking in mass-produced media, and although that issue is slowly improving, the representation of queer culture in these pages is so much more satisfying to me than the token gay characters popping up in our standard superhero fare. Here queerness is written the way most of us experience it. It’s every day life. It has events that mark our history, and sometimes they can define our personal narrative, but for the most part it’s just part of who we are. For the characters in Sacred Band, it’s just part of who they are, but within that, they give voice and power to the inherent rage against inequality and oppression common in the queer community.
We’ve all heard about those who are not so lucky as to be born into a safe environment. Those who have been disowned, discarded, abused and tortured and even killed for who they are. The fact that the novel begins in Ukraine and mentions the unrest in Russia hits a nerve. The villains in Sacred Band are real. We’ve all felt their touch, one way or another. From those who fought hard in defence of DADT to those who beat frightened transfolk and post the videos to youtube, we know these villains. The pain and anger in Sacred Band is all too real.
This novel gifts us with the superheroes that Hollywood pretends could never be: the queer, the underfoot, the outcasts, doing what they always have. What we always have. Fighting for our own, for the lives of those like us.
 
When I first settled down to read, I had no idea how sorely I needed that.
So yeah, I’m emotionally compromised. Read the fucking book. It’s worth it.
 
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Protestation versus Education

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The following is simply a comment I posted in response to this video, posted by a friend of mine on Facebook. I say a few things I feel very strongly about and I figure I should probably keep this blog alive, so in the spirit of trying to start living again, here you go.

Small hints of truth wrapped up in a lot of needless sensationalism.
I can see where you are and how you think, sweets, but this video is not something you want to say sums up your view, because then your view is heavily biased, selective of information, and incapable of change or adaptation.
The thing is, most people do understand the great machine we’re a part of. Most people do grasp these things. The problem is that people don’t like change, and they don’t like a lack of security, and they don’t know how to manage without a world that has been hundreds of years in the making.

Also no, a world without pharmacology would not be better. A world without global trade would not be better. A world without global communication and technology would not be better.
Instead of eradication, you must think in terms of adaptation and gentle change. The aggression in this video, the patronising voice of so many of the people who believe in it… It will get you, and them, nowhere.

You’ll find that if you educate people in how to survive outside of ‘the system’ they will tend to move towards doing so. People don’t like being trapped but they do love the safety provided. If you want change, educate. Teach. Teach skills as hobbies. Teach advanced skills for those who want to take it further. Don’t yell about how broken the system is, everyone already knows that and the people who don’t are the people who don’t want it to change.
So teach. Instead of this video, share TED talks about survivalism. Share pop culture like Naked and Afraid. Show people what cool things you can do with a pocket knife, or how you can make ink from mushrooms, or how to make their own soap. Educate them in how penicillin is made, and what plants work best in their climate. SHOW them the world they could be living in and they’ll do all the work themselves….
All you have to do is provide the start for an autodidact and ask them to teach what they know to others.

Change is happening. It’s just slow, and you can’t push hard. A little information, a little hope, and that’s all you need.

I plan to write more on this.

Maybe I’ll explain soap making, or how my gardening is going. Perhaps I’ll post my plans for my ideal home, or what new things I’ve learned. No doubt, mental illness and autism will show up from time to time. I talk a lot about these things, why not here?

I still write. I’m still writing. I just want to add a little variation to this blog, make it more… blog-like.

SO there you go.

A Big Sister’s Rage is a Terrible Thing

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So today I was browsing tumblr and stumbled across the above image.
It’s common knowledge. It’s commonly accepted.

There is nothing that makes me as psychotic a pro-body feminist vocal activist type of person, except this. Except my love for my little sisters.

Robyn is 9. Renee is 13.

Renee wears more make-up than I ever have in my whole life. She wears playboy bunny outfits and talks about how she can’t eat foodcourt meals because they’ll make her fat, and that would be unappealing. My thirteen year old sister.

When I tried to explain to her that she doesn’t need it- any of it, the makeup, the diet, the skanky clothing- to be a worthwhile person, she gave me a look that broke my heart. She genuinely could not comprehend what I was saying. The music she listens to, the clothes she wears, and the attention of the boys at her school are what make her her. I can’t help feeling that I somehow failed as a sister, so see her like that. I mean, by all means, if you want to wear playboy and an inch of foundation because that’s what you want to do, do so! Just please, dear gods, don’t do it so other people will see you as worthy.

It’s made worse because (I know everyone says this about their siblings, but this is backed up with legitimate testing) she has an extremely high level of intelligence. She’s smart. Very smart. She is working in mathematics three or four years above her grade. She can understand and manipulate concepts that I, at 22 with university education, can’t quite grasp. She’s also beautiful in that sort of nordic-maiden way. Tall and graceful and blue eyed and blonde haired. Of all the people in the world, she does not need these image and identity issues, and certainly not at the age of 13!

Thankfully, Robyn seems to be finding her own way. If anything she’s taking after me, only with Renee’s intelligence and a quicksilver wit. My little sisters will grow up to be amazing human beings, so long as they can do it and stay true to themselves.

I am at a loss, my dears. I am so, so very at a loss. There must be something missing, something that we are missing, for childhood to be lost so quickly. Something is wrong if we lose our identity and pride and childlike joy before we even start middle school/highschool. There is something wrong if girls like my beloved Renee and Robyn think that what they look like, what they listen to, and how sexually appealing they are to others influences their worth as human beings.

Help me. Please, help me understand.

I don’t know where to start to help change this.

Awkward!

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Am I the only queer girl who didn’t experience dread and fear the moment I realised I liked other girls?

I’ve been through my fair share of bullying and all that other bullshit, but it never, ever made me feel like I was ‘other’. My family was wholly accepting, though I can’t say that coming out/being outed didn’t come with its collection of “it’s just a phase” and “it will make you miserable” lectures from certain family members.

I read these stories from gay girls around the planet and hear how they suffer and experience all that outcast misery… And I never felt any of that, even when what I experienced matches what they experienced. Is it a different outlook? Am I somehow more emotionally stable? Was I just in a better environment or headspace?

 

The worst thing for me, I think, being queer… Is that I feel I don’t deserve to be, because I never suffered for it. How messed up is that? I feel like I should be straight because my life being queer has been easier than my life before I came out.

Am I hardcore, gold-star lesbian? No.

Am I bi? No.

I’m just queer. I’m as homogay as every other queer kid I’ve met. A different variation sometimes, but no less infected with teh ghey.

My struggle with being queer is not that I feel I don’t belong in society. I’m aware that I’m different to others in some way, but I’m different to everyone in some way. You like boys? That’s cool. I like chicken and you’re a vegan? That’s cool too. You have blue eyes, and I have green. You’re left handed and I’m right handed. Our freckles are not perfectly aligned!
Differences. There is no person on this earth who is identical to another person on this earth. Even twins have differing personalities.
My issues with being queer stem from the concept that I’m not truly queer unless I’ve felt wrong at some point, and I never have. I know I’m exactly what I am supposed to be… and that is what makes me feel wrong.

 

Bit of a catch 22, I think.

 

(Post Script: I just wanna say that in no way do I think GLBT people should suffer. The fact that everyone I know with a queer streak has experienced something heartbreaking is distressing and entirely wrong. No one should be harassed for their sexual or gender orientation… I’m just commenting on the fact it’s become a sort of initiation into the ranks, y’know? Without meaning to giggle at obvious trauma, it’s a sort of bonding conversation piece. “Oh hi, you’re queer too? Lets share coming out stories and talk about all the horrible things that happened to us.”)

Adventures in Queerdom

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So perhaps I am finding my feet on this rainbow-brick-road that I have discovered myself wandering, dancing awkwardly, unfamiliar with this new beat. I haven’t been sure, but I’m finding myself steadier and steadier these days. My feet aren’t shaken on their helter-skelter travels.

The girl.
A first in my exploration of fearlessness.

She was cute, rectangular glasses, blue neckerchief. Her hands were soft and cold and brushed mine like an electric shock. It made me giddy and silly and I babbled something about being obsessive compulsive about organizing things. She laughed and said I could obsessive-compulsively organize her table anytime. I think I swooned. I fled.

Jai teased me and flicked a game cover at my head, chastising my shyness. He pointed out the neckerchief. He repeated her words as he had heard them, tinged with his arrogant certainty.

It was the neckerchief that convinced me that maybe all would not be lost if maybe… This once… I grabbed my girl-love-lust and ran with it. One must be fearless, no? Fearlessness in all things, not just adversity and the unknown.

We (Jai and I) went for dinner. I wrote my number and a brief apologetic compliment on a scrap of a receipt. My fingers were slippery with avocado and sweet onion sauce.
I fought down the feelings of terror and nausea, uncomfortably aware of the fact that what I was doing was not only something I could never see myself doing, let alone do with a (socially acceptable) male, and certainly never with a girl…

But with Jai’s hand in the small of my back and his laughter in my ear, I made my way to her work and stood there, furiously blushing, enveloped in awkward silence. She was busy.

I handed her workmate the note.
I fled from the store.
I watched Jai peer over shelves and customers for a few minutes before he returned to my side.

“She’s looking around,” He said with his trademark cocky grin. “and she’s smiling.”

I got her message this evening, after I got home and was able to charge my exhausted phone.

She wants to meet for coffee.

I feel fearless.

My Opinion

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Wow, I’m all up in the ranting and yelling about big political issues these days. I’ll no doubt get back to posting my writing when November comes, don’t worry.
Now, this is just my opinion. Opinion can be changed through debate, so if you don’t like what I have to say, by all means formulate a polite and intelligent argument and post it in the comments. I’d love to hear your point of view.

Today, I’m going to talk about a Queensland MP who is complaining about the gay communities’ “Heterophobia.”

There are a lot of very angry comments on that article, and honestly, I don’t blame them. There were a few things in there that annoyed me, and I’m in a pretty mellow mood today.
I mean, the paragraph or so at the end about “Homosexuality can be grown out of”… I don’t even… just, ARGH!
But thankfully that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the man who thinks his religious beliefs are under attack by people who just want to be equal.

Heterophobia exists. It exists just as much as homophobia does. It could be a side-affect of being loathed and hated for so long, it’s natural that you’d start to hate the person who hates you. It could be jealousy over being an outsider, looking at all the joys of the insider’s life and not being able to have that. It could be a dislike of a different lifestyle. I’m sure there are as many reasons as homo/heterophobes.
Do I think this counts as heterophobia? Well…. No.

Let me explain.

I’m not a christian. I don’t think I could really understand the fervor with which the people in organised religion can follow their god. I have my own faiths and beliefs, but they are far from clear-cut with rules and laws, let alone a big book of words. What I have seen of the christian community is that each of them love their god more than most other things in their life. That’s a whole lot of love. If I were christian, you can bet that I’d be distraught that the world wouldn’t let my relationship with my significant other be recognised in the eyes of the most important being in my life. They want their love recognised by their god, and I don’t blame them. Family is one thing, deity is another.

That said, the whole ‘marriage is between a man and a woman’ thing trips me up.
Religion depends on how seriously you stick to it. If you follow it to the letter, then sadly, you need to follow that rule too. If you don’t, then don’t. Stand up for what you believe in, by all means. Mr. Messenger seems to have great faith in the book, and thus, great faith in the rules. If I take everything he says in that article at face value, supposing he’s honest, it’s just unfortunate. The rules of his faith can’t be bent for other people, they were laid out by god. I understand where he’s coming from. He must do and say what he believes is right, and in this case, his religion wins out. His relationship with his god wins out. I get that.
Personally, I don’t like it, but I do understand.

Now, if we are just talking about legal and social recognition, I like the concept of civil unions. It doesn’t help the religious, but it does help the rest of us who just want to be permanently and officially tied to their loved one. It’s a long way from equal yet, I’m not disputing that, but the concept of ‘equal but different’ has never really caused me any problems. I think civil unions should be available to everyone else as well; a way to legally bind a relationship outside of a religious context. Honestly, I think it could apply to any relationship structure- gay, straight, religious, atheist, monogamous, polyamorous, whatever. I’m a firm believer in the “Love is Love” quote, and if people want to be legally recognised as forever bound to another human being (or human beings, if the case may be) then I believe they should be permitted to. It’s not a gay rights issue, it’s a human rights issue.

I’m aware this puts me at odds with a lot of people, but I don’t mind. I’ve never really been the type to stick to a side just to avoid an argument.

The gay community is rich, and full, and beautiful. It’s developed under pressure, and like most things that have been through the rough, it’s come out gleaming and fabulous. I think complete absorption into society would gradually dissolve it, dull the shine. If it were a choice between being equal and being a rich, bright community, then obviously I’d pick the equal choice… But I hope that will never be necessary.

I’m aware that to hundreds of other people, ‘seperate but equal’ is a horrific thought. I’m aware that there are people out there who are struggling every day with their faith and their identity. I don’t speak for them, and I wouldn’t dare to even attempt to assume how difficult these things must be for them. All I can do is speak for myself, so I am.

Love is the most glorious, amazing, wonderful thing in this world. It should be celebrated, admired, adored, worshipped, and experienced by everyone, at least once. It should never be loathed or feared.
All people are equal, regardless of what they believe or who they want to spend their lives with. All people deserve the same rights.
Does it really matter what we end up calling it?

I hope one day these things can be fixed.

Because….

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…. I want to make a difference.

I have been single for a month now.
I didn’t post about it because it hurt too much. It’s managable now. The pain isn’t so bad.

What is hurting, I find, is suddenly discovering all over again what homophobia is. What inequality is.

I want to marry a girl. The right girl, when I find her.

In Australia, I won’t be able to do that, unless things change.

I don’t want girls calling me and telling me how they suffer because they’re gay.

I don’t want boys getting the shit beaten out of them because they looked at a boy the way they look at girls.

I don’t want the news to label a family as abusive because they accept their child for who She is.

This world, the way it is, disgusts me. There is so much hate, and not enough love.

Worse than that, there are restraints in love. Laws, rules, boxes and labels.

There is no way you can put a price or a tag on something as beautifully divine as love.

Please, if you feel the same way I do, regardless of your sexuality or gender, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Blog, take photos, make art, protest, donate. Raise your voice, be loud, be proud, be amazing.
Be in love. Celebrate other people being in love.
Help those who need it, and help yourself.

Teach Tolerance.

Learn Acceptance.

Love

is

Love.