Tag Archives: Politics

Australia: Penny Wong says religion is blocking marriage equality

“At the centre of the opposition to equality of marriage rights for gay and lesbian members of the community is the conflation of religious concepts of marriage with secular concepts of marriage,” she said.

“Religious attitudes to marriage continue to impact on much of the political debate that has delayed the recognition of the marriage equality rights of the gay and lesbian community.”

“The problem with this, of course, is the application of religious belief to the framing of law in a secular society, and in societies where church and state are constitutionally separate.”

Continue reading at: Penny Wong says religion is blocking marriage equality – Star Observer (Source)

DNC hires first lesbian CEO, former head of EMILY’s List

The Democratic National Committee has for the first-time ever hired an out lesbian at its chief executive officer, appointing the former head of EMILY’s LIST to the top leadership position. The DNC named Jess O’Connell as CEO after she served four years at EMILY’s LIST, which seeks to elect pro-choice women to public office. Her appointment comes shortly after the election of Tom Perez as DNC chair.

Continue reading at: DNC hires first lesbian CEO, former head of EMILY’s List (Source)

The Lesbian Avengers 25 Years Later: “We Did It, And We Can Do It Again”

“It’s good to remember that activism works,” she tells me, “because everyone needs a sense of hope right now.” Cogswell and her former Lesbian Avenger cohorts are hopeful the exhibition will help reignite that DIY activist spark, and bridge the gap between the movement’s history and our current challenges.

Continue reading at: The Lesbian Avengers 25 Years Later: “We Did It, And We Can Do It Again” | NewNowNext (Source)

Georgia: City honors life of first out lesbian Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner

Poster

Several hundred mourners gathered on Saturday to honor the life of the late Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, who died of breast cancer on April 18. Garner was a beloved community figure and the first openly LGBT Fulton County Commissioner.

Garner made an impact in a variety of different communities and circles throughout her life, and speakers at the service at Ebenzer Baptist Church reflected on the legacy she left through her work in neighborhoods, as county commissioner, as an Atlanta intown activist, as a champion for those in need and her work in social justice and LGBT rights.

Continue reading at: City honors life of late Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner (Source)

Elaine Noble: The first lesbian state lawmaker

If you’re feeling hopeless with our current crop of legislators in Congress, consider Elaine Noble– the first out lesbian elected to state legislature– and be inspired.

Elaine Noble made US election history even before Maura Healey, Harvey, Milk, or Tammy Baldwin as she was elected as representative of the Boston district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1974.

Prior to this, no out lesbian (or gay man, for that matter), had won a state-level office. So when she did run for the position, she faced an overwhelming wave of homophobic threats.

Continue reading at: Elaine Noble: The first lesbian state lawmaker | Lesbian News (Source)

Chelsea Savage: Lesbian, cult survivor, politician, sets her sights on Virginia House seat

Chelsea Savage survived life in a cult, found the strength to leave her husband, and is now an out and proud lesbian looking to begin a political career.

Continue reading at: Lesbian cult survivor sets her sights on Virginia House seat / LGBTQ Nation (Source)

This Powerful Instagram Chronicles Important Moments In Lesbian Herstory

Lesbian Herstory Project

Rakowski went on to talk about how lesbian history often tends to take a backseat to other identities along the queer spectrum when it comes to visibility and how history is remembered.“Women’s history is often not told or recorded or championed, lesbian history even less so,” she continued. “I think it’s valuable to learn from the past, learn what lesbians were experiencing and thinking in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s — there’s been so much progress is society but still so much oppression. Even if I don’t agree with lesbian views from the 1970s (for example) I still think it’s important we learn and read and respect their history and experiences.”

Continue reading at: This Powerful Instagram Chronicles Important Moments In Lesbian Herstory | The Huffington Post (Source)

The Amazon Trail: Questions from a lesbian high school student

What still needs to be achieved in the current movement?

“So much. We will never erase all of the hate and fear directed at gay people. Difference is too threatening to many non-gays, especially those who follow religions that demonize us. Being out is the essential basic step to achieving and preserving something like equality. Encouraging and supporting one another, as the Golden Crown Literary Society and lesbian publishers do, for example, are necessary. Legitimizing our right to exist through the legal system will protect us to some extent. Electing supportive non-gays and gays to local and national office is another tool that can protect us in the future. Fighting demagogues every step of the way is a must. We will continue building our culture until it’s so strong our would-be oppressors and executioners can’t begin to tear it down.”

Continue reading at: The Amazon Trail: Questions from a lesbian high school student | LGBT Weekly (Source)

Lydia Polgreen: Black Lesbian Changing Journalism

The last time Lydia Polgreen felt boredom — real boredom, the soul-crushing kind — she was 21 and working for a company in suburban Virginia that helped applicants for H-1B visas. The job was a stopgap between college, where she’d studied Marx and Hegel, and a hazy, uncertain future in which she imagined she might teach philosophy. In the meantime, there she was toiling in some random job, waiting for each day to end. “At some point I thought, This can’t be how my life is going to go. This isn’t for me,” she recalls. “I’m not a person who should ever be looking at the clock, waiting for things to be over — that’s not my destiny.”

Continue reading at: Lydia Polgreen: Meet the Queer Black Woman Changing Journalism | Out Magazine (Source)

I’m A Lesbian In India And I’m Suffocating

“If I say screw it and come out as a lesbian to society, I can go to jail for it.”

Continue reading at: I’m A Lesbian In India And I’m Suffocating | NewNowNext (Source)

Lesbian Feminists Challenge Latin America’s Political Discourse

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Thirty-something-year-old Yanileth Mejía sports an edgy bob hairdo, large dark sunglasses and provoking graphic T-shirts with lesbian feminist taglines like it’s her uniform. She knows her taboo lifestyle could lead to kidnapping, rape, torture or murder. It is a high price to pay but not uncommon in El Salvador, which has a reputation for one of the highest female murder rates in the world. The latest report from Insight Crime uses data from 2012 and shows El Salvador tops the list in Latin American femicide with a rate of 8.9 homicides per 100,000 women. Seven of the 10 countries with the highest femicide rates are in Latin America, and include Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.

Continue reading at: Lesbian Feminists Challenge Latin America’s Political Discourse – Latino USA (Source)

Court: Civil Rights Law covers LGBT workplace bias, sides with lesbian teacher

A federal appeals court in Chicago has ruled the 1964 Civil Rights Act does protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination.

The Hively case stems from a lawsuit by Indiana teacher Kimberly Hively alleging that the Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend didn’t hire her full time because she is a lesbian.

Continue reading at: Court: Civil Rights Law covers LGBT workplace bias – Chicago Tribune (Source)

Trump’s Defence Secretary urged to overturn appointment of ‘ungodly’ lesbian Air Force chief · PinkNews

Source: Trump’s Defence Secretary urged to overturn appointment of ‘ungodly’ lesbian Air Force chief · PinkNews

Lesbians in the News 18/04/2015

Lesbians in the news

12/04/2015 – 18/04/2015

Violent Crimes against Lesbians:

Mary Kristene Chapa

Mary Kristene Chapa

Laws, Politics and Policies:

Representation:

Social and Health Issues:

Remembering our sisters:

Religion:

***If I have missed an important news story, please either post a link in the comments section here or email it to me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.

Lesbians in the News 04/04/2015

Lesbians in the news

29/03/2015 – 04/04/2015

Even identity politics doesn’t protect lesbians – Aderonke Apata “not a lesbian”

Aderonke Apata, source: The Independent

Aderonke Apata had appealed to the High Court in the UK when her bid for asylum for sexuality-based persecution was rejected. The UK government argued that she was not a lesbian on the grounds that she had previously been in a heterosexual relationship in her home country of Nigeria, and that she had previously appeared more feminine. Her claim that her ex girlfriend, brother and son were killed and her submissions of sex tapes did not affect the outcome. The Home Office representative declared “The “You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day. Just as you can’t change your race.”

The judge decided that she was not a lesbian and that she “played the system”, despite a very real fear of persecution if she returns to Nigeria, having been internationally publicised as a lesbian, where lesbians are punished by law and through (increasingly violent) homophobia.

We now have the bizarre position in the UK where you are able to identify as a woman and legally change your recorded sex on public records, if you meet the criteria, but you are not able to identify your own sexuality – clear proof of identifying and living/acting AS A LESBIAN  is insufficient.

In the words of Antilla Dean:

So if you are male, you can identify as a woman and that’s cool.

If you are, actually, a lesbian, and identify as one, and dress as one, and love another female as a female, you are gaming the system.

A campaign in support of Aderonke Apata has been launched by the Proud2Be Project, whose patron she is.


Violent Crimes against Lesbians:

Conversion therapy and social homophobia:

Laws, Politics and Policies:

  • Indiana Passes Anti-Gay/ Lesbian Discrimination Law – Lesbians Are Being Discriminated Against in Every State, Not Just Indiana, by Victoria Brownworth. Not just about wedding cakes and videos, this law which purports to protect religious freedoms permits situations like the paediatrician who recently refused to see the baby of lesbian mothers, and the refusal to hold a funeral service unless a family edit being lesbian out. These are not frivolous or options services, these are basic services that everyone should be able to access at the beginning and the end of their life, regardless of who they are. The refusal to provide them shows a distressing lack of compassion and love. National LGBTI and civil rights groups are lobbying for the  introduction of protections for Indiana’s LGBTI community.
  • The anti-gay backlash continues in America with 20 anti-gay proposals in Texas, including one prohibiting the “burden” of religious exercise without a compelling state interest. Setting the bar this low, without the normal phrasing to prevent only “substantial burden”, could have horrific unintended consequences as religious practices could used to justify a wide variety of unacceptable behaviour.
  • Confederate license plates are seemingly acceptable while the words gay and lesbian are banned. A court case in Texas reminds us of the existing situation in Maryland.
  • The Civil Rights Commission in Michigan released an ordinance template to enable cities and townships to roll out anti-discrimination members for LGBTI residents. 35 municipalities already provide some form of local protection from discrimination.
  • Dallas mayoral candidate Richard Sheridan, an anti-gay activist, has been charged in connection with vandalism linked to homophobia.
  • Bob Jones III has finally apologised for violent homophobia from the 1980s. Although the Bob Jones university continues to actively exclude LGBTI students and alumni, is this apology the start of a shift?
  • The US healthcare system continues to fail meeting the needs of the LGBTI community, including lesbians who are reportedly at a higher risk of breast cancer, have higher rates of smoking, and whose needs for HPV and cervical cancer screening are not met, no doubt for a variety of reasons. As laws supporting religious freedom gain traction, it is likely that the provision of healthcare to lesbians will suffer, as it will for women in general.
  • Indiana Governor defends the state’s religious freedom laws and claims that they aren’t intended to discriminate against lesbians and gays but he is not planning to make lesbian or gay residents a protected class.  If existing legal mechanisms that exist to protect residents from intentional discrimination are not used, the claimed intent to not discriminate seems dubious at best.
  • Meanwhile in Maryland, laws are being developed to provide fertility treatment to married lesbian couples.
  • North Dakota is another state with laws permitting discrimination on the basis of religious freedom, but unlike other states has practically no anti-discrimination legislation with legislation that would ban sexuality-based discrimination soundly rejected by lawmakers for the third time in six years.
  • In an optimistic note perhaps, one of the lawyers who successfully argued against California’s Proposition 8 in the Supreme Court believes that the US will see federal protections for lesbian and gay Americans in the next couple of years.
  • Lawyers for the same sex marriage case in the US Supreme Court prepare for the case to be heard later this month.
  • In a Japanese first, the Tokyo Ward recognises same-sex marriage.
  • What is the affect of same sex marriage – an interesting question posed in lessons From One Year of Same-Sex Marriage in England and Wales. Equality before the law is undoubtedly critical, as is protection of lesbians and our families, but the introduction of same sex marriage is not a silver bullet solving social problems and/or homophobia. In places where the protections for lesbians and their families already exists, the fight for marriage equality ahead of more concrete needs like adequate and appropriate healthcare, for example, seems to prioritise symbolic mainstreaming over these urgent practical needs. Perhaps as national LGBTI communities we need to consider our immediate needs and develop a strategy to achieve them?

Representation:

Social and Health Issues:

  • Homophobia in aged care – the documentary Gen Silent illuminates the homophobia ageing lesbians and gays may face and their consequent return to the closet. Previous studies have raised similar concerns about treatment of ageing lesbian and gay Australians.
  • According to the latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, lesbians earn less than straight or gay men but more than straight women, based purely on working longer hours. This backs up an assessment of society as a structured around male dominance and heterosexuality – that is, supporting heterosexual men and penalising women, irrespective of their sexuality.
  • A University of Illinois study reportedly shows that a sexuality shift early in life is tied to depression. It is curious that they didn’t suggest that the study could be showing how is that coming out is difficult and stressful for many kids, in the absence of a supportive and accepting community.  Most societies groom children to heterosexuality from birth, with social institutions and rituals promoting and supporting them, and social attitudes, structures, laws and behaviours strongly opposing homosexuality in many cases. It makes perfect sense, in that context, for kids coming to terms with or deciding to be open about their homosexuality to have increased rates of depression, especially if familiar, peer and social rejection (both emotional and physical) are taken into account.  It also makes sense for that process to be delayed by the social and cultural hostility surrounding the kids.
  • Lesbian and bisexual women reportedly experience unequal outcomes under Cuba’s healthcare system, with lesbian specific needs and issues either ignored or overlooked. Of particular concern, similar to experiences in other countries, is the way lesbian-specific sexual and reproductive health needs are not met. Many gynaecological processes are discouragingly invasive; lesbian-specific risks for sexually transmitted infections (STI) are not well understood or communicated; and the problems involved in disclosing personal details to health care providers, especially around sexual activity, and discourage women from receiving the required health care.
  • Millenials, the current generation of young adults, are reportedly the generation with the highest rate of “identification” as LGBTI, with the rates doubling since the last survey in 2011.  Much of the change may be in the reported rates of bisexuality, although it is unclear whether the data in the two reports compares similarly segmented generation groups and whether the methodology used to determine LGBT identification was comparable. Interestingly, nearly 40% of millennials also reported that same sex behaviour was morally wrong, with a further 13% reporting that it depended on the situation, significantly undermining the argument that Millennials are a lesbian, gay and bisexual friendly generation. The reported rates of LGB identification are not close to Kinsey’s reported 10%, but factoring in same sex contact but not identity may explain some of this variation, according to a new book on sexual behaviour and statistics.
  • Schools that actively protect LGBT kids may be contributing to lowered rates of depression and suicidality, although it is unclear from the report whether this is based on sexuality specific measures or school wide attitudes against bullying on multiple fronts. What is not reported is the rates of sexual harassment of girls, which will also affect lesbians, and which education institutions around the US, and the world, have systemically failed to address .
  • A Canadian lesbian couple were denied daycare spot due to their sexual orientation and will be filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.
  • In Switzerland, priests have started blessing same sex couples, with one removed for blessing a lesbian couple in 2014.

***If I have missed an important news story, please either post a link in the comments section here or email it to me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.

Lesbians in the News 28/03/2015

Lesbians in the news

22/03/2015 – 28/03/2015

Lesbians in China – #FreeTheFive:

Xiao La and Maizi

Xiao La and Maizi, image courtesy of Amnesty International

Li Maizi, formally known as Li Tingting, was arrested for “causing arguments in the street” in the leadup to International Women’s Day. Her girlfriend, pictured with her above, is calling for help through All Out:

My name is Xiao La, and I live in China. Two weeks ago, Maizi was organizing a peaceful protest with four friends to denounce harassment at work. They were making pro-equality stickers and planning to hand them out. And just for that, Chinese authorities put my girlfriend in jail.

My birthday is today. Maizi and I had planned to spend the day together doing romantic things. My birthday wish is to have Maizi back. Alone, I won’t be heard. But if thousands around the world join us, the global outcry could get her out of jail.

Can you sign my petition to help free my girlfriend and her friends? go.allout.org/en/a/freethefive/

Maizi and I were taken by the police together, but I was freed the following day. Authorities can now hold her for up to 37 days before deciding whether to even charge her. The authorities confiscated her computer and her phone. The worst part? It happened the night before International Women’s Day.

News articles on the detention:


Violent Crimes against Lesbians:

  • The Brutality of Corrective Rape – South Africa’s progressive laws give no indication of the deep homophobia still dominant within the country, according to this New York Times article. The endemic violence against women couples with the homophobia to result in virulent lesbophobia and, more specifically, corrective rape. Whether it is based on male sexual entitlement or a so called desire to change their sexuality, these South African women talk of being subjected to socially sanctioned and repeated rape. Women are murdered and women have resulting children withheld because of their sexuality.
  • A violent attack on two lesbians in Vancouver is deemed not a hate crime.
  • Homophobia fears keep violence victims quiet – the multiple silencing of same sex domestic violence that prevents victims seeking or receiving help. What can we do as a community to better address the needs of victims? (Note: this story has some Australian DV assistance links).

Conversion therapy and social homophobia:

Laws and Policies:

Representation:

  • Victoria Brownworth’s new novel Ordinary Mayhem is released, focussing on violence against women. Victoria Brownworth’s next book Lesbian Erasure: Silencing Lesbians will be released in late 2015. She says of the novel:”For the past several years I have been increasingly concerned by the obliteration of lesbians as a group by mainstream culture, mainstream feminism and regrettably, even by our own community,” she said. “Major online publications like Slate and Salon conflate lesbian into gay, as if lesbians and gay men don’t have separate identities. And increasingly there is also a revision of butch lesbians as trans men when that is rarely the case—that makes both butch lesbians and trans men invisible. Not all trans men were lesbians, not all butch lesbians are closet trans men. Let each have their distinct identities.””Corrective rape was invented specifically to teach lesbians a lesson about heterosexual normatively. While it’s most common in South Africa, India and Jamaica, it also happen in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. There are 78 countries where it is illegal to be lesbian or gay—specifically. Lesbians are the victims of honor killings in a dozen countries. The forced marriages of lesbians to men happens in several dozen countries. These are some of the things I write about in Erasure.”
  • NSW, Australia – election candidates answer LGBTI questions – watch the footage here.
  • Herstory: same sex marriage 200 years ago – busting the myth of tradition?
  •  Heather has Two Mommies – kids book about same sex families is now updated with same sex marriage
  • The so-called ‘pink dollar’ or ‘gay-by boom’ – local economies see the benefit in appealing to LGBT tourism. I wonder though, does this actually result in better protections and social conditions for local communities?

Social and Health Issues:

Victoria, Australia held its first Lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s Conference.

Keynote speaker Dr Ruth McNair (from the Australian Lesbian Medical Association) argued that “a conference focusing specifically on women’s health in the community is needed in part because of a history of lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health being overlooked in funding, policy and LGBTI community services.”

The ALICE study on Alcohol and Lesbian/bisexual women: Insights into Culture and Emotions reported high levels of depression and anxiety, with social stressors (oppression, discrimination and homophobia) closely linked to depression and anxiety rates, drinking levels and self harm and suicidal thoughts.

Other social and health issue stories:

***If I have missed an important news story, please either post a link in the comments section here or email it to me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.

 

Interview: Peter Abetz and the Lesbian Militia

L2L Interview: Peter Abetz and the Lesbian Militia

The New Standard interview: Peter Abetz and the Lesbian Militia

In a follow up to my open letter to Peter Abetz On Propaganda and Phases, Serena Ryan from The New Standard and I discuss the Western Australian parliamentarian’s views on the promotion of homosexuality, propaganda and the lesbian threat to heterosexuality, or male centring.

Are we leading children astray by telling them it’s ok to be lesbian?

Do we really have a lesbian magic wand that converts children?

Of course not…

Serena and I discuss why we need to support gender non conformity and why representation matters so much for our kids.

We also discuss whether our sexuality is really just a phase, or whether thinking that just reflects an inability to accept that women have sexual boundaries that may not include men.

Interview: Peter Abetz and the Lesbian Militia

If you have any feedback or would like to know more, please feel free to contact me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.

On Propaganda and Phases

An Open Letter to Peter Abetz in response to his disparaging comments about homosexuality and anti-bullying measures to be rolled out in Western Australian schools:

“really not an anti-bullying program”

“in fact, when you look at it closer, it really is little more than a gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle promotion program”

“the militant gay lesbian lobby is trying to get this into our schools to ‘normalise’ what they consider the LGBTI agenda”

“to try and make … heterosexual the abnorm, that is just crazy and defies common sense”

Peter Abetz is the Member for Southern River in Western Australia, and is the older brother of Senator Eric Abetz, a Liberal Senator for Tasmania and Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Peter Abetz’ comments are no doubt concerning to the gay, bisexual and transgender segments of the LGBTI community but Listening2Lesbians is a lesbian specific site and will consequently discuss the implications of his comments for lesbians only.


Dear Peter Abetz,

I was disappointed to read that you oppose the introduction of an anti bullying program in Australian schools.

I understand that there are different ways to tackle bullying. Some methods attack the basis on which kids are bullied (in this case being LGBTI) and some methods attack the behaviour itself, such as more generic anti bullying campaigns that promote diversity without addressing the specific basis for the bullying. It sounds like a simple choice, but I do think it’s more complicated than is often assumed. American legal academic, Martha Minnow wrote about the dilemma of difference and concluded that “the stigma of difference may be recreated both by ignoring and by focussing on it… The problems of inequality can be exacerbated by both treating members of minority groups the same as members of the majority and by treating the two groups differently.”

Whether a campaign that highlights a single realm of difference can end bigoted bullying or not, in the context of a broader lack of representation and ongoing structural discrimination is, therefore, debatable. It is certainly possible that in highlighting the differences between these kids and others, stigma and a feeling of otherness could be exacerbated, rather than diminished.

But the well being of LGBTI kids wasn’t your real concern, as it was reported. You seemed to be worried about the contagious effect of this program, that it might infect straight kids, stating that the Safe Schools anti-bullying program is “little more than a gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle promotion program”. You also stated that most LGBTI youth grow out of same sex attraction.

This sounds a lot to me like you are arguing that there is a “militant gay lesbian lobby” spreading sexuality-based propaganda, which may corrupt youth, who left alone would be heterosexual.

The “militant gay lesbian lobby” leading kids astray?

This is pure misrepresentation. The only sexuality based propaganda that is widely disseminated in Australia is heterosexual. By the time lesbians become adults, they have experienced 18 years of codified training into heterosexuality that has begun at birth, with expectations clearly expressed in all elements of our society, from legal structures to social expectations.

The training towards heterosexuality is part of the training children receive to meet gender stereotypes, and has specific implications for girls. We are taught at home, at school, and in the community, how to be the “right kind” of girl and, later, woman. Compulsory femininity and compulsory heterosexuality are intrinsically related through constantly reinforced gender stereotypes.

The net consequence is that kids and adults alike understand what the “correct” and socially acceptable way to be a woman or girl is, how she should behave, and what the range of choices available to her are. While the spectrum of acceptability is more diverse than it once was, there are also ways in which the situation has worsened.

In any case, the forced adherence to gender stereotypes can have particularly significant effects on lesbians, specifically those who are gender non conforming  and who do not display the minimum levels of “femininity” expected by society.

It may not be apparent to you, as a straight man, but there are hundreds of tiny ways a week that we are reminded that heterosexuality is the default and preferable and that society is not structured to support our lives. Everything from government structures to social commentary and media representation fails to tell lesbians that our lives are OK, with the effects particularly toxic for young lesbians.

A survey of same-sex attracted and gender questioning teenagers conducted by La Trobe University 2010 found that 60% had experienced homophobic verbal abuse and 18% had experienced physical abuse. It found that respondents were twice as likely to self-harm or have suicidal thoughts if they had been verbally abused, and three times as likely if they had been physically abused.

Eighty per cent of that abuse occurred in schools.

THESE are the young kids I am most worried about. Straight kids have everything around them supporting, promoting and validating them. They aren’t going to be affected by a single poster campaign, because we aren’t contagious and neither is homosexuality. Despite your claims, heterosexuality is not about to be the “abnorm”.

Society provides few positive role models for gender non-conforming women and lesbians, with social structures strongly prioritising the clear expectation that women’s lives will centre around a relationship with a man, the formation of a family and the performance of motherhood. The position of women in our society is still clearly secondary, with abuse of and violence against women ongoing issues.

The effects of living in a society that does not value women, and more so lesbians, results in grim rates of suicide and depression, particularly among our youth.  This tells me that far from being a society in which we need less pro-lesbian propaganda, we need to be working harder to change social structures and attitudes towards lesbians, and gender non conformity in general.

Representation matters – we need to see a full spectrum of what it can mean to be lesbian, if we want to improve how lesbians, most particularly young women, see themselves and are seen by broader society.

So, militant propaganda? I WISH we had some, because it would take decades of it to counter the effects of growing up in a culture where heterosexuality is as promoted and socially enforced as it is.

It’s just a phase

Beyond this though, your comment on homosexuality being a phase was so disappointing. Kids aren’t born with a manual explaining their sexuality, and for some it can take time to work out and accept it. A significant amount of delay in coming out is based on growing up in a culture that promotes heterosexuality so strongly and punishes homosexuality. So, while there are undoubtedly some kids who are not sure about their sexuality – largely based on being young in a society that vilifies, others and belittles lesbians – sexuality is not a phase. There is no natural innate heterosexuality within ourselves that we are failing to conform to.

I’m not prejudiced but…

“I think in Australia most people are quite tolerant. Most people know someone among their relatives or workmates who is a lesbian or gay or whatever, and they don’t bat an eyelid – they just accept them as human beings with inherent value and you treat them with dignity and respect.”

I’m not sure how convincing this is.

After having launched into a moral panic argument which both framed positive representation as an attempt by some “militant lesbian and gay lobby” intent on leading the youth astray, you claimed that much same sex attraction among young people ‘was a phase’. How is it possible for anyone to defend statements such as yours as being anything other than homophobic?

You claim that most Australians are OK with lesbians and gay people, but I suspect that this means that they are OK with the lesbian and gay people who look and sound like them, and don’t challenge their view of the world. That doesn’t really indicate embracing diversity and it isn’t enough to make us safe or welcomed. A begrudging non-discrimination is no basis for full and equal social participation.

It is perhaps easy to speak from a position of social power and criticise efforts to improve the lives of some of our more vulnerable children, but it’s sadly lacking in compassion and speaks to a disregard for the welfare of LGBTI kids, some of whom will be your friends’ kids, your constituents’ kids, perhaps YOUR kids. More importantly, LGBTI children are human beings worthy of your concern in and of their own right.

You may have concerns about this particular campaign, but please don’t mistake our need to tell LGBTI kids that they are OK for propaganda that seeks to influence or confuse straight kids.

None of us have any intention of confusing kids at all. We want to support them to live emotionally healthy and socially engaged lives, whatever their sexuality. Despite your message of grudging tolerance, in criticising this campaign, you have just demonstrated exactly why it was needed.

The subtext of your comments about a militant lobby rendering heterosexuality the abnorm is clear: Be lesbian and gay if you must, but don’t be obvious about it and don’t expect support. Most of all, don’t work to support kids who are discovering or coming to terms with their sexuality.

I reject that.

Growing up lesbian or gay can be very lonely without representation and support. We won’t condemn our kids to that, even if you would.

Liz

Listening2Lesbians.com