This is why I don’t do politics or define myself as an activist. It’s precisely why I stick to educating the wider public about the dangers of kale, the very real possibility of addiction to ALDI special buys and the perils of soft taco boats.
You won’t catch me barking over the dinner table about politics, dominating discussions about feminism or pushing an agenda on anything really divisive. Except for the marriage equality vote. And it’s time to tell you why.
I grew up in a household of boys. I have three brothers and parents who are chalk and cheese and no longer together because they are chalk and cheese. I remember my dad being quite an opinionated guy, smart, funny, and at times a bit pushy. Mum is the sort to sit back and let others take over the conversation, she’s not one for confrontation, often to her detriment. I do not remember any dinner table discussions on world events, politics, or any other sensitive topics. Mum and Dad used to sit in “The Parlour” and enjoy a wine, probably discussing these things (or perhaps not), while us kids were told to go and play.
This is all fine. Until you have a strong opinion on something and don’t know how to handle yourself. What were my guidelines? How could I have practiced a good debate if I was never given the opportunity? Well. I do remember being brought up to respect my elders, be kind and to generally not be a douche.
And up until now that has been enough.
Over the past year and a bit since I started this blog, I have had some lessons in having a public opinion. It’s not been that big of a deal when I am ranting about unexpected items in the bagging area, or when everyone is laughing along with me. But it’s been more of a deal when I’ve stuck my head out a bit and defended something I feel strongly about. Constance Hall and Marriage Equality come to mind.
I’ve had to navigate being judged, shamed, bullied, talked about on private blogs for being not well spoken, funny or knowledgeable enough and called a hypocrite. It feels terrible. I’ve seen that the middle stay silent and the ones on either side of the fence are the ones barking at each other the loudest. And sometimes me.
And I hate noise. For someone so loud and energetic (on a good day), you’ll be surprised to know I battle with loud noises whether or not they are written or spoken. So often, on the stuff that really matters to me, I remain silent. I’m scared to debate topics I might not be well versed in. I’m scared to say the wrong thing and get hammered. What if I’m wrong? It’s too much to risk sometimes.
My first experience with gay people was when I found out one of my mate’s dad was into guys. And had a nipple ring. This was big news back in the day. A few years later, at 19, I got a job at Optus (chortle) and enjoyed a few of the best years of my working life amongst a very cool and colorful bunch of colleagues. Many of whom were gay. In fact, without having anything to back this up, I think probably 30% of the company was gay. And it was THE BEST. We had the best parties, the best lunches, the best conversations, the best drinks and the best naughty discussions. I learned a lot about things I needed to know, and some stuff I didn’t really need to know! I just soaked it all up.
Because of this experience, I have always deeply loved gay people. I’ve never been in an argument with any of my gay friends, I’ve never been offended by them, I’ve never frowned upon anything to do with their lives. And I’ve never once been judged. NOT ONCE. I cannot say this for my other groups of friends, and even some of my own family.
It’s because of my friends and my experiences with the LGBTQI community, that I chose to make my stance known and encourage others to vote YES. It’s because of my friends that this discomfort I am feeling for creating a divide with some of the readers of this page gives me just a tiny taste of what my friends and all members of the LGBTQI community face on a daily basis. I now get why it’s hard to fight for what you believe in, and why many choose to stay silent. Nobody likes to be told, “I don’t like you”.
Everybody wants to belong.
One of the big arguments yesterday was freedom of speech. How can I sit here and rant and rave about all kinds of silly stuff and then ask you to report a Facebook page? Because we all know I am here for being booted out of one and recently got banned from Facebook for 3 days because someone didn’t like a pic of a camel toe. I do get it. But while I agree with freedom of speech, I do not agree with freedom of speech that deliberately hurts and segregates fellow humans.
I write in a style that is VERY tongue in cheek. I write as an alter ego. And I write to make people laugh and feel light. I never say “You should all hate kale because I do!” or “Himalayan Fart Salt is the DEVIL, boycott all fart salt or die!!” And that’s not to excuse what I am saying and blame it on a character, it is actually because it was sort of an accident and I chose to keep it going to protect my family and professional life. Nothing I ever write about comes from a true place of hate. Sure, I might be annoyed, but I do not live my life in anger. Most people get it. Some people don’t. And that is ok.
The Facebook page I posted yesterday is in my opinion, not just a scroll on past freedom-of-speech-is-ok situation. Because they are using fake news (Meghan Trainor does NOT support the No vote), fake statistics and fear to promote their agenda.
And people are buying it.
If freedom of speech is ok, then we shouldn’t resist the Islamic State, the KKK or even Trump for suggesting all Mexicans are drug addicted rapists. We should just let them do their thing based on the idea of free speech. Why not bring back segregation based on skin colour and religion! Because they were just great ideas that got pushed from being popular for no good reason at all. How about a few more genocides or walls keeping people apart? They were great too.
If freedom of speech means we should sit back and let the uneducated, the homophobic, the extremely religious and the insanely violent, create fake news and scare people into making a choice that hurts other people and makes them feel like a side show, I do not support it.
Vote Yes. Vote for love. Because we are all utterly fucked if we forget how to do that.