Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Sunshine, lights and torches

I was going to write about a variety of things this month, I had actually written two blogs that I have put on hold since the Orlando shooting happened. It was something that made every molecule in my being curdle, there was so many parts of me separating that I felt numb to my core. I was disgusted that someone attacked the LGBTI community in our safe place, gay clubs aren’t just nightclubs: they are a place where we go to be with like-minded people, a place not to be judged and to come together as a community.

We are humans. We are all humans. Let’s not blame religion. What happened in Orlando stemmed from hate, not religion, there are people in the world that use religion as an excuse for the vessel of their hatred and for the darkness that lives inside of them. They lack complete accountability for their actions, ’oh I did that because God told me’… Did he? Or are you just so messed up in your head that you think it’s ok to buy a semi-automatic weapon and completely destroy the lives of those in the club, their families and their friends!? The majority of people use religion for hope, for love and to help them understand major life events; a guiding light to help them through the darkness. I don’t have the same belief system but I won’t judge people for what they believe unless they are hurting someone. ISIS is not religion, it is hate group; a collective group of haters. They want us to turn on each other and to cause bureaucratic anarchy. It’s fucked. They have no accountability for who they are and what they do.

I will never, ever stoop to such a low life human emotion as hate. We are human beings, living our lives and making it through each day. We each have a purpose, the fact we are each here is a miracle in itself, a one in 400 trillion probability according to science… That precise second that your life was created, you being here on this planet is an amazing thing and nobody, NOBODY, has the right to take that miracle away except for nature and genetics.

We all need to be torches of kindness, torches for what is right, torches of education to eradicate ignorance. If we all individually shine our light, we become vivid and collectively we can spread kindness like sunbeams enlightening the world.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. 
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have we become so impatient and so transient that we have forgotten what is important? Do you take the time to stop and enjoy where you are? What you have? Even when you sit in restaurants and look around at people on their mobiles, is anyone really present? Have we forgotten the importance of human relationships, of supporting those we love and of acts of solicitude? I mean, really!? It’s so easy to sit on social media and dish out hate speech, share a kind quote, make a joke and troll on other people. That’s part of the problem, it’s so easy to say things at any one moment in time due to the accessibility of the internet… You unlock your phone and the words spill out in that moment. It’s so instant to share and say things, that maybe we are starting to forget the importance of living and of human life.

You are what you do: your actions are who you are, not your words. These were people in their safe place who were just living; just being, they were not harming anyone, they were creating memories with their lives stretched out in front of them and someone purposely went into a club with a semi-automatic weapon with the intent to kill. This was an act of hate and not an act of religion. Orlando was a homophobic act.

It stems back to the fact that homophobia is still alive and well, it brings me back to my marriage equality blog from last month.  Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds hatred and hatred leads to people being irrational. This irrationality is preventing civilised progress to bring marriage to the true definition of love, just two consenting adults wanting to spend their lives together. Why should someone who is scared (a phobia is a fear, an irrational fear) dictate whom I can marry? Why did fear lead to my sexual preference being made illegal and in some places punishable by death? Complete freakin’ ignorance. So instead of telling me that I am not allowed to enjoy my feelings of love towards whom I please, why don’t you go and educate yourself? Evolve as a human being.

I read an awesome quote, essentially saying we should have a reality TV show where gay marriage opponents should live 100% under biblical law just to show us all how awesome it is. Wouldn’t that be great to put a little perspective on current law and social evolution!?

I would love to stop typing on this keyboard because these words seem fruitless. I would love to organise a little dinner with Malcolm Turnbull, sit across a table from him, look him in the eye and just say ‘why Malcolm? Why do we need a plebiscite? What is your reasoning? You previously claimed you support gay marriage and here you are in an envious position to make Australian history, to progress Australian society – a position most same sex marriage supporters would love to be in. You can utilise that power as a self-proclaimed marriage equality supporter to bring about a bill to equalise marriage, to give everyone in love the choice to pledge their love to the person they love. Are you just another politician full of words and lacking in action? What you are doing right now hurts me and hurts the LGBTI community. We are here for such a short period of time and we have just as much right to celebrate our relationships as anyone else, help us eradicate ignorance and celebrate love. You are not what you say Malcolm, you are what you do.’

Anyway, I am pretty angry, but being angry won’t address anything and I am using my blog to be positive and educate. The whole Orlando situation was grossly unfair that one person’s phobia (remember irrational fear) extinguished 49 lives far too early. This is what happens when you give hate a semi-automatic weapon with shitty gun laws, it’s tragic how America is so opposed to reverse a law that makes killing so easy but is still so disgusted about a law allowing love to be more equal in the form of marriage equality. I am fed up of hearing ‘second amendment’.

Nothing will bring those 49 lives back or retract the irreversible damage caused to 53 others that were injured inside Pulse, but we can turn those 49 lives into a revolution and make their lives mean something and leave a legacy in this world. We can all flick on our torches of love for each other, hold them high and we can all make a stand for equality… Whether racial, social or sexual preference… We’re all human and if you don’t want to get along and help each other through, then maybe we should create a little island called ‘ignoramus’ where all the hate preachers can go and live, then the rest of us can get on with living and loving.

Your light is yours to give and no-one should be able to darken this, so remember to keep your light on, keep your flame burning brightly, not only for you but for the life and the lives of others that surround you.

*I will not name the gunman and give him any fame or accolade for which he does not deserve. Let’s remember: Edward Sotomayor Jr., Stanley Almodovar III, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Akyra Monet Murray, Luis S. Vielma, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Kimberly Morris, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, EnriqueRios, Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, Cory James Connell, Mercedez Marisol Flores, Deonka Deidra Drayton, Miguel Angel Honorato, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, Darryl Roman Burt II, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, Oscar A Aracena-Montero, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Shane Evan Tomlinson, Amanda Alvear, Martin Benitez Torres, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Luis Daniel Conde, Juan Chevez-Martinez, Jerald Arthur Wright, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Frank Hernandez, Paul Terrell Henry, Antonio Davon Brown, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, Alejandro Barrios-Martinez, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez.

Written by Corina Hawkins - soon to be author with assistance from Lauren Kamasz.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Marriage equality

Isn't it about time!? (see what I did there)

As we power through 2016 at an alarming pace, I returned from Perth in May and have done a little reflecting onwhere I am in life and where I might want to head. I’m not exactly the most forward person in the world, ordinarily, but my friend Lauren gave me some advice before heading on holiday in March: I had to go on at least one date before she returned (as I was about to give up) and live in the moment because, as the kids say: YOLO. Well, thanks to following Lauren’s advice I got to experience some of the loveliest moments of the last couple of years. I normally get so caught up by and tangled in nerves, but this time took a leap of faith.

A leap that, I think, had as much to do with the person that makes you want to take a risk and just go for it. When someone who radiates warmth and genuine authenticity enters your life… Well, you want to dance in their music and sing to their melody. You literally take stock and think ‘where did you actually come from?’ and ‘what did I do to deserve such awesomeness?!’

Hold on to that thought, because searching for that someone can be something of a quest. One that should never be embarked upon from a position of loneliness or need, as this will ultimately skew your decision-making; instead, try to remember how an amazing person makes you feel, and aim to find that. We can’t choose who we ‘like’ – granted – but I do think we have implicit control if our motivations are good, honest and without expectation. Remember that - because nobody owes you anything and if your motivations come free of expectations, then you just appreciate the moments and hold on to a little hope that perhaps that awesomeness will continue to grow and that you get to listen to the whole album. (Even if you don’t, you'll at least get to enjoy that one track and hum the tune every now and then.)

Over the past few years (now I’m older), I’ve realised just how much fear (of all sorts of things: what others will think, and of not feeling good enough, among them) has held me back from meeting people and from developing myself. I was so quiet and almost embarrassed by my sexuality for so long that now it feels like I have some making up to do. Over the last couple of years I’ve become more proactive about gay rights and I no longer want to just sit back and allow society to continue ignoring the rights of my community. Last month I listed my gay agenda… This month I want to follow on by tackling the topic of marriage equality.

So, why is marriage equality important? Why do we all - regardless of our sexuality - need to stand up for this fundamental right? To start with, let's ponder the following.

Why are we upholding a law that was made in another country 1674 years ago?

Same-sex marriage was outlawed in the Roman Empire in 342 AD by Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans. The law specifically prohibited marriage between men and took away a right of freedom from humankind – we recognised homosexuality prior to this moment, so what changed?

Constantius II made a concerted effort to promote Christianity throughout the empire and rid it of Roman polytheism (paganism to you and me). Why am I drawing your attention to the Romans in particular? It’s because so many of our political institutions are derived from ancient Roman precedents. It was the influence of the Christian church that encouraged Constantius II to bring in a law prohibiting homosexual marriage. There is much debate about whether gay marriage was legal before this, but certainly before this time gay relations were tolerated.
Unlike homosexuality, marriage is a life choice, which we should all have the right to

Today, marriage is the ultimate romantic concept: together 'until death do us part', which is something that so many of us want to declare to the person they love above all else. Whether to get married (and let's not forget that marriage offers many legal benefits too) or not is a choice, a choice that some of us are currently still denied in Australia - long after the fall of the Roman Empire.

We've managed to get rid of old-school notions of marriage

Let’s also have a look at the history of marriage (rather loosely, as I don’t have time to research this as thoroughly as I would like). Essentially marriage was (and sadly still is in some cultures) a patriarchal means of possession: a woman given away by her father to a man for use as his own personal resource for reproduction, household-labour and anything else he desired. (Not a lot to do with the ‘love’ part.) Another reason to marry was to make the production and ownership of children ‘legal’, so they were ‘possessed’ legitimately. There has been a two-century-long battle for equality amongst the sexes in Western societies. From the mid-nineteenth century legislators have passed a variety of rules that formally moderated the inequalities of marriage. In the twentieth century we made further moves to make marriage a more equal partnership between man and woman – the notion of marriage evolving as we as a society have evolved.
Therefore as a society should we not evolve with that notion that marriage is now truly about love: most importantly equal love? Until modern times why would homosexuals/bisexuals want to buy into this historically unequal, oppressive institution designed for the subordination of women? Now that, finally, the foundation of marriage is love we want in, and why the heck shouldn’t we?

The mistaken idea that legalising gay marriage will cause the breakdown of marriage and the family

This argument (kinda similar) was around in 1887 when, according to come patriarchal luddites, the women’s suffrage movement would ruin the sanctity of marriage. Men like Col. Marshall Murdoch, the founder of The Wichita Eagle, argued that a woman’s ‘natural’ place was in the home and that ‘the designs of the creator’ had sanctioned this.

Well, Col. Murdoch, do you know what happened to marriages and families when women started to vote in municipal elections that same year? Nothing. Nothing happened. Family life continued in the same way. We've come along leaps and bounds in the battle for equality between the sexes, and I can guarantee the people of the world that when gay marriage is eventually legalised in Australia it will do nothing to change the sanctity of marriage. On the contrary, it will enhance it. And, as a further plus point, all the gays will have a bloody big party that everyone will be invited to as we have waited a long time for this moment in history.

Why must we have a plebiscite to decide this fundamental human right?

The first thing I would like to make people aware of is the cost. If the Australian government were to hold a plebiscite to decide if people like me are able to have the ‘choice’ to marry, this would cost the Australian public $525 million (according to PwC modelling). W.H.A.T.? Do we not have better things to be spending Australian money on? Seriously.

Then we look at public polls… Listen to your people… Polls consistently show that 64% of Australians support the legalisation of same-sex marriage. This is a large majority; we don’t need to vote: you just need to pass a bill that other countries have passed. Don’t waste money on this! I would rather it stayed illegal for another couple of years than have that much money wasted on a plebiscite that ends up reflecting what the polls show. Let’s use some common sense.  

Australia’s evolvement

I believe this country has so much to offer the world and has so much growing to do, and that’s why I love it. I am passionate about the future of this country. I urge everyone who lives here to have a voice on the matter – we don’t need a plebiscite we just want a bill to be passed to reflect what the majority of Australian people want. For me, personally, it’s about feeling equal… It’s about one day taking my kids to school and not feeling mocked or deemed any less of a family unit than that of my heterosexual friends… It’s about one day being with the woman I love and being able to be proud about that love and show it off to the world… It’s about having the same legal rights as my heterosexual friends… It’s about equality. We're all equal before the law - so why not extend this to a law that reflects this?

We all feel love, we all love being in love, so why should some of us have more legal rights because their love happens to be with someone of the opposite sex? If the main answer is ‘because God said so’, go back and re-read His book because there are also many passages to the contrary and also many passages that, in all honesty, do you really want them to be reintroduced into common law?

Some background reading:

Why the Romans are Important in the Debate about Gay Marriage Robert Frakes http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/21319

What Gay Marriage Teaches about the History of Marriage Hendrik Hartog http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/4400

Gay Marriage? What Next… Women voting? Randy Scholfield http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/5146

‘Same-sex marriage plebiscite to cost $525m, PwC modelling shows’ Francis Keany http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-14/525-million-price-tag-on-same-sex-marriage-plebiscite-study/7243298

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author, and edited by Sophie McClelland.