Saturday, February 18, 2012

more on magda and marriage

[If you are over the Magda story by now, you probably won’t be very interested in this post. If so, I do apologise, and promise normal transmission will resume soon. But do check out this Smack The Pony sketch before you go!]

While I originally thought Magda’s coming out might be something of an anti-climax – and I did miss the big event on the teev – some of the comments she made on ABC’s Breakfast Radio started me thinking.

It’s only during the lifetime of too many of us that homosexuality has become legal in all Australian states and territories, similarly it’s only relatively recently that we’ve had the right to nominate a same sex partner as the beneficiary of our superannuation.

Well, now that we aren’t being tossed in jail or robbed of our life saving’s, why should we care about the right to marry?

I must confess I’ve been rather lukewarm on the whole gay marriage thing in the past, mainly because Kevin 07 promised all the remaining discrimination had been sorted. This turned out to be a porkie, given gay people cannot qualify for a Prospective Marriage Visa.*

Kids are still committing suicide, or being kicked out of their home for coming out, and some poofta bashing is still happening.

Every time someone like Magda puts their hand up, gays become human again for a while, rather than just a statistic.
No Magda doesn’t think she’s particularly brave, Karen Phelps et al have made their own sexuality public before this and help lay the groundwork. Having lived openly as gay herself, Magda simply thought "coming out officially" would open up the media and provide a forum for a discussion on the gay marriage legislation presented to parliament.

She makes a good point that people don’t stay in the closet for no good reason [e.g. nephews, children etc at school who shouldn’t be at risk of bullying for someone else’s “crime”.]

Magda values love above the promotion of shame and fear and victimisation – and if public acceptance is enshrined in the law then it sets a better standard.

I would add that “tolerance” is not the same thing as “acceptance”. When some complain that allowing same sex couples to marry would cheapen the institution of marriage, that is merely tolerance rather than acceptance speaking.

Presenter Fran Kelly threw a quote from Julia Gillard into the breakfast show discussion:
I think there are some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future; for our culture, for our heritage – marriage being between a man and a woman.

But marriage, Magda said, is a symbolic union of 2 souls - gender is not the core issue. If marriage wasn’t flexible, if it hadn’t evolved, it would have gone the way of the dodo bird.

After my previous [rather hasty] post about Magda, Windsmoke and Andrew’s comments on yesterday's post prodded a little more activity between the ears.

If our sporting heroes in general, and AFL champions in particular, are reluctant to come out as gay, then there is one truly disgusting double standard at play [in addition to our Prime Minister’s incomprehensible stance on the issue].

Our whole legal system is underpinned by two articles of faith; the sanctity of property, and the notion that we should do no harm.

Why is it then that AFL players can get away with what they get away with?

I don’t particularly care whom Wayne Carey bonks, nor understand why any woman would even go near him, but it’s not okay for him to grab the breasts of a woman he has never met and tell her her breasts aren’t big enough. His subsequent behaviour doesn't really seem to indicate any remorse or attempt to get his act together.

I don’t pretend to understand addiction well enough to judge Ben Cousins, but, let’s face it, he has let a lot of other people down as well as himself.

It strikes me then as a tad unfair that so many players can be forgiven just about anything, or even have our support and prayers for their rehabilitation, while others are held to another standard.

Matthew Newton** doesn't seem to be getting quite the same level of forgiveness - is this because his family are seen as "ours" while footballers are deified in the "them" category? On the other hand, is he getting fairer treatment than an identifiably gay person would get under the same circumstances?

Garden variety gays who quietly get on with their lives, inflicting no harm or distress on others, for the most part have to keep reinforcing the idea that they are more human and less threatening than commonly perceived by some.

*So long as the definition of marriage remains confined to “a man and a woman”, an alternative solution would be to change the Immigration Act to include gay couples.

**Matthew Newton is the son of a long loved TV family: His father Bert something of an Australian Johnny Carson.


  1. I heard one radio voice suggest that there are still plenty of people around whose knowledge of gays extends only to the Mardi Gras parade they see once a year on tv. Could that possibly be true? I suppose it could and it would partly explain why gays are not seen as normal by some. There is nothing like being put in to company of a person of another race to knock racism out of people and I expect the same goes for homophobes.

  2. I suspect there's more than an element of truth in the Mardi Gras theory, Andrew. Unfortunately, the only way to define homosexuality is by reference to the only difference from everyone else, and that difference is sexual; the definition draws attention not only to the old taboo about homosexuality, but to an ongoing taboo about discussing sexuality at all. Hence, the mere existence of homosexuals is an affront to too many people.

    It doesn't matter that in every other respect we are the same as everyone else, because some people are only on the lookout for evidence of the difference, so all they will see is "sex".
    It is possible that people who still feel confronted by the very idea of sex would not believe there is nothing gay people do in the privacy of their own homes that is not also done by many heterosexuals in the privacy of their own homes [or in movies of the plain brown wrapper variety].

    Outing ourselves when the time is right is a good way to counter that perception. The great thing about Magda's timing is it shows yet again we are likeable as people if no one thinks about the sex part.
    The Mardi Gras, on the other hand, is confronting for some people if this is the only thing they label as gay. If only they knew that so many of the people in their lives are gay as well they would see the Mardi Gras for what it is - just a feast day.

    I wonder too if the taboo on homosexuality and the so called sanctity of marriage are moving in opposite directions over time. When marriage was solely about guaranteeing bloodlines and protecting inheritance, the upper classes did much as they wanted to, and open secrets were treated as if they were secrets.

    As the nexus between marriage and property has faded, society "needs" another way to protect property. At least that is the reality of some who are so hung up on tradition they can't see the horse has already bolted.

    And yes, spending time with people who challenge ism-istic preconceptions is the best form of warfare, because it humanises those who are thought of as outsiders. A picture paints a thousand words, but a name and a face and a story can paint millions.

    [sorry this sounds preachy... and sunday still too far away]

  3. That is the one thing that pees me off, when some half-wit trots out the tired old line about Mardi Gras or Adam and Steve rot when attempting to frame a piss-weak argument against gay marriage.
    If that is the only exposure homophobic people are getting of gay people then it's because they're wandering about with blinkers on, deliberately ignoring the accepted norm of LGBTi people throughout all walks of life.

    An old bloke at Dunolly has informed all and sundry that,
    "There's 44 known poofs in Dunolly! I like the poofs, they look after their houses and gardens properly which increases our house values. The poofs invite me to all their parties and I have a bloody good time with them. I call em poofs to their faces and they don't mind, they're good sorts (when he was told he should refer to them as gays). More poofs should come out. They don't hurt me and I don't hurt them."
    (This is not counting the umpteen cross dressers or lesbians in the same town).
    If this bloke can *see* 44 poofs in Dunolly, why are the homophobic tools so blind out in wider communities?
    And how can they ignore the pain their insensitive bile causes when it's everywhere for all to see?

    1. Jayne, I think the key adjective in your description of those against is "half-wit". Or maybe the key word is "tools". Oh, the possibilities are endless.
      Unfortunately, these are the mongrels teenagers can't go home and talk to.
      And if it weren't for them, would Mardi Gras be half as much fun?

  4. I've commented many times on blogs that i've no problem with gay marriages its the church as a whole who need to get over there phobia about gays and gay marriages :-).

    1. Windsmoke, the good news is that a majority of Australians are good people like yourself. And the lovely thing is I know somebody gay who is a first cousin of one of the sourer sods who think they represent god.
      But what's with Julia? If she's sucking up to the whingers in the hope of holding on to power, what part of the word "minority" doesn't she understand?

  5. The position taken on gay marriage seems inextricably linked to whether the position-taker considers it a fundamentally religious issue. I've yet to hear someone speak against it without citing a religion - and biblical interpretation (read 'anything I disagree with'). The rest of us see it as described above - a public union of 2 souls ...

    Of course the sacrosanct and therefore preferable heterosexual behaviours being protected from the 'lowering of standards' gay marriage will bring are perfectly expressed by footballers and the like ...

    1. Well, when there's no rational argument, let's throw something like the bible into a discussion. Have they twigged the rest of us believe only an idiot argues with an idiot, so they act like idiots to shut us up?

      Still cackling over the expression "invisible friend" :)

  6. PS keep forgetting to add something that is not new but always valid - if heterosexual homophobes are so close to god, how come they keep having LGBTi kids?

  7. I have nothing against gay marriages as long as they don't want to adopt a child !

    1. Hi Gattina, I'm glad we agree about gay marriage.
      With respect to children, I can understand your doubts but will disagree. There are already gay people in Australia who have children.

      Maybe the real problem is how to make sure ALL parents - whether gay or not - will be good parents.

    2. What ARE the doubts? Are there any that exist outside religiously-inspired prejudices?

      It seems to me that two mothers or two fathers could be as capable of taking care of children as a mother/father pair or a single mother or single father.

      Or they could be as awful as some straight or single parents.

      I don't think gender has that much influence on parenting.

      If a child shouldn't be adopted by gay parents; is it better that they have no parents? Better that they have unloving and/or abusive parents?

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    5. Hi Dina,
      my reply is so long that after two tries I'm still losing hunks of text. Because I value your ideas and I like what you say here I'm switching to plan B and just setting it out in a post called "a reply to dina's reply".
      [Not just hopeless but resourceful, eh?]

  8. I don't understand the big hoo haa over gay marriage or for that matter any marriage being legalised. After all defacto relationships have the same rights except maybe the visa thingy. Living together, sharing your lives, bringing up children, being happy , enjoying family life is more important than a piece of paper.

    1. Diane, I can't say I understand the hoo haa myself.
      I live a privileged life with a wonderful and special partner. The only difference marriage would make to me personally is that I would have to pay the government for a licence, and I can't see the point of that.
      I don't know too many gay people who are keen to marry at all. Gosh, not even Julia Gillard seems fussed by the idea.

      Perhaps the reason so many gay people are up in arms about it, though, is that by saying only some Australians are entitled to marry, the government is supporting the idea that there are two categories of citizen, and one category is better than the other.
      It's very UN-Australian, really.

      But I'm with you, it's the values people have and their willingness to respect life that are important.

  9. I am so glad you mentioned superannuation. Decades ago, in Australia, a gay man died and his partner of 30 years was not able to receive his Super (as directed in The Will of the deceased). The parents of the deceased refused to acknowledge his gayness or partner, and blocked the Estate at every turn. it was ugly. This was the genesis of the gay marriage movement.

    1. This wouldn't have been an isolated incident, but definitely a mongrel act. In fact, before employers were obliged to make a contribution, I had a chance to join a super fund and refused because the terms and conditions were so patronising and, for me, pointless.

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