Monthly Archives: June 2010

Out with the old bigotry and in with the new bigotry

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia.

Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show today.

“We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard said.

Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

The Age

Last year I lost my passport which was a really stressful experience in itself. However, when I was filling out the application form, one of the questions was “Are you married?” I was flummoxed. I am married in Canada (where I was applying for a new passport). I am not married in Australia (the country issuing the passport).

So I phoned the consulate in Vancouver. No one answered the phone. I left a message and no one called me back. I phoned the high commission in Ottawa. No one answered the phone. At that point I was stressed, crying and unable to leave a message. When I phoned Wife in tears, she was kind enough to call the consulate in Toronto. She was informed that I should check the married box but write a note on the application stating that I was aware that I was not worried in Canada.

I was devastated and furious. I was devastated that my marriage was reduced to disclaimer. I was furious that my marriage was reduced to a disclaimer.

When I went to Vancouver to lodge the paperwork, I did not write a disclaimer on the paperwork. I would like to say that I wanted to stick it to the man. However, I simply forgot because I was so stressed trying to pay for the trip and passport, trying to find a guarantor and finding the consulate.

No one noticed. No one asked if I was married in Canada or Australia. No one asked to see my marriage certificate. No one asked if I was married to someone of the opposite sex.

The long winded point that I’m trying to make is that the country did not collapse because, for the briefest of moments, the Australian government recognised that I was married. For the briefest of moments, I was recognised in my entirety.

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Family Friday: What if I’m not enough?

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The past week has been physically and emotionally draining. I feel very disconnected from important political and personal events that are happening at home.

Whilst I would not have been involved in selecting Australia’s first female prime minister, I missed the press conferences, broadcasts, articles, discussion and the crackle that is present when history is being made. Or perhaps only political science nerds feel that spark.

However, there have also been deeply personal events happening at home. Essentially, two of my siblings have told my mother that she was a terrible parent and therefore they are leaving home and never speaking to her again.

When I was younger I would weigh the the wrongdoings of my mother in comparison to my siblings and choose a side. However, this time I feel a deep sadness for everyone. I am also afraid. I am afraid that my children will feel that I was a terrible parent and decide that they don’t want me in their adult lives. What if I am a terrible parent and I don’t realise? What if I inflict wounds that never heal?

Family Friday: adoption and conception

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Why do you want to go through the heartache of charting fertility signs for a minimum of six months, the expense of buying sperm or the rigmarole of finding a known donor, an uncomfortable insemination process, nine months of pregnancy, labour and then have the non biological mother adopt the child? Why don’t you just adopt a child?

It’s a very valid question. I imagine it is a question that we will have to answer for our friends and families on multiple occasions.

When I sat down to write this post, I was desperately trying to think of reasons to justify our decision to pursue insemination.

Then I remembered: I do not have to be a perfect parent. We do not need the perfect reason for wanting to pursue insemination. We have every right to create an intentional loving family.

However there are people who genuinely believe that same sex couples should adopt children rather than pursue insemination. As a strongly opinionated woman, I have several theories on why this is so.

The first theory concerns masculinity. I strongly suspect people are afraid that men are being rendered obsolete. Perhaps they believe that lesbians will be able to conceive a la The Baby Formula.

Conversely I think that the contribution of men is highlighted in lesbian conception and child rearing. Obviously lesbian couples need to decide how to obtain sperm. Furthermore, I’ve been thinking about our little lesbian family and male role models. In particular I’ve been thinking about the throw away line “Children need male role models.” Why do children need male role models? What do children gain from having men in their lives? I think about the men that I know and whether my child would benefit from having that man’s presence in their life.

However deconstructing ideas about masculinity and family is probably more threatening than simply ignoring the role of men in conception.

To get back on topic.

My second theory is that people have misconceptions about the adoption system.

I think people expect that their niece/nephew/grandchild/ will be a white, healthy baby. This stems from an unrealistic view of the adoption system, whereas the majority of children in need are generally older and have behavioral/psychological/physical/or a combination of disabilities.

Then, if a white, healthy baby can’t be found, I think people expect international adoption is simply wonderful.

I understand that some people think that international adoption is wonderful. I am certain that some people are wonderful parents to adoptive children who do not share their ethnicity and history. However, I need to be honest about my limitations. I don’t think that I would be a good parent to an internationally adopted child.

I do not think that I would be able to provide adequate information about our child’s culture, language and family. I would be able to provide some information through the internet, books and documentaries, but I do not think that would be enough.

Furthermore I would not be able to relate to our child’s experiences with racism. I do not think that I would understand just because I’m a lesbian. I do not think that homophobia and racism are the same type of oppression.

Plus I don’t think I would be able to be the best advocate for a person of colour. Wife and I both have white privilege. We can’t understand the ways in which race pervades every aspect of people’s lives. Would we dismiss a concern of our child because we did not understand it? I know that people dismiss my concerns about homophobia and heteronormativity. What if I did the same?

Whilst I remain open to the idea of welcoming an older adopted child into our family, I don’t think that I could be a good parent for a child adopted internationally.

Are you planning on adopting children? Inseminating? Share your thoughts!

Accidental role model?

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I’m extremely nervous around teenagers.  So when Wife, a friend and I were approached by a small group of 17-year-olds whilst meandering through a park on Saturday evening, I was more than a little bit wary.

“I’m Katie*.” She held out her hand for Wife to shake. Then she extended her hand to to me. I took it. I noticed the little rainbow drawn on her hand and the numerous razor cuts on her wrists.

“Hi.”

“I just wanted to say that I love that you’re wearing rainbow colours and that you’re proud of who you are.”

“Thanks.”

“Are you going to Queer Prom?” Wife asked.

“There’s a Queer Prom? Where?” she asked excitedly.

“In the community centre.”

“Really? That’s so awesome! But I don’t have a date.”

“What are you looking for in a girlfriend?” Wife asked.

“I don’t know. No one older than thirty.”

I laughed and Wife said, “I guess that rules me out. Plus I’m married.”

“You’re married? Do you have rings?” Katie asked.

We held up our right hands to show our wedding bands and engagement rings.

“That’s so cool! I want that! I mean, not right now. But in two or three decades, sure!”

I’ve been thinking about that exchange for the past few days. Once we were out of earshot I told Wife that being approached by teenagers made me feel really uncomfortable and that I couldn’t tell if they were mocking us or not. Wife said that I needed to be less cynical.

She’s right. Role model is too strong of a term. However, Katie was looking for other queer people. She noticed us. Perhaps seeing two out and proud women in love made her happy. Perhaps it made her hopeful (I think that it’s very easy to feel invisible as a queer teenager). At the very least it’s not an image that she is going to see everyday.

So I’m going to continue to be out and proud. And I’ll try to be a less cynical about young people’s motives.

*Name changed

Saturday crafternoon

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Wife has been busy cleaning out our spare room. She has found some funky McCalls patterns from the 1970s that belonged to her grandmother, some Halloween fabric scraps and several metres of polka dot fabric. She also found a top made with gorgeous red fabric that she bought when she studied in China. It looks like this:

Unfortunately, it does not fit her anymore. So I’m going to try and re use the fabric to make this gorgeous gathered clutch from Noodlehead. I don’t have a sewing machine, but I do know how to hand sew. Plus, it’s reasonably small, so I hope I can pull it off. If not, the top was destined for Salvation Army anyway.

This embroidered piece of The Last Supper was stitched by Like the Song (check the Flickr stream for additional awesomeness) and was featured on the Mr X Stitch website. I love it!

Family Friday: same sex parents rock!

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According to New Scientist:

The children of lesbian parents outscore their peers on academic and social tests, according to results from the longest-running study of same-sex families.

Compared with a group of control adolescents born to heterosexual parents with similar educational and financial backgrounds, the children of lesbian couples scored better on academic and social tests and lower on measures of rule-breaking and aggression.

I hope that activists who are “only interested in the welfare of the child” will now insist on strict safeguards when placing children with heterosexual couples. Particularly as children raised by heterosexuals tend to be disobedient and aggressive.

(Speaking with my tongue placed firmly in my cheek, of course).

Bad day

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I’m tired, it’s raining, there is a problem at work (so now I’m thinking about quitting and joining the drag king circuit) and I’m having trouble finding a new pair of jeans.

I’m hoping that I can convince Wife that tonight should consist of all-you-can-eat sushi, watching last night’s episode of the Colbert Report and perhaps re watching the episode where he rips his shirt off and throws the “CEO” of BP off the building, cuddles and thinking about how much I like this job compared to other jobs I’ve had (the poop on the fitting room floor makes this problem seem really small).

How do you cheer yourself up?