At Outside In your opinions matter and below are Alan’s thought’s on our Queer Qualms article. What are your thoughts on how sexuality is (or isn’t) accepted in our communities?
First off, I’d like to acknowledge that Australia is far from the “open-minded” and “egalitarian” nation that it seeks to exude. For a majority of Australia’s existence, we have always been under conservative rule and as such, this challenges our society’s “open-mindedness” to some degree. The Australian media is at the mercy of magnates seeking to push their own interests, ranging from the Murdochs, to the Packers, and the lone Rineheart. We have highly callous “journalists” (and I use that term VERY lightly) like Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt who reach a sizable amount of the population through Australia’s Murdoch tabloids. We have television networks that spread sentiments that echo that of the US, as Channels Seven, Nine, and Ten possess their own parallel versions of “current affairs”. Therefore with this in mind, I do not think Australia is “open-minded” as much as it purports.
In the inner-city and within the southern states, we sort of lead ourselves into a ‘liberal bubble’, as refugees, homosexuality, and other such taboo issues do not affect us to the same extent that it would towards our more conservative peers. Therefore we should be privy to the fact that not all Australians have moved on from the issue of homosexuality. It is true that those in the inner-city do possess a more of a rosy view towards the notion of homosexuality. However, we fail to realise is that for a majority of the populace, Australia still has leaps and bounds to go before we reach consensus on homosexuality. Whilst national surveys have support at around 60 per cent, the fact of the matter is, there is a clear divide that Australia needs to bridge with regard to homosexuality. One just has to keep in mind that it was only until 1994 when Tasmania decriminalised homosexuality, only enacted because of Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant of Human Rights.
As an individual who has recently come to grips with his own sexuality, I do know what it’s like to be ‘gay’ in contemporary Australian society. Where Australia goes wrong, is the whole notion of your sexuality forming an intrinsic part of your social identity. For a significant number of Australians, the label ‘gay’ often raises connotations of flamboyance and Mardi-Gras imagery, and it is this fact which had (and still does to some degree) prevented me from acknowledging my own sexual orientation. Through my experiences, I do feel that by revealing my sexuality, it would result in a narrow and simple-minded view of my identity and placement within Australian society. In Australia particularly, it is slightly harder for men to acknowledge homosexuality, due to the long-held Australian values of “mateship” and “being a good bloke”. Thus, the dichotomy present between those who do and do not possess Australia’s cultural stereotype of men who purport overt masculinity forms a deterrent to acknowledging sexuality. In spite of all this, I chose to acknowledge my sexuality, because I knew that that was the only way my dick worked (please excuse that blunt dysphemism). Thus, I was never going to place myself into the position where I would have to maintain this heterosexual façade, letting down not only the women that I would inevitably be with, but I would be setting myself up for an intolerable double-life,
My upbringing, which I know is shared by a whole lot of other similar individuals, is something that has also permeated my views towards homosexuality. I was banned from television programs which made any references to homosexuality for fear of “influence”. On a regular basis, my mother and her extended family make consistent references to how weird “gays” are, and my position as both Catholic and gay leads me into all sorts of religious conflict. On the one hand, my mother and father were schooled in the Catholic heavyweights of thought, with my mother being Filipino, and my father of Irish descent, thus dictating that I’ll probably never be able to reveal my true self. On the other-hand, I have wonderful members of my family that are truly open-minded, and funnily enough, one of them is a nun. One of the major qualms with my sexuality was with the Catholic Church, an entity that represented an intrinsic part of my identity. This nun outlined the conflict between that of the formal church and the gospels, arguing that the gospels are what the church is about, not Rome. Therefore, it was only until then when I had found my spiritual absolution from this conflict between church and sexuality, which I had been toiling over for a significant number of years.
With regard to marriage, I do believe that this should be granted to same-sex couples, although via a different avenue. In a secular society, all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation should be granted the right to have their relationship recognised under law. However, I do not believe that the traditional concept of marriage should be included along with this. As an individual who was brought up Catholic, and still remains that way, I believe that the sacrament of marriage should be kept within the confines of heterosexuality. In an increasingly secular society, I do not think that its symbolic weight is being granted the same degree of significance it once had. Basically, I do not think society is respecting the “architecture” of marriage as such, hence, why I believe that Australia should eventually work its way down to Civil Unions. It seems that the traditional notion of “marriage” is hijacked by a secular society which does not respect its founding roots. However, I do not think that extending the discriminatory practice of excluding same-sex relationships under the secular Marriage Amendment Act of 2004 should be upheld. One just has to keep in mind that marriage in Australia was not defined until the Howard government decided to do so in 2004. Now, with a secular Prime Minister, we should have no valid reason to sustain Australia’s current position towards same-sex relationships. However, those in favour still need to keep in mind that this would be an arduous task, considering the utterly dire position the current government has found itself in.