The Iconic Edition
From Where I Stand
|17 Oct 2017|5 mins

"If I am as human as you, my love is as human as yours."

From Where I Stand: THE ICONIC’s (ir)regular column, featuring real stories and personal, life experiences that spark a conversation. All from a personal viewpoint and written by ICONIC Aussies & Kiwis.
Sian Scott-Clash
17 Oct 2017
Share:

The first contribution is from Siân Scott-Clash, Publications Manager at the Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania. Siân writes about same sex marriage – a topic that’s currently being widely discussed due to Australia’s postal vote.

Sixteen years ago I was chasing my mother down the hallway of our London home. I can explain, I can explain. She’d just walked into my room and caught me mid-kiss with Mia, the boyish girl I’d been spending a lot of time with lately. She turned on her heel and fled. And now I felt like I had to explain. I’ll never forget the expression on her face. Fear. Disgust? I just don’t want it to be hard for you, she said. I confused everyone by having a fling with a Venetian sailor, Paolo, on a family holiday soon after, but came back to Mia. I cheated on her over and over, with boys from school, trying to will it out of me with alcohol and messy kisses. I always rang her drunk to tell her, crying. She was always devastated but couldn’t bring herself to break up with me. I did it for us both, eventually.

I’ve heard a lot of LGBTQI people say that ‘this time’ – the plebiscite and the raging debate it has unleashed – feels like coming out all over again. Thrust into the spotlight, considered fair game as ‘debatable citizens’, as the comedian Hannah Gadsby put it. (Hannah was an adolescent in Launceston during the debate on whether to decriminalize homosexuality. Tasmania was the last Australian state to do so, in 1997). And here’s our government in 2017: abdicating their duty in setting the moral agenda for the country and failing to protect some of the country’s most vulnerable. We must now suffer the profound indignity of witnessing the heterosexual majority – most of whom have no idea what being on the receiving end of ubiquitous and crushing prejudice feels like – argue (cacophonously, incoherently, viciously) about our right to live in the same way that they do. In the same way that they always have.

I’ve always felt grateful that I’m unlikely to experience ‘corrective rape’ or being stoned to death. Or that I don’t live in Russia (although Tasmania is bloody cold). Regardless, I’m weary of the minor insults. That a stroll through the streets can feel like a political act. When it feels weak, defeating, to drop her hand rather than risk a response. When any stare threatens to escalate. These moments leave a grubby residue. We might describe our society as one of the most ‘tolerant’. It’s rather demeaning, when you think about it, to be grateful to be ‘tolerated’.

In recent years, I’ve been slightly surprised to find that what I really want is quite ‘normal’ stuff – a partner, a house and a Labrador puppy. And a Le Creuset. Am I really this prosaic? But perhaps what I’m looking for is to feel safe – and to be safely in love.

Because love is everything.

What does my society offer me to help me to establish the life I desire, and the love I want to nurture? On a practical level, I’m deprived of basic economic opportunities by not being able to marry. (Tony Abbott’s assertion that de facto couples have the same rights is wrong but some people will still have voted ‘no’ using that erroneous information as their justification.) Psychologically, I’m deprived of feeling like a legitimate member of my community, and my country. My relationships feel scrutinised though the eyes (both real and imagined) of others. Did that woman just double take because I have my arm around my girlfriend’s shoulders? Does my friend secretly think her relationship has more potential than mine? I can’t make a declaration of commitment, or have an official ceremony, a ritual. (I once asked my ex to marry me in a quixotic moment: it’s illegal, she quipped. [Hi Tori!]) For LGBTQI people, the ramifications of enduring this second-class status range from the hurtful to the catastrophic. I had a supportive family, but I struggle most days with a sense of impotence. I wonder about that teenager who, somewhere, is awakening with a realization that is poised to complicate the rest of their days. The fractures in our society occur (and always have occurred) when people feel disenfranchised. It is not just the act of getting married, but knowing that you can. It is symbolic: all relationships are equally legitimate in the eyes of the law.

And then there are ‘the children’. This is not a debate about gay parenting, but one of the most prevalent slogans spouted by the ‘no’ campaign is ‘think of the children’. What about the 1 in 10 children that are LGBTQI who will at best be denigrated and at worst take their own lives? Or those whose parents are in LGBTQI relationships and are now being told that their families are lesser than others? Trauma manifests in countless different forms; the damage is unquantifiable. Only gay lives will continue to be derailed if this fails, not straight if it succeeds.

I’ve always resisted being too ‘political’, because I’m trying to live without too much anger, and because my priority is to be defined as Siân, not lesbian Siân. For me this is the most clarifying distinction in the debate (as the comedian Liz Feldman says: It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or, as I like to call it, ‘marriage’. You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car; I didn’t gay park it). I’ve always struggled with this notion of gay ‘identity’ or ‘community’. I’m not convinced that embracing identity politics strengthens minorities; rather, I think it can work to divide us. People shy away from the assumption that they could possibly imagine or understand the other person’s experience, and feel estranged from them. But those are acts of empathy. All our experiences are intrinsically human, and we should all attempt to share them. There isn’t one collective minority experience, just as there isn’t one collective human experience. But there’s one thing I know for sure – whatever their experience of life, all humans love (romantic or otherwise).

So, put simply: all minority rights are civil rights; all minorities are humans. We shouldn’t be characterising this debate as a fight for minority rights, but rather as a fight for human rights. If I am as human as you, my love is as human as yours. My love shouldn’t have had to be something I wanted to resist, was terrified of. My love shouldn’t be something I need to explain.



As part of THE ICONIC's support for 'YES', we are donating all proceeds from the Atmos&Here ‘Love Is Love’ T-shirt to mental health support group, Beyond Blue, a group who believes that "Love Doesn’t Discriminate" – a value that we too hold true.

If you haven’t had your say, follow up any missing surveys here before Friday 20th October 2017. And make sure you post your vote by Friday 27th October.

From Where I Stand
|17 Oct 2017|5 mins

"If I am as human as you, my love is as human as yours."

From Where I Stand: THE ICONIC’s (ir)regular column, featuring real stories and personal, life experiences that spark a conversation. All from a personal viewpoint and written by ICONIC Aussies & Kiwis.
Sian Scott-Clash
17 Oct 2017
Share:

The first contribution is from Siân Scott-Clash, Publications Manager at the Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania. Siân writes about same sex marriage – a topic that’s currently being widely discussed due to Australia’s postal vote.

Sixteen years ago I was chasing my mother down the hallway of our London home. I can explain, I can explain. She’d just walked into my room and caught me mid-kiss with Mia, the boyish girl I’d been spending a lot of time with lately. She turned on her heel and fled. And now I felt like I had to explain. I’ll never forget the expression on her face. Fear. Disgust? I just don’t want it to be hard for you, she said. I confused everyone by having a fling with a Venetian sailor, Paolo, on a family holiday soon after, but came back to Mia. I cheated on her over and over, with boys from school, trying to will it out of me with alcohol and messy kisses. I always rang her drunk to tell her, crying. She was always devastated but couldn’t bring herself to break up with me. I did it for us both, eventually.

I’ve heard a lot of LGBTQI people say that ‘this time’ – the plebiscite and the raging debate it has unleashed – feels like coming out all over again. Thrust into the spotlight, considered fair game as ‘debatable citizens’, as the comedian Hannah Gadsby put it. (Hannah was an adolescent in Launceston during the debate on whether to decriminalize homosexuality. Tasmania was the last Australian state to do so, in 1997). And here’s our government in 2017: abdicating their duty in setting the moral agenda for the country and failing to protect some of the country’s most vulnerable. We must now suffer the profound indignity of witnessing the heterosexual majority – most of whom have no idea what being on the receiving end of ubiquitous and crushing prejudice feels like – argue (cacophonously, incoherently, viciously) about our right to live in the same way that they do. In the same way that they always have.

I’ve always felt grateful that I’m unlikely to experience ‘corrective rape’ or being stoned to death. Or that I don’t live in Russia (although Tasmania is bloody cold). Regardless, I’m weary of the minor insults. That a stroll through the streets can feel like a political act. When it feels weak, defeating, to drop her hand rather than risk a response. When any stare threatens to escalate. These moments leave a grubby residue. We might describe our society as one of the most ‘tolerant’. It’s rather demeaning, when you think about it, to be grateful to be ‘tolerated’.

In recent years, I’ve been slightly surprised to find that what I really want is quite ‘normal’ stuff – a partner, a house and a Labrador puppy. And a Le Creuset. Am I really this prosaic? But perhaps what I’m looking for is to feel safe – and to be safely in love.

Because love is everything.

What does my society offer me to help me to establish the life I desire, and the love I want to nurture? On a practical level, I’m deprived of basic economic opportunities by not being able to marry. (Tony Abbott’s assertion that de facto couples have the same rights is wrong but some people will still have voted ‘no’ using that erroneous information as their justification.) Psychologically, I’m deprived of feeling like a legitimate member of my community, and my country. My relationships feel scrutinised though the eyes (both real and imagined) of others. Did that woman just double take because I have my arm around my girlfriend’s shoulders? Does my friend secretly think her relationship has more potential than mine? I can’t make a declaration of commitment, or have an official ceremony, a ritual. (I once asked my ex to marry me in a quixotic moment: it’s illegal, she quipped. [Hi Tori!]) For LGBTQI people, the ramifications of enduring this second-class status range from the hurtful to the catastrophic. I had a supportive family, but I struggle most days with a sense of impotence. I wonder about that teenager who, somewhere, is awakening with a realization that is poised to complicate the rest of their days. The fractures in our society occur (and always have occurred) when people feel disenfranchised. It is not just the act of getting married, but knowing that you can. It is symbolic: all relationships are equally legitimate in the eyes of the law.

And then there are ‘the children’. This is not a debate about gay parenting, but one of the most prevalent slogans spouted by the ‘no’ campaign is ‘think of the children’. What about the 1 in 10 children that are LGBTQI who will at best be denigrated and at worst take their own lives? Or those whose parents are in LGBTQI relationships and are now being told that their families are lesser than others? Trauma manifests in countless different forms; the damage is unquantifiable. Only gay lives will continue to be derailed if this fails, not straight if it succeeds.

I’ve always resisted being too ‘political’, because I’m trying to live without too much anger, and because my priority is to be defined as Siân, not lesbian Siân. For me this is the most clarifying distinction in the debate (as the comedian Liz Feldman says: It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or, as I like to call it, ‘marriage’. You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car; I didn’t gay park it). I’ve always struggled with this notion of gay ‘identity’ or ‘community’. I’m not convinced that embracing identity politics strengthens minorities; rather, I think it can work to divide us. People shy away from the assumption that they could possibly imagine or understand the other person’s experience, and feel estranged from them. But those are acts of empathy. All our experiences are intrinsically human, and we should all attempt to share them. There isn’t one collective minority experience, just as there isn’t one collective human experience. But there’s one thing I know for sure – whatever their experience of life, all humans love (romantic or otherwise).

So, put simply: all minority rights are civil rights; all minorities are humans. We shouldn’t be characterising this debate as a fight for minority rights, but rather as a fight for human rights. If I am as human as you, my love is as human as yours. My love shouldn’t have had to be something I wanted to resist, was terrified of. My love shouldn’t be something I need to explain.



As part of THE ICONIC's support for 'YES', we are donating all proceeds from the Atmos&Here ‘Love Is Love’ T-shirt to mental health support group, Beyond Blue, a group who believes that "Love Doesn’t Discriminate" – a value that we too hold true.

If you haven’t had your say, follow up any missing surveys here before Friday 20th October 2017. And make sure you post your vote by Friday 27th October.

Sian Scott-Clash
Writer