2014 ICAS Oceania Conference Call for Papers

This will be great!

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Intersectionality recording

Please check out the recording from the recent Intersectionality or Bust panel. I ranted about everything from dyke eyes to russel brandt and gay marriage! The other two panelists were amazing and the question time was pretty dam lively. check it.

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How to have solidarity with queer people in activist groups

So as a queer lesbian woman I usually take a breath before entering a room and remind myself that probably someone will say something homophobic. Then I put up this special wall and only let it down once I’ve discovered that everyone in the room is either a queer or an ally. Mostly I do this subconsciously, which is pretty sad.

I was part of a meeting recently where a woman made a homophobic comment. Of course this was upsetting to me. But what is more upsetting is those straight people who did not comment. That is complicity. After debating with her, me and the other queers were the people who left the room. People who didn’t leave the room with us, or ask the other person to leave, are complicit in her actions. I now have to process for days because this is what I live, not something I can observe and shrug off. If you feel uncomfortable reading this, good. Cause you’re unease is nothing to my fucking rage and disappointment.

How does this happen?

I don’t have the answers, and am perhaps too upset to start that conversation. And actually, I am not the one who should educate people on this. But I do have suggestions for how to stop it from happening again.

–       Have a good facilitator. When it is a collective meeting it’s best to have a rotating facilitators. That means everyone takes it in turns so no one has more power. But when it is a more general meeting, someone needs to facilitate and do so respectfully but strongly.

–       Have a progressive speaking list. This means that people who haven’t spoken are prioritised before those who have. Generally this helps stop some people dominating

–       If there is a grievance where someone from a minority or oppressed group is voicing their unease or anger, people from that group are prioritized to speak before those who aren’t from the group. Most especially, they are to always be heard before the person who has caused the grievance.

–       Ask the person/people who are effected how they wish to proceed from that point. They are the ones who run the meeting from that moment, if they so wish.

–       Don’t ever blame the person who is upset. Especially if that person/people feel unable to remain present when it comes to trying to reconcile the situation. If they are upset ask them what they need. If they need a break, do so. If they need to stop the meeting organize for the conversation to happen again. As an ally, this is your job, not theirs.

–       Stop the person who has offended others from talking. Let me repeat: stop them from talking. From this point they should listen. Having them constantly interrupt only further reinforces their privilege and power. This will most likely affect the person/people more, leading them to be upset. This is shit because of course we do not wish to upset those grieved more but also it further reinforces them as “too sensitive” or as “over-reacting”

I’m sure there is heaps more but I guess I have to spend some time contemplating. I really encourage other folks to add to this list. Perhaps together we can make sure the walls no longer exist.

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Animals are not ours

1374864_10152709075522195_677539359_nYesterday I held a dead puppy in my hands for forty minutes. He never even took a breath. He was born from the beautiful Kay; the rescue dog who lives with us. She had seven puppies but lost two. The boy I had in my hands was stillborn and a week later a little girl died.

I was part of an Animal Liberation Victoria memorial where 200 of us stood in the city centre, surrounded by animal exploitation industries, and we all held a dead life. As a cello played, and Patty Mark gave a speech about how animals are not ours, I gently rubbed the little prince’s back and tried to let him go. It was a hard farewell for a life that was lost due to human cruelty. We were too late to save him and there are too many others we won’t ever reach.

As we all stood together I hoped that at least one person would be moved. But it isn’t enough. It has never been enough.

We need to do more.

Though I had a relationship with the boy in my hands, it wouldn’t have mattered if he was a stranger. From the smallest to the largest animals that we all held, they were all lives. Lives that wanted to live. To be free.

We need to do more.

I was lucky enough to come home to Kay, Gretchen (Kay’s pup whom I adopted), and Tiggy (my cat companion). To rub their ears and give them a kiss. To tell them I love them. But as I held the little prince earlier that day I remembered Kay’s face when she lost him. She picked him up gently in her mouth and moved him around the room. She seemed to be looking for somewhere for him to rest. In her grief we were just humans who had done this to her. And for that, we need to do more.

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Here’s some pictures from The Age with yours truly having a sob in one photo.

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Photos in this post copyright of Larry Foxheart and ALV

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Getting laid when sober

I am wondering if anyone can help me. How the hell does one get laid when they are sober?

In my younger years I would drink to excess and wake up all hung over with some person or people. I’d wander home, walk of shame, with my nickers in my bag and hope I could remember the persons name. Or, at the least, that I wouldn’t see them again.

But for over a year now I have been sober. It was a personal decision. I decided for so many reasons. I was an alcoholic, that’s for sure. But I also realized that I was buying booze from huge corporations that use excessive water, pollute the planet and control our minds, everything I am against. And the realization of how booze has been used by my ancestors as a tool of genocide and control here in Australia and all around the world. It was a personal choice that I don’t often talk about because people get so upset with me. Like I am judging them or questioning them even when I haven’t said anything, when in fact they are the ones who have been talking about it whilst I sip my soda water. I don’t even want to say it, but I will, as an ex-alcoholic, I am the last person judging anyone for drinking. And there has been many times in my life where drinking has been a good thing. Like, how else do you get over a break up? Personally, it’s booze, drugs and sex for me.

The last time I drank I got totally smashed. Like hello, taxi. I was on a date with a hot babe and we made out in some alley way and then we both went home cause we were too trashed. The next day I was a wreck. I couldn’t get out of bed, and I thought, fuck this, why would I ever do this to my body?! And also, please note, went-home-alone.

Once I stopped drinking parties weren’t so fun. Hey, I have lots of wicked sober nights dancing, generally with my sober buddies, and we can party harder then I ever could before. But it does make my stamina for 6 inch heels a little less and at some point, around midnight to 2am it starts to get really drunk and I head home. But maybe that’s also cause I’ve been doing this for so long. It all becomes a bit the same and the thought of my cat companion and a book on queer theory just seems like a way more appealing Friday night. So probably it’s not the booze.

So if you don’t go out to parties… How do you get laid?

There’s always dinner parties. But the thing about a hot one-night stand is that you probably haven’t spoken to each other, and that’s the attraction. Nothing like finding out someone you think is a babe is actually your worst nightmare over dinner. No, no no. you’d rather just have sex and never find out you have nothing in common, right?

Well lets think about dates, if you can get one, with someone you thinks alright. Like, to be honest, being a gluten free vegan who doesn’t drink coffee OR booze, makes it hard to decide on date options. I mean, if you can think of a good place you’re pretty much already guaranteed I’ll put out. I’ve been on a few dates with people who get drunk, and then it’s a no go. Aside from the fact that your speech is all slurred and ya face all sweaty, I would not be comfortable with boundaries or the consent wastedly given. And one of the key reasons I stopped drinking is because of drinking and consent. Our culture is rife with nonconsensual sex that is tied in with drinking, or that’s used as the justification.

Our society is so structured around drinking. It’s not just about getting laid. It’s not just about parties on the weekend. It’s really the whole shabang. Where else can you go of an evening if not to a bar? Growing up working class meant that my father would usually crack a tinnie of VB when he got home from work, trying to forget his shit day at work. And then he would sit in front of the tv. And the cycle would continue. Shit job, booze, tv, shit job, booze tv. I guess we don’t need to be conspiracy theorists to realize how capitalism uses booze to control us.

I do miss drinking. But I also wonder why all our queer events are so often centered around booze and drugs. When I think about the two times I have been to Pride is San Francisco, I have such amazing memories that are so blurry. Days and days of wild parties I can’t remember. Hot orgies with people whose names I don’t know. I’m not critiquing that, I loved every second of it. Hell, if you’re in an orgy where everyone is all cool with being anonymous, go for it. But I do wonder, can we be sober and proud?

What do we miss out on when everything is about drinking?

So anyway, back to me and my conundrum.

I’ve tried OkCupid to no avail. Everyone on there I’ve either had sex with, had a fight with, or both.

I’m running out of options here.

I can’t actually complain; I have a wicked hot partner with scissoring on tap. But a girl needs hot one night-stand, right?

If our drinking culture is affecting my sex life, it makes me wonder, what else is it affecting? Just a few weeks ago I went camping with some friends. We pulled up to a supermarket to buy some ice and they came up to me and asked if it would bother me if they drank whilst we were camping. I said, hell no, but thank you so so much for asking. It’s the first time anyone ever has. Why? Cause drinking is the norm and no one thinks to ask an ex-alcoholic if it would make them uncomfortable.

I think it is important to think about alcohol and how we relate to it. Otherwise we may turn around and realize there is nothing but wastedness holding us together. And that wouldn’t make any of us proud.

 

Please note: picture is post party

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Podcasts from the ICAS Oceania conference

Check this out. I am one of the speakers!

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Cops and Queer

4549806-3x2-940x627My first ever Mardi Gras I vomited blue. As a 16 year old binge drinking whilst watching the Mardi Gras I was blissfully naive of the political complexities of the parade. All I saw was the glamour and the sex.  A part of me still holds that dream, even when the reality is so starkly contrasted. The Sydney Mardi Gras originally started (in June not sunny February) as a riot against police brutality. As a bunch of queers wanting to fuck when and how they wanted. One cannot help but wonder how it has become the capitalistic, apolitical, sexless event that it is today. Why do the police march in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras?

Recently, the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras changed its name to the Sydney Mardi Gras. The committee stated that this was a step towards inclusivity. This is not a step towards inclusivity, but a step towards normalization and thus exclusion. This is further evidenced in their current logo and promotional material. The logo is two love hearts, turned on their sides intertwining, in what is unmistakably a reference to “marriage equality” and the subsequent homonormalisation and neo-liberalisation of mainstream gay rights agendas.

The promotional material is focused on “celebrating our generations of love”. Loving is a radical concept, especially when it involves people of the same gender or non-binary genders. However, within the Mardi Gras advertising “love” only serves to solidify the allusions to marriage equality and homonormativity. Especially when it is coupled with images and videos that show predominately white people who are able-bodied and overwhelmingly cisgendered, dancing and occasionally kissing. There is absolutely no mention of sex let alone anal, eating pussy, fisting, deep throat or an of the things that the “bad” queers get up to. It seems that the most sexual acts gays and lesbians do is kiss, in public.

This homonormalising of the Mardi Gras has been occurring for many years. In 2010 the then New Mardi Gras board made many controversial decisions. They allowed huge corporate sponsorship, with such companies as the bank ANZ having a float. This was met with much dissent as Mardi Gras started as a protest against the second-class citizen treatment of gay, lesbian and transgender people in Australia. Many asked how an ANZ float was in any way political. However, more shocking was their refusal to allow the Animal Liberation float. The justification was that they were “not queer enough”. This is even more insidious if we consider that in 2008 the Mardi Gras was led by two men named Craig and Shane, not because they were famous or gay icons but because one night they walked down Crown Street, right next to where Mardi Gras takes it’s historic path, and were almost beaten to death. They subsequently spent almost a year in hospital. The assailants beat them simply because they were gay. When they reported this to the police they were met with hostility and. Yet, in 2009 the police were allowed to have a float in the parade.

The Animal Liberation float was acting within the concept of “our freedom, your freedom, their freedom”. Animal Liberation questions the torture, maiming and mutilation of nonhuman animals. Mardi Gras began with the same intention for human animals but has now become a mainstream, corporatized homonormative event.

Leading up to the 2013 parade there was an onslaught of advertising in much of the gay press. One particularly telling advertisement was from the ANZ bank. In the center it has three Australian coins, with the side that has an image of the queen facing up. The heading states “We love all types of queens.” This play on money, camp accent and pride is both overt capitalistic advertising and a loss to every queer person struggling against the monetary system. The byline states “Embracing the diversity of our customers and staff. ANZ: The support team for Sydney Mardi Gras 2013”.  ANZ is well known for investing money in wars, such as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as having large investments in environmentally destructive industries such as coal, to name just two things. But hey, who cares about that, they are gay friendly. This is the most obvious pink washing ever.

Perhaps most disturbing is the words at the bottom of the advertisement, almost missed, that state “We live in your world”. The truth to this statement is impossible to ignore. If you look at the Mardi Gras and the corresponding mainstream gay community you will see that corporatization is in fact the reality of the community, and the Mardi Gras only serves to further that. That for the mainstream gay community their world is in fact represented in ANZ, contrasted against the rest of the community who cannot access this privilege.

This picture of entwined hearts and marching police was shattered when  footage of police brutality surfaced after the 2013 Mardi Gras Parade The police brutality is overt and serves to remind us that there is “No Pride in a Police State” and in fact that this brutality occurs all across Australia (and the world) on a daily basis to people from all different backgrounds. This was not an isolated event of some homophobia. This is a small representation of what occurs everywhere to marginalized and oppressed communities.

The gay and lesbian community responded with a large protest. Following this was a community forum held by the Mardi Gras committee titled “Sydney Mardi Gras Policing Community Forum”. Before the forum the Mardi Gras committee stated on their website that the forum is to discuss what occurred with the Sydney MP Alex Greenwhich, two police representatives and various gaystream groups. Most worrying was their claim that  “People attending the forum will also be able to offer ideas about how policing practices can be enhanced to the benefit of both Sydney Mardi Gras patrons and police.” (Mardi Gras website) This case of police brutality has led to the conclusion that the queer community needs enhanced policing. All that has come out of the forum so far is a media release in which they have stated that they are writing up a report that will “inform further discussions between senior police and LGBTQI community representatives about immediate and longer-term strategies to improve policing practices at Mardi Gras.” Improve them, not remove them.

The Assistant commissioner Murdoch has stated that “he does not believe the incident will permanently damage relationships with the community.” (ABC) He also states that the “relationship locally with the gay and lesbian community is first-class,” and that the officer who is filmed abusing the young man is from the western suburbs where “Policing … is a different kettle of fish, and we need to take account of that.” The western suburbs of Sydney is an area usually depicted in the media as violent, with gang wars, drug crimes etc, because it is predominately people from backgrounds that are not Anglo, particularly people of Arab decent. Here, Murdoch is actually reducing the incident to a single officer, rather then institutional state violence. He then uses this officer’s station to racially vilify people who live in the area where he is stationed and thus show that if people of colour did not exist in these areas there would be no homophobic police violence. Here, he has taken the emphasis off the homophobia and made it an issue of badly behaved people in the western suburbs. Instead of seeing the larger picture of state violence and police repression, good gays and lesbians from inner city suburbs who are white and hold respectable jobs, and kiss in public, are assured that they will not be targeted by police. That in fact, more policing is needed to ensure that western suburbs people of color do not encroach on gentrified inner city Sydney.

This culminates in a bleak picture of neo-liberal rhetoric used to create gay events that are viewed as non-sexual and non-gay,  and when the true nature of homophobia and police violence are revealed, we are sidelined by socialized racism in order to ignore the reality of state based violence, on a large scale.

A protestor held a sign saying “Cops Don’t Give A Fuck About Queers”. So again we must wonder, why do they march in the Mardi Gras parade?

(http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-06/claims-of-police-brutality-at-mardi-gras-parade/4554958)

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