My mother had a group of friends who got together regularly on Saturday afternoons. They talked, laughed and drank sparkling wine or brandy, lime and bitters. I am not sure if I had yet conceptualised what sexuality was, but I did observe friendship and caring for each other. It was the early 1960’s.
One of the friends in the group was a guy who I will call Charlie. He did not want to hang out with the husbands, boyfriends and ‘uncles’. Although I do have memory that the men all seemed to really like him, just like the women did.
My recollection was that Charlie was always so groovy, his clothes were always funky, he was funny, he was a bit feminine, he was clever, he was handsome and he was kind. He was the brother of one of the other women.
I recall that I always enjoyed my limited time with him. Now of course I recognise that Charlie was gay. But he was just Charlie and what was important was that he was funny, kind, generous and smart. Why I recall this is because it is my first memory of homosexuality in my life …. No big deal. Charlie was just Charlie. I also recall so acutely, how I felt when I heard a few years ago, that he died. I was incredibly sad.
Not long after my introduction to Charlie, my mother took me to see the stage show “HAIR”. To say that show had an impact on me is such an understatement. The fact that I recall so much detail, decades later, is indicative of the influence. I learnt so much more about life during that couple of hours, than I ever did at any of the mother/daughter education nights at school and from the “girls becoming women” Johnson and Johnson books concealed in envelopes, that mother handed to me late at night!
In retrospect I now recognise that I always had an inquiring mind. I also now realise that there have always been gay people in my life. And de facto couples. And married people. And married people having affairs with other married people. And heterosexual couples.
My point is that they are who they are and they love who they love.
When I was recently handed two tokens in a workshop – one was a small multi coloured rubiks cube and the other was a rainbow flower – both objects made me think of the recent “public survey” here in Australia where the community was asked to vote on “same sex marriage”.
As a white straight female, being asked to validate the equality of other people who happened to be LGBTIQA by the survey, was so offensive to me. I have advocated for equality for women, for immigrants, for people with disability and chronic diagnosis, for children, for culturally and linguistically diverse people and for all other marginalised people, as long as I can remember. At the same time I believed that I had to respond, to stand up and be counted for why I believe all people are equal.
In my mind the coloured objects linked my thoughts to the rainbow flag that had become the symbol of this public survey. The survey that I felt embarrassed and ashamed about – yet at the same time I needed my view to be counted – caused so much angst for so many people I love and care about. I am so regretful for this to have happened.
LGBTIQA have always been part of the tapestry of my life, personally, professionally and creatively. Just like indigenous people and migrant people and old people and young people. ALL people actually.
So after all the public debate and the challenges that so many people have faced over recent times, law was passed today that now states it is legal for people to be equal – those people who in my mind and heart always were …. Now are. The law states it so.
People are people. Love is love. Life is life.