Wanted: an audience

Before I begin, a tangent.

Last time I got wordy, you may remember, I wrote about geek feminism. Or feminist geekism. Either way.

Three weeks after writing that post, I went to the Sunday pre-release event for Battle for Zendikar (the latest Magic the Gathering release). As I was early, as the shop was quiet, and as I’d almost finished my current creation on the way up, I got out my girly-decorated game box, my play mat … and a sewing box, a Barbie and a Barbie-size skirt I’d made out of an old bandanna that needed a hook fastener to finish. If I can sew on the train and on the platform, heedless of what people think about my stashing half-nude Barbies in my bag, I can sew in a game shop, right?

The first thing I was asked by an arriving player, one who knew I was there to pre-release (it’s a verb): Did you bring any decks with you?

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Queercott: Marriage Alliance

Okay.

Australians, this one is for you, but if you’re not Australian and you want to help out by reposting/linking, please, be my guest.

Marriage Alliance’s campaign of hate has spread to radio advertisements on 3AW. Now I can’t even sit in my room while my parents have a shower and listen to the radio at ridiculously high volume without hearing arseholes claim that granting me a basic human right and the protections that come with it means the loss of heterosexual families’ rights, freedoms and privileges.

A million writers and activists have said why this is stupid. (There’s some really good iceberg adaptions over on Same Same.) Quite frankly, any decent human being should realise why this is stupid, since the only thing everyone will lose is a safer, more accepting society. I can accept that the only people who are swayed by these ads are those who are homophobic or those who are ignorant. These kinds of campaigns never worked overseas to prevent the legalisation of marriage equality (in fact they were always the subject of mockery and scorn on shows like Gruen Planet) and they’re not likely to work here.

But.

We shouldn’t have to sit here and listen to that bullshit.

Look at it this way: I almost never watch TV or listen to the radio, and yet in the last two days, in about an hour’s worth of TV and radio total, I’ve been subjected to homophobic discourse three times.

Our spineless government has allowed this, but, quite frankly, the channels airing these adverts propaganda pieces – as far as I know here in Victoria, 3AW and Channel 9 – should be taking some responsibility, too. These companies are, by airing these advertisements propaganda pieces, promoting hate directed at a vulnerable section of society. They are saying, at the very least, that they are indifferent to the fact that these messages are contributing towards the ongoing state of Australian society where (cis) queer people aren’t wholly considered to be human. They are saying that it’s okay to promote and distribute hateful messages propaganda pieces. They are saying that the comfort and acceptance of (cis) queer people doesn’t matter. They are saying this to queers, to the families of queers, to the friends of queers, to the majority of people in Australia who have some connection with a queer person: you and/or your loved ones don’t deserve equality.

Now, it’s apparently quite legal for this hateful bullshit to be aired.

But we can turn off the channel.

We can stop giving these channels the thing they most desire: an audience.

Stop watching Channel 9. Stop watching Channel 9’s subsidiaries. Don’t watch them on your TV; don’t use their streaming or catch-up services. Don’t go to their websites. Don’t read their news articles. Don’t engage in their media. We can stop listening to 3AW (although I’d rather have pulled my own teeth out than listen before they started airing arsehole ads), but, better, we can stop engaging in any media owned by Fairfax.

(And if you know of any other arsehole radio stations/TV stations/newspapers/magazines running this propagandist bullshit in Australia, comment and I’ll add them to the list.)

I am asking you, Australians, as queers, friends of queers, families of queers and readers of queer writers, to make these companies regret the money they have gained for promoting the denial of my equal rights and my improved safety. I am asking you to do more than just sigh and complain and write pissed-off blog posts and hit ‘like’ or ‘reblog’.

What do we watch, then?

Well, SBS and Channel Ten are registered with Australian Marriage Equality, so there’s a start. Or how about Joy 94.9? Download the TV episode you missed from iTunes. There’s plenty of ways you can keep up with your favourite media without giving companies who think it’s appropriate to promote homophobia (and denying queer people marriage equality is homophobia) financial recompense for the act of hurting a vulnerable section of Australian society.

Please, if you care about me, join me in my queercott.

(And, yes, rage apparently is what I need to press my anxiety over posting into a tiny cowering knot thoroughly drowned-out by fury.)

A return to the world of monsters

(As a prologue, this post goes out to the people of my ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – group, for their encouragement when I spoke about my blog and the fears that have kept me from writing. Also to Julia Kyle, who just doesn’t give up on me. Thank you for making me feel as though I can, maybe, re-become my warrior-writer self.)

I wish I didn’t have to begin with this literal title.

I wish it with all my heart.

At first … at first I thought it would be okay, moving back to my parents’ place. It would only be for six months or so; I’ve got a room at a mate’s place, back in my beloved Melbourne, as soon as his sister moves out. It would give me time to recover from how severe my anxiety and depression have gotten, living in a space where I have to worry less about the basic struggles of just looking after myself. It would give me time to worry less about money, at least in theory, and work on finding a second job so I can support myself with fewer stresses. It would only be for six months. Endurable, right?

Oh, the lies we tell ourselves when we have no other option!

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Three simple words: I’m an author

My new job involves talking to a lot of new-to-me people. (It also involves epic losses at Magic the Gathering and being walled-in by Funko Pop! figures.) I’m spending a surprising amount of time chatting to shop regulars while they browse cards from the 2015 core set and buy up most of our Planeswalkers, which usually leads to questions about who I am and what I do when I’m not grabbing the Khans folder from under the counter.

To you, my readers, the answer seems obvious. I write verbose blog posts, short fiction and novels. I write about writing, creativity and the life of a queer-with-mental-illness writer. I spent a large part of last Thursday talking about my writing process to my fellow writer-friend, which is illuminating in the sense that I have enough awareness now, about my own process, to speak on it. I’ve written two novels and one novelette in this year alone, so I think I’ve grasped the output side of writing. Sure, I don’t have many readers as yet, but I’ll keep working on that, and, maybe one day, I’ll be able to make half a living income from my words. Everything else I do is pretty much an adjunct to writing or a way of keeping a roof over my head while I write. It doesn’t matter what people say about my writing (although those comments are most often positive): that is incidental to the fact that my life is about the arrangement of words to create meaning.

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Queering words: a field guide (part 2)

Hello. Last time I discussed the two basic rules for approaching the language used by the queer people in your life, which can be boiled down to don’t be a douche, but sometimes we say things that seem reasonable to us without understanding that they’re not-so-reasonable to the audience. After all, empathy, sensitivity and respect aren’t exactly qualities prized in Western society, and privilege makes it hard to develop these traits with regard to minorities. How does one be a genuinely empathic person if one doesn’t have some experience of pain and suffering? How does one relate to that pain if it is only an abstract concept?

I think this is why so many allies complain about misandry, reverse racism, heterophobia, cisphobia and other such reverse/anti isms coming from minorities. Think about it. If you haven’t been hurt, if you live in a society where you are privileged and prioritised, having somebody call you a cracker or a fucking cishet is probably going to feel like a hit to the face. Of course, there’s no systematic oppression behind those words, nothing but a tired, frustrated and hurting minority voicing their pain, but when one has no or little experience of pain, when society is set up to tell you that you are amazing, special and deserving of having every fucking book written about you, it probably feels like oppression. Imagine a spoiled rich kid getting a shock because his parents tell him he can’t have a new iPad after he threw the old one on the kitchen table and cracked the screen. We, who are not rich, just roll our eyes. Allies who don’t share the minority status in question are that rich kid. We minorities know it’s nothing like the knowledge of waking up in the morning knowing that people loathe you so much they deny you basic human rights, a scratch compared to a broken nose, but allies don’t. In my experience, the best queer allies are those who have hard-earned knowledge of oppression in other ways (my friends who understand chronic health problems, mental illness and misogyny, for example). They are the most able to put themselves into my shoes and do what they can to make life as easy as possible for me.

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Do explain, my allies, but not to me

I’m going to tell a story every minority has experienced at some point, an example of one thing that sours what could have otherwise been a good conversation in a fairly safe environment. Now, those who know me in real life, don’t get me wrong: the environments I am currently in are about the safest I’ve ever been in as an out queer who doesn’t do binary gender. I’m incredibly grateful to be in rooms full of outspoken left-wing small-L liberals where I can say what I think and feel with very little negative consequence, and as someone who is both anxious and outspoken (believe me, that combination is insane-making at times) it goes a long way to making me feel comfortable in a world where I think twice about just sending people my new email address or linking people to my blog.

I explained to a group of people why I have problems with ‘same-sex marriage’ as a phrase and the use of said phrase in mainstream publications.

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Show, don’t tell: allies and minorities in fiction

I happened across this article. On the surface, it looks positive, right? A man writing lead female characters of colour? Representation in a genre that still denies representation to people who are not cis/straight/white/able-bodied/neurotypical/thin/male? Isn’t that awesome?

Unfortunately, to me, the piece pretty much encapsulates one of the major problems with majority people writing minority characters: the ‘look at me I’m writing about minorities’ mode of self-promotion.

I can’t help but read this as ‘I look at WOC and see them as human!’ It’s not so pretty when phrased like that, right?

(Warning: very long post. I talk about queer genre fiction, who writes it, who reads it and my place in it as a queer writer of queer genre fiction.)

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