Silence in Mimicry

The knock sounds just as Klirran places her brush and comb on the bed, careful not to touch the rough outer blanket, in a line beside her soap, washcloth and toothbrush. She scowls, glances at the washstand—the soda is right there and it’ll take an instant to grab it and finish the line—but the second knock is louder, followed immediately by a third. Impatience. Not Inmera, since the Cloisters won’t need to talk to her about this newest occurrence, and everybody else knows not to disrupt Klirran while packing if the option to leave her alone exists. Emergency, then, or annoyance. Emergency means yelling, though. Calls to grab her gear and come. Annoyance. Klirran sighs, but she grasps the doorknob, the brass worn smooth and shiny under her hand. How many people have used this little guest room? How many felt trapped here?

She turns the key with her other hand, marks the way the loops of the bow leave red-grey momentarily-throbbing indents against her fingers, pulls the door open.

A woman, her tall and lean body tense and pulled inwards, the green silk sleeves tugged tight over her folded arms. Klirran can’t decide if she wants something to grip or if she wants to make the fabric prominent, although with Caiára it is likely both. Anger, certainly. Always is with her.

Sacrifices, though, don’t forget the green, and neither should Klirran.

This is a first-draft piece, so my apologies for its present roughness. It’s also my first piece in this character’s POV. Klirran is an intersex, bisexual, poly, autistic healer mage who is smarter than you and doesn’t care if you’re bothered by knowing it.  I loved writing her, even before I got to write in her POV, because she’s confident in her own intelligence, ability, sexuality and gender. It’s wonderful to write a character who is confident (unlike me) and confident despite the societal indoctrination we (non-majority) people get that strips confidence away from us. She doesn’t waste time trying to be something she’s not, and that’s something I’m very much trying to learn.

That last thing is why this piece is important to me, the writer, and why any future reader reaction is downright irrelevant.

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A Dialogue in Good Faith

I haven’t said it here, yet – there are a great many things I’m yet to speak about here on the matter of finding my way back to myself – but I started freelance work this year designing event flyers and administrating the Twilight School website.

The Twilight School, run by Bruno Lettieri (of Rotunda fame, one of the most amazing and generous people that ever lived) is the community outreach project of the Salesian College Sunbury. The Salesian College sponsors something quite unique: an after-hours education service providing classes, guest speakers and other community events, at low-cost, for the Sunbury community. Most of these conversations involve literary personages and community health workers, and the classes run from cooking to writing and gardening to photography. The Twilight School also sponsors the Good Man Project, which is about fostering and developing healthy and open emotional dialogue with, between and among men. Barn Owl Journal is another of Bruno’s pet projects for getting creative writing out into the community, and you can read the current issue here.

(For an event example, you can go and see actor, comedian and writer John Clarke this month for $10 plus drinks, and all you need to do is bring a plate of food for the communal table. We’re talking an evening with a seriously famous, at least in Australia and New Zealand, seriously clever satirist for $10 and however much it costs you to bring a plate of sandwiches or cake. If you’re in Melbourne and this interests you, book now, because places are filling up. If I were living anywhere reasonably close to Sunbury at the moment, I’d go.)

I can’t overstate how important this sort of thing is. The Twilight School is offering and allowing real connection, expression and education in a world where the privileged have an infinite number of avenues in which to communicate yet we are still discouraged from being honest and vulnerable in the company of others.

(When your feminist goddess of a friend is telling you that she’s not sure she should have written about her experiences with depression and anorexia because it’s not appropriate to tell that kind of intimate story, on her own damn website no less, we have a problem with communication.)

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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.)

Marriage equality, you ask?

So I’m sitting on the couch watching morning TV because I’m sick as, and then a blue sketch image, vaguely resembling ice, flashes up on screen. I can make out the words “sex” and “marriage”, but not until the presenter starts talking do I understand that the scribble on the tip of the iceberg is “same”. Oh, wow, clever metaphor. Who knows what hell lurks underneath, right? Three minutes later, I get a second advertisement, because it’s not enough that I’m reminded once that I’m a secret danger to the fabric of society, no: I have to endure it again.

Great. I already risk homophobia when I step outside the house, go online, watch a TV show or open a book – now I have to get it in the advertisements as well? What happened to government-sponsored political spots about workers’ rights and attempts to flog toothpaste and muesli bars?

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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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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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Queering words: a field guide (part 1)

Nothing in these posts is in any way new.

However, I’ve had a few interactions with well-intended cishet allies who have missed the finer details on queer, trans and non-binary language terms and their use, so these words aren’t being said loudly enough to penetrate even those who are open to hearing us. Also, as a queer, non-binary person with editing experience, there may be something I can bring to the dialogue, I hope, that explains why we use our words the way we do.

For once, I’m speaking directly to allies on this post. Most of the time you’re incidental to the dialogue, or I’m talking about you, not to you: I’m talking ‘to you’ in the same kind of rhetorical, laden-with-frustration way I go about much of my dialogue about my experiences. However, I seem to have amassed a collection of cishet ally readers, so this one is for you, because my words matter and because I believe – or hope – my words matter to you.

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