R the gays OK?
R the gays OK?
Walking into the office today I was met with the dreaded ‘R U OK?’ fanfare. I can’t stand R U OK day. Mainly because it seems like a day solely designed to educate people on how to have empathy. I am also somewhat cynical that it is popular in the workforce because employers want to remind managers to act human, so as to reduce the incidence of stress based compo claims. I didn’t want to write about R U OK day though, because I wanted to write about something important.
Writing about the pointlessness of the marriage equality ‘survey’ seemed pointless given it’s been done to death. What about the wasteful expenditure of the ACT Government in campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote on same sex marriage? I was actually pretty livid about it at the time. Painting a bus in a rainbow flag seemed like yet another wasteful act by a government that holds the purse strings pretty loose. But that was old news. What about Benjamin Law’s tweets about ‘hate f. king’ the homophobia out of MPs? Tweets that were hilarious but totally unhelpful. But then I thought, why should I hang more rubbish on a gay guy… they are copping quite a bit lately.
Cut to later that morning, sitting at my desk listening to the fabulous Grace Petrie’s song Pride. For those who don’t know Petrie she’s a kick ass UK folk singer. The song is an ode how the relentless struggles LGBTQIA people have faced has led to a community that bands together and waves the flag and “proud”.
Petrie’s lyrics run through a potted history of discrimination against the gay community and I started to think about the discrimination I’d seen against gay people in my life. As a straight white middle class women I’ve always seen this from the outside. But I’m old enough to remember the grim reaper AIDS ads. I had male friends who thought their world would literally end if anyone in my small town knew they wanted to bang guys. Seen family hide their sexuality from certain family members. And if I’m being completely honest I’ve probably said some insensitive things myself in my younger years… a cringe worthy memory about how bisexuality doesn’t exist comes immediately to mind (I do not think this at all anymore, to be clear). I’ve had colleagues tell me after a few beers that they are gay, but they don’t want to be ‘out’ in the workplace so don’t tell anyone. Seen friends in committed relationships grapple with the complexity of having a child, the major problem being that they were both women rather than being poor or infertile or messed up in some way that actually mattered.
And from this privileged position as an observer I realised how tiring it must be to have to live through all of this as a gay person. How frustrating it must be to have someone tell you that we shouldn’t spend $25,000 on a rainbow bus when all you want to do is marry the person that you love. How annoying it must be to have the debate be about your off colour tweets and not the fact you can’t marry who you want. And I thought you know what? Maybe I should ask my queer friends if they are okay. I should send one of them a text and ask if this whole marriage equality debate is getting them down. I should give one of them a hug. I should tell one of them how happy I am they found love. I should tell them how much I appreciate them as a person. I should tell them I don’t think there should be a marriage ‘survey’ either. I should tell them I’m going to do all I can to make people vote so we can forget about this whole thing and get on with solving problems that matter, like homelessness, poverty, the cost of living and getting busses back to boring colours.
So today I want all Avengers to ask a gay person if they are ok. Because one of them might not be.
R the gays OK? was originally published in The Masked Avenger on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.