I have a thing to say. Regardless of whether we have ever met, I would appreciate it so much if you read on. If you disagree, I would really love it if you would read it again, and realise that my words are coming from a place of hurt and frustration but ultimately from a wish that this would be heard and understood.
I’m writing in response to the comments made by Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz this week. He said: “Ever thought why there is no celebration for those that decide to go from the homosexual to heterosexual lifestyle? Are they not honest? Are they not coming out as well?”
Firstly, I want to say that I believe and acknowledge that everyone is a product of the context(s) in which they have “come up”, so to speak. People’s triumphs and failures are in direct response to the influences that have been put in their way. Mr Abetz is likely the product of a highly conservative background, both in politics and in values. That is what leads him to where he is, for better or worse. And theoretically, that’s okay.
I am not going to rant about marriage equality or the plebiscite, because it actually annoys me how frequently these issues get all lumped in together (it’s like saying that women’s music is one genre). The words that stand out to me in Abetz’s comments echo the comments of a local Christian columnist I once clumsily responded to back in 2012. I had just ‘come out’, myself, and I wish that I’d been able to say what I’m about to say now. I’ve spent years trying to articulate how I grapple with this:
I presume that Mr Abetz and I both brush our teeth in the morning and at night. I imagine that Mr Abetz (or maybe his wife) do a reasonable amount of housework and yard work per year. Mr Abetz and I both probably take fairly regular exercise. I walked the dog just today! We both cook meals for people we enjoy spending time with. We both have the odd bowl of cereal or a cheeky bit of vegemite toast, I presume.
I imagine I can speak for Mr Abetz when I say that we both love the beautiful state in which we live, and enjoy spending time taking it in. We both go for meals with friends and family. I imagine we both fumble over last-minute Christmas gifts for our loved ones.
I suspect that Mr Abetz would like more sleep sometimes, and doesn’t mind a lazy Saturday morning. I am the same. Mr Abetz keeps a busy schedule of work and meetings and engagements and community service and familial and friendship commitments. I do too. I just brought a load of washing in and then hung a load towels out. I untangled my dog from the tether where she’d wrapped herself around the woodpile. I have a few hours of work on the computer and a pile of washing and dishes to sort tonight. I might even vacuum. THIS is lifestyle.
As this is absolutely NONE, ZERO, 0.0% of my business, I want you (dear reader) to calculate in your mind, with 24 x 7 hours = 168 hours per week, what percentage of 168 hours per week you spend being physically intimate with another human. This might be your partner of 20 years or someone you just started seeing or anywhere/anyone in between. You mightn’t even need to calculate: it may be zero, no time at all (which still doesn’t change your orientation, now, does it?) As it is, again, none of my business, I don’t expect or even want an answer. But I want to make perfectly clear how insignificant this is, in terms of time-spent, when it comes to “what makes up a lifestyle”.
In other words: why does anyone give a shit? And why, WHY, if a person spends a fraction of their time in bed (or wheresobloodyever they please) with a person of the same sex, does it immediately describe their lifestyle, which is in only this way ‘different’, as a HOMOSEXUAL lifestyle?
My lifestyle likely mirrors Mr Abetz’s lifestyle in far more ways than it does a high-profile, performing-every-night rockstar, and in far more ways than it does someone who is unemployed and sedentary and hermited. And yet, in none of these descriptions do I mention sexual orientation.
I reject labels, for the most part. My most natural and comfortable and affirming romantic inclination is towards the ladies. But I’ve never really explicitly said that there’s no way in hell that a lovely fella wouldn’t take my fancy. That said, if that were to happen: I wouldn’t be ‘coming out as heterosexual’; it’d be no cause for celebration beyond the fact that I had chosen and taken a partner who I liked and wanted to be with. I’d be frustrated and indignant if anyone in my circle were pleased about this for any other reason than for my happiness. It wouldn’t be a relief. It wouldn’t be a better outcome. (In fact, I’d argue that there’d be a great disrespect for women if someone suggested that a woman would make a subpar partner for me and a man wouldn’t).
I’d be a human being still. With the same lifestyle. THE SAME. And it wouldn’t have made the years I spent dating girls ‘a phase’. It wouldn’t make me someone who ‘used to be a lesbian but is now back with men’ (for the record, I don’t see this happening, but ya never know). I would be the same, dorky, obliging, sometimes-awkward, thoughtful, musical, not-particularly-domestic, creative, honest, worried, funny me.
Mr Abetz: even though I’m largely puzzled by your question, even though I wonder about the circumstances under which you think someone should be ‘celebrated’ for ‘coming out’ as heterosexual, I want you to know that I want everyone to be celebrated for being precisely who they are, with zero consideration made for who they might be sleeping with.
Celebrate the sheer chance it is that they ever existed upon this mortal coil at all, and that we are all here at the same time, to share in our diversity.
Please widen your view.
The world is beautiful from up here.
*Alison Cosker is ‘not originally from Launceston, but proudly considers it her home. She’s edging in on thirty, is an aunty and a beagle-wrangler, and freelances in too many things to have one job title.
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• John Hawkins in Comments: I have just watched the Clinton/Trump debate. Two appalling people the product of the current American obsession with celebrity both with no scruples, no morals and no standards and totally unfit for the job. Here no people, no media, no pollies of any quality and nobody capable of conducting any form of public debate. The only debate in Tasmania amongst those currently elected is: How do we keep keep our snouts in the trough and preferably our sticky fingers on the levers of power. Oh for principles, standards, integrity, honesty the ability to distinguish right from wrong and a straight back enabling ones head to be held high. The world we all inhabit is very very sick maybe mortally so. Nothing will be done.