Posted on Leave a comment

United we stand, divided we fall – why we should all try to stand together in the LGBTIQ+ community.

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon amongst people.

In my observation, when one group of people begins to gain more freedom and privilege, they step on the groups they perceive as just below them. I’ve seen migrants do it to refugees, the poor-turned-financially-secure do it to the strugglers, and even people in my own community do it to others elsewhere in the LGBTIQ+ alphabet.

gray mini figure under white sneaker

It’s one thing to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, but quite another to cut others off at the knee.

It takes me back to the time I travelled to a continent that had much division between rich and poor, black and white, man and woman.

My wife and I – as white, middle-class citizens – were pretty high in the social food-chain in this particular context. If anyone knew we were together, we would’ve been bumped a couple of rungs, but it wasn’t obvious.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_741.jpg

On a plane ride from one place to another, we were sitting across from a white family. Next to us was a lady who told us she was an immigrant from an Eastern culture. Behind us were three teenagers of colour.

Not long after departure, food was served and I recall being disappointed by the offering – two dry vegetables and egg slammed between dry bread with no butter.

I accidentally dropped it beneath the seat, and was unable to recover it. Not because I lack etiquette, but because it’s near impossible in cattle class. I eventually fell asleep and forgot about it.

As the flight wore on, the discarded sandwich started to emit a smell. A stench, actually. The lady next to us assumed someone had forgotten their manners and woke abruptly. The family across the aisle shot her a rude look. She was very quick to say, “It wasn’t me, it was them!”

She pointed to the three teenagers behind us. What happened next was interesting. They started apologising profusely.

“Sorry. Sorry. I’m so sorry.”

It was clear that they didn’t actually know what they were apologising for, just that someone had been slighted and they should make it right – even if they weren’t responsible.

After the lady next to us ripped into them, the lady across the aisle chimed in and added, “And for God’s sake, wash your hair.”

“Sorry. Sorry.”

I was so confronted by this pack aggression that I didn’t claim responsibility. I quietly informed the air hostess who dug what she could of the fallen sandwich from under the seat and the flight wore on, tensions thick.

What this demonstrated to me was that when the chips are down (or even when they aren’t), people will turn on one another, quite shamelessly.

I have seen the same thing happen in the LGBTIQ+ community.

“I don’t get why we need to include the ‘I’ – those people aren’t diverse, they have a birth condition.”

Or…. “Mardi Gras was good, until the lesbians joined in.”

Or…. “Bisexuality? Pfft, that doesn’t exist.”

Or…. Perhaps most commonly….

“I don’t want to be lumped in with them.

Usually referring to transgender, intersex, or queer individuals.

I am not sure why this is necessary. We all have battles and I think that when you weigh everything up, we are all more alike than different.

Who does it help to criticise someone else’s lived experience, and then exclude them from a sense of belonging?

The LGBTIQ+ acronym and its community is meant to unite, not exclude, and when we’re all fighting amongst ourselves, it makes the lot of us look bad.

Kind of like when two parents can’t agree on parenting principles, and then form a power struggle in front of their child.

The only person who gains power in that situation is the person who shouldn’t.

Battles are only fought and won when people stand together – sometimes that means making an effort to understand someone else’s life.

And for God’s sake, keep your sandwich intact.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Just because it’s chaotic, doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing.

Before we had S, Natalie and I both said that our child would fit into our lives, as much as possible.

For us, that means dinners out, running events, furthering our respective careers, and travelling.

Pre-baby, my style of travel was haphazard. I have run away from a crazy driver in India, walked 5km up and down cobbled roads in Armenia with 20kg of luggage, and partied with strangers in Las Vegas.

We are NOT this haphazard with a baby. A simple weekend takes a lot of planning, but it is a LOT of fun. With a bunch of checklists, an excellent time can be had.

FullSizeRender.jpeg
Family holidays are fun. 

At times, though, you just mess it up. Monumentally. 

For Easter, we decided to cocoon ourselves as a family. Recovering from birth has been a rough ride and the idea of some time in a peaceful place appealed – so we booked a BnB not far from Brisbane, but away from the hustle and bustle.

Our little boy was yet to meet a farm animal. So…. being in a secluded area… we thought we would take him to a farm.

We found a ‘farm rescue’ online and booked 3 x tickets – one ‘unemployed’ (yes, that’s the baby ticket) and two ‘student tickets.’ Let’s not talk about why we have student cards.

Anyway!

Once we got there, the conversation went something like this.

“Does the baby have closed in shoes?”

IMG_1556.jpeg

“…. he doesn’t walk, but yes.”

“But you’re wearing thongs.”

So, my wife, in her infinite wisdom, had turned up to a farm, in thongs.

No thongs, no entry. No worries! Mate…

So…. I started the farm tour, baby in tow, sans wife. She went back to the BnB to get shoes (an hours’ round trip)…….

Far from being a tame petting farm as I thought it may be, it was a bit of a bush walk.

Bush walks are just fine, but I can admit that carrying a 9kg child with some incline gets old pretty fast.

As a side note, a sanded stump is actually a great place to breastfeed a baby. Nice and stable. Better than the seats in some of the parenting rooms I have used in shopping centres.

Fortunately, he is the chillest babe you will ever meet, so none of this bothered him.

When Natalie got back, she told me she’d bogged the car in the parking lot. When I finished rolling my eyes, I passed S to her so my arms could have a break. I thought that having a sit would be a great idea.

WRONG!

I got bitten by ants. So many ants.

After that, we decided to bail, because the hill to the sheep enclosure was beyond us by this point.

All was not wasted, though. He saw animals. We told him great stories about what we were looking at. The cuddles were great, and the smiles. He loved our commentary.

And like always, he was just pleased to be there. Such a happy baby. 

As we drove back to the accommodation, we realised that I had failed to book the whole weekend and we were meant to be checking out.

Thank goodness for gracious hosts who let us stay the extra night at a discounted rate.

As we walked up the stairs to our room, we laughed and laughed. We messed up, we under-estimated the activity, one of us arrived in thongs, and I screwed up our booking.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_21f8.jpg

But you know what? It was all completely okay.

If our holiday had been perfect from start to finish, we wouldn’t be sitting here laughing right now. S would still be yet to see a cow, a pig, a chicken, a duck….

We had fun, we made memories, we did something new…. but most importantly… we laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed and swore, and then laughed again.

I am SO glad we did it. And I am thankful for the recommendation.

There is a lesson in all of this.

Chaos is more fun than perfection. You can do anything with children if you accept that. If you really want something, you’ll go up and down the hills, through the mud, under the fence…. whatever it takes. 

This is a lesson I needed, as I approach my first big deadline with a tiny human.

I hope that as our little boy grows in this crazy adventure called life, he maintains our sense of fun and resilience.