Sara Ramirez has announced she is bisexual (photo from US Weekly).
If you aren’t familiar with her, she played Dr Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy for ten years. It’s nice that this LGBTI ally has felt comfortable to say her truth. No doubt bisexual and lesbian young women will take some comfort in her announcement.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the world, another gay man or transgender person is murdered, a lesbian is raped and killed, and nothing much is reported. No one is charged with their killing.
Why are they linked?
It’s all about visibility. Without it, you are nothing. Without it, anyone can do anything.
I’m not bisexual but as a lesbian growing up there were precious little representations in the media of lesbians, let alone positive ones, that I could look to for some sort of belonging.
When a group of people isn’t represented in the media, whether it’s entertainment or the news, they are often marginalised, mistreated, maligned.
Bisexuals and transgender people are still struggling, along with gay men and lesbians, to be recognised as complete citizens in many countries and communities all over the world.
In Australia, the marriage equality debate is one area where there is a dangerous potential to damage a lot of people. Not all of them LGBTI. The government here has called for a plebiscite, a vote from the country, to decide if gays and lesbians can marry each other. They say the debate will be (mostly) decent, but we’ve already seen the indecency of the anti-LGBTI movement in their attacks on Safe Schools within the last year. The religious right of the current Liberal National government are driving these attacks.
While they chip away at the help and acceptance that programs like Safe Schools can and do bring to young LGBTI people, the larger marriage equality debate will increase the negative attacks, both physical and intellectual, on the larger LGBTI community and their families.
Many gays and lesbians have children who will be affected by the disgusting implications proffered up as argument by the the opposing side.
And all of this for a non-binding parliamentary vote to change something in the Constitution back to what it was before it was changed by ex Prime Minister John Howard – without any need for consultation of the Australian public.
Society is still a homophobic place. Institutions such as universities, schools, police, defence forces – all of them still harbour a sexist, misogynist, homophobic underbelly. Homophobia and rape culture are intricately linked by the straight boys club who run them.
The SBS drama, Deep Water, explores how even today, the same culture of dismissing the killing of gay men (in this instance) has changed little in the thirty years since Sydney was washed over with the blood of 80 hate crimes that ended in the death of the gay men involved. 30 still remain unsolved today in 2016.
Yael Stone plays a detective whose gay brother was killed in such an attack, or so she suspects, when she joins the Bondi squad.
Stone of course plays the criminal Lorna Morello in Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Here the native Sydneysider brings a subdued intensity to her Detective Tori Lustigman, trying to work her way around her misogynist,boys club police boss while attempting to solve not only the current murder, but cases from 1989, including her brother.
Producers of Deep Water, SBS, also produced Deep Water: The Real Story (SBS 16 October, 8.30pm or SBS On Demand), which discusses the murders of the men in the 1980s and 90s. However, this documentary was sparked by the murder of a man in Potts Point that got very little coverage. But this wasn’t an ages old cold case. It happened in 2012.
The murders, bashings, abuse and discrimination that LGBTI people have lived (or died) with in the past still exist today.
Don’t get me wrong, many things have improved. Some countries now have marriage equality. Some communities no longer persecute LGBTI people openly.
But just like women who are always looking over their shoulders and considering how safe they are, so do LGBTI people scan for danger, look for allies and fear for safety.
Until our young people are free to go to school and be gay, lesbian, gender fluid or whomever they want to be without fear of suicide inducing bullying and harassment, we are not all done.
Until people can all marry the person they love, and receive the benefits the Constitution delivers, no matter what genders are involved, we are not all done.
Until homophobia and rape culture are seen as the abominations they are, and not just ‘boys being boys’ or ‘high jinks’ or ‘letting off steam’, we are not all done.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Until we are all safe and equal, we are not all done.
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring