Ihad always assumed I was straight. Realising I was queer was much less an epiphany and much more simple mathematics. The realisation grew within me slowly, revealing itself in quiet moments. It wasn’t until I did the maths and added up my experiences that I came to my conclusion. I was bi.
My queerness felt so comfortable, almost logical. Yes, I had strayed from the social default, but I’d embraced my default. It made sense. Despite the conservative values I was surrounded by at the time, I’d never doubted that my queerness was anything other than natural. I had a sense of myself that was so steadfast, nothing could shake it. Until it did.
I used to be that feminist. Outspoken, brave. When someone was out of line, I’d let them know. I expressed myself, my queerness without fear. There wasn’t a debate that happened without my input. But there is a cost for standing up for your values. I was convinced I owed it to myself, and my community, to pay that price. But over time my resolve eroded. One can only take so much abuse before cracks begin to show. And so, I began letting the homophobic slurs and the lewd comments pass. All the while, wrestling with the guilt that I was betraying my community in the name of self-preservation. Eventually I found a balance. One where I honoured my values by speaking out and protected myself by sitting out.
And then the virus hit. No, not COVID. Something more malicious than that. It’s March 2023, and Australia is preparing to host World Pride for the first time. It’s night, and a group of 30 men march along Newtown’s main street escorted by police. They’ve gathered at one of the queer hubs of Sydney to protest the LGBTQ+ community's ‘lifestyle’. A week later in Sydney’s Victoria Park, supporters of an anti-trans speaker gather to hear her self-described transphobic views in broad daylight. Another week later, a group of anti-trans ‘activists’ perform Nazi salutes on the steps of Victoria’s state parliament. And just like that, the spaces we felt safe in are taken from us.
For my community, the world that we live in is becoming increasingly scary, even in Australia. I worry for my friends’ safety, for my own.
I remember in 2016 when I came out to my father. He gave me a hug and told me he loved me. But he had another expression on his face, so I asked him what it was. He said he was worried for me. At the time I almost laughed it off, ‘Dad, it’s 2016, times have changed.’ I didn’t understand why he was so concerned. Now I do.
This is why events like Wear it Purple Day matter. It’s a chance for the wider public to show they support an inclusive Australia. It’s an opportunity to be visible in your workplaces, in your communities and demonstrate your values. But remember, we need your support every day of the year. We want you to be an ally regardless of what day it is. And being an ally is simpler than you think - small actions go a long way.
Here’s some things that allies do that make me feel supported:
- They call out inappropriate language without escalating the situation. This might mean a quiet word with someone after a meeting.
- They ask for and use my pronouns. Even if it feels a little weird for them to say.
- They hold space for me to share my experiences. They listen and affirm, without trying to problem solve.
- They don’t expect me to educate them on queer topics. They may ask for my perspective, but they’ve done their own research. And they respect if I don’t want to share.
And finally, they make mistakes. We all do. The important thing is to keep trying our best, and to look out for one another. And with that, I’d like to wish you a happy Wear it Purple Day. Whether you are queer, questioning or an ally, I hope you can find a moment to reconnect with your values, and know that we’re in the fight for queer liberation together.