Survivor Tips (from a survivor)
It has just been announced that Australia’s marriage equality postal survey is going ahead.
For many LGBTI Australians, tolerance has been the least they have experienced. Most though, have acceptance with their family, friends as well as workplace settings. Australia’s corporates and multi-nationals actually champion and celebrate diversity. Homophobia is being stamped out in sport.
We have a generation who essentially knew nothing of the horrors of imprisonment, institutionalisation, torturous treatments, job losses or overt discrimination etc.
Therefore it has come as a shock to many LGBTI people, to experience opposition so publicly and relentlessly against LGBTI people, our community and relationships. The safe schools program, Gayby Baby and the push for marriage equality have unleashed prejudice, ignorance and fear that many thought were things of the past.
LGBTI people from faith backgrounds could say ‘welcome to our world’. For us, this kind of conflict never went away. And after marriage equality is made law will continue in many contexts.
Since 2000, I have been involved in that conflict at one level or another. Sometimes very publicly and other times behind the scenes fighting battles no one will ever know about. I’ve seen people come and go. Some appeared like sky rockets, announcing they were going to change the world and then slipped into oblivion but survivors stay the course.
As a survivor I’ve learnt a few things over the years in order to manage the constant negativity, ignorance and the anger from not only from without but also within. I have written about this before but I’d like to offer some lessons I’ve learnt as they are particularly relevant to what lies ahead for our community over the next few months as the YES and no campaigns on marriage equality are in full swing. Some nasty, cruel, unkind and ignorant things will be said about us, our community, families and relationships.
Social media platforms are both a blessing and a curse. They are potentially places where we can be hurt and harmed. During times like the current marriage equality ‘debate’ that potential is increased and intensified. I see people going off regularly on social media and often wonder just how aware they are of what is actually happening to them.
Here’s my top ten survivor tips
- Your mental health is more important than the cause.
Paramount, above everything else is your mental health. Over the next few months you need to be very self-aware, monitor yourself and manage any personal challenges that come your way. Your mental health is more important than the cause. Let me say that again. YOUR mental health is MORE IMPORTANT than the cause.
- Know your triggers
Triggers are words, phrases, statements, people or situations. When you are triggered then there is an automatic emotional and/or physical response. The triggers I’m speaking about are the negative ones. Triggers are attached to some trauma or emotional pain from the past. If you aren’t aware of your triggers then they can set you off into paths of anger, hostility, depression etc. If you are aware you can handle these situations more rationally.
- Take a break
There is the potential to spend hours and hours in ‘the battle’ but that wouldn’t be unhealthy. Most people wait till it’s too late to have a break. When they finally do, they are so wound up it will take them forever to release the angst. Better to walk away sooner. Pace yourself. Do something that requires your total attention so those other nasty little thoughts won’t creep back in and rob you of your recuperation time.
- Some things are best ignored
Not everyone will agree with me on this and that’s okay (I’m not going to fight you on it. See tip 5). Giving them oxygen or publicity exposure only increases their influence. Many of you will remember Rev Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas and their disgusting God Hates Fags signs. WBC is an incestuous ‘christian’ cult of less than 100 people. Who gave them the international notoriety they craved?
Margaret Court, once a tennis star, now aging (75) pastor of a small church (300-400 is small in Pentecostal circles) in Perth, writes an open letter published in the local newspaper to Alan Joyce the CEO of Qantas saying she will no longer fly on that airline because of Joyce’s support for marriage equality. Who was listening? Anyone out there really thought this was relevant or even mildly influential? I do wonder what would have happened if the letter had actually been ignored instead of inciting a media frenzy? Margaret would not have flown Qantas?
The latest thing has been the fag posters in Melbourne. How did they get plastered all over Facebook over and over again. Triggered. People were being triggered. I could write an whole expose about that saga – the pro and con’s and what was going on behind the scenes but now there are more important things to focus on.
I find the best way to know how to respond is to ask myself some questions.
- Is this just click bait or hate bait?
- Am I passing this on because I got triggered?
- Will passing this on be hurtful to others?
- Am I giving these morons publicity they don’t deserve?
BTW……only YOU can answer those questions.
- Don’t turn on the tribe
During highly emotionally charged times our anger/frustrations can get misdirected. You may not agree, actually you will never agree with what everyone says or does. Leave it at that. This is not a time for us to put our energies into tearing each other apart. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder for our common cause; EQUALITY and a better future for all LGBTI people.
- Promote some positives
It is really easy to keep recycling the negative things happening out there but there are positive things happening as well. Whilst there are Christians and churches strongly opposed to marriage equality there are also Christians and churches how are passionate about our cause for justice and equality. Promote them. Find a positive story a pass it on.
- Name calling – you can do better than that
Name calling is a rather childish behaviour that should have been left in the primary school playground. Homophobe, bigot, hater are labels I don’t use. They certainly don’t encourage debate or dialogue.
- Don’t poke the bear
When people are opposing you, resist the temptation to have another dig. Sarcasm might be clever but not helpful. None of this actually helps the cause and only reinforces the other person’s negative view.
- Wear clean underwear – you’re representing the family
Was your mother one of those mothers who used to say ‘I hope you have clean underwear on. I’d hate it if you had an accident and your underwear was dirty. What will people think of the family’. It’s funny and ridiculous at the same time. In the back of my mind I remind myself that everything I write, say and do I am not just speaking for myself but I’m always representing the tribe. It can be a useful strategy for tempering responses. The way some people behave only undermines our message and cause and gives fuel to those opposed to our equal rights.
- Don’t lose your sense of humour
I haven’t. I did for a while. I became too serious and too intense. Honestly, some things don’t deserve getting angry over they should be laughed at. When you are out with your friends and discussing the current trial we are going through don’t forget to have fun, have a laugh and have a break.
Now’s a good time to remind ourselves to never underestimate the strength and resilience of the LGBTI spirit.
We’ve been attacked, humiliated and abused. imprisoned, excluded from churches, rejected by friends and family, institutionalized, lobotomized, treated as pariahs, denied basic rights ……….AND YET WE SURVIVE.
This too shall pass ……….and in the meantime be kind to yourself and to others.
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Really good stuff here AVB. Thanks for posting it.
Thanks Matt. Coming from a professional counsellor such as yourself whose worked with LGBTI people for many years, your feedback is most encouraging. BIG SMILE. http://www.mgacounselling.com.au
So AVB is equality a better aim than freedom? Is there a deeper underlying reason coming from the Left to create victims who then need to be given rights by Government as a stepping stone in their push for further even more radical societal changes?
It’s an interesting conspiracy theory Mark. But the answer is no in this case.
When some people refer to marriage as being a “sacrament” between a man and a woman, we should remember that it has not always been so. When we look to the BIBLE to find out what was the case at the time of Jesus and before that, we can read, for instance that:
In the Old Testaments First Book of Kings, 3.5-14 and the Second book of Chronicles 1.7-11 that God was so pleased with SOLOMON for asking only for WISDOM and knowledge, so that he could rule well, that God also granted him more wealth, treasure, and fame, than any king has ever had before, or will ever have again.
Such wisdom did not make Solomon wise enough, however to limit his wives to only one, or even a few (but 700 wives and 300 concubines, according to 1 Kings 11.3). But at life’s end, he reflected upon his mistakes, and no doubt, of all the trouble 1000 jealous women brought…, for…. (even) He could not understand the ways of God, who controls human destiny (though he understood more than many, many).
As old men often will, Solomon wonders if life was worth the living. Yet, in spite of this, he advised people to work hard, and to enjoy the gifts of God as much and as long as they could.
Solomon’s questions are still just as real to us today, 3000 years later. We must all ponder on these questions anew each and every day, if we are to lead a worthwhile and meaningful life, to be remembered with gratitude by those we leave behind to take our place.
So i urge readers to take a look at this COMMON-SENSE, centrally placed, important, but most neglected book of the Bible, which concludes with the words “These words are like the sharp sticks that shepherds use to guide sheep, and are as lasting as firmly driven nails. They have been given by God, the one Shepherd of us all.”
Readers may view my summary of Solomon’s WISDOM at the “ECCLESIASTES ENCAPSULATED” section of my wound-wisdom website at http://www.wound-wisdom.tk (etc). Please let me know if I have missed any salient point.
Neither church, mosque or temple have the power to compel since “There is NO COMPULSION in religion”. There is no hate or fear in LOVE. All we can do is to “SPEAK OF GOODNESS TO PEOPLE”. We will then NOT do to others that which we would hate for our own selves. Heterosexual people will then be able to marry (or not) heterosexual people. Homosexuals will then be able to marry (or not) homosexuals.
For LOVE’S sake, that’s what EQUALITY is all about.
WISDOM has many homes, is non denominational, and bridges any difference between all cultures, peoples, colours, religions, and forms of governance – atheistic, or otherwise. Wisdom is always appreciated, is based on common sense, and is not the preserve of theologians or an educated class.
Prayer is nothing if it is not good thought, backed up by kindly action. I invite readers to pray with me (a piper too) as follows:
Let all who enter this Home,
Find Peace and Harmony
In their Hearts, and Minds,
Through Forgiveness and Generosity,
Empathy and Compassion, so that with
Courage, Wisdom, and Stamina,
They shall find Happiness, through
Truth, Fulfilment and Fruitfulness.
We Hope for these Benefits through
The Words and Actions of Ourselves, and Others.
Kind Action ! Amen and Ameen, etc etc !
With much Wisdom, found from an honest appraisal of the history of our own mistakes and failures, Peace and Harmony can be Ours, too ! We should ” Do what is just (equal), show constant love, and live humbly with nature, each other, and all who crawl, walk, swim, fly, ride, drive or burrow, on this, our only earth home.
NB: The quote at the bottom of my “Household Prayer” or “Good Hope” is taken and extended from Micah 6:8.