Rainbow Family Tree

tell your story - change the world!

Pretty nervous this morning as I upload the latest Digital Story and start the process of circulating it online... In my head I replay the many voices of concern (both real and imagined) about whether I’m exposing my daughter too much... or in some way ‘dumping her in it’...

The story is about how community acceptance of same sex marriage would flag a wider acceptance of sexual diversity and impact upon homophobia, particularly that experienced by the ‘innocent victims’ - our kids... and all kids. It includes footage of my daughter rehearsing a ‘gay rights’ speech (that she was hoping to give to her class) intercut with footage from the IDAHO rally in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago (in which Christian fundamentalists and gay activists - including me and my family - clashed). It ends with a call to action - Homophobia needs us to do nothing... Acceptance needs us to speak up... by getting friends and family members on board and telling our politicians, policy makers and educators how we feel. I got some statistics from the www.australianmarriageequality.com website about the fact that 32,000 opponents of Equal Love have contacted the PM...

Those numbers make it pretty clear that none of us can be complacent because the Religious Right are highly motivated, highly organised and highly vocal...

This is all fine and beaut... but some have asked, what happens if people see the story and give my daughter a hard time at school... or worse, some nutter makes a link between her image and where we live? Is speaking out worth the personal risk to her?

This is something I’ve thought long and hard about, and it’s also a large part of the PHD I’m doing on‘Digital Storytelling and Everyday Activism’. I’ve worked with HIV positive storytellers and transgender storytellers who prefer to keep their identity concealed in their stories because they have had so many nasty experiences of homophobia and transphobia. They nevertheless wish to use their personal stories to address mainstream prejudices and assumptions, because they’ve also experienced how knowing someone and their personal situation often makes a difference. We work together to find creative solutions - sometimes blurring, cropping or obscuring images, sometimes using abstract images that ‘stand in’ or represent ideas and feelings...

So why not do that with my daughter’s story?

Firstly, I wanted to affirm how brave and articulate I think she is for sticking her neck out in the first place. Obscuring her face denies her that acknowledgment.

Secondly, her image was already broadcast on several mainstream news channels after the rally... and of course she was clearly visible at the rally itself. Any nutter who wishes to track her down has already got something of a trail to follow.

Thirdly, this pervasive fear of having our images online is based on what? The fairly unlikely but nevertheless ugly fear of paedophilia, abuse and other harms? Research indicates the vast majority of abuse is perpetrated by individuals known and trusted by families. The small number of kids snatched from street corners or shopping centres are most often random targets.

Fourthly, my daughter already experiences various forms of homophobia, in the school yard, in the classroom and in the streets. I’m up for talking her through these complex issues and building our resilience. Some of the worst damage evolves out of fear of ramifications and silence... not being able to speak openly and honestly.

Finally, the fact that my daughter is essentially an innocent bystander to the conflict really highlights the impact homophobia has on everyone, gay or straight, adult or child. There's a chance that seeing it from her perspective may actually influence audience members who might be inclined to block out my bleating on about it because I 'choose' to be gay and I deserve it...

Why should I reinforce the notion that she and I (and the many families and individuals like us) are in some way in the wrong... or inviting negativity by ‘rocking the boat’?

I guess everyone needs to make these complicated decisions for themselves and in some cases we need to make them on behalf of the friends and family members who are implicated in our stories. I think most of us do this on a case by case basis, evaluating the benefits versus the risks.

I hope my daughter’s story motivates people to act. I hope they do this by circulating the story far and wide and thereby contributing to the opening of many eyes to the costs of silence.

I hope people respond by voting in online polls, letting their MPs know how they feel and most of all talking about it... by posting comments and by having conversations with their friends and family members.Sometimes it's the people who appear to have no vested interest who have the most chance of changing attitudes.


The world isn’t going to change for our kids unless we all play an active part in it...

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