On March 7, Mr Tony Abbott stated, during a 60 Minutes interview with Liz Hayes, that he feels threatened by homosexuals.
Remember when your parents taught you that spiders and other seemingly dangerous insects were more scared of you than you were of them? Well, gay men have more to feel threatened from straight men than straight men from gay. And gay men have more to fear from Mr Tony Abbott than he does from them and not just because Tony knows how to box.
Gays aren't exactly threatening. Maybe those that fit the bear stereotype are just a little bit scary but those of the clean-cut professional type, the languid creative type, the peppy pill-popping party type, and even the stodgy suburban type can hardly be said to bring-on the shivers.
And sure, I'm talking of a bunch of stereotypes that define no one in particular but isn't it stereotypes that threaten Mr Abbott? Does Mr Abbott really have gay friends whom are threatening him? Maybe he does but no doubt he has straight friends whom are equally as threatening.
The Hon Michael Kirby, in one of his many presentations, taught me something rather valuable about gays. That is, gays are as boring as everyone else. And while discrimination against gays in Australia and throughout the world needs fixing it is by no means one of humanity's most pressing concerns.
But, still, that does not mean that discrimination is not a real threat for gay men in Australia. It may not be the abject persecution experienced by our friends in Uganda and elsewhere but it has the potential to limit careers, limit earning potential, limit professional growth, and limit general acceptance in the workplace. It definitely limits a gay man's ability to have children even on top of obvious physical constraints.
Gay men get bashed just because they are gay. Straight men, however, do not get bashed because they are straight nor because someone is threatened by or simply despises their sexuality. I can't, of course, say it is impossible that gays bash straight men just because they're straight, and maybe there is the odd straight-bashing, but there is no broader culture of straight-bashing that I'm aware of.
On the culture of gay-bashing, however, it is important to note that it is just a culture. And culture can change. Straight men that bash gays cannot claim that they're naturally driven to it because they have this thing called testosterone that makes them do it. Because gay men have it too.
Straight men who bash gays are taught something about gays - most probably incorrectly - that makes them see gays as something slightly less than human. I'm not sure what it is they're taught, and maybe I don't want to know, but it is irrational. Gays are as boring as everyone else, remember.
Now most people don't want to hurt gays. Most, it seems, want them to be seen as equal. But there is a misunderstanding about what it means to be gay out there in the ether, something we can all almost touch, and I think that whatever it is Mr Abbott was just tapping into it and letting us know it's there. Mr Abbott might feel threatened but it is surely an irrational fear.
The thing is, not all fears are irrational and it is gays who have reason to fear straight men. Not least of which is because straight men form a ruling majority and it is ruling majorities that have, in history, persecuted gays when it became expedient to do so. Is it rational for gay men to take solace in the fact that our modern western Parliaments would never persecute gays, in light of the fact, their legitimacy can amount to nothing much more than a political football?
And maybe it is, our laws have come along and are no longer as discriminatory as they once where. But laws change and so do social mores such that minorities have always the majority to fear.
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