To be accepted

I felt mixed emotions as I walked past my local synagogue yesterday, the morning after Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

I was simultaneously saddened by the metal bollards and bulletproof glass surrounding the building and incredibly grateful that I wasn’t taught to hate as a child.

My parents and grandparents weren’t revolutionary or radical. They didn’t participate in marches or rallies.

But when I look back on my childhood I see tolerance of otherness.

I remember a Fijian family moving into our street in suburban Newcastle. They invited the whole neighbourhood over for a hangi, dug a pit in the backyard and roasted a whole pig.

That must have been a pretty radical occurrence in Adamstown Heights in the 1970s, but all I remember was a sense of joy in the air … and laughter when I was served a pig’s ear on my paper plate.

There was no consternation when I fell in love with The Village People and saw Can’t Stop the Music 12 times at the cinema; then became obsessed with Split Enz with their face paint.

My father’s rage was reserved for a copy of RAM magazine that I bought, which featured a cover story about the band, which contained swear words.

He tore it in half in fury and we had the most almighty barney. Swear words were NOT OK.

One of my grandmother’s favourite people was the openly gay son of her best friend. He took them to see Carlotta perform in Les Girls in Kings Cross, which she loved. When he moved to San Francisco, she delightedly travelled to visit him and went to parties and barbecues with his friends.

My grandmother’s neighbours in Hawks Nest were a family of barefoot “hippies” whose home was a ramshackle place filled with incense and nose rings and tie-dye. She and the young mum Ilga became fast friends.

My father was delighted to have two daughters and never made us think we could do less than sons. I entered the workforce filled with confidence about my sex. There wasn’t a single point in my career where being a woman felt like a hinderance.

Well, until I became an older woman. But that’s a rant for another day.

There is nothing particularly radical about any of those stories but, in their own small ways, they meant life choices that were regarded as fringe by many people felt normal to me.

While my parents and I have different views on things such as politics (although we all agree Toto is VERY cute), my childhood experiences means I do not hate people who don’t look or behave like me.

I sometimes take missteps when it comes to understanding how difficult it is to walk in other shoes, but I would never be cruel to someone because of their sexual orientation, religion or race.

I felt a powerful wave of emotion when I saw Anthony Albanese interviewed as he marched in Mardi Gras.

He noted on Facebook: “When the first Mardi Gras march was held in 1978, you could still be arrested for being gay. In the decades since, people dedicated their lives toward the campaign for equality. To be accepted as equal and recognised for who they are and who they love. I’ve been proudly marching in Mardi Gras since the 80s. This year I’m honoured to be the first Prime Minister to join the march.”

He also told an ABC reporter that it was unfortunate that he was the first PM to do it.

I think my emotional response was twofold – that he had been marching for 35 years and that doing it in 2023 as PM made headlines around the world.

As the ABC noted, we’ve come a long way, but there’s a distance to go.

And I fear we will never live in a world where the metal bollards outside places of worship can be removed.

Song of the day: Simple Minds “Love Song”

2 thoughts on “To be accepted

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  1. I grew up in a neighborhood and went schools where multi-cultural was, before it became a thing…and yet my parents..if you’ve ever watched Archie Bunker in All in the Family, in our family I’m meathead….I don’t see or notice differences, but friends, even friends I grew up with, do….when I was young, a new neighbor moved in, he was black, wife a hippy very cute hippy blonde (I think I was 12, so yeah I noticed)..and two black children, Myles and Westley….their dad was a musician, a bass player and singer, he was in a band called the Vancouvers, who toured with the Vancouvers, they toured with a very young Jackson 5….I actually asked for an autograph as soon as Wes moved in….but, my parents hated them..and still do…..I hate that…how on earth did I turn out the way I did….our biggest fight, with my dad, as when I tried to explain that the word race is bullsh*t…and now the word Woke and the way it’s used…..I dd march with black lives matter, and all lives matter…but…..I have no idea why we still need this stuff, it’s 2023, yes, let’s fix what we broke for decades or centuries, but move on, how much time has been wasted focusing on people with differences..there are none….sorry, you got me ranting in a Sunday morning

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