Time to act for Marriage Equality

Australians, please don’t become complacent about the marriage equality vote. It isn’t the most important issue going on in the world, clearly, but it still matters. You can advocate for marriage equality and for all the other issues you care about. I will be reminding people of these other issues once the survey results are released on 15 November and I have celebrated/cried enough.

If you are a straight ally and have been helping: THANK YOU! We couldn’t do this without you. It has been an awful time for our community, and I truly appreciate your support. It might be worth considering if there are any other ways you can help at this point, beyond talking to your communities, putting up posters, etc.

There are phone banks taking place all month in the lead up to the vote closing on 7 November (https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/call-party-for-equality-tickets-38370977627 and there are many others). Please send me a message if you need more information. Phone banks are essential for reaching people who have forgotten to vote or don’t currently care enough to bother. If you or someone you know needs a replacement form: https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au

If you are straight and generally pro marriage equality but haven’t done much or anything at all, please think about why. Are you actually pro marriage equality? If you’re voting no, that’s your prerogative. But if you are voting or have voted yes, and want your queer family/friends to have equal marriage rights (and I assure you, you have queer family and friends whether you know it or not), we could really use your help. Send me a message if you are unsure what to do next.

If you are afraid to ask your family members what they are voting – and this is something many people have told me that they feel – please message me and I’m happy to provide tips on how to approach it.

#australianmarriageequality #voteyes

Interview with Mary Lambert

I had the weirdest and most amazing experience this week. I happened to contact Mary Lamberts publicist about a fortnight ago, after noticing that Mary had announced her North American tour for her new EP Bold.  I asked if I could interview Mary about her EP, her upcoming tour, and her activism. I have noticed her activism in her music but also on her blog and social media platforms, on issues ranging from queer identity to mental illness and abuse, body positivity, and the Black Lives Matter movement. I suggested that it could potentially “create momentum for an Australian tour.”

Little did I know that Mary would be coming to Sydney, Australia to play with Macklemore at the NRL grand final on 1 October. And I had the opportunity to interview Mary and write a piece for Junkee about it. 

The whole situation has me pinching myself because Mary Lambert was my #1 dream musician to interview. At one point, after I mentioned my own experiences as a queer writer and activist, and my struggles with mental illness, Mary said “I feel like we are kindred spirits.” OMG. Don’t worry, I didn’t overshare too much.

So I will leave you with this gif to summarise my feelings about all of this. Yes, I am over-excited and haven’t come down from this high. And I think that’s okay. 

 

Kill Your Darlings

I’ve been a fan of Kill Your Darlings for many years, and I am so excited to have had a piece published in their January issue. My piece is about my time at a writing workshop with Cheryl Strayed in the French alps, which I thought would be the ideal place to escape the distractions of everyday life.

The workshop was practical, inspiring, complex, and, in many ways, life-changing. Outside of the workshop room, however, I struggled, even with my dream writing conditions (a view of the Alps, with a cheese platter nearby) to find the peace and stillness I needed. In this piece, I consider what is needed to become fully immersed in creative work: whether it is solitude, collaboration with peers, the privilege to take time off from ‘real life’, unplugging from devices, or a matter of discipline or motivation.

You can read the editorial and order Issue 28 here.

 

A moon, new beginnings and loss

Today, I am thinking about my beautiful friend, Jenny Green, who died in November 2015. I wrote about the supermoon, an odd, rare phenomenon that helped me observe Jenny’s death and work towards accepting it. This piece was originally published by Urban Walkabout, which unfortunately went into voluntary administration so the piece is no longer available online. You can read the original piece below.

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The Supermoon, Grief and a Turbulent Month

According to NASA, our planet will see “the closest full moon to date in the 21st century” on November 14. I have experienced the uneasy combination of terror and excitement in the lead up to this supermoon. It will be one year since my friend, Jenny Green, died. Since I haven’t wanted to deal with my grief, I have focused on the moon.

Astronomers have advised the public where to gather in order to observe the supermoon. Whether people are planning to capture it using expensive tripods or a phone camera, there are a few ideal vantage points. These include east-facing beaches, mountains, tall buildings and hills.

Jenny loved beaches. Of all the beaches in the world, she was insistent that the best is Coogee Beach in Sydney. She scoffed if you dared to make the argument in favour of Bondi Beach, Nielsen Park or, God forbid, any Melbourne beach. Her dream was to listen to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major at her favourite place, which was Coogee Beach at sunset, and “swoon with the sheer ridiculous beauty of it all.”

When I found out that the supermoon would coincide with the anniversary of her death, I laughed. It’s always easier to laugh, to live in denial, and to get angry, than to cry. I suppose that’s why in Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief, anger and bargaining occur before depression. I laughed because Jenny would have appreciated the symbolism and metaphor so much. She would have quoted poems and songs, without needing to Google the lyrics, and effortlessly braided them together into an astounding post, shocking her Facebook followers with the obscenities and the stark beauty of her words.

Brisbane poet and writer Kathleen McLeod also connects the super moon to our shared grief over Jenny. As she wrote on her blog, “The supermoon is tonight and here you are, still illuminating all of us. Life is beautiful and terrifying and weird.”

The moon features in so many religious and spiritual customs. It is tied to fertility, femininity, mysticism and new beginnings. Leonard Cohen, who died a week ago on 7th November, sang about the moon, as did Jeff Buckley and numerous other incredible poet song-writers.

This morning, a friend told me Cohen died earlier than the date his death was announced in the media. He was buried before Trump became President Elect, which means that he left the world before it changed so drastically.

This brought me a deep sense of calm, which I don’t completely understand. Social media has encouraged society to analyse everything through a microlens, but grief interferes with one’s ability to participate in these obsessive new rituals. Instead, sometimes all that a mourner can do is focus on loss, and death, and cycles of life; we can only navigate the personal, with little space for the political.

Then again, Jenny taught me that there was always room for both. It feels so fitting that this date I have been dreading coincides with the supermoon. This unusual natural phenomenon lets me pause and contemplate nature and life. It interrupts the regular media schedule of fear, with scientific facts, natural beauty and photography tips.

As people gather at sunset tonight, whether they’re picnicking on a hill, or at the beach listening to classical music, drinking gin, and skinny dipping, which would have been Jenny’s choice, I hope the moon brings a sense of peace and calmness. Recent events in the world have left so many distressed, disoriented and fearful. When we peer up at the sky tonight and see the moon looking bigger and brighter than it has since 1948, and won’t again until 2034, I hope we can appreciate the beauty of the natural world. I hope that for a brief moment we can let go of everything – even the science and the facts – and just let it be magic when we need it the most.