Events in November and December

I’ll be presenting at the Youth, Health and Practical Justice Conference on Sunday 4th December in Sydney. The conference is organised by the UNSW Practical Justice Initiative and the UTS Faculty of Health. It is the first national interdisciplinary conference for those working to promote young people’s wellbeing and health in education, health service, community, and youth work settings.

In addition to presenting about my own work with young people, I will be co-presenting an academic poster with my lovely wife, Rachel Chapman. She is doing important research on educators’ understanding of gender in early childhood education and how this impacts on young children. For those of you based in Melbourne, she will be presenting at the ‘Beyond the Culture Wars’ LGBTIQ History Conference in Melbourne (25-26 November 2016). I went to their conference in Adelaide last year, and I highly recommend it!

What doctors need to know about LGBTIQ+ people and mental health

This week, I wrote an article for Daily Life about my first Pap smear, which unfortunately was also my first experience of coming out to a doctor. The doctor was religious, and used his role to ‘educate’ me about the unhappiness and shame associated with being homosexual.

Since writing this piece, I have been saddened to read some comments that blame me for my naivety in not doing my research before going to this doctor. One particularly hurtful comment said that the fact that he was able to make me feel so ashamed suggests that I know there is something wrong with my sexuality. Both of these arguments are triggering, #victimblaming, and fairly disturbing.

In my case, I now know about websites like DocLIST, which help lesbian and bisexual women find supportive, understanding doctors. When I think back to my 2004 experience, I feel shame – even to this day – but I also feel anger. Why was this man able to talk to me like this? Why didn’t I feel able to stop him in the middle of his torrent of abusive words and tell him I was leaving? Why do doctors, especially male doctors, have so much power over young women?

If you are LGBTIQ+ and worry about some of these things, please refer to The National LGBTI Health Alliance and DocLIST (if you identify as a woman).

The Shy Extrovert and the Social Media Introvert

wrote a piece about being a shy extrovert for The Vocal, a Fairfax publication that is action-oriented and radically positive. The editor is the superb and talented Sheree Joseph.

Since then, I have received messages and had fascinating conversations with people who identify as shy extroverts, social media introverts, awkward extroverts, confident introverts, etc. I also came across this wonderful blog post by PooJa Kesavan that quotes my article.

Regardless of how you feel about the terms extrovert and introvert, and whether you believe that such a binary exists, it is obvious that there is a spectrum of social behaviour that is largely influenced by our brains, social development and mental health. At the end of the article, I recommend Sian Prior‘s book “Shy: A Memoir”, and Susan Cain‘s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. I can also recommend the Dear Sugar Podcast (Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond), which addresses many of these issues regularly. Let me know if you want to talk more about any of this!

What AFL’s inaugural Pride Game means to me as a queer woman

I recently wrote an article for Daily Life about the inaugural Pride Game between St Kilda and the Sydney Swans. The article is about my experiences with sport when I was growing up as a queer woman, as well as the AFL’s links to homophobia, racism and misogyny.

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I really enjoyed the Pride Game, and in many ways, it challenged my longstanding beliefs about AFL and homophobia. I now believe that things can, and will, change. However, some aspects of the game still bothered me. I plan to write an update about my experience at the game shortly.

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National Young Writers’ Festival

I was fortunate to be selected as an artist for the 2015 National Young Writers’ Festival. I had an incredible time discussing being a queer writer and a memoirist with many talented writers, and the opportunity to attend other panels and workshops. The Sydney Morning Herald wrote a feature article about our ‘Coming of Queerness’ panel, which you can read here. NYWF’s Press Room blogger Bridget Lutherborrow reviewed both events (Coming of Queerness and It’s All in the Family).

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