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Your submissions: rurally-raised lesbian

Mon 11 Feb 2013 In: True Stories View at NDHA

I am a 26 year old female; I was born in the Taranaki, and raised on a farm in the South Waikato. I completed high school, went through tertiary education while working part-time from the age of 15, and have been working full time since the age of 19. And I happen to be gay. I have a job and work hard, like everyone else. I pay taxes and bills, like everyone else. I pay GST when I buy my food and petrol, like everyone else. I vote, like everyone else. I am called on for jury-duty, like everyone else. I support and love my friends and family, like everyone else. Yet I’m not allowed the same rights as everyone else. I am segregated, because of who I love. I haven’t committed a crime, I’m not a bad or dishonest person, I’m not an extremist nor am I anti-religion or anti-tradition. I fell in love, I found the person that I wish to share my life with, something that we all hope to do at some point in our lives. A person who is just as honest, hard-working, good and true as myself – am I blessed or what? That person hasn’t caused any harm, hasn’t committed crime, and contributes to society. Neither of us have done anything to deserve to be denied the rights that others in our country enjoy; however, this is the case. I grew up in a small, farming community. While I was well-liked and led a happy, fulfilled life during my teen years in this town, I was afraid to live truthfully. I couldn’t express who I was, what I felt and what I knew about myself that made such sense to me – because I was afraid. I remember in my town, a same-sex couple lived for a short time. Kids would throw apples at them as our bus drove past, tag and break into their house, destroy their gardens. Because people knew they were in love, and they didn’t approve (what an odd thing to judge another person for, being in love…though I ask where these children learned such hostility and discrimination?). I remember a girl transferring to my school, and leaving again mere months later due to the relentless bullying she experienced at the hands of my own classmates. There was no way I could live honestly when I knew the hostility that I would be met with. Our country suffers from one of the highest rates (statistically) of LGBT suicide in the world. Hostility, fear, discrimination, intolerance and inequality are players in this dangerous game. What if we were to show everyone, (from the highest point of our society) and lead as an example to the rest of the country and the world, that it’s actually pretty ok to be gay? To prove that a woman marrying the love of her life DOESN’T affect the lives of others, let alone destroy them. That ANYONE has the right to find love and happiness, and not have to experience daily prejudice. While my family have always loved me unconditionally, and want the absolute best for me, I knew them well enough to know what a shock it would be to them. I couldn’t hurt them like I feared I would, and I couldn’t bear the thought of them being distressed, embarrassed and anxious over something they hadn’t chosen for me. How would they tell their friends? How would they tell their family? I saw those two beautiful women who were simply in love, suffer from such unabashed abuse from both young and old – that could happen to my mother while she was grocery shopping. My dad could be questioned at Church on Sunday. How could I do that to them? So I decided to pretend for them. I had a long-term boyfriend, I spoke of marrying him. What a great solution – my parents would be happy to see me in a life they understood; there would be no fear and no hardship. I believe that if, at that time, same-sex marriage had been legal and the recognition of equality had begun then, I would have been less fearful of what could result if I came out. I believe that if we utilize the opportunity to implement the law change now and save countless LGBT people (especially youth) the angst, depression, self-hatred and fear I experienced in my youth, it could even save lives. Once I became unable to live with myself this way, it took years of soul-searching to decide to make the change and face up to the truth. They were the hardest years of my life. I was so very lucky to have a family that were open to learning about me, about who I was and why I had dealt with things the way I did. There was a long adjustment period, but that was it. A moment in time that was a bit hard, but blessedly easy compared to the difficulty of the previous years. Some kids aren’t so lucky. I met the love of my life. My family love her as much as I do, and we have a beautiful life here in Auckland. Now everything is right. Everything except how our relationship is recognised. I want my commitment to my partner to be recognised and protected by law, just as yours is. I want to stand on the same ground that you do. None of the arguments against legalizing same-sex marriage I have heard have been valid, nor have they been powerful. Marriage is NOT, by history, a religious institution. The LGBT community does NOT want to force churches in to letting us marry inside their buildings. We are NOT going to come in to the home of those who aren’t in favour of same-sex marriage, sit at the table and force the household into acknowledging our sexuality. Any children we bring into our relationship will NOT be negatively affected by having parents of the same sex. Research shows that a stable and supportive home life is the most important factor in child development. Regardless of the fact that there is two parents present, one of each sex or two of the same, one mother, one father or even aunts or grandparents, as a lot of kids are raised in families of all kinds in our modern time, kids need those basics. Some of the best parents I know are same-sex couples, despite the fact that each same-sex parent is not recognized in the same way as both heterosexual parents are. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions – but those opinions should not be allowed to dictate how other people live their lives. Our ability to marry will affect you in the same way yours affects us – very little. (Aside from the fact that we are treated as sub-human by being disallowed to be married, of course.) I think it would say wonderful things about our country in a way I believe New Zealand is more than ready for. We are supposed to be a forward-moving, modern, free country. Why can’t we show it in one of the most important and significant ways that we can? One law for love.     - 11th February 2013


First published: Monday, 11th February 2013 - 10:47am

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