Saturday, February 22, 2014
We've come a long way... Not!
It never ceases to amaze me how self-deluded Australian society can be. This is a society in which racism, sexism and homophobia is rampant; but which vehemently denies that this is the case. We like to pretend to ourselves that we are a modern, liberal, morally advanced society. We are not. And this leads to some very peculiar contradictions.
Take this one example. This year, the fifteenth Brisbane Queer Film Festival is being held. For that we will no doubt pat ourselves on the back. See how wonderfully open-minded and forward thinking we are?
Then this happens. One of the billboards to advertise the festival carried this image:
Brisbane Lifestyle Committee (whatever the hell that is) Chair, Krista Adams, said that the Brisbane Council requested a stop on this billboard. ‘We are mindful of the community’s views and believe that one of the three posters may be seen by many as too confronting,’ she said (Courier Mail online, Feb 21, 2014 12.03 pm). One person commented on my Facebook page that she didn’t think it was appropriate for children to see it. Incidentally, she wasn’t Australian.
Would anyone think this was too explicit or too confronting if it were an image of a man and woman? Of course not! So what is the difference? The difference is that many Australians remain uncomfortable with demonstrations of affection between men (at least). We are far from accepting this, except in carefully controlled and delimited arenas, such as gay parades and gay film festivals. As a nation we are supposed to be seriously considering the introduction of same sex marriage. How can we do that when two men kissing is considered confronting? When, for some reason (what reason, one wonders) it is considered inappropriate for children to witness outward manifestations of affection between men?
Drop the pretense, Australia. As a society we are nowhere near as open and liberal as we like to believe.