If you’re like me, you’ve been wondering with trepidation what will happen when the Gaypocalypse finally strikes. Are fudge-packers, nancy-boys, and pillow-biters all names for the same thing, or do they signify a hierarchy of types and sizes, like orcs? Which are most dangerous? Do bull dykes breed with bull queers? That seems anti-intuitive. And where do the Poohole Pirates come in? Are they like the Men of Harad? What about elephants? Will there be elephants? Will they be pink? Will we be forced to toil in underground sequin mines while Freddy Mercury lashes us with moustachioed falsetto arpeggios? And dear God, why didn’t we listen to Fred Nile?
Thank the Lord we’ve got an unlikely band of warrior heroes placing themselves between us and gaystruction. The Elven Queen Miranda Devine will brew arcane potions, able to fuse completely unrelated concepts with the power of saying she’s a Catholic. Barnaby Joyce will club any stray bits of logic that escape, while Action Bob Katter will ride in on the white bull Shadowhats, wielding the Black Rubber Fist-Pump of Infinite Justice.
And weren’t they active last week? Laying down the early markers in the fight to preserve our grandchildren’s grandchildren’s right to feel guilty and ashamed. Katter and Joyce got busy at an anti-gay-marriage rally in Canberra organised by that font of Messianic compassion, the Australian Christian Lobby. Devine got busy in the confines of her print column. We’ll put up with your weird ways, went the Trio’s message, as long as you remember that your relationships will never quite measure up to ours.
Now, saying that Katter is crazy is like saying the ocean is sizeable: he doesn’t care as long as you’re not a poof. Not that he knows what they look like, because there aren’t any in Queensland. Five-star rating site The Spontaneity Review summed up Katter well: “There’s a big part of me that really enjoys the sheer batshit insanity that his presence entails. However the most absurd part of the Katter phenomenon is that I trust him… he’s the kind of crazy where you can predict to an extent what he is going to be crazy about.”
His wingman is of a different stripe. If you dug to the bottom of Patrick Bateman’s subconscious, you’d find Barnaby Joyce, trapped in amber, face locked in an eternal Munchian scream. He has an uncanny ability to take a piece of information, and then extrapolate a random conclusion from it, in such a swift and absent arc of reasoning that the universe’s wormholes tremble in the void.
“My mother and father were married. Mum and Dad. I know what a marriage is,” he told the assembled throng. I know what childbirth was in nineteen-fifty-blot, too, Barney: get a basin of hot water and some towels and hope she lived. That may not entirely imply that it’s the way forward.
He pressed on with a reference to his daughters. “We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband and I want that to happen for them. I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me.”
Here you get the full glory of the Joyce mind-turbine in motion. One, letting gay people get married will automatically remove that right from straight people. It’s in the small print, trust us. Two, gayness naturally corrodes secure hetero relationships. It does this by emitting an unusually high concentration of fabulon, a not-so-Noble gas. Three, a woman’s primary need in life is protection by a strong man, because God knows those Mongols have been stirring of late.
And four? The love lives of his adult children are something over which Barnaby personally has rights. They’re only women, for Christ’s sake, you can’t have them running around untethered…
Katter, never afraid to be late to any party, demanded that we take the word ‘gay’ back. “Nobody has the right to take that word off us!” he said, thankfully reinforcing the neglected notion of an us-and-them divide.
Katter will also agitate for the return to hetero culture of the words ‘divine’, ‘caramel’, and ‘docking’, as well as leather chaps, jaunty scarves, the rainbow, decorative butt plugs, sack-waxes, and the nothin’-suss man-on-man wristy (sometimes after a few weeks out bush you just need a quick swag-rustler, y’know? It’s not poofter unless you say the bloke’s name.)
Devine, meanwhile, was writing a two-pronged piece lamenting the rise of a “fatherless society” as the cause of the London riots, and discussing Penny Wong’s prospective baby. She then put on her bright yellow Outrage hat when people suggested she was linking the two. (For reference, apparently disagreeing with Miranda Devine is the definition of “left-wing”.)
Devine didn’t pin the riots on lesbians, as some (mostly satirical) readings implied, but she did use the concept of fatherlessness to equate a struggling, poverty-stricken, single-parent, housing commission existence with a loving, stable, and wealthy upbringing by two women.
Good parenting relies on good parents. No-one could care less about the categories you sort them into than their own children.
Even Devine was falling over her contradictions. “Wong and her partner, Sophie Allouache, will no doubt be fine mothers, with the financial and personal competence to provide their child a stable, loving upbringing,” she wrote as she concluded, leading one to ponder the purpose of the preceding 872 words.
A good number of those words were spent talking down gay marriage. After careful study, at least five of them proved to be accurate. “The issue is largely symbolic,” said Devine. Yes, it is. It symbolises acceptance of people who have historically been persecuted. And it costs nothing of anyone else.
Which brings us to the crux of the whole issue – the perplexing question of why anyone would need to oppose it in the first place.
It’s frustrating. Argue against that opposition, and you’re tagged as an ‘advocate’. I don’t advocate gay marriage any more than I advocate eating potato salad for breakfast. I just think it makes zero sense for other people to campaign against it. What the fuck do you care? Eat your cornflakes and shut your stupid-hole.
The argument, it seems, is that by eating something else, other people compromise Barnaby Joyce’s fundamental concept of breakfast. Joyce & Co. have an idea of what breakfast is – toast, cereal, glass of orange juice, perhaps – and different configurations, however remote, threaten its very breakfastness.
Well, guess what? In France they have a bowl of hot chocolate for breakfast. In Argentina they have a tiny croissant and a tiny coffee and wonder why everyone is angry until lunchtime. In Brazil they have ham and cheese rolls and blended açai berries. In Yorkshire they have blood sausage. None of which make your breakfast back in Queensland any less your breakfast.
Arguments that “the definition of marriage is between a man and blahcetera” are facile. Words do not dictate the form of what they describe, they shift meaning as their subject does. Language has always been fluid – ‘Brazilian’ gets co-opted by beauticians, ‘facial’ gets taken away from them. The fact that you understand a word to mean a certain thing does not oblige it to do so in perpetuity.
Or if you insist on playing dictionary, try the Complete Oxford: “To unite intimately, join closely or permanently.” Ideas can be married. Ropes can be married. Couples can be married. Gender doesn’t come into it.
Not to mention that half of Australia’s hetero marriages end in divorce, and given domestic abuse, emotional cruelty, infidelity, and stagnant dissatisfaction, a stack of the other half really should. Good, functional, long-running marriages are like late-round Survivor contestants. Calling that institution the solid foundation of anything is wishful thinking.
Then there are sidetrack arguments, like the behaviour of lobbyists. Sure, various things about the gay lobby are irritating. GLBTI sounds like a toasted sandwich. Discussing Bert and Ernie’s marital status is mind-bendingly trivial. Like any activists, some are shrill and self-righteous and annoying. Some people associated with a cause don’t actually help it. Hello, Miranda.
But here’s the great shock for the likes of Joyce, Katter, and Devine. The gay lobby does not equal gay people. Those people are many and varied. (And no, a toasted sandwich is not when three wasted guys get it on.)
Gay people are also… people. Try it without the adjective. And the way they live, love, and define their relationships is, I’m sorry to say, not the slightest shred of your business.
But the things you say and do still affect them, which is the real reason this is worth talking about. Gay teenagers attempt suicide at an estimated ten times the rate of straight kids. Katter has campaigned extensively on high suicide rates in regional areas, as evidence of city politicians letting country people down. This should be an issue close to his heart.
As Tom Ballard’s video response to Devine suggested, every column like hers, every soundbite like Katter’s, is saying to those kids (and the peers who make their lives miserable) that no matter how hard they try, or how far they go, they will never quite be as good as ‘normal’ people. Their parenting, their relationships, their love, will always have a caveat attached. NQR. Slightly shop-soiled.
Like the wheelbarrow-load that greets Biff in Back to the Future III, it’s horseshit. The entire set of ACL-sponsored objections is. Strip back the self-justification, and boil it down to simple truths. What other people do in their own lives does not affect you. Other people getting married does not make you any more or less married. Your marriage is between you and one other person. That’s a wrap.
Or maybe not. Maybe the rainbow storm is brewing. Maybe the Four Hairstylists are about to saddle up their Vespas and mince across the sky. Maybe the demon-lord Xanadu is about to engulf us in streams of burning Swiss Navy lube. If so, then Joyce, Katter, and Devine will need to keep their strength up. Maybe some Weet Bix. A bowl of Bircher muesli with yoghurt. Bacon and eggs. Whatever you like. It’s breakfast. Make a choice and eat your own.