Words || Bohdi Byles and Lesa Parker Lloyd
Background: IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia) is celebrated on May 17. While it’s a day recognised and celebrated in more than 130 countries by millions, it’s also a day that serves as a reminder. IDAHOT represents all people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms. The date itself represents the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation stopped looking at homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Discrimination and violence are very real issues faced on a day-to-day occurrence for many people in the community. 40% of the world population (2.8 billion people) are not free to choose who they love and can be criminalised. Police violence, state oppression, attacks, murders, stigmatised, ostracisation, bullying and cyberbullying are just a few of the multitude of issues that face sexual and gender minorities.
We can and should celebrate the progress and strides that the LGBTQ+ community has made in recent times. However, the journey forward is far from over and it would be ignorant to believe otherwise. This is what IDAHOT reminds us of – that humans deserve basic rights regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender identity or expression.
*This article was written by the Indigenous Student Association*
Bohdi Byles: I’m gay and I identify as genderfluid
My name is Bohdi, I’m 22, and I’m an Aquarius. Sounds boring and mundane, right, reading all these facts? I wish one day that when I say to people, “I’m Bohdi, I’m gay and I identify as genderfluid,” it’ll feel just as boring and mundane. I’m also Aboriginal, however I only found this out in 2011 when my Pop passed away (he was part of the Stolen Generation). I have no idea where my tribe is and where I’m from but one day, I’ll find them.
I came out as gay in 2012 when I started at MQ (and was also the moment I escaped high school and the bullies that told me that I should be burned alive and shot in the head). I was depressed and suicidal, I was scared that I would lose all my friends, that I would be ostracised socially and that I would be kicked out of home, but it just got too much that I came out. My mum’s response was “It’s about time. Now go clean your room” (I panicked for nothing) while my grandma’s response was “You’re going to get AIDS and die.” (Her perspective has shifted over time and she recently asked me how Mardi Gras was and said that people must be born this way).
I came out as genderfluid last year. It wasn’t until I heard the phrase, ‘genderfluid’ that it struck something deep in me that made me say at 2am to nobody, “that’s how I feel.” Fluidity in gender simply means on some days I feel more female than male, some days I feel more male than female, and some days I feel both at once. The concepts and discussions surrounding gender fascinate me. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Writing and Gender Studies, and in my spare time, I am currently writing a YA novel on transgender teens.
Since coming out, I can’t necessarily say life has changed too drastically in a physical sense. Emotionally and mentally however, it has. What helped me most was when I started looking into spirituality. It completely shifted my perspective, and made me realise perspective is everything. A quote that I live by from one of my most influential spiritual teachers is, “In this life, people will love you and people will hate you, and none of that will have anything to do with you.” It wasn’t until I took this on and realised that yes, people’s opinions about me do not make me who I am. What I feel makes me who I am, and I love who I am and am proud of who I am. So this is me in my entirety and it’s nice to meet you.
Lesa Parker Lloyd: I am a proud Bundjalung Aboriginal woman. I am a mother. I am queer and resisting. Always resisting.
I found these few hundred words incredibly difficult to write. Not because of the content but because I felt a burden of responsibility to be representative. After much internal conflict I concluded that I could only provide the reader with insight into my own story. My Identity is complex. I am a proud Bundjalung Aboriginal woman. I am a mother. I am queer and resisting. Always resisting.
I first came out in 1990. I say first because ‘coming out’ as anything other than what society has constructed as ‘the norm’ wasn’t heard of. When I first came out I wasn’t aware of what queer was. I just knew that how I perceived myself and how I wanted to love and be loved was not like the representations of life that I had seen around me.
In the 1990s, HIV/AIDS was impacting the gay and lesbian community that I lived in. Young men I knew were dying. I got involved with ACT-UP and the pride collective because at the time, homosexuality was illegal in Queensland. It was as an activist that I started to embrace queer. Queer for me is about me, not about who I may choose to have sex or play with. Queer has a history built on resistance. As an Aboriginal woman, I know resistance. Resistance may seem hard but it made me strong.