I apologise for the informality of how I address.
But I think of you often. And I always call you George.
My name may sound familiar, as last year I wrote a Facebook post about your trolling of female journalists, and I was banned from your page. Still, my Facebook post went on to be shared and viewed by more people than you currently have as Facebook fans.
Last year I was saddened by your misogyny.
This year, I am saddened by your homophobia.
About a 71 year old veteran who hijacked his wife’s Facebook account so he could defend his gay son to you after you inferred that homophobia = pedophilia. Which is ridiculous and offensive and so very incorrect.
And as I read that article, I thought:
I know this young man.
We were both raised in Proserpine, that small hamlet of 4,000 people.
We both went to Proserpine State High School.
Growing up as a hippy weirdo like me was tough in that small, regional country town… but it would be nowhere near as hard as growing up gay there.
It took me years to get over my time at Proserpine High. For some reason, the waters in regional areas seem to breed a kind of homogeny, and that if you fall outside the lines of normal, you are fiercely and violently railed against. It’s so indoctrinated that teenagers who barely know what life is know enough to punish those who fall outside the lines.
It’s like the famous social experiment of five monkeys and a ladder.
“A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top.
Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.
After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up.
After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation.
The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.
After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.
The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.
What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.
If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on all those who attempted to climb the ladder, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”
I don’t know why I fell outside the lines, honestly.
What ladder I was trying to climb that pissed the monkeys off.
I didn’t identify as gay. I didn’t really identify as anything, except myself.
Perhaps it was because I was arty and geeky and uncool. Perhaps it was because I cut my hair short and died it with food colouring – blue one day, pink the next. Perhaps because I was an undiagnosed Aspie. Perhaps because I was smart, in a place that took great pride in tearing down tall poppies.
If I had been a boy, I would have been beaten.
Instead, I had food and rubbish thrown at me. When I walked through school, strangers would stop to yell “freak!” or “scrubber!”
I wasn’t gay, but I wasn’t in that tight, tight realm of what constituted “normal”.
And I was firmly, repetitively, over and over reminded again and again that I wasn’t allowed to be who I was.
And so I ran.
I sent myself to boarding school for the last two years. I got a scholarship, and I got the fuck out.
I ran away to places that are okay with someone who falls a little bit outside the bell curve of normal.
I’m glad I did.
Because it’s being outside the bell curve that has brought me the greatest amount of joy and success in my life. It’s precisely because of my oddnesses, my artsiness, my Aspie-ness that I’ve become a best-selling author with books read by over a quarter of a million worldwide, why I’ve been a finalist for Australian Business Woman of the Year and Ausmumpreneur of the Year, why I was a self-made millionaire by the time I was 30, why I’ve been able to donate so much to philanthropy, and most of all, most importantly – for me to have a joyfully happy life.
I get that not everyone gets to run away.
And that it took me years of healing to really know that it was good and wonderful and okay for me to be me.
Despite what the monkeys told me, I am good enough. I am lovable. I am allowed to be all of me. That those things that make me ME are not my greatest vulnerability, they are my greatest strength.
George, I know you drank the water.
I know the monkeys taught you to pull other monkeys off the ladder too.
The monkeys told you it was unsafe for you or anyone to be outside the realms of strictly normal.
And so you can keep saying the same words, over and over.
Being gay is bad. Being a woman is bad. Being Muslim is bad.
I know you must be scared. I’m so sorry if you are.
The world is changing, honey.
And being gay, Muslim, a woman, or just plain weird is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s just the way it needs to be.
Less than 50 years ago, Australia’s Indigenous population wasn’t allowed to vote.
Less than 120 years ago, women couldn’t vote.
These facts seem insane now. What were we thinking?
The same will be true in 20 years when we look back at this flawed, confused time in history, when gay people weren’t allowed to marry.
The times are changing.
Love is now the front page story.
It’s okay to change your mind honey.
It’s okay – you got confused. You got shown by other monkeys that it wasn’t safe to be outside of normal, so now you are just trying to teach the same.
But it’s not working.
It’s okay to realise that you might be hurting more people than you are helping.
You’ve inspired me today George.
I felt about all the pain I had in my childhood.
And I thought about how much worse even still it is for kids who feel even more unsafe, unsupported and unloved because of their sexuality. This is what LGBT teens feel like in Mackay, George.
And, inspired by you, I’ve donated $1,000 to Minus18.org.au, which supports LGBTI teens in Australia.
I’m going to send you this in the mail as well:
It’s not often I send love letters to politicians, but I feel you deserved it.
You can keep speaking out in ignorance and in fear.
But I want you to know you aren’t hardening my heart.
You are making me love more, support more, care more, and do more.
It’s safe to climb the ladder, George.
P.S. To anyone out there… who feels unsupported, unsafe or unloved… I just want you to know that I give so very many fucks about you. And I’m so so sorry you are going through this. And I promise you… you are loved, and you are lovable, and you are allowed to be who you are. And things will change, I promise you. They are. Not as fast as they should be. But they will.
LOVE WILL WIN, MOTHHHHERFUCKKKKKKKERSSSSSS!