From the stats of this blog, it goes largely unread by the universe and so acts as my personal diary.
A lot is being rewritten about the 1978 Mardi Gras demo as this year is its 40th anniversary. A film has been written called Riot, centred on a strong personality of the time: Lance Gowland. He like all the rest of us in Sydney Gay Lib were against the patriarchy and therefore against monogamy, its obvious format.
Yet many of us drifted into patterns where we would set up house as couples, and more or less consciously learn the dynamic and limitations of relationships. As gay men we had no role models to follow. My parents were dysfunctional, they had hardly survived the traumas of their own upbringing and expulsion from WW2 Europe; as a couple they were mismatched. When people were made aware that my friend and I were living together they would speculate as to which of us “played?” the “wife”; a very wry speculation, certainly unappreciated.
Even when the relationship retained its intensity circumstances would intrude and we might find ourselves parted. From time to time, however, either of us made the effort to make contact. I became aware of a particular, unique language we spoke together, like a separate country, population 2. It was like that John Donne poem, where he describes his lover thus: “Oh my America, my new-found land”.
Others might have seen the situation as two people staying together from a lack of initiative or ability to try something new? A young executive neighbour lately, who is the same age my friend and I were at the start of our relationship, put it to me that he soon tired of people and found himself moving on; words to that effect.
Conversely, I have spent nights in saunas and seen a couple who have just fucked intensely; courted, consummated and been in love all their lives. Who knows, it might well have become a lifelong passion. Someone did say once, that a good step to finding out if a couple were compatible was if they fucked successfully. The sexual act after all is an important type of communication in a relationship: spiritual, emotional, verbal, as well as physical. I also practise my singing voice none too musically in those moments.
Far be it for me to deny the wealth of enthusiasm and passion we saw when the SSM bill was passed in the House of Reps; when Tim Wilson proposed to his loved one. I dissolve in tears just remembering. Clearly, a contemporary generation sees the situation as losses restored and sorrows ended. However, even with things as they stand, the forces of bigoted evangelical conservatism immediately jumped to the challenge to redress things: a bill protecting religious freedoms.
For SS couples so many challenges lie ahead: school events where parents and students have to attend; okay for liberated areas. What about more conservative ones? What about young LGBTIQ, especially young trans students; the possibility of bullying? Staff shortages are acute and a bullied student tends to withdraw inwards unquestioningly rather than refer things to an authority and risk further conflict.
Relationships are built up slowly, over years, a mutual language learned, a dynamic of boundaries set up. I wish newly wed couples all the best on this 40th Mardi Gras anniversary weekend.