by Mr Wainscotting
Today, 21st September is the UN International Day of Peace, and Save the Children have asked bloggers around new zealand to blog about what it means to them, so I thought I might chime in with my interpretation of a queer perspective.
In this country, we are in a pretty happy position with regards to queer rights, when compared to some other countries, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a long way to go.
So, what does peace mean to me? It’s an interesting question, as I find the concept kind of vague. I suppose, from a queer perspective — my queer perspective, I should hasten to add — it would mean that we can live in a world free from discrimination, free from violence, free from the threat of violence (both implied and inferred), and able to live unrestricted in how we identify and whom we love.
To teach children in schools, right from when they start, the diversity of sexuality and gender — show them that we are natural, and teach them to be accepting right from the start. The more exposed to the concepts they are, and the more diversity is affirmed and respecting, the less queerphobic they will be as adults.
To have gender neutral passports, and have legal documents reflect the complexities of sex and gender, not just two exclusive options, and the ability to change it at will to reflect your identity. To be able to move from country to country without having to worry about customs officials subjecting you to demeaning searches because you don’t match the little letter on your passport.
To be able to publicly identify as queer (or any shade therein), and celebrate our relationships without the threat of attack.
To not have our identities and relationship statuses second guessed or redefined by those who’s privilege affords them the luxury of fitting easily into one of society’s rigidly defined boxes.
There’s a lot of room for improvement in this country, even though we are worlds ahead of places like Uganda or Iran in terms of queer rights.
Peace is brought about by encouraging all people to love and respect one another; to recognise and affirm our differences, not just tolerate them. It’s by ensuring that everyone has enough to eat, and a comfortable home, and don’t have to fight their neighbours for essential resources. It’s about recognising everyone as equal under the law, and ensuring the law will step up when that equality is missing.
In new zealand, were far from the situation in places like Darfur or Iraq, our lives aren’t surrounded by war and conflict, and we’re in a very privileged position to avoid such wars outright. In contrast, we’re a very peaceful nation — in fact, we’re often ranked as one of the beacons of peacefulness. But if we’re going to retain that status, then we need to set the bar very high indeed. One place to start is full legal and social equality regardless of class, race, sexuality or gender.