A Minority of One – Words from Magda Szubanski

563531_514563085254755_347278725_n

“The crucial difference between Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bi-Sexual, Intersex and Questioning people and other minorities is this:

In every other minority group the family shares the minority status.

In fact it is often something that unites them.

But gay people are a minority group within the family.

A minority of one.

It means, among many things, that gay children cannot draw on the collective family wisdom about how to deal with their minority status.

No one else in the family has experienced what the gay child is going through.

Worse still: all through our growing up, from the instant we realize we are gay, we live with the gnawing fear that our parents’ love could turn to hatred in an instant.

Intangible prejudice pervaded everything.

Lesbian characters in films or books were creepy, psychotic, jealous, scheming, neurotic, humorless, bitter, barren and died horribly.

In The Children’s Hour Shirley MacLaine hangs herself in shame; June Buckridge gets her ‘just deserts’ in The Killing of Sister George.

The dream of a long gay life filled with love was entirely absent from the culture we consumed.

And worst of all, many of us internalized the bullshit.

We took the loathing into ourselves.

Some of us, God help us, believed it to be true.

Like a greedy parasite this self-hatred attached itself to every other doubt and fear we had about ourselves, amplifying it, extending it, giving it power.

Until we were colonized by our own contempt for ourselves.

A lucky few escaped this scourge.

Some, for whatever reason, never succumbed: for them being gay was not an issue.

I wasn’t one of the lucky few”

Coming out.

It sounds like making your debut.

But for gay people there was no party, no celebration, no welcoming into the bosom of our family and our community.

We came out and waited for the brickbats.

We came out not knowing if, at the end of it, we would still have a family, a community.

Some people were convinced that it would kill their parents.

Some of my friends have been with their partners for twenty years and more, and their parents still don’t know they are lovers.

That constriction, that inability to be open with the people we love more than anything in the world, corrodes the soul.

My generation of gay people are sometimes like the walking wounded.

As teenagers, closeted and terrified, most of us never learned to weather the ups and downs of dating.

Mine was probably the last generation in Australia for whom the idea of widespread public support for homosexuals was unimaginable. It is not so long ago that gays were subjected to aversion therapy – which is to say electric shocks to the genitals.

This is to say: torture.

The best we could hope for was not getting beaten up, being grudgingly tolerated and allowed to form gay ghettos in neighborhoods where the rent was low and the crime rate high.

We were inured to the meagre array of career prospects.

Theatre, hairdressing and interior design for the guys.

Stage management, security companies and social work for the women.

Talents withered.

People led double lives and lived in terror of blackmailers.

The victimization was one thing.

The propaganda was almost worse.

We were blamed for the transience of our relationships, the illnesses we contracted, for pestilence, misfortune and bad weather.

And, perhaps most damaging of all, we were told that we were predatory.

That our sexual desires were not only unnatural but that we were child abusers.

Even before AIDS we were seen as a contagious illness.

In a supreme irony, proselytising Christian missionaries accused us of recruiting.”

The above words are quotes from Magda Szubanski  wonderful auto biography “Reckoning”.

Women and Autism – How one woman’s letter to a psychologist finally helped her receive an ASD diagnosis after years of personal invalidation.

1234823_10151895571469903_347403484_n

This amazing letter was written by a woman who suspected that she may be on the Autism Spectrum, prior to meeting her psychologist for the first time. Here’s what she had to say.

“Dear Dr L—

I hope in this letter I can give you a more thorough explanation of how I feel, the way these feelings affect me and why I think a diagnosis and continued support would be beneficial to me.

I have an over-active mind and experience high anxiety.

I constantly see things at multiple levels, including thinking processes and analyse my existence, the meaning of life, the meaning of everything continually.

Nothing is taken for granted, simplified, or easy.

Everything is complex.

Being serious and matter-of-fact has caused me many problems and I have been told on numerous occasions that I come across as rude and/or abrupt.

Every year my work progress development report says that I would benefit from some kind of people management course, which to date has never happened.

Making friends or developing relationships has always been and still is very difficult for me.

As a child, I was convinced that I was away the day everyone decided who they would be friends with.

This has always been an area that has caused me confusion.

I still have a constant feeling that I am misplaced, isolated, overwhelmed, and have been plopped down in the wrong universe.

If I had friends, my tendency was to blindly follow wherever they went and to escape my own identity by taking on theirs.

I dressed like them, spoke like and adapted myself to his/her likes and dislikes.

I have had a couple of “friends” in my life for a very long time but I mostly talk to them online as I do not like leaving the comfort of my safe environment.

Even with people I know well I do not like being in their houses as my anxiety levels hit the roof.

I get agitated and uncomfortable not knowing what to say, what to do, if I’ve over stayed my welcome or would it be rude if I left now, have I stayed long enough.

This leads to seriously high stress levels, nasty thoughts in my head, sweating, increased heart rate and a sudden urgency to flee.

When I know I don’t have to be anywhere, talk to anyone, answer any calls, or leave the house, I can take a deep breath and relax.

Even something as simple as a self-imposed obligation, such as leaving the house to walk the dog can cause extreme anxiety.

It’s more than just going out into society; it’s all the steps that are involved in leaving–all the rules, routines, and norms.

Choices can be overwhelming: what to wear, to shower or not, what to eat, what time to be back, how to organize time, how to act outside the house….all these thoughts can pop up.

I struggle when I’m out with sounds, textures, smells and tastes, which in turn creates a sense of generalized anxiety and/or the sense that I am always unsafe or in pending danger, particularly in crowded public places.

There have been times in crowded places like shops where the confusion and anxiety has gotten so high that I have had to just say “I need to go” and have walked out and straight to the car to gather my thoughts and calm down.

Counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging, numbers brings me some ease and has been with me ever since I can remember.

Over the years I have sought out answers as to why I seemed to see the world differently than others, only to be told I’m an attention seeker, paranoid, hypochondriac, or too focused on diagnoses and labels.

My personhood was challenged on the sole basis that I “knew” I was different but couldn’t prove it to the world.

My personhood was further oppressed as I attempted to be and act like someone I’m not.

I have children diagnosed with ASD and am concerned that I am not doing the best for them due to my own inhibitions.

Still I question my place in the world, even more so now that my son has a diagnosis of ASD and I see so many similarities between what he’s going through and my own personal experiences.

How can I help them to adapt and learn when I don’t know myself how to deal with the situations that are causing them the most problems?

I would really benefit from help in learning to deal with my issues.

Now that I understand the Autism Spectrum and am convinced I am well within the spectrum, the hope is that I will get support and advice can benefit me and allow me to help my children.

My hope is that through diagnosis and the support that should follow; I will be able to work on the areas that I lack the necessary skills for dealing with society, in.

If I can get help for myself it will put me in a better position to guide and help my children.

Apologies for the lengthy explanation, I hope I have given you the information you were seeking. If not please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Amanda”

 

Amanda is sharing this letter in the hope that it may help other woman avoid some of the pain and confusion she’s experienced in her own life. Thank you so much for your willingness to help others Amanda ❤