Dancing in the Dark

From the outside, the Snoezelen Room at the Gold Coast’s Mudgeeraba Special School (MSS) doesn’t look like much. The room’s padlocked entrance is almost creepy, resembling a fire exit that’s been bolted up. As she fiddles with the large master locks, head of curriculum Nicole Belous explains this actually used to be a garage. I think to myself that if I were a kid being led into this room, I’d probably be freaking out right now.

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Diversity: Everyone Benefits

This was originally delivered as a speech. I was asked to address the national conference for Family Relationships Services Australia (FRSA) at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) on Wednesday 3 November. You can read about the fallout from this speech here. This speech was subsequently published on Crikey.

Good evening. I’d like to begin the evening by respecfully acknowledging the traditional owners of this land on which we’re gather, both past and present, as it’s a great pleasure and honour to be speaking to you all here tonight. As you’re aware by now, the theme of this year’s FRSA conference is “Diversity: Everyone Benefits.” Bonnie Montgomery, the Communications Officer of FRSA, told me they were looking for someone to talk about—and represent—diversity. And so, they immediately reached for the nearest young Asian homosexual. Several minority groups, and only one stone.

Bonnie, well done. I hope I represent good value. Continue reading

Up Close and Personal, with Margaret Andrews

Something strange happened to me the other evening. I’m still not exactly sure why or how it happened—I’m still trying to unravel it all in my brain—but what I can confirm is Shadow Minister for Family Services Kevin Andrews doesn’t like me, and that his wife Margaret Andrews—a traditional marriage and pro-life advocate—likes me even less. To be precise, she thinks I’m “disgusting”. She told me this to my face, along with many other things, which I’ve recorded in loving detail below. Margaret, I’m not sure where we went wrong. For the record, I wish we could have been friends.

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Welcome to Ageing

Several months ago, my youngest sister threw a party. Back then, I didn’t know her friends too well, but it wasn’t long before my boyfriend and I got caught up in a conversation that was friendly and foul-mouthed in equal measure: our favourite kind of chat. We all started talking about our lives—their undergraduate studies; our daytime jobs—until I must have said something that made them look at us with suspicion.

“Wait a minute,” they said. “Exactly how old are you guys?” Slowly, we told them our ages—I’m turning 28 this year—which prompted something odd to happen. Everyone began to shriek. And by “shriek”, I mean that what came out of their mouths was truly awful: scandalised, wraith-like howls that you’d only make in the presence of Death. For the first time ever, we were the oldest people in the room. I’d hit my late 20s and was already a goddamned hag.

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When I Was 20-Something: Maggie Beer (interview)

My parents lost their business and went bankrupt, so I left school at 14. It meant I had totally unformed ideas of what I could do, so I tried a million things. Back then, ingenuity and quick brains could get you into all sorts of positions. So, in my 20s, I talked myself into jobs as an assistant to a geophysicist in Libya, a cook in a sailing school and an air hostess with British Airways. There was nothing stopping you, because there were so many options. They just needed bright young people.

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Facts of Life: My First Encounter with the Birds and the Bees

In the early 90s, my embarrassed Year 3 classmates were given permission slips for their parents to sign, so they could watch VHS copies of Where Did I Come From? and What’s Happening to Me? These were tame sex education cartoons, featuring footage of smiley-faced ovaries and cats falling in love. Personally, I found none of this necessary. My family was open about sex from Day One—possibly too open. We’d spend our evenings making pots of tea, before gathering around the television to watch informative segments about anal pleasure on Sophie Lee’s Sex. It’s what we called Family Time.

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