Same-sex relationships: how inclusive do you think you are?

Image Credit: @maxphotostudio

I tend to categorise others by one criteria: whether they are good people or bad people. I would like to think I am a good friend and that I don’t see a person’s to a group before I see them, the way they are. I’d like to think that I am inclusive. And yet, sometimes, I find myself asking whether I am inclusive enough.

The question I have for you today is: how inclusive do you think you are when it comes to same sex couples? My answer has always been that everyone is free to love the one that makes them happy. Some of my best friends have been in decades long, loving same-sex relationships that are only going stronger as the years go by. On the same token, I have seen heterosexual marriages dissolving faster than a Berocca in a half empty glass. I don’t think that gender is the main ingredient in a relationship. Love is. I have always believed that with all my might

Yet recently, three different events made me question my own integrity and realise that no matter how inclusive I might think I am, I am also subject to society’s bias towards reflecting the same-sex relationships

After a long introspection, my answer to my own query was that if we really are inclusive, maybe we should stop singularising the same sex relationships and see them just as they are: a normal relationship between two people who love each other.

But more about this later.

The three events were not related to each other in any way, but connected to this topic.

First, there was a dream. I dreamt that a woman kissed me. (I have never seen this woman in real life, but that is not relevant)

The thought I woke up with wasn’t ‘what would Freud think about this?’ but rather “wow. I just realised I don’t know how gay women protect themselves from STD’s’

This was the first time I  realised how uneducated I am on this topic. Luckily I have great friends who put the record straight for me.

The second event was watching a movie. I found God’s Own Country on Netflix while looking for something to distract myself while I was nervously waiting for the results of some medical investigations.

What attracted me in the brief description was that the story involved a Romanian immigrant who is teaching an English farmer to love. I told myself, ‘well, I would love to see that. I am sick and tired of seeing my birth country and countrymen portrayed in dark colours. This sounds interesting’. And interesting it was. The movie doesn’t mince words, calling a cock for what it is and it certainly doesn’t embellish things, portraying the dating life of a young English farmer, from the random encounters in the pub toilets to finding love in the person of a paid worker, hired to help around the farm

My first thought was wow, this is a bit confronting. And as soon as I thought it, I caught myself. Why is it that we are so used to see hot steaming heterosexual sex scenes in the movies that we don’t even think much of it anymore? Yet as soon as the couple is changed and two gay men fill your screen, we avert our eyes.

In my case, it is also a little bit of old-school prudery. As a photographer, I know I will never be able to do male nudes because I am incredibly shy as soon as a shirt comes off, even if it’s a friend.

But my reaction to this movie was also due to that social bias that I was talking about. I have seen my gay friends kissing each other and holding hands and it always filled me with happiness. It’s normal and healthy for a relationship to show affection towards each other.

However, this movie took upon itself to normalise gay relationships in ways we aren’t really seeing them on the screen. It shows everything: the pursuing, the one night stands, the sex scenes, the aftermath of love-making..

It made me think how little thought producers are giving to inclusion. It is much easier to show a woman’s naked body and cash in rather than educate the public and fight for diversity.

The third event related to this topic was a conversation I overheard accidentally. A group of girls were talking about same-sex relationships from the perspective of being a gay woman. It wasn’t a bad conversation. The comments were not derisive and it probably wouldn’t be an out of ordinary talk, if it wasn’t for the age of the girls.

Hearing children aged seven to nine talking about same sex relationships, using proper words (lesbian, gay) and articulating what love means gave me hope. The hope that the future will bring that much needed inclusion.

As it is now, acceptance is not enough.

Akka Ballenger

I love telling stories through my lenses. When I was 6, my Dad gave me my first 35mm camera. It was love at first sight.

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