Yesterday was IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. A friend of mine was giving a speech for the occasion in a town some hours away, so I set off bright and early. Except it wasn’t bright at all, and arguably more late than early, because the moon was still in the sky when I left my house.
I’ve many happy childhood memories of time spent in that town, and it was a pleasure to return there in the company of people sporting rainbows and cheering on my friend. I never realise how much I miss that sense of community and closeness of small towns until I leave my big city. (‘This is Chally, she came here all the way from the city!’) Sydney is beautiful, but so cold in a lot of ways, each fighting for their own. And joy plunged into my heart to see my friend, as much as she hates cameras and public speaking, stand up in front of her friends, her family, her government, and say this is who I am, and my humanity deserves recognition.
On my way home, I stopped off to meet someone right in the fast and steely centre of my city. I felt at home, and also isolated and uncomfortable in a way I hadn’t felt in the early morning light of another town, unable to feel my toes and surrounded by kind strangers.
Home can be an uncomfortable place. Right on your doorstep, the moon can shine where you are used to seeing sun, and your world skews. Big cities can be lonely for all their size, and small communities may be where you belong even if they’re foreign to you. These are not direct metaphors. It’s just that it occurred to me, surrounded by people I’ll never know, that the whole day had been about homes and communities and fulfilment almost reached, finding beauty right alongside pain. That homes may not be home, and home is not guaranteed for so many queer and trans youth in particular. That you can travel far to find what’s right for you, or stand your ground, but fulfilment in a system that hates you is never going to be full. Your metaphors and your life are going to be mixed.
IDAHO – the fight for those whose lives lie outside normative paradigms of gender and sexuality – is about here, now, loving nevertheless, and working towards homes and lives that sit right.