Hi, my name’s Annaliese, I am 31, and I’m a community health worker, and I have four nephews and a niece on the way, and I love my little dog Peanut, he’s a Chihuahua.
Well I guess like subtle experiences of discrimination are really hard to pinpoint, because they’re kind of every day and it’s in lots and lots of different experiences like when I go with a partner and I go to a hotel, and I get a funny look because we’ve booked a room with a double bed, and they look us up and down because we’re, you know, it’s two women.
Or the way that I might be interacting with somebody in a shop, and then my partner will come in or in some way I’ll indicate that I’m gay, and then the way that they’re dealing with me changes. And you can’t really call them on it, because it’s not overt, it’s not obvious, and people will deny it anyway. So there’s that kind of thing that happens every day. And I think those build up, and it happens so often that it feels it’s just a regular day for me and my friends to experience that discrimination.
But every single day that discrimination’s like a little stone, and it just fills up this stone and then another stone and then another one, and then you end up having this wheelbarrow full of stones from every day you’re experiencing this subtle discrimination. And you’ve realised you’re pushing around this wheelbarrow full of stones with a flat tyre, because it’s so heavy you can’t carry the weight anymore.
I think the way that discrimination has affected my mental health is that well I mean there’s a couple of different ways. But one of them is that even if I were to experience depression or anxiety, and it was completely separate from the discrimination I experienced. Then that day when I finally convince myself to come out of the house when I’m feeling super low, and I can’t really cope with too much, when I come into the world I have a lower threshold for pain and for hurt. And sometimes I’m faced with discrimination and that just sends me straight back inside, and sends me deeper into the depression I was already in.
When I had my first bout of intense depression and struggling with my mental health really came about after my first break up with my first girlfriend, and I had just come out to everybody that I knew in about a two week period, I was really excited, I was really in love, I wanted to share that love with everybody that I knew, and that relationship ended as they do. And then I felt completely isolated, I didn’t think the way that I needed people to talk to about my relationship, I didn’t think that my friends had taken the relationship seriously, I didn’t think they understood the significance of this relationship or also the significance of my coming out.
Another example of some discrimination that I’ve experienced is, I was once at a party, I was at an event and I’d been raising money for an H.I.V. Aids organisation. And I went outside and I was needing to catch a taxi, so I would get home safely with the money on me. And when I went outside the venue, the event that was on was a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender event. People were dressed up in lots of amazing costumes and looked really beautiful and glamorous, and also would have been probably identifiable to the mainstream public as being left of the field or not mainstream.
And as I was talking to the taxi driver he clocked behind me, that there were two guys that were making out, they were gay guys, he slammed his foot on the accelerator, my arm got trapped in the door, and I got dragged along the road for 25 metres. The bottom of my shoe was ripped off, gone to the Police about it, but we can’t find any of the footage from outside the pub. And I believe that that was a reaction from the taxi driver about seeing what kind of person is this about to get in my taxi, what kind of people is this person associating themselves with, I don’t want that kind of person in my taxi.
I do lots of things to try to help with my anxiety and my depression, and my mental health in general. I try to make sure I get outside, I try to eat well, I try to get exercise, I try to see my friends and have things to look forward to, I talk to my friends, I see my G.P. regularly, I talk to her about what’s going on for me. I have a check up even when I’m feeling fine, even when I don’t have a physical health issue, I go in and I see her and I talk to her about what’s been going on for me, how’s my medication going. So another way that I manage my mental health is by taking regular medication, anti anxiety and anti depressant medication.
I see a counsellor regularly, so I see them once a week. In times of crisis, I will call counselling lines and ones that are 24/7, so that I know that at any point on any day, there is always somebody available for me to talk to, so that I don’t feel alone.
On a one on one basis what I would like to see changed as an individual in society, what people could do is really think about the jokes that they make or the language that they use, or the assumptions that they make about people’s relationships or people’s sexuality or gender. And I think that’s for everyone, from a preschool teacher to a labourer to a politician, to absolutely everyone needs to be conscious of that, and how the way they live their lives impacts on how other people can live their lives.
And I think that the other thing I’d like to see change, is that for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in community, I would like to see us be able to say no, we won’t accept it, even if you are going to discriminate against us, I’m not going to turn that in against myself. I’m not going to hate myself and I’m not going to try to change who I am to suit what you want, because I’m here and I’m fabulous.
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