Soapbox. Prejudice: things are getting better


prejudice
Image: Destiny Rogers

Prejudice impacts terribly on people’s lives even when it falls short of violence. Destiny Rogers reflects on experiencing a lifetime of anti-LGBTQIA+ prejudice and the recent realisation that things can be so much better.

When you shit yourself…

As a cancer patient, when you cough and shit yourself and — unable to clean up — must rely on a stranger to do it, then you know what it’s like to have not a scrap of human dignity.

But when that stranger treats you with kindness, respect and compassion, it makes all the difference in the world.

I speak from experience.

For most of my 64 years on this planet, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I have been accustomed to being treated as a lesser being. I’m far from alone. It is the common plight of minority groups. And generally no big deal to me. It’s wrong and it’s irrational but I know the people who treat me and others as subhuman are f*cking morons. That consoles me somewhat.

Of course, it’s not everyone. I grew up with a mob of kids in a small country town who never excluded me or treated me as any lesser because I was different. They have remained consistently decent human beings all their lives. However, an unpleasant note intruded in Grade 11.

Strange logic

The school in my hometown only went to Junior so I did Grades 11 and 12 in a neighbouring town. On a school trip, two Grade 12 boys who considered themselves lords of our little universe, stripped me naked in a shower and held a razor to my dick. I was terrified. They abused me for being a girl while threatening to turn me into one. Strange logic.

A few months later, on the last school day of the year, we could wear what we liked. I wore a skirt and blouse. The same pair of thugs rounded up a gang to do something I’d heard of but regarded as urban myth. Shove my head in a toilet and ‘show me the goldfish’. After they left and I stopped vomiting, I washed my hair in a handbasin, dried my tears and went back to class apparently without a care in the world.

What was the f*cking point? A lesson many of us learned in those days. Ignore it. It won’t go away. But no one is coming to your rescue.

Both those boys are dead now. Occasionally I see their names mentioned with condolences and think ‘What a pair of c*nts’.

I’m not big on forgiveness. (But they died of natural causes, I swear.🤞🏼)

A lifetime of undeserved good health

At 64, I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of undeserved good health, avoiding hospital stays other than for nose and breast jobs (and possibly a facelift.🤐)

I enjoyed such good health I often told myself that one day karma would kick my arse in retribution.

And it did. This year I’ve spent weeks, nay months, in Queensland hospitals – both regional and metro.

The care I’ve been given is extraordinary. Queensland Health, in my experience, is far from the basketcase that sensationalist media platforms carry on about in search of clicks.

Illness is unpleasant. That goes without saying. But during my unfamiliar journey into the health system, I have felt safe because I have been treated with respect and decency.

My difference has made no f*cking difference.

I have experienced unbelievable kindness.

The strength of our health system is the people who work in it and, in my experience, they are magnificent. The health workers do a good job. That’s to be expected. It’s what they’re paid for. But it’s the extra human dimension that makes the real difference – the kindness, the respect, the decency… the lack of prejudice.

You cocksucking f*ggot… you ugly d*ke… you stupid g**k… you black c*nt…

Queensland Health employs people from virtually every demographic: race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, weight, age…

And that seems to be a key factor in the lack of prejudice I experienced during my hospital stays. Health workers are accustomed to working with and depending on all different sorts of people.

But they are not unfamiliar with prejudice. It is ever-present in their working life.

I have never before witnessed the level of abuse common in hospital emergency departments.

I’ve listened as nurses seamlessly transitioned from cleaning up blood and shit and piss and vomit to providing sometimes lifesaving care to patients bombarding them with relentless abuse.

“I’ll f*cking kill you f*ggot… ugly d*ke, stupid g**k, black c*nt…”

Oh yes!

Everyone is a f*ggot, d*ke, g**k or c*nt to an angry bigot determined to cast blame for their pain.

But not once have I seen a health worker refuse help to these horrendous people.

So this holiday season, be grateful for the amazing health care we enjoy in Australia and our incredible health workers. Whatever the outcome of my health battle, I know the difference it has made to experience such unprejudiced and non-discriminatory care just when I needed it most.

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Image: Destiny Rogers

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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