This morning’s edition of The Courier-Mail (Queensland newspaper, owned by News Limited) features an article by Ainsley Pavey that mentions how the former partner of a millionaire has won a big settlement partly due to the fact that the partner undertook significant housekeeping duties during the relationship.
The judge’s ruling gave that as the reason for rewarding the settlement.
Pretty cut and dry, and not too shocking in this era of multi-million dollar divorces, etc.
However this is the headline: “Millionaire’s former gay lover wins a slice of his fortune for being housekeeper during their relationship.”
When I mentioned in yesterday’s post that homophobia in media is a problem that can be addressed now, this is a prime example. I do not know Ms. Pavey, but I will make a fair-minded assumption that she’s not intentionally homophobic, and that the copy editor who proofed this article was not governed by trafficking in homophobia in order to bolster sales. Rather, I’ll just assume that they had a deadline and that for whatever reason old offensive lexicon fell through the cracks. Maybe it needed some extra pizzazz beyond “property developer and ex-partner resolve 3 year legal battle.”
(Disclosure: I have a subscription to the Courier-Mail and I’m for Queensland too…except at State of Origin, but even then…)
The headline says “former gay lover.” Apparently having money puts you above sexual orientation, but being the financially dependent partner is another matter entirely.
The headline and article also uses the word “lover” and “ex-lover” throughout. While the gay community has used the word “lover” in the past, present-day discourse actually uses the word “partner” to refer to those in a long term relationship. Given that the Australian government has had legislation for de facto partnerships (inclusive of same-sex ones) for quite some time, and the general practice is to use the word “partner” instead of “lover,” the article infers an inequality between same-sex partnerships (who can’t marry) and heterosexuals who choose not to. Again, perhaps the person who proofed the article hasn’t bothered to ask any of the gay people they know as to what the proper term is. It’s not an offensive question though, feel free to ask.
The article then launches into the standard summary of the judge’s findings.
Now, this is up for interpretation based upon how familiar one is with how gay men have been treated in media through the ages:
Now, with that build up before getting to the actual basis of the judgement (the judgement is oddly enough a sign that same sex relationships are equal), the article immediately distances itself from any gay readers.
To a reader that may not have as much knowledge of gay representation on film, the archaic phrasing of “former gay lover” is in itself off-putting. To a reader, particularly one who is aware and knows openly gay people, this particular article recalls the “bad old days” when to be openly gay in Queensland was a crime.
- Quebec Hopes To Say Adieu To Homophobia With $7.5 Million Media Campaign (queerty.com)
- Homosexuals were once branded as mentally disordered. Now homophobes are treated the same way (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)