Holiday threat hell: ‘We will kill you’
Fiona Falkiner is no stranger to the concept of transformation. In 2006, Falkiner was a contestant on , and she was hoping losing weight would make her happy. But following major success on the show, she found herself spiralling into a deep depression. Here, in a column for news.com.au, she talks about life before, during and after the reality TV juggernaut.
I really hate labels.
Don't get me wrong, I will always celebrate the LGBTQI+ community but I simply don't identify as any of those. I simply love someone for who they are, not their gender.
Sadly, this is not accepted as an answer when I am often asked "so what are you?" referring to my sexuality.
There's so much confusion that goes on inside your head as you try to work out what you "are" and I feel a lot of that confusion is because we feel obliged to give ourselves a label.
I have even noticed in conversations with families and friends the focus is always around what sexuality you are, but fails to ever focus on the love and unique human connection you have found with your chosen partner.
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "how do girls have sex?" Or "who is the boy and who is the girl?"
I usually laugh it off but deep down it really offends me. It's in those moments that I realise how far we still have to go in accepting people for who they are.
I am fortunate that I live in a society that is growing and taking huge steps forward towards acceptance. There are still many places though that still have a long way to go.
Whilst on holiday in Spain last year I was going to the beach every day booking the same sun lounger for the week. I got to recognise the guys trying to sell all the fake bags to the tourists on the beach. I was friendly but always politely declined when they would approach to try to sell me something, but on the last day one of the guys started hassling me and asking me "where is your boyfriend?"
I responded, "I left my girlfriend at home" and at that point his body language changed and he looked at me with so much hatred in his eyes and said "in my country we kill you".
He went on to tell me that "woman and woman in Nigeria where I am from we kill you it is wrong", by this point I was so shaken by his comments I started to pack up and leave but he walked straight over to a group of his friends who were smoking and taking a break and started talking loudly to the gesturing towards me.
That was it for me, I was terrified, grabbed my towel and bag and basically made a run for it. I had one more night alone in Spain and I tell you what I was too scared to leave my apartment.
I feel lucky to live in Australia because here when I am with my partner we don't get heckled in the street, I have never been "gay bashed".
I don't know if I am naiive, but before I had my first date with Hayley it had never crossed my mind that we would find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation where we were treated differently for simply being who we are.
On the magical night that I first laid eyes on Hayley we thought a date at a bar in the city would be a great idea. We had been chatting online for a while, as I had been overseas so when the night finally arrived that I was to meet her, I was excited and nervous.
I was early (I always am, because I get anxiety at the thought of being late to anything) but this gave me the chance to get a quiet table in the corner of the bar and order a drink to quieten my nerves.
When she arrived her smile lit up the room and I knew we were in for a great evening. The date was going so well, I was laughing, she was laughing, and the conversation was flowing. I excused myself to use the ladies room I returned to find two men in suits chatting to Hayley. Now, Hayley is very polite and friendly so when they had approached her she allowed for some small talk until I returned.
I sat back down at the table and smiled whilst they kept talking to us before I attempted to wrap up the conversation by saying "it's been great chatting guys, have a great night."
I wanted to keep getting to know Hayley. Sadly, they did not get the hint so I politely said "sorry guys but we're actually on a date and I'd like to get back to it if you don't mind".
The moment the word "date" left my mouth I immediately regretted it because it led to a barrage of extremely inappropriate comments and questions from the guys.
I will not divulge what was said, but we were basically made to feel as if we were objects of fascination. It got so bad that we ended up leaving. As we got up to leave the waitress came over to ask if the guys were bothering us but by that point it was too late and we just wanted to get out of there.
I have been on many dates in my life, but when I have been on dates with a man I have never experienced anything like this.
When I reach over and take my fiancé's hand in public it's not because I am trying to put on a show for anyone, it's because I am an affectionate person and have been with all my partners. It saddens me though, when I hold Hayley's hand that people will often stop and stare, they point and sometimes even turn around to get a second look. I can't imagine what this would have been like to have experienced this my whole life. In saying this there are also many people who don't stare and point - and to every single one of you, thank you.
I understand there are much bigger issues in this world that people out there are dealing with, but it doesn't mean how I feel about being labelled isn't worthy of discussing. In some way, opening about it will hopefully help people understand how their actions can affect another person and make them think twice about how they act around someone who isn't the "same" as they are.
I feel the best way to break down these barriers and rid the labels is to refuse to conform altogether.
So, if you are like me who doesn't like to be labelled and you find yourself being asked by someone what sexuality you are simply answer them "I am human and I choose to love whoever I love."
Because, at the end of the day we are all human. We all look the same on the inside - so we should all treat each other the same on the outside!