Jenny speaks up about Gay Marriage and the Australian Plebiscite

When I was 16 I thought I was the only gay girl on the planet (and that Ellen DeGeneres was a fictional character). I used to pray to God that if he wouldn’t make me straight, he’d at least grant gay-marriage and hook me up with Helen Hunt (remember Twister?). Needless to say, God did none of these. I became suicidal, depressed, anxious, riddled with an eating disorder, acts of self-harm and lied about being straight. The shame I carried infiltrated every single day.

Things have changed, even across my small lifetime. Gay marriage has been legalised across 23 countries. I am grateful for our elders who have courageously paved the way for younger LGBTQI generations. Slowly but surely I’ve watched hearts and minds change as I’ve learned to be courageous, follow my true north and love who I love.

On the 3rd of August, I married my beautiful wife in Scotland. We had the BEST day. I’m proud to be her team. Pre-wedding I was haunted by the occasional reminder of my own internalised homophobia that formed from a lifespan of homophobic-flavoured government, religion and the media. At our ceremony last week, all of that shame, mumbo jumbo and history seemed to fall away in those moments where Gwendolyn & I looked into each other eyes, surrounded by loved ones, smiles, confetti, music, laughter and love, and made a commitment to each other, signing Scottish marriage papers saying “Bride” and “Bride”.

Living in Ireland and Scotland, I’ve felt this ease wash over my soul because gay marriage is legal. There’s a sense the government has your back and so do most of the people, that you’re an equal, that your love is as meaningful and as potent as the next person, that you won’t be denied access, rights, or looked upon as a second class citizen. What I’ve witnessed is that it’s actually a non-event. The laws changed, people marry; people get on with their lives. There was no apocalypse when Gwen & I married.

Unfortunately our marriage, along with many others, is not recognised in Australia.

Embarrassingly, Australia is the ONLY “developed” English-speaking country yet to legalise same-sex marraige.

It’s 2017…
Awkward.

Actually it’s beyond awkward.

The issue has come to a peak in Oz this month as society puts pressure on an out-dated government to legalize same-sex marriage. The government prepares to launch a $120+ million Plebiscite for a vote that will be non-binding. Like any other person, the LGBT Community have worked, paid taxes, contributed and enriched society and yet the government withholds their right to marry. I shudder to think of the ongoing damage it does to the mental health of young LGBTQI people, and the children of same sex couples to grow up with a government that plants seeds of shame & inequality and fertilizes their soil with disturbingly tactless messages that come up during these debates.

In 2004, with the flick of a switch, PM John Howard changed the Marriage Act to deliberately exclude gay people, defining marriage as a “union of a man and a woman to exclusion of all others”. He didn’t need a plebiscite. He just changed it.
As Magda Szubanski says – cancel the Plebecite and give money to the aged care. There are far more pressing issues that should be filling the government’s agenda. Flick the switch, make gay marriage happen, and people will get on with their lives.
It’s a non-issue.

I regret buying into the shame throughout my life… but I suppose during many of those times it was a survival/self-preservation thing, and you’re pulled into a culture of its own epic momentum. Now the culture has a new momentum. The people are ready for gay marriage. They’ve been ready for a long time. And still we put up a long fight towards fairness. I am warmed to see my Facebook newsfeed flooded with people (gay, straight and anywhere across the spectrum) changing their profile pics/banners in support of marriage equality in Australia, doing their part, standing up for gay rights.

My wedding was healing. Deeply healing.

I hope the Australian government soon lifts that wave of shame off the hearts of so many people, and allows same-sex couples to marry.

I urge you do your bit and vote.

Check your enrolment: https://check.aec.gov.au/

How to have your say in the next same-sex marriage vote: http://www.abc.net.au/…/hack/how-to-have-your-say-o…/8790718

Here’s my first “coming out” song I wrote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka9YZTqyk00

And as Michael Moore put it, “If you don’t support gay marriage, don’t get gay married”.

#samesexmarriage #LGBTQI #Australialegalisesamsexmarriage #gaymarriage #australiangovernment #loveislove

 

“WILD & FREE” Album #6 is HERE!

The much awaited new album from Jenny Biddle has arrived!

It’s now available WorldWide on Spotify, iTunes and more.

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Jenny Nominated for the Australian LGBTI Awards 2018

Jenny has been nominated as a Music Artist for the 2018 Australia LGBTI Awards

99.73% lesbian, the feisty female guitarist, proficient pianist and recovering chocoholic is now based in sunny Scotland. Marrying her wife last year and releasing her 6th album “Wild & Free”, 2018 is a big year ahead for Jenny touring Australia, Canada and parts of Europe, and heading back to the studio to add a verse to her coming out song “Hero in Me” to celebrate same-sex marriage finally being legislated in Australia.

But the road to success hasn’t come without challenges for the 33-year-old songsmith. Throughout adolescence, Jenny battled with depression, self-harm and an eating disorder as a result of her own internalised homophobia. Navigating identity she began expressing her lesbian longing through ambiguous song lyrics & music, soon releasing her critically acclaimed (yet still very-in-the-closet) debut album Chest of Drawers in 2009.

In the slow, conflicting process of coming out, it wasn’t until her second album Jenny began to leak traces of her own sexual identity. In her raw, heart-tugging song, Don’t Mind, she confesses “I must admit I was afraid to step outside your door today / Forgive me my love if my hand suddenly slips away / Cos there’s all of these people with predator eyes / But I don’t know why they mind / And I don’t know why I mind that they mind”.

The LGBTQI advocate has since won over hearts within the community and beyond, with her quick wit, candid stage banter, notable guitar chops and humbled storytelling. In a superman suit, with lumps in all the wrong places, Jenny turned her secret struggles into a comically sweet LGBTQI-flavoured music video for the title track of her third album “Hero in Me”. Directed by Home & Away’s Rebecca Greensill, Jenny sings herself out of the closet; “There’s a hero deep inside of me / Be my lady and your hero I’ll be”.

Transforming her story into an inspiration she has performed over 200 gigs a year this last decade, on stages throughout Australia, Ireland, and the UK. More significantly she has worked closely with high schools across NSW, Tasmania and Victoria, sharing her story from closet to the stage, supporting LGBTQI youth and individuals in an effort to create awareness, a sense of community, and normalise sexuality and gender differences in society.

Last August, in a small ceremony in the woods in Scotland, Jenny and her wife celebrated with loved ones as they signed papers saying “Bride & Bride”. Their marriage is now recognised in Australia, and Jenny continues to share her story, songs and endearing personality throughout with audiences and high schools, winning hearts over one at a time.

She has been nominated for the Australian LGBTI Awards 2018 as a Music Artist, alongside Beccy Cole, the Veronicas and Monique Brumby. The ceremony takes place this March 2 2018 at the Star Event Centre, Sydney.

This March-April Jenny tours East Coast Oz, releasing her latest album “Wild & Free” crowdfunded by loyal fans. Catch her live in concert while you can.

12 Months: 12 Songs – A Celebration of Album #6

To celebrate the new album “Wild & Free”, over the next 12 months loyal mailinglist subscribers will receive 1 FOCUS SONG each month. In that email I may reveal anything from songwriting secrets to stories, chords, lyrics, videos, guitar/harmonica/piano tutes, or whatever that song-of-the-month calls for from the new album. September’s focus song was the title track (why not!), including “how to” tute to get you playing the riff from Wild & Free.

To access the content subscribe to monthly mailinglist:

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“EVERY RELEASE” USBs available now!

Introducing USBs, the flashy new way to enjoy music from independent artists like Jenny. These USBs contain EVERY RELEASE from Jenny Biddle. The business-card-like USBs connect to your computer. Transfer the 74 tracks, plus lyrics and Hero in Me video clip.

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OWN THE ENTIRE JENNY BIDDLE COLLECTION ON DISC

Have you got all 5 of Jenny Biddle’s albums? From her acoustic album, full band albums, double live album, to her ingenious cover rendition album, own the lot. Save $30 when you buy this special bundle.

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“TAILWIND” THE BRAND NEW 3-TRACK RELEASE OUT NOW!

REP 201 - Cardboard Sleeve

This brand new 3-track highlights Jenny’s new gentle and poignant new single “Tailwind”. This comparatively mellow release, contains two acoustic versions of original songs that will feature on Jenny’s 6th album which is set to be released late 2017/2018.

The CD also includes a lullaby, a moving bonus track from Jenny composed for TENDER, an intently poignant short film by Rebecca Greensill (Flying Man Films) acknowledging PTSD and the heart-wrenching issues among soldiers. The talented film maker also wrote and directed Jenny’s contrastingly comedic music video Hero in Me. The film comes out online soon.

TRACK LISTING:

  • Years & Years (Acoustic)tenderfilm
  • Tailwind (Acoustic)
  • Lullaby (for TENDER the Film)

Buy your copy limited edition now for just $10. BUY NOW

The 3-track is available on this website and at Jenny’s live performances only. All funds from this release go towards funding the full album. Your support for independent musicians is greatly appreciated!

 


CREDITS:
All tracks written & performed by Jenny Biddle.
Violin on Track 3 by Vanessa Tammetta
Tracks 1 & 2 recorded & mixed by Sean Carey at Church St Studios,Sydney, 2016
Track 3 recorded & mixed by Sean Carey at Trackdown Studios Fox Studios, Sydney, 2014.
Mastered by dB Mastering.

ALBUM #6 “Wild & Free” – successfully funded by loyal fans

We did it!  This April JB fans successfully crowdfunded over $15,000 to produce Jenny’s SIXTH album “Wild & Free”. The new album is set to be released to crowdfunding supporters as earlier as August 2017, and to the public later in 2017. Thanks Team JB! You set these songs wid & free!

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BLOG (Part 3): A Year off Anti-depressants: Jenny Biddle Interviews Herself

Jenny Biddle Interviews Herself as she Celebrates a YEAR off Anti-Depressants.

 

Q: Hi Jenny it’s Jen here. Wow, it’s been a YEAR since you came off anti-depressants. Congratulations! How do you feel?

Thanks! Wow! Where did that year go? It feels like a monumental achievement to come off anti-depressants. I attempted to come off a couple years before, but perhaps the timing, circumstances and approach wasn’t right, the stars didn’t line up. Persisting through the challenges to finally get there makes it feel like a big achievement.

effexorWhat were you on? How long were you on anti-depressants?

Effexor. 75mg a day. Just over 4 years.

 

I know you wrote a couple of intricate blogs about the process of coming off. Can you recap?

I spent 6 months weaning down. I received different advice from doctors/pharmacists about the speed/rate of which one should wean off. Taking it too quickly the first time, I decided to take a lot longer to wean off the pills. You kind of just want to get off them ASAP when you’re experiencing side effects, but going too quick can have repercussions. I slowed it down, found my own pace to keep side effects to a minimum. In the last weeks I ended up splitting pills and counting microbeads, a little OCD I know, but I was listening to my body.

What helped you get through?

  • Daily support from friends, family, my partner
  • Reminder notes on the wall that everything would be ok, or call a friend when things got tough
  • Better diet & regular exercise (I know you don’t wanna hear that)
  • Vitamin B
  • Blogging, sharing stories with others and hearing theirs
  • Going easy on myself and allowing a little more TLC than usual, chocolate
  • Pick your battles
  • Keeping on going with work and normal life, being busy

 

lastpill

What were the first weeks like after your last pill?

One might think once you’ve taken the last pill, that’s it, you’re done, success. But when you’re altering chemistry of the brain it can take a while for things to even out. Those weeks were challenging. I still had side effects: headaches, neck tension, nausea for a week or so, but the brain zaps lasted the next month or two, just these random crackles in the brain! It took a little while for my emotions to flatten out again.

 

I also had a big bout of anxiety for months after anti-depressants. This surprised me. I found myself afraid to hang out with friends I’d known for years, feeling anxious in my music career/performing, getting distressed in social situations, running out crying. There was a lot more crying. My psychologist said perhaps anxiety is actually the primary problem, with depression the secondary problem – and my doctor had gone ahead and prescribed treatment for depression alone. In my darkest times before anti-depressants I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff about to lose grip or jump off; anti-depressants seemed to push me back from the edge a bit. So I can at times feel a little too close to the edge. I’ve been surprised by the anxiety I have felt since coming off them, but things have evened out.

 

What helps reduce anxiety?

  • Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I’ve learned bits and pieces about psychology. We tend to avoid what scares us or makes us anxious and uncomfortable. Yet anxiety works in a way that when we avoid something we are anxious about, the fear grows bigger and gains more power over us. Fear serves to protect us, but in many cases our brains are on overdrive and get anxious about things that aren’t actually real threat. The best way to tackle them is to face them, and face them, and face them again, in increments, piece by piece when you can.
  • Understanding anxiety. I read a couple books about it. The Power of Now, Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies, Reasons to Stay Alive.
  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Treat yourself when you’re brave

 

Mentally, how have you been off anti-depressants over the last year?

I’ve felt a normal portion of up and down: joy, excitement, pain, anger, sadness, loneliness, achievement, pride, anxiety, grief, helplessness, love, peace, struggletown, contentment, and everything in between. Life takes us on its rollercoaster. I recall a Silverchair lyric “I was hurting to feel something more than life”. We can strive for eternal happiness, but it’s not a realistic goal. I am happy, then sad, then happy again. I am learning to feel what a human is meant to feel.

 

Are there times you’ve considered going back on them or regret coming off?

Moving country has been one of the hardest things I’ve embarked on – in terms of feeling pretty isolated, being away from friends, family, support networks, routine, familiarity, starting all over again, navigating new place far from home, and the vulnerability of leaning on your partner. Someone suggest I go back on them. But I don’t believe that’s the answer for me. Perhaps I’m too stubborn. But I believe that I’m meant to feel hard feelings adjusting to a new world and way of life. A pill won’t solve it, or magically assign me new friends, or a new ego, while it might take the edge off the hardship.

 

You’ve had a lot of support along the way and people have shared personal heart-warming stories.

Yes. I’m very moved by people’s email, sharing stories. Initially I wasn’t sure whether to put the blog out there. But once I did I realised I’m not alone, we’re not alone, and so many people go through this seemingly secret battle of mental illness. Sharing stories binds us together and gives hope.

(Photo by Charlie Brown)

Photo by Charlie Brown

Last words?

Mental illness affects everyone differently. I think what works for one might not work for another. It’s about trying combination of methods: diet, exercise, new job, holiday, yoga, music, hobbies, friends, opening up, vitamins, therapy, avocadoes, knitting. Anti-depressants certainly help many people. They are the hands to catch you. But alone they won’t magically make everything better. It’s about finding what works for you.  We are not alone in mental illness 🙂 We do this together.

 

Thanks for reading and for your support.
Love to connect and hear your stories. Connect on Facebook or Email [email protected]

 

This is Part 3 of a three-part blog on Coming Off Anti-Depressants. To read other parts see links below:

Part 1: (November 2014) Coming Off Anti-Depressants
Part 2: (April 2015) Towards the Finish Line