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Love + Sex, Relationships

The real-life stories behind the marriage equality vote

Carla McConnell by Carla McConnell
August 24th, 2017
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This postal vote is a ridiculous, outdated way of the government slowing down the inevitable – marriage equality for all. The impacts of this postal vote is far reaching but if we have it, we have to vote YES. These are the faces and voices of some of people that are directly impacted by what is happening, and they deserve our support.

PLEASE check that your enrolments details are correct here and if you are not enrolled do so stat. 

Meet Cara Jones, Interior Designer (left) and her partner of 19 years, Michelle, and their daughters Dakota and Zahara.

 “As a teenager, I always had crushes on girls but didn’t think being gay was an option. I was surrounded by heterosexuals and didn’t have any gay friends/role models.  I knew that I was gay when I was at uni and I started going out with a girl that I was working with.

I came out late.  I was about 25.  I wasn’t in the gay scene, so it was quite an isolating experience, knowing that I was gay but not really knowing how to break into the gay scene.

When I did come out I was accepted by everyone.  But then again, I didn’t tell some of my older relatives, as I knew that they wouldn’t take the news well.

The most challenging part of being gay is being the non birth mother in the relationship and having a lack of rights in regard to my 2 children.

The postal vote is a waste of time and money. I will vote , but it seems strange, weird and wrong that people want to have a say in whether or not I should be equal to them.  I wish that the government would just have the balls to right this wrong, and to give us equal rights, without wasting good money on an unnecessary postal vote.

I’ve been with my partner for almost 19 years.  We have 2 kids, a dog + cat and a mortgage. It seems unfair that I can marry the next single man that walks past my house (if he agrees), but I can’t marry my partner.”

 
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Meet Ben Wiles, Commercial Manager at Bauer Media, and his partner Aaron Knowles, Buying Assistant at Harris Scarf.

“I didn’t come out until I was 25 years old, I wasn’t comfortable coming out earlier. I felt like I would disappoint everyone I knew. The most challenging part for me was accepting myself as being gay first. Aaron and I have been together for three years and whilst we are not currently thinking about getting married, we would like the right to do so down the track if we want.

I hate the postal vote! Voting on a human rights issue doesn’t make sense to me. The anti-campaigning may also really affect LGBTQ people who might be afraid of coming out.

Because we’re doing the voting poll anyway, I hope that mainstream Australia are not a bunch of backward rednecks like many people overseas think we are. I would like to think my own country considers my relationship and happiness equal to everyone elses. No one loses if we choose ‘yes’ to marriage equality, it just means more people get to live happy lives together.”

Marika

Meet Marika, Software Development Manager.

“It’s hard to say when I knew I was gay, I think I probably always knew. Even when I didn’t know it was a possibility, I always knew how I felt, that I felt differently to my peers.

I was in my mid-twenties when I first came out and I only told a couple of close friends. I found it easier to drop my friendship groups and make new ones as the new me. In reality though, you never stop ‘coming out’. Every new work place, every new employee at work, every new year level of the kids at school. It is constant.

It’s hard when you first come out, you have to accept yourself first, some find that easier than others. Eventually I got there, and was accepted by friends and family.

The most challenging part of being gay is feeling judged by others for who I am, and not always feeling safe in environments where others would. For example, I’ve had people yell nasty things at me, just walking down the street. I won’t hold my partner’s hand in public.

I can’t stand the idea of the postal vote. I feel really upset and really sad about what is happening. It is frustrating that every one gets to stop and judge me and my family, and decide if they think I should get the same rights as them. It is an awful feeling, particularly when this postal survey isn’t even being held with normal campaign rules around deceptive and misleading material. If this survey goes ahead, and we have to endure the No campaign, it is really important that people vote and the Yes vote wins. Imagine how it will feel to all the LGBTI people if the Australian population votes No. What message does that send the LGBTI kids and the kids of LGBTI parents, the mental health damage will be significant. So if we have to have it, we have to win it.

I have been with my partner for 15 years, we have two amazing daughters and a wonderful life together. It feels so unfair that the government has given all Australians the right to stand in judgement of our relationship.”
 

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Meet Clare Newman, Marketing Manager (left) and her partner Sarah.

“I started to have my suspicions that I was gay in my mid-teens but spent a long time trying to convince myself I just hadn’t met the ‘right’ boy yet. Eventually I realised that I knew lots of lovely boys but none of them were ever going to be ‘right’ for me. From there it sort of became a process of elimination… I don’t like boys… maybe I like girls? I finally admitted it to myself when I was about 21 and met my partner Sarah when I was 23. Looking back at myself as a kid now I really should have figured it out sooner!

My parents, mostly my mum, definitely struggled initially (mum will get annoyed at me for saying that). My parents are Catholic and needed to work through some fairly engrained ideas about what being gay meant but they’ve come a long way. And, to their credit, they were never anything less than welcoming of Sarah. I was also really lucky that my sister supported me right out of the gate.

The most challenging part of being gay was those initial days with Mum & Dad! Wow, talk about awkward conversations. Also having to continually come out to people, or not come out to people if I sense they aren’t going to take it well.

I’m baffled over the postal vote. The whole concept of the Government asking the Australian public ‘Should we continue to discriminate against a segment of society?’ is so weird. It’s like asking to phone-a-friend on the world’s easiest question!
However people need to vote. To prove that Australian society is so much more accepting and progressive than the Government gives us credit for.”

ZAC 

Meet Zac, 36 years old, Vice President, Marketing and Brand Strategy Sony Pictures Worldwide Networks. 

“I knew from a pretty early age that i was gay, but I didn’t acknowledge it until I was about 20. My friends and family never saw it as a problem. The Secret Life of Us, Sex And The City, Will & Grace and even Big Brother had been on TV for a few seasons by then, so it was kinda fashionable to have a gay bestie.
It’s amazing how much TV can change culture, having a few gay characters on screen made it easier for my generation to come out.The postal vote an expensive opinion poll that guarantees no change, it’s really sad that it’s come to this. Who even sends anything by mail anymore anyways? Maybe the High Court will block still? I dunno, either way, I just hope the opinion polls are right, Australia votes Yes and this moves through Parliament quickly.

I’ve lived overseas now for 10 years, in places were same-sex marriage is legal, I can already see the future Australia could have because I live it everyday. And guess what, life goes on just as it always had before, just more people get to be happy.”

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Meet Jennie, Security Officer and one of the many people affected by the incredibly ridiculous postal vote.
“We are sharing her story to remind you to enrol and vote YES. “I knew I was gay at about 8 or 9 years old. I knew I liked girls more than boys and had crushes on friends. I think I was in denial because when I grew up nobody wanted to be a lesbian. My big sister was the one who told me I was gay at about 18 years old, when I was really distressed about having strong feelings for a friend. I was obsessed with the TV show Prisoner because I thought the only place you could meet other lesbians was in prison.
I still feel like I’m coming out everyday. You basically never stop unless you are famous and announce it to the world like Ellen DeGeneres. I was in a gay and lesbian choir and I felt like I was outing myself everytime I said the name of the choir.
My family took a while to accept me but compared to a lot of other people they were very supportive. My nieces and nephews couldn’t care less but siblings took a bit longer. My stepfather called me “It” once. I grew up in a challenging time for gay people where unions could fire you just for being gay. I have been abused several times by people in work situations.
The postal vote is just a bloody waste of money. Why do we have to ask people if we can get married? Why are we still being treated as second class citizens?I still want people to vote though because if we are stuck with this ridiculous plebiscite we need to win. I don’t want young LGBTIQA people to grow up feeling like they are second class citizens like I felt. I grew up thinking I would never get married like my siblings and I just learnt to accept it. That has been so damaging.
I’m single with no plans to get married. One day I hope to meet the right person and just simply marry them like everyone else gets to do. However, right now this postal plebiscite has made me call into question all my relationships. Are the people I love going to vote yes or no. Do they truly accept me for who I am?”
 

Dan Brophy
Meet Dan Brophy, Videographer, and his partner of 3 years Paul Wells, Furniture and Interiors Designer/Fabricator 
“We both had a similar coming out process where we were out to our families a year or so after being out to our friends. No matter what they say initially, parents tend to need a couple of years to get used to the idea since they have been envisioning a hetero-normative happily-ever-after since you were born. Friends just say ‘We know, we’ve always known’.
The most challenging part was the few years before it could become part of the wider family conversation, mainly due to mum’s concerns of what her parent would think.I have felt discrimination. In 2007 I had a 12 year old Afro-Carribean girl call me a ‘batty boy’ on a double-decker bus in London. Clearly I’ve never gotten over it.
I can’t believe we are still talking about this boring-as issue. What a waste of money – think what that million dollars could have been spent on in terms of education. There’s your bloody Safe Schools funding right there. Can you tell I’m annoyed?! As Brexit and Trump have taught us, stupid people are mobilising. Don’t take it for granted that someone will solve this problem for you.

I personally don’t think it will affect my life one bit. The ONLY reason it’s important is for that twelve year old gay kid in Queensland who needs to know it’s OK. Fun homework: Everyone should call their most bigoted friend and convince them to vote ‘yes’.

DANI
Meet Danielle Baseley (right), Adventure tour guide her partner of 21 years Jacqui, Nurse and their daughters Mahlia 9 and Kyah 7.

“I grew up on the beaches in a very hetrosexual suburban community , there were a few people around that I knew were gay but it was very hush hush. I liked boys & had a lot of girl crushes but didn’t identify as gay or bisexual at that stage I just knew I was a bit different to the surfy kids i grew up with.

I was introduced to the gay community when I went to uni where I felt comfortable, supported & accepted.

I was in my mid 20s when I met my partner Jacqui . Neither of us had been in a relationship with a female before but it felt completely right . Fast forward 21 years and we are now back on the beaches where I grew up . I have my own beautiful family and now feel completely comfortable in my suburban community.  There is more same sex families moving into our area and our community within our community is very supportive.

We just blend right in and why shouldn’t we- we are everything that all the other families around here are!

Jacqui & I researched & planned our family thoroughly for many years. Our 2 gorgeous girls Mahlia 9 and Kyah 7  are so very wanted and loved by both of their mums.

What worries me most about this postal vote it’s not going to be a true result if we all don’t vote. Also that our kids are about to be exposed to the fact that not everyone thinks that they or their mums are normal.

The LGBTIQ community has fought together for so long for equal rights… why is Australia taking so long to pass this law it’s not going to go away , we will not back down love is love &  love conquers all!”

Josh Howard

Meet Josh Howard, 29 years old. He is one of the faces that are directly affected by this.

“By the time I came out, fortunately I was embraced & accepted by the people I love. Realising that I don’t have to conform to stereotypes and I can just be me – It’s awesome!

I feel really mixed about the postal vote. I’m glad we’re having the conversation, but I’m not loving how it’s playing out – It feels divisive, messy, insensitive & crudely politicised.

I want people to vote because it’s 2017 & we are now the only developed English-speaking country which doesn’t allow gay marriage. How embarrassing.

Marriage equality represents inclusion, acceptance & tolerance for all Aussies, in addition to those of us who are gay – It’s significance extends beyond any one group and that’s why it’s so important.”

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Meet Abby Alexander – 20- years-old (middle) with her sisters. 

“I don’t really know when I knew I was gay. It took me a really long time to acknowledge that part of myself and actually be accepting of it. But now that I am, I have so many ‘aha’ moments when I think back to times in my childhood. There’s definitely a reason no one was surprised when I finally came out. I came out in bits and pieces- It feels like an exercise in wasting time in this day and age, especially because someone’s sexuality is so fluid.

I usually tell people the name of the girl I am dating rather than telling them I am gay. Or, I will use the term ‘queer.’ Most people are really accepting when I tell them I am gay- I get told by a lot of people that I don’t ‘look’ gay, and that I am going through a ‘phase’- I find that to be really rude and condescending. Most of the time, though, people are really lovely.

I feel really shit about the postal vote- like, really? I grew up assuming that gay people COULD get married, and it wasn’t until I was 10 or 11 that I realised it actually wasn’t legal. I think this a real sign of a generational shift and an ageing population. Regardless, the best way to stick it to them at this point is to deliver a resounding YES vote- which is what I would encourage you all to do.

This means so much for myself, my gay/lesbian/queer pals and Australia as a whole. Marriage equality is an acknowledgement that we are no different from anyone else- which is exactly what this postal vote is forgetting. I assumed, as a child, that gay people could get married- there were kids at my school with two mums and two dads and I never questioned that until I found out that they couldn’t get married. Now, my sisters are 10 and 12, and I have recently told them that I can’t get married, because they, like me, assumed that I could. Clearly, we aren’t getting this done quickly enough. Let’s make it normal to love whoever you love for generations to come.”

Have you heard our On The Couch podcast with Dannii Minogue who is a huge supporter of marriage equality? Check it out below and subscribe to our podcast here.

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