You do not get to vote on my family, my relationship or my life. You do not get to ‘have your say’ on whether or not I am worthy of the same rights as you. You are not entitled to preach about how a respectful debate is healthy for everyone.
You are not entitled to a vote on my life, except that you are now. Our government rorted the system to give you one. They couldn’t pass the plebiscite in the Senate, so they found a loophole. Now they’re having a postal vote. For a bunch of entitled politicians always complaining about how everyone else is rorting a system, they sure are good at finding loopholes when they need to.
Now the vote that some of you feel so desperately entitled to will be arriving in your mail in a couple of weeks. Some of you will be grateful for the opportunity, some of you will leave it buried underneath your junk mail and pizza coupons. Too ineffectual to your personal lives to bother returning it. Some of you will feel vindicated that what you have been saying all these years is right, you DO deserve to have your say. Look, the government thinks so too. They spent $122 million dollars just so you could have what you want.
When my vote arrives I will tuck it away somewhere safe. Somewhere with all my important documents so I won’t lose it. I will fill out my paper and return it. Placing within the envelope all the hope, love and positive energy that I have left to contribute to this issue. I will probably ask my daughter to give the envelope a kiss and say ‘bye bye letter’ as we post it because she’s two. Two year old’s love stuff like that.
My daughter is still in the glorious stage of life where almost everything is fun. To her hate doesn’t exist yet. Everything is a game, everything is funny. She has time to smell the literal and metaphorical roses. She closes her eyes as she chews her food and makes these happy delighted sounds as she eats. The worst thing that’s ever happened to her is being vaccinated because needles hurt. There was a lolly at the end though, so really not too bad.
As another cycle of hate fills our media I do my best to tune it out. I tell myself that at least this time she is still too young to understand. Still too young to come to me asking questions like ‘Mumma, what’s beastiality?’ ‘Mumma, what’s a pedophile?’ ‘Mumma, why would adults want to marry children?’ ‘Mumma, why do they say these things about us?’ ‘Mumma, how come they hate us?’ Still too young for now, but give it another year and she won’t be.
The anger festers inside of me, a tumour that grows bigger each day. It gets larger and larger until it begins to encroach on my lungs, and I can’t breathe. My hands shake with the burning anger and anxiety, I can’t sleep. Fed by the torrent of abuse I can’t seem to avert my eyes from, it consumes more of me until I feel like I am suffocating.
I am so angry I want to shoot out venom as I speak to those who feel the need to ‘Just make their opinion known’ on something that does not concern them. The people who make up lies about our families and our children and share them far and wide. The people who decided that truth in advertising is irrelevant in this ‘respectful debate’. The people who can’t seem to get their head around the idea that this is actually really hurtful to people, because the people it is hurtful to are not them.
The people who are so disgusted by us they would rather see us dead, than here at all. You know, people like MP Michael McCormack whose job it is to oversee the postal vote on same sex marriage.
I want to walk into the lives of every single person who wishes to take or deprive me of something they have always enjoyed and take something just as precious from them. To have them know exactly how it feels to be held at the whim of a bunch of strangers. To have them know just how hurtful it is to be made to beg for votes from the public to be treated as an equal. To see how quickly they would change their tune if it were their lives and rights being put to a public vote.
I look at myself and these feelings this process has invoked in me and I feel sad and ashamed. Not sad and ashamed that I am gay, you will never succeed in shaming me for that. Maybe you would have once, but not anymore. I feel sad and ashamed that this process has brought out the worst in me. The spiteful part of me, the petty part of me, the impatient part of me. The reactive part of me that turns white hot with rage. The part of me that looks at others and wonders what their vote will be, if they are my enemy or my friend. The paralyzed and exhausted part of me that just wants to bury my head in the sand and wait until this is all over to re-enter the world again. Leaving all the others like me out there suffering through this with one less voice of support, while I cower in the corner trying to hold onto my sanity through this.
I begrudge it, but I know that I must rise above those impulses to fight fire with fire. I have had a taste of what it feels like to hold hate in my heart for others and it is toxic and consuming. Anger and despair has been my overwhelming response to this situation up until now. I do not wish to give those who wish me and my family harm anymore of my time, energy or peace than they have taken already.
Instead, I wish to give some love to other LGBTI people who are hurting too. I want to tell you that this will be over soon, but I can’t make that promise to you. I can tell you that as bad as it feels now it won’t always feel this way. It won’t always hurt this much. If you haven’t already found others who love you exactly as you are, then please believe me when I tell you that they are out there. Please be patient even though I know you are so tired already. Please be kind to yourself even though others aren’t. Please know that you are infinitely worthy of love and respect, that the overpowering voices of late do not take away your worth. This world would be a darker place without you in it. You are never truly alone, though you may feel it. Do not let the voices in the media take up residence in your own mind to become your inner voice.
My two year old walked past this morning as my partner and I shared a quick good morning kiss. Upon seeing this a massive grin spread across her face, then she started clapping her hands and saying yay enthusiastically. I couldn’t help but think that there are a lot of people out there who could learn so much from her.