November 15, 2017 will always be remembered as a momentous day in Australian history. It was the day that Australian people, from different walks of life, united for one outcome – equality for all.
I boarded the train with my daughter to the city of Melbourne for the official announcement. I knew regardless of the result, we both needed to be part of this historical moment. If the voting yielded a result of ‘No,’ meaning the majority did not support the possibility of same sex marriage, I wanted my daughter who is 14 years of age to witness it. I wanted her to feel the heart wrenching pain, the rejection and outrage of a community who simply want what is their basic human right – to marry the person they loved.
In the lead up to the announcement we heard from those that helped spearhead the campaign in the months prior. In a touching address to the crowd, Victorian Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality, Rowena Allen took to the stage and told the community to fear not if the result was not what they wanted. “We will not forget you”, she announced to the crowd, “we will not leave one person behind. We will fight on.” We were told to link arms with one another, to hug the person standing next to us and to look out for each other if the outcome was not positive.
As I stood amongst the sea of rainbow flags, I was touched by the sense of inclusion and solidarity. I looked out over the thousands of hopeful faces and I knew, regardless of the outcome, they would be O.K. They had each other.
The LGBTQI community has always played a large role in my life. After teenage years that were fraught with violation and aggression from the opposite sex, it was my gay friends that saved me, fixed me back up and helped me feel safe again. These were the men that made me feel beautiful, who would protect me when I felt vulnerable. They looked out for each other, were not afraid of showing their emotions and lived every moment like it was their last. I think I fell in love with every single one of them at one point or another, which in hindsight would make perfect sense. They gave me what every woman really wants; a love and acceptance based on who I was, without the expectation of sexual gratification.
Whilst I don’t officially belong to their community, I wanted to be at the announcement standing side by side, arms linked and unified. And whilst I am unaware if my daughter belongs to their community, it was just as important that she was there too because if we are to expect change, we must all be part of that movement. We must look at life outside of our immediate world and understand that mankind is intrinsically linked. We all have a responsibility to add to the pool of love rather than diminish it.
A few moments before 10am the crowd grew silent as attention was now focused on the official announcement. I felt my insides shaking as anticipation lay thickly in the air.
“Yes responses, 7, 817, 247 representing 61.6 percent of the vote.”
If there was one single word that could define elation, victory, vindication, happiness and relief all in one, it would describe the sensation felt. The sky filled with rainbow colored powder and streamers, the screams of happiness meshed together with tears as we embraced each other. I looked around at my brothers and sisters as raw emotion poured from them. Every single person was united by one thing – love.
Our prime minister announced his desire to see the same sex marriage bill passed before Christmas meaning that 2018 launches a new era in Australia. I feel enormous pride to belong to a country that finally embraces equality, respect and progression from outdated thinking. And most of all, I celebrate the uprising of the once oppressed LGBTQI community and dream of a day that that people are no longer defined by a bunch of letters, but united as one race – the human race.