This is Brendan Maclean’s opening speech given at the Sydney Equal Love rally which gathered at Town Hall despite protestors attempting to shut it down. It marched up Oxford St with over 700 people:
My name’s Brendan Maclean.
I work at triple j, I’m a musician, I hate Lady Gaga’s new songs but I know every lyric and when I was 15 my dad picked me up from a police station under a banner that said ‘Gay and Lesbian Youth Services.’ Hi Dad!
On Tuesday, the 17th of May, we celebrated International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. We came together to say no to bullying, no to discrimination in schools, in our work places and in our social lives. I spent the day at RMIT University in Melbourne hearing students talk about what they felt had been achieved to combat hate in others and fear in themselves, and there was a lot of good things; the laws that have changed, the opinions shifted, but what we agreed was missing is why we’re here today.
If marriage is just a word, give it to me. If marriage is just a piece of paper, give it to me. We want Equal Love and we want the symbols and language that applies to everybody else, as equals.
Today is something we fight for, for most of our lives. When students threw rocks at you, when you were denied work, when you battled depression bought on because you were being told it was wrong to be who you were. When you lost friends because they didn’t win that fight. You were fighting for Equal Love.
I don’t for a minute believe that when Tim Mathieson turns to Julia Gillard and pops the question, she’ll proudly declare her Atheism and say ‘no Tim we’ll have Civil Union’. But because she is a woman and he is a man they are free to stroll in and out of the boundaries and many meanings of the word Marriage. But not us.
The double standards are obvious and the arguments against us are just a few twisted words away from: ‘It’s just not normal’. There is a lot left to fight for all around the world; from recent atrocities against civil rights in Uganda to hate crimes that go unnoticed in rural Australia. But we as a community, throughout generations, have been battling for too long to not overthrow this baseless idea that after you fight through high school, after you fight through the work place, after we fight through bigoted talk-back radio hosts and narrow minded politicians, after you fight the fear to let go of your lover’s hand when you walk down the street, when you finally find that person you want to marry, after all that, you can’t.
I can only tell my own stories. Many of you, probably most of you, grew up in a culture where a rally like this may not have existed. Every generation assumes the next one has it easier, but so they should, it’s what we want. So today we stand together to send a message, a clear, confident message, whether we’re young or old, gay or straight, whatever gender or sexuality you are and whether or not you choose to get married yourself, we stand together to say it’s time for our country to move into the modern world, to demand Equal Love.