Well – to the 61 per cent who voted Yes, anyway.
This is a thank you letter for voting Yes. For essentially saving my son’s life.
You see, he’s in primary school, and he’s just starting to work himself out. I know where it’s heading. I’m his mum, I can see it. I’m expecting that he’ll eventually grow up to lead the life of a gay man, and I have not a scrap of issue with that. And he knows that.
And he also knows that I’m not the only opinion that matters. When I asked him which way he thought the vote would go, he quietly told me,
“Australia will vote no. Because boys still laugh about gay people at my school.”
That’s what he thinks the world is like. It just kills me.
It’s 2017 and being gay is still an insult, or a joke, at his school. It’s a religious school – but that’s not the issue, because they actively teach tolerance.
The issue is the other boys. They constantly make homophobic jokes. They still think “you’re so gay” is an insult. They equate homosexuality with unmanliness.
If you’re not into sports – gay. If you like the drama and art – gay. If you’re not a d*ckhead – gay.
And their cruelty is destroying my son. Well, that’s not true – yet – he’s amazing. But he doesn’t feel welcome. Or accepted. And definitely not respected.
As a mum, it kills me to see his face when he comes home after school. He’s had a tough day. They’ve given him a rough time. He’s been lonely and isolated for six solid hours. It breaks my heart – that’s no way to live, every day.
Australia has voted YES. Most of Out Loud was at the marriage equality announcement today, and are sprinkled with glitter and smiling their heads off. But what happens next?
He’s ok for now, because he’s young enough to think he’s different because he’s not into footy. But later, when he figures out that it’s not about hobbies, but about who he is fundamentally as a person – that’s what worries me. I stay awake at night hoping to god that when he’s going through the teen years, he’ll know it’s not him – it’s them. But what if he doesn’t… I can barely cope, thinking about how it will make him feel about himself when he’s at his most emotionally vulnerable age.
And that’s why the Yes result was so important, and why I want to thank Australia. It sent the message to all the kids out there that they’re equal, and that they matter. I so desperately wanted my son to know that there’s kindness and acceptance out there, even if he doesn’t get it at school, and we got that message yesterday, loud and clear.
We both felt sick that morning, not knowing what was coming at 10am. I cried when I saw that it was a rainbow. I bawled. I blubbed. It was a freaking rainbow, and the most glorious one I’ve ever seen.
My Facebook and Instagram feeds lit up with all my friends posting their happiness – and that was the unexpected pot of gold. I didn’t ever consider there were other parents who were just as worried as I was. Post after post, all my friends shared their elated relief. I’ve never loved them more.
And so to the people who voted yes – thank you. A million thank yous, from all parents. Our gratitude is especially for the people who voted ‘Yes’, not because they are part of the gay community, not because it directly affected their rights – but because they are good, decent people. You are kind, and respectful of difference.
Our children have hope that people will be kind and respectful. If the vote had been no, they would’ve felt real rejection and disrespect. As a parent, you just want your kids to feel equal, safe – in the community, and within themselves. My son was in real danger of not feeling that. And that danger’s now not there in the same way.
When he walked in the door from school, I told him the news. He screamed and jumped with joy. He knew kindness won. That’s what kind people did yesterday.
And I cried again, because I’m a mum, and that’s what many mums did yesterday, too.
So thank you, Australia for knowing love is love.