NAMA WINSTON: “If my child needs to plan coming out to me – I’ve failed.”

So it looks like the marriage equality postal survey has been returned by almost 11 million Australians; but is that because we’re embracing the chance to have our say on the issue, or because we’ve jumped at the chance to do weird old-timey stuff like open letters, use a pen, and put something in a post box?

If you’re anything like me, the latter was a huge part of your excitement in participating, so naturally I had to involve my ten-year-old in the process. (Playing a small part in changing the course of history of human rights in Australia was awesome, but let’s face it, so not the point.) We had a long discussion on the pertinent facts (of how the mail system works, not marriage equality), and only briefly mentioned that we both don’t care about who loves whom, because it’s such a non-issue.

Using an Ansett biro I found from 1999, I then ticked the box, let my kid sniff and lick the glue on the self-sealing envelope/Neolithic artefact, and then proceeded to drive past 100 mail boxes before remembering I had something to post.

That night as I tucked my dear angelic child into bed, I suddenly remembered something very important that I’d neglected to say. I told him, “I will be furious if you ever have to come out to me.”

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You read that right. You see, he’s young now, but one day he might learn things about himself, and if he sits me down to make some nervous declaration about his sexuality, fearful of my rejection, I will lose it.

Listen: The CEO of Australian Marriage Equality, on why women are the most important demographic in getting the Yes Vote over the line. Post continues after audio.

Because if I’ve been parenting right, he should know that I would never want him to be uncomfortable with his identity because of me.

I’m just a regular mum, who thinks her kid is the greatest thing since The Oprah Winfrey Show like all mums do. I adore him, and I respect him. We are super close. So if I discover he’s had to carefully think about how to come out to me – rehearse the words, choose the timing, tweet anxiously about my possible negative reaction – I’ll be heartbroken. And I’ll know I’ve failed.

I want him to come out to me if he wants to, not because he has to.

I want him to just bring a date home for Sunday roast and it not be a big deal. Just come home and say, “Mother, this is Dave.” That would demonstrate he knows he’s unconditionally loved, accepted, and understood, in his own home.

If he’s struggling working things out and needs me – good luck getting rid of me!

But if he comes to me with some prepared speech explaining himself and desperately hoping for acceptance, I will one hundred percent know I haven’t been clear enough: YOU CANNOT OFFEND ME WITH YOUR MERE EXISTENCE.

I know if he’s gay that in some areas of life, he’ll have to, and want to, stand up and proudly declare his sexuality. Coming out is a milestone for many gay people who live in a hetero-centric world. Magda Szubanski has recently talked about how coming out changed her life. And my kid can absolutely do that with me, too – but he shouldn’t plan for and fear the consequences.

Because there won’t be any from his own mother, in his own home. Like the great Ellen De Generes said:

I’m not sure why this brilliant quote hasn’t been plastered everywhere, because it perfectly demonstrates how equality should operate. It’s insanity that in 2017, equality about sexuality is still such an issue that we’re forced to find biros that work to tick a box on a survey about it. (You’d think for $122 mill they could’ve set it up online like the Census…oh, wait. Maybe just send us free pens.)

Well, at least my kid has now learnt about communication methods in the days of yore. That’s important.

As is knowing that if he ever struggles with talking about his identity, his mother won't. Because #loveislove. And that’s one area I could never let him down in.

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