By MAYA NEWELL
My favorite thing as a child was to pick up the home telephone to find a telemarketer on the other end. “Hello,” I’d chirp eagerly, to which they would ask, “Hello darling, can I speak to your mother?” With a smug look on my face, I’d reply, “Which one?”
Since I was a young child, every interaction with a stranger has been an intimate battle; a battle where I push the envelope and bring equality to LGBTIQ people. Grand dreams I know…
On the weekend, I attended a friend’s wedding. Growing up in a family for which weddings are traditionally & legally forbidden and therefore, not terribly relevant, it was only the second one I’d been to in my life. The setting was as luxurious as one might’ve expected, punctuated with roses floating in glasshouse, bubbles and a weeping willow that swept over beds of snapdragons and climbing snow peas. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
My feelings of awe, however, were cut short by the catholic celebrant who dutifully repeated the compulsory, deal-breaking sentence – “Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”- Which made me just plain uncomfortable.
During the reception after the ceremony, the old fighting spirit of my childhood was reawakened and there, on the lawn, immersed in bubbly and canapes, one of these ‘intimate battles’ occurred. Whilst exchanging pleasantries with sharply dressed family friend of the groom and mother of four, I began telling her about a documentary I’m making about kids growing up in same-sex families.
Though she was very curious about the topic, she couldn’t help herself in expressing her reservations. “Well, yes,” she said, “but I s’pose we will have to wait and see if they – you know – turn out ok…? That will be the real test, when those kids grow up.”
Because I am usually cautious about ‘coming out’ to someone I am unsure about, particularly if I am also skeptical about their political views, I let the conversation trail into other subjects; work, university, love life and her sons’ jobs. Then after a while, the green safe light flashed and I thought, what the heck, and blurted out, “Well I also have two lesbian mothers, that’s why I am making the film… there are many grown up kids like me and I suppose now that you have met me, you can be the judge about whether we ‘turn out’ ok.” Yep. And unsurprisingly: Silence.
What had previously been a rather abstract topic of conversation had suddenly been transformed into “look what I prepared earlier – a real, grown up Gayby!” She paused for a long time. But then a tear trickled down her cheek. “What a mature young woman you are. Who would have thought…”