For Magda Szubanski, the fight for marriage equality was marred by tragedy.

This year Christmas Day will be bittersweet for Magda Szubanski.

As the public face of the yes campaign she’ll be celebrating alongside millions of Australians, as the unions of our LGBTQI community are finally recognised under law.

But privately, she’ll also be grieving.

In September this year Szubanski’s mother, Margaret, passed away. Margaret was 93 years old and she never got to see her daughter achieve equal rights under Australian law.

Szubanski told Mamamia she hasn’t yet had time to truly grieve for her mum but when the grief comes, it comes in waves.

LISTEN: Mia Freedman chats to Magda Szubanski about her memoir. Post continues after audio…

“Everyone knows that they’re always the big emotional moments,” she says. “It just hits you, you know? To be honest, I’ve been so invested in this campaign that I haven’t had time to grieve.”

“Given in the scheme of things, mum was going to die, to have something like this beautiful vote; to have that happen, and then a ‘no’ vote would have been awful.

“It would have been like a gaping wound to not have marriage equality by Christmas.”

Szubanski said she was sitting next to Christine Forster (Tony Abbott’s sister) at a rally and it really brought home to her how important family is and how much pain the no campaign has caused for Australian families.

“Her [Forster] and Tony’s dad died very recently, but it makes you feel so vulnerable when a loved one dies, you feel your heart is really intensely vulnerable,” she explains.

“I don’t mind a fair debate on the issues, but having live polls about the LGBTQI community, on TV, in people’s lounge rooms, I think that’s unforgivable.”


The 56-year-old says many older people, like her mum, died before they could attend their kids’ and grandkids’ weddings or even marry the person they loved.

“Quite frankly, a lot of older LGBTQI people haven’t lived to see this.

“My mum, she wasn’t gay but she didn’t live to see this,” she explains. “I would have loved it had it been earlier, and she would have known I had the same rights, she would have loved that.”

And now we’re havin a bevvie at the pub. WHAT A DAY!!! ❤️????️‍????????????????????????

A post shared by Magda Szubanski (@magda_szubanski) on


Szubanski says once she became the face of the yes campaign, she felt enormous pressure not to “blow it” for the LGBTQI community.

“As far as I’m concerned, fame is useless unless you can use it to help people, or help a good cause,” she explains.

“But the thing is that when you become a really public face of it, you feel this tremendous pressure that you might put a foot wrong and blow it for everyone.”

The author, comedian and actor said she was overwhelmed by the support from the Australian public.

“It’s really shown me that Australia is the country I always thought it was.”

“There is a very large centre in this country, of sensible people, we are a very sensible people and the extremes are really just not required,” she says. “I think it’s much more important to actually find reasons to bring people together.”


Szubanski hopes Australian families will now finally be able to start the healing process – just in time for Christmas.

“It’s just a beautiful thing, isn’t it, just before Christmas,” she says.

“Hopefully families can start to heal – because some families have been divided by this and this is a time where families come together.”

To help families celebrate this Christmas, Szubanski has recorded an audiobook version of the classic An Aussie Night Before Christmas for Audible.

“It’s just been really lovely to be a part of something that’s bringing people together for Christmas,” Szubanski says.

“And it’s an very Aussie take on Christmas – so kids will be able to see their own version of Christmas in the story.”

‘An Aussie Night Before Christmas’ is part of Gather ‘Round the Sound: Holiday Stories from Beloved Authors and Great Performers Across the Globe’, a free Audible compilation of five audio pieces (totalling approximately 70 minutes) exploring festive stories from around the world. This includes Letters To Santa, a mini documentary that centres around a peculiar holiday tradition at General Electric’s headquarters in Schenectady in New York – answering misplaced letters addressed to ‘Santa’ at their ‘12345’ zip code.