Australians are facing a torrent of ‘no’ messages. Slogans and signs and speeches and television advertisements citing religion, freedom and morality all in the name of opposing same-sex marriage.
Certainly, there are bursts of light, with the ‘yes’ campaign sprouting messages of acceptance and love as Australians prepare to vote in the postal survey on marriage equality.
But, for those in the LGBTI community, they are watching their relationships be thrown back and forth like it’s a tennis match. For the most thick-skinned, the answer is to grit one’s teeth and move forward. But, for the most vulnerable, those messages of denial towards the LGBTI community are causing real harm.
Australian comedian and LGBTI advocate Magda Szubanski is near her limit.
On Tuesday night, Szubanski gave her 40,000 Instagram followers an insight as to how she’s coping.
“Marriage survey form arrived today,” she wrote. “Voted yes! Immediately posted it.
“Feeling all the feelings- humiliation, hurt. But also determination and hope,” she continued. “And of course #love So. Got my Wonder Woman jigsaw, my special jigsaw board, my friend Alex coming over for take-away. Even got my magnifying glass. This is how we roll against homophobia at my place #Activism and #amazons #voteyes.”
Just last week, Szubanski’s mother Margaret – a fierce Catholic who just as ferociously believed in marriage equality – died, never having the chance to see her daughter granted the right to marry.
“This is an old Catholic women who really made a huge transition in her life. She’d never even met any gay people before she had a gay daughter,” Szubanski told Monday night’s episode of A Current Affair.
“It was incomprehensible to her that we didn’t have the same rights. She couldn’t understand the unfairness of it. Her acceptance actually and support of marriage equality came from her catholicism. It wasn’t at odds with it.”
The 56-year-old actress, who came out publicly in 2012, said when she was younger – raised as a strict Catholic – she used to pray for her sexuality to change. “Please God,” she would say, “don’t let this be my cross to bear”.
And, though she no longer feels the same, she’s worried for other young people who might be deeply hurt by the hateful messages spewing from the ‘no’ camp.
“Oh, I have been called everything from a ‘pervert’ to a ‘nazi’ to the ‘gay Taliban’ – how you can be a nazi and part of the gay Taliban, I don’t understand,” she said. “I’ve also had people accusing me of paedophilia.”
“As an adult I’m not that thin-skinned, I really can cope. But with kids it’s a different thing. Kids are always super sensitive to being different. With any other minority group the family shares the minority status, but for an LGBTI youth you’re an minority of one within your own family.”
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Szubanski said the least society can do is to recognise LGBTI relationships as equal, to help protect those young people who might not even have the support of their own family.
“The attempted suicide rate within our community is six times higher,” she reminded us.
Most of all, Szubanski is urging Australians to vote. To get out there as soon as the letter arrives, to take it to the post office – “young people, you can Google what a post office actually is,” she laughed – and to vote, vote, vote in this postal survey that nobody wanted but everyone now needs to be a part of.
“None of us wanted the nonsense of this Mickey Mouse survey that’s not statistically representative and not binding,” she told A Current Affair. “But please, please don’t use that as a reason not to vote.”