To an outsider looking in, it would seem that I have a pretty blessed existence: I have a good career; a strong, loving relationship; I manage to get along financially; and I have two little puggies (Peggy-Sue and Chino) to complete this picture perfect postcard.
But, as they say, life is the sum of all its parts and scratch the surface and there are scars – the battle wounds from life, which has gone before.
And, while I know that each of us carry our own scars – at the moment I feel the wounds of my past are once again being exposed as a sense of vulnerability creeps back in.
See, my wounds all stem from the fact that I am gay – something that has taken me about 35 years to accept.
And now, as I approach my 40th birthday, I find that I’m suddenly in the very uncomfortable position of finding out if my fellow 25 million Australians are also willing to accept me and the life that I lead.
The prospect of people voting on whether I should have equal rights to them, makes me question how this country I love so much, has managed to get so off track.
The fact is, being a democracy isn’t enough to be successful as a country – you only have to look at Russia and Zimbabwe to see how a “democracy” can fail its people.
Rather, it is the way a country treats its people, including its minorities, that is the real test of a country’s worth.
And for me, at the moment I feel like my life is on exhibition – about to be judged by my friends, my family, my work colleagues and even total strangers, who have been asked to decide if I’m worthy of sharing a right they have simply as a result of being born straight.
All this survey does for those in my position is dredge up the past – it exposes me and people like me to further torment and ridicule, while people like Tony Abbott are given a platform to travel the country, free to denigrate and spit bile at the gay community under the cover and protection of a religious belief and ‘freedom of speech’.
I feel as though I am again that young 14-year-old boy at Peel High School in Tamworth in 1992 that has a world of confusion in his head, plagued by the fact that he might prefer boys to girls.
In my life, I have never felt so very isolated and alone as I faced sneers and yells of “faggot” and “queer” every day as I walked through the playground.
It also brings back the fractured relationship I had with my family after telling them that I’m gay and, while today I know that I am very much loved, it only serves to remind me that no whatever I achieve in my life, the reality is that my family would prefer it if I was something that I’m not.
To me, this survey represents nothing more than a failure of Government, whose sole responsibility it is to protect the people it serves and to afford them the rights and freedoms we all should share in a modern, democratic society.
LISTEN: This is what Malcolm Turnbull should have said. (Post continues...)
And the thing is, for me, this whole thing isn’t about marriage equality at all – whether I’d ever exercise the right, I’m not quite sure.
What this is about is being accepted – it’s about me being able to look my fellow Australians in the eye, comfortable in the knowledge that I am gay and comfortable that they accept me for who I am.
In the 15 years I have been with Timmy, we have never been able to walk down the street holding hands or take long walks on the beach arm in arm. We can’t lay in park together with my head resting on his chest as we read the Sunday paper – and this all stems from a fear of being ridiculed or worse…
And, what I fear we are now about to witness is a very ugly side of Australia as people with vengeful, nasty hearts who claim to be Christian, will actively denounce, denigrate and discriminate against homosexuality, in the belief that me and my fellow homos are not worthy of acceptance.
We will hear lines from the Bible quoted to our face and that old chestnut of “it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” thrown around like drugs in one of the more notorious establishments at the Cross.
My fellow homos will also be accused of being unworthy parents (although I doubt Peggy-Sue and Chino will be the most reliable of character witnesses after we abandoned them for a year as we lived OS) and there will be the reprehensible assertions made that being gay is only one step away from being a paedophile or bestiality.
See, this is what happens when there is a void of strong leadership and a failure of Government – people that are nasty, hateful and spiteful feel they can make hurtful and bigoted comments towards others without consequence.
And, as I sit on the sidelines watching our leaders play political football with my life, I cannot but help feel for that confused little 14 year old boy that currently sits in a class room in Peel High in Tamworth, not knowing who the hell he is and who is about to face a barrage of nasty comments and views in a campaign that will determine if he’ll ever truly be considered and accepted as a fellow Australian. At least I have the benefit of an extra 25 years life experience to put into perspective what’s happening – he doesn’t.
And, for the sake of his future (and mine), I hope that Australia does not stuff this one up.