Making it to a mailbox isn’t something I’ve managed many times in my adult life. Until the marriage equality vote, I genuinely thought that the postbox out the front of our office was a historical monument. I’m proud to say though, that I had the form crossed, sealed and through the hole within days of it arriving.
I voted Yes. Done.
But as the campaign went on, and I watched reactions on both sides of the camp heat to the point of unfair dismissals and wedding ceremony cancellations, I got uneasy.
I know how many of the No camp feel about homosexuality. I know because I used to feel the same way. My childhood was unusual; waving hands above my head in worship services and speaking the sounds of Pentecostal tongues. Praying for people to be healed. Carefully underlining a verse in the big heavy bible balanced on my knee.
There’s something very satisfactory about religion, about having a purpose, being on the right side and following rituals to make sure you stay that way.
I don’t remember anyone actively saying homosexuality was wrong. There were a lot of things we called wrong; anger, lust, divorce, but homosexuality was one of those things that was so wrong, it was just never mentioned. It came out more subtly, in whispered stories. ‘He was rescued from a life of homosexuality.’ ‘Well, her son’s got a boyfriend…’
It was someone yelling ‘homo!’ on the playground and a friend explaining the act, a look of horror on her face. It was the older brother of a friend secretly flicking through a bible to the story of Sodom and giggling through to God destroying the city in a ball of fire. A teenage friend was sent to a ‘Cleansing Stream’ camp where homosexuality was on the menu of curses to be cast out of him.
No mention of love. Just disgust. Unnaturalness. Dirty things done in secret.
Which explains how, in my first face to face encounter with a self-pronounced Actual Gay, my mind had homosexual pinned somewhere between prostitute and paedophile.