In writing about The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, I was plagued with fears. Fear of not knowing where to start this blog. Fear of how to do justice to the experiences of my family, friends and community in under 600 words. So I returned to my values for strength, as I always do when I feel lost.
Wellways Australia has made its position clear as a supporter of marriage equality and truly understands the power of visibility.
As a male pansexual (attracted to all genders and sexes) in a relationship with a woman, I was eligible to marry. Our family is acutely aware that this privilege affords us extra legal and financial protections and the law as it stands assisted us in custody proceedings several years ago. However, I have many friends and family members painfully awaiting the right to marry, and some whose marriages are now at legal risk due to changes in their gender and sexual characteristics.
In 2004, it took the Australian parliament 30 minutes to amend the Marriage Act to define it as exclusively between a man and a woman. The $122 million postal survey is the latest round in an assault on belonging for people who do not identify exclusively as heterosexual or fit the male/female binary. I wonder what the financial cost would be to the community in help-seeking due to the distress caused by the survey, and the social and emotional wellbeing cost to individuals and the community as a whole.
During this process, I try to remember the philosophical perspective about ‘crisis’, that it offers both danger and opportunity. Many people have found themselves in crisis as a result of the most recent marriage equality process. Many of my extremely resilient friends are among them. It has tested our resolve, our resilience and our sense of belonging. It has been difficult to practice, from fear to hope and possibility, in the face of continued lies, factual inaccuracies and slurs upon lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex, queer/questioning and asexual people.
That this difficult time has offered an opportunity for allies to show their support, offers hope for some people. In Burnie, Tasmania, a café received an arson threat for flying a rainbow flag. The café's response was to fly more rainbow flags. During this stressful time, more than ever LGBTIQA+ people have sought support and, as a result, feel less alone. In Tasmania, where I live, the rainbow community has become more proactive in developing leadership and advocacy skills to challenge the stigma, discrimination, and in offering support to each other.
Inclusive communities celebrate diversity and reap the rewards of embracing differing perspectives and world views. There is tremendous opportunity for growth in respectfully exploring world views, after all we are in this together.
So how do I feel about The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey?
Guilty: that I don’t have more to give the cause and my community without becoming unwell.
Proud: of my family and friends for their continual love and courage.
Disappointed: how easily bigotry and hatred can be unleashed and harnessed.
Pleased: I am a change agent and have a leadership role in my community.
Disheartened: by continuous political ineptitude.
Relieved: to not be resentful that after all of this angst, the process still does not guarantee change.
Perplexed: that many nations, some staunchly Catholic, have achieved marriage equality and we can’t seem to.
Personally and professionally I celebrate differing world views and love to explore them... it is when the world view of some renders diminishes the rights of others that I believe we all lose.
Despite how you may be feeling, you are not alone and I encourage you to reach out. Wellways Helpline is open 9am-9pm Monday to Friday. Call 1300 111 500 for a free and confidential chat.
Wellways Intentional Peer Worker