Being a human is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter the shape, size or colour we come in, and no matter our tastes, we are made up from the same molecules. So that’s why we put together a collaborative series to celebrate diversity and explore struggles of seeking equality.
When did you first become aware of discrimination against GLTBIQA+ individuals? I was called gay at school for not conforming to what all the other kids were doing. My uncle, who I have a very close relationship with, is gay, so I never understood why I was being called this in a derogatory way. I was brought up in an environment of acceptance and love towards the gay community, so I remember being confused by the context that homosexuality is a negative thing.
How would you describe the feeling of not being granted marriage rights?
We live in such a modern and advanced world in so many ways, however we are so backwards in this case. Marriage is a union
of love between two people. It is cruel and discriminatory to not allow two human beings to confirm their love by law of their country, because of their sexuality. It should not be anybody’s business but those involved. So it disgusts me. It is inhumane to be treated differently because of sexual preference.
What is your message to people who discriminate against the GLTBIQA+ community? If you put as much energy and passion into relevant issues that actually deserve this much attention, the world would be a happier place. Leave everyone at peace to live their lives.
What does your sexuality mean to you? It's always meant a lot. First, my sexuality was synonymous with shame. Now, I am proud.
When did you first become aware of discrimination against GLTBIQA+ individuals? My awareness of discrimination against GLTBIQA+ folk developed as I realised that I was gay, around age 14. Feelings of shame and abnormality stemmed from very valid fears of exclusion and discrimination. The denial of rights or equality to a certain group of people implicitly endorsed such discrimination. It contributes to a deeply damaging and inaccurate belief in society that same-sex attraction is unworthy or less meaningful.
Have you had any key moments or experiences throughout Australia's fight for marriage equality that
have contributed to your understanding of its importance?
As a humanist, a homosexual and a human rights advocate, I respect the symbolic importance of marriage equality as a means
of normalisation. I respect that denying marriage rights for gays deeply devalues a group of people in society's eyes, positioning them as an abnormal, different or a minority.
I believe that only when marriage equality is recognised by authority and is legally endorsed, will we see widespread acceptance and normalisation of homosexuality.
What is your message to people who discriminate against the GLTBIQA+ community? You will feel deeply ashamed of yourself one day.
What does your sexuality mean to you? My sexuality isn't a predominate aspect of my life. Being comfortable to be who we are regardless, and not feel ashamed of that, is something we need to demand. And honestly it shouldn't come to that. The embedded ideas of what the norm is in society has drastically changed, and we need to let it.
What is your message to people who discriminate against the GLTBIQA+ community? Get up with the times, it's 2015 and you're living in the past. Come meet us in the present, with an open mind and the realisation we are all human. We are all the same, let's embrace our differences.
What does your sexuality mean to you? My sexuality has been the catalyst for ongoing perspective shifts, self evaluation and ultimately gaining expanding insight into the human condition. Being immersed in a community that not only excites exploration of character, interaction and expression, but also allows for insight into a wildly diverse and supportive environment, has been everything to me. I used to think that my sexuality was the most pivotal aspect to my identity, but I've grown to understand that it has merely been a vehicle in which to ignite self-love holistically.
When did you first become aware of discrimination against GLTBIQA+ individuals? I think the main issue lies within the wording of that question. The problem is NOT becoming aware of discrimination against LGBTQIA+ individuals. The issue is, in fact, only being able to understand that community through the lens of stigmatised collectives. As children we are taught that heteronormativity is paramount and this is entrenched in absolutely every single interaction we have. So without knowing it, children are subconsciously harbouring great fear towards 'the other'.This is manifested when abnormal behaviour is presented, i.e. someone having a gay uncle or having a sister who is a lesbian. Children respond immediately with a fear of being outside their experience, which has been collected since infancy. I remember very clearly in prep a girl in my class used to kiss me on the lips at assembly and I was disgusted and mortified. I knew it was very wrong and shameful as a six-year-old to be engaging in that behaviour. So I think discrimination starts at birth.
What does your sexuality mean to you? I don’t really know. It’s something you’re always trying to come to terms with, I guess. It’s a terrifying experience to find meaning in something so important when you feel alone. Out the other end, it’s pretty refreshing to no longer have to feel the need to defend yourself. Any of David McDiarmid’s Rainbow Aphorisms are good references.
When did you first become aware of discrimination against GLTBIQA+ individuals? I’d have to say I was quite young when I was first called gay, I didn’t even know what it meant at time. I grew up in a small coastal town two hours out of Melbourne. It wasn’t very forgiving of differences in a town dominated by football and cricket. The journey to Melbourne during my teens felt like time travel. What made me feel different at home, I quickly discovered was celebrated in the city. I was lucky to have a supportive family and 40 years of activism in Australia, fighting for my rights.
How would you describe the feeling of not being granted marriage rights? Pretty pissed off. I believe religion should have no power in government. The government and religious institutions would have to put up a pretty big fight against the majority of Australians who support marriage equality. I don’t think it would help the government’s already dismal reputation.
How do you think marriage equality would affect your life? I’d have to buy a suit.
What does your sexuality mean to you? Sexuality to me is just another part of a personality. I think for me it means I have a sense of freedom.
When did you first become aware of discrimination against GLTBIQA+ individuals? In high school my brother was pretty intensively bullied about his sexuality. I think that was the first time I became aware of the idea about sexuality and the negative effects it can have.
How do you think marriage equality would affect your life? It would allow me to get married without moving to America.
What is your message to people who discriminate against the GLTBIQA+ community? To keep your minds open and accept everyone as they come.