The upcoming plebiscite on same-sex marriage will decide my future, and, as the day drags closer, all I feel is fear, apathy and disassociation.
I was asked to write this because on a day dominated by news of the marriage-equality plebiscite, I got a bit down in the dumps and made a self-pitying Facebook post. It was a warning to friends and family that I will likely dissociate myself from as much as possible during the debate so I don’t expose myself to the vitriol it will likely bring up. It will not be a good campaign for the thousands of LGBT people here, being thrown into the spotlight and having our personal lives the topic of a community-wide debate. While the polls are heartening for the result, the road will be difficult – and it’s definitely not a done deal. Remember when everybody said the Remain vote in the UK would win?
I can picture the bus stops and billboards already. We’ve already seen examples in Ireland during their referendum. Imagine how it must feel for somebody to daily go to school or work, and wait at a bus stop that questions a core component of who they are; that questions their suitability to be around children (and mark my words, pictures of babies and kids will be used as sotto voce, a way to appeal to base fears); that tells them they are lesser, and the other. These billboards and bus stop signs aren’t targeted at LGBT people, they’re aimed at mums and dads, grandparents, and the uninformed.
After all, we – the single-digit percentage of the broader population – don’t really have electoral power.
It’s not hard to see how these images could mark only the beginning of a campaign that will feature television commercials and web ads urging people to not make an historic mistake; a campaign that will likely encourage the crazies to come out, finding new and transformative ways to scream “faggot” or “God hates fags” at us. I expect there will be a couple of hostile HIV and AIDS “jokes” on the record, too. Hopefully, it doesn’t go as far as violence, or to the brutal scenes of Orlando in recent weeks.
Also on The Big Smoke
- What would Jesus do…about same-sex marriage?
- Language has hijacked the same-sex marriage debate
- Marriage Equality: Why can’t I marry my love in my own country
Why am I pouring all this out on a page? Because I’m human too. I don’t want to be scared. I’d rather treat all this like water rolling down an upright duck’s back and not care. But that’s not the way emotions work. When our values are questioned we get anxious. That rings true for whatever your orientation.
This plebiscite is going to be divisive, strongly held views shouted at each other, and both sides will claim the moral high ground.
But what of the ground we stand on?
What happens if they vote no?
On the following day, most of the country will go about their business. Churches will celebrate their victory, the good ones reminding their parish to respect and look out for us. The godless masses will be heading out for brunches, nursing hangovers or children. Life will go on. For us too. Life will go on with the knowledge that our country values us less – happy to accept our contributions to the community, but our lives are an awkward inconvenience to them. Many of us will pull through, some may even consider leaving the country.
Others – especially the lonely, and especially the closeted – will be disablingly devastated.
So why am I scared? Why do I let this get to me? Why do I have the urge to dissociate myself from the debate and yet ironically contribute to it?
Because I’m not sure which of those three categories I will fall into should the plebiscite realise our/my worst fears.
That scares me the most.
And I’m sure many others in the LGBT community share my view, too.