On August 25, for the first time in my life, I helped to organise a marriage equality rally.
It was a fantastic day: we had more than 400 people for the speeches and many more who joined the march through Fremantle and the rainbow chalk art session along the way. Walking through streets filled with supportive messages was so special. It was wonderful to be a part of and hugely encouraging to me and to everyone who supports the Yes campaign.
Two things gave me the drive to overcome my lack of confidence and make this rally happen.
These last months have left me aghast. When I saw the headline that Tony Abbott was proposing a postal vote to decide whether LGBTI people deserve the right to marry, I thought: “What a way to devalue people’s relationships! Surely it will never go ahead.”
When I was proven wrong and the government chose to pursue the idea, I was horribly reminded of how many British and American people, innocently assuming that common sense and decency would prevail, neglected to vote — and then were faced with the hard new realities of Brexit and Trump.
But the most important motivator for me was that, last year, I lost my cousin Steph. Like any suicide, there were many sad and complex reasons behind her decision, but in our last conversation she told me how for much of her life she’d struggled to feel fully accepted, in part because of her sexuality. No-one should ever feel shame for who they are. This postal survey has caused pain to people I love. This isn’t just politics; this is personal.
There is no better outlet for those feelings, I discovered, than activism. Gathering a group of wonderful people — including Katie from Rainbow Revolt, members of Socialist Alliance and Equal Love WA, and like-minded friends — and throwing ourselves into planning a rally made me feel empowered.
We had a warm and positive response when we approached our speakers, musicians, the many Fremantle businesses who displayed our posters in their windows, and Fremantle Council, which has passed a motion supporting marriage equality.
In the cool evening, when the rally was all over, I walked with friends through the city centre, where just hours before hundreds of people had walked and chanted “Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is an equal right!” It felt like the entire city was behind us.
Even the pavements said “Love is love”.
[This article first appeared on the Rainbow Revolt Facebook page and is reprinted with permission.]