Watching this plebiscite unfold has awoken me to Australia’s entrenched homophobia, in addition to imbedded racism, which tends to be my focus. It has also made me conscious of homophobia and hatred within my own communities. I am now aware of what feels like an overlooked contributing factor: mental density. The ABC released the results of a survey that indicated there was a ‘statistically significant association’ between high cognitive ability and the likelihood of a ‘yes’ vote. This made sense to me. I mean, it is obvious that only a person with a lack of intelligence and humanity could justify their homophobia (also known as, aversion to same-sex marriage).
This includes people voting ‘no’ based on their religious beliefs - you cannot claim religious freedom and yet support a movement to ban the hijab or burqa. I refer this even more explicitly to those who claim to be voting ‘for the children,’ yet in the same breath refute the safe school program – as if all children don’t deserve inclusivity and protection.
A fretful mother at a child’s birthday, after some discussion, urged me to vote no. She asked me if I was concerned about my five-year-old, what she might come to regard as normal, as if the idea of same-sex marriage was deviant and corrupt. I stared at my own daughter who – only days before – had beamed when I told her that my uncle and his partner were in love. The notion that children learn to hate had never made more sense to me than in that moment of radiant happiness, void of judgement. I looked at this woman, and I couldn’t help but wonder who had taught her hatred over love.
There are people who seek to wound and mislead us so that we are not in unison. They specialize in manipulation and fear tactics. They know that we have never asked for more rights or special treatment – only equal rights. They are well versed in the pain and trauma that LGBTQI+ people have faced. They know the grave statistics concerning mental health, suicide, assault and murder. They know that this debate has absolutely nothing to do with the plethora of irrelevant subjects they raise.
As a bisexual, black woman, I am acutely aware of our collective history. I know that we are fighting the good fight, that our passion stems from years of oppression and exclusion. I have been consciously stopping myself from engaging with those who don’t understand our emotion, from wasting energy on those whose brains literally cannot grasp the issue at hand, those who are at war with themselves, misdirecting their anger and impulses. I know that these people are not operating in reality. The most beautiful thing in life is love, and to be uptight about such a thing is indicative of an internal struggle, denial, fear. I do not intend this to shame, but perhaps these people ought to feel ashamed of this hurtful, hateful state of being.
A no-vote is repugnant. It doesn’t make sense. A person who is that way inclined doesn’t seek to make sense. They depend on irrationality and confusion. The contradictions are infuriating. The focus on our bodies, obsession with our sexuality and rules about who we are permitted to love is suffocating.
Our team has the most beautiful collective heartbeat. I am doing my best to breathe through this debate, and to remember that although the opposition doesn’t always care what we say, it is still important that we say it.