Today is a day of anniversaries for me.
I’m celebrating the 30th Anniversary of my Coming of Age.
I’m celebrating the anniversary of my birth. 51 years.
I’m recalling my first trip overseas.
Then, there’s a couple of other anniversaries that need mentioning.
Marriage Equality was blocked in Australia 10 years ago today.
30 years ago was the last time my family was together.
So yes, Happy Birthday to me. See my blog this time last year!
I remember my birthday 10 years ago. We were going out to dinner to celebrate. Somewhere in Chinatown in Melbourne. It was all arranged.
I wasn’t so much an activist back then. It had only been a couple of years since I had embraced my sexuality and I was still coming to terms with what it all meant.
I was running late, because I was listening to the radio. News Radio was covering the live debate from the Senate on Marriage Equality. Although really it wasn’t about equality. It was about amending the Marriage Act to include the words
Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
The amendments also required marriage celebrants to mutter those words, just to drive home the point at every marriage in Australia.
I was standing in the kitchen, by the radio, as the votes where being counted, and then listened to the result, 38 Senators voted in favour of amending the Act. 6 Against. Australia had successfully legislated discrimination against couples of the same-sex.
The effect on me was immediate. Angry. I had worked so hard to come to terms with my sexuality. Many of my family and friends had embraced the new me. Yet here was the Government, both of the major parties, Labor and Liberal, telling me that my relationship was second-rate. In effect I was a second class Australian. I just couldn’t believe what had just happened. Even though it was expected, I was hoping that at least the Senate might throw the bill back to the House of Representatives and ask for a re-think.
Let me point to that moment in time as the start of my activism for my right and the rights of all other non-heterosexual couples to be treated as equal citizens.
I’ll keep fighting for as long as it takes. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years!
The other life event for me 30 years ago was my first trip outside of Australia. I spent 6 weeks in the USA, Richmond Virginia. I was at a Boy Scout Summer Camp and it is one of the highlights of my life! Can you imagine this small town young man travelling solo to the USA. I’d only ever been as far as Perth and then I drove there. The sheer excitement and nervousness of standing at Tullamarine, looking at the plane and seeing gaffer tape around the tail wings. The horror of arriving in Houston to be told there was a strike and no planes were flying. Getting to New York and not understanding that I needed to fly with a different airline to get to Washington DC, being completely lost in the airport. Taking a Greyhound bus to Richmond only to arrive at the bus terminal and spend hours sitting there because nobody came to collect me. They didn’t answer the phone (landlines!) and I had a lot of trouble using the payphone with all this foreign money.
Memories! When I returned from the US it was only a matter of weeks until I turned 21. 30 years ago today. At that birthday party the family of 11 children gathered for the last time. Every other event since then always had one or two of us missing. And now with my sister Helen and my parents dying it will never be possible again.
Time continues to travel in such a way that we can’t go backwards.
Happy Anniversaries everyone!
Take some time to send a message to your MP about Marriage Equality
Attend the next Equal Love Rally August 16th. Michael and I will be addressing the rally.