There's very few, if any, people who can honestly say they foresaw Australia's $122 million, non-binding, non-compulsory postal survey on same-sex marriage.
It was completely unprecedented, and I know that personally, I felt mentally unprepared for the onslaught of campaigning, social media posts, rallies, attacks, homophobia - and much more. It was unrelenting, and I felt emotionally drained within days of it beginning.
Today, the voting period for the postal survey officially, and finally closed. On one hand, I feel like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. "It can only get better from here, surely," I said, internally. But then, the realisation set in that this was just the first hurdle: the announcement of the results will occur on November 15, at 10am.
If the result is 'no', it will break the hearts of millions of Australians - both the LGBTQIA+ community, and the people that love us, our allies. If it's 'yes' - then we will cry tears of joy, we will dance, we will ask our partners to marry us, we will set dates, and we will hold one another in our arms, silently thanking some higher power that we were not lost in the hatred, and promising one another that our queer joy will return ten-fold.
An Essential poll released today told us that the 'yes' campaign looks set for victory, with 64 per cent of respondents saying they voted for same-sex couples to be allowed to marry. However, that also means that nearly 40 per cent voted for us to remain second-class citizens.
Even if the survey results in the legalisation of our marriages, it also means that we now know that nearly four in every ten Aussies who voted see us as lesser; they do not believe we should have the same rights as they do. The severe exhaustion I am experiencing as a result of the survey means that this fact no longer makes me angry - it simply makes me want to cry.
In an effort to gain a greater perspective, I did a callout to see how other LGBTQIA+ people feel now that the campaigning period is officially over. Several people told me that they would find it 'hard to forgive Malcolm Turnbull/the Turnbull government' for putting the LGBTQIA+ community through the survey. The vast majority of respondents said, in one way or another, that they were completely exhausted.
You can read responses from LGBTQIA+ Australians below.
"The postal plebiscite made me drained, tired, angry and frustrated. It made me stress and gave me unpredictable mood swings. The entire struggle for marriage equality may not be over, but I do breathe a small sigh of relief that it's getting closer to the end."
"Tired. Drunk. Angry.
I honestly never believed how many hateful people would crawl out of the woodwork. My partner and I received a death threat in our mailbox for having a rainbow flag over our balcony. The sky writing, the pearl-clutching homophobia being paraded on public television disguised as concern for children, the openly transphobic/homophobic vitriol coming out of social media. Rhetoric I thought we'd moved on from more than a decade ago. It's made me defensive, grouchy and reactive. I admit I hit the bottle a bit. Ugly stuff.
I saw some beautiful and inspiring things from the LGBTIQ community and our supporters, and that made me proud. But I've also seen members of our community worn thin and on edge. I'll never forgive Turnbull for this."
"[I'm] hopeful but cautious 😘🌈"
"They thumbed their noses at the states, they thumbed their noses at the High Court, they thumbed their noses at the senate, but worst of all they thumbed their noses at the people, all so they could get their hate on and the division of the people for whom they represent. For no good reason other than their twisted ideology and self interests.
"Long should they have the nation thumb our noses at them in return. I'll damn well never forget what we were put through in 2017 or by who."
"The uncertainty was the most difficult part. So often I'd see a really positive poll and be thrilled, then something - anything at all - would pop up right after and deflate me again. I was always willing time to move quickly, so that there'd be no time for No to make inroads. I was constantly assessing the evidence of who was going to win, trying to see the positives. It never left my mind."
Meredith Janette Bigham-Lloyd
"I've found it frustrating to have such a campaign inflicted on us but have also been inspired by the many people from the YES campaign that I have met along the way. I believe we will win the most boxes ticked with YES but we must not lose the momentum. We must keep campaigning for parliamentary legislation that is fair and equitable and lacks exemptions.
"We have come a long way but the fight for marriage equality and other LGBTIQ/queer issues continues."
"Unfortunately we go from campaigning for 'yes' votes, straight into campaigning for actual marriage equality legislation (versus "same-sex marriage" with so many caveats and carve-outs that the discrimination is even worse than when we started)."
Diane Beatrice Mcmahon
"If we win, it should be a banging Mardi Gras then!"
"It will take a lot of forgiveness after this campaign, even if the Yes case wins 60/40, that means every 4 people out of 10 don't think we are equal/human."
"Disillusioned, worried, apprehensive, heartbroken, invalidated, but also hopeful (because I'm pretty sure I'd go insane otherwise)."
"I am both relieved that this survey is ending and terrified about the outcome. My partner and I have both experienced severe mental strain over the course of the survey campaign, and we're both actively considering our options to leave Australia in the new year."
"I’m just scared of what the result is going to be and how it’s going to hurt my friends and I."
"I feel like this was our only and best chance of getting this done anytime soon and proud to have campaigned my butt off for it!"
"Honestly, thank fuck it's done. I don't know how many more mornings I could wake up to see what the latest reason why I didn't deserve equality was."
"[I feel] more determined to punish the Coalition than ever."
"I'm still very angered. Whatever result we receive - the harm this has caused for LGBTQIA people, in and out of the closet, has been very hurtful."
"There are times recently when I felt like I was back at school in the 70's. The same hateful comments back then have resurfaced over the last few months and the no voters seems to have been given a green light to be derogatory and hateful. I can certainly understand why some LGBTQI feel suicidal [...] Thankfully I'm stronger now."
"I’m feeling fantastic now it’s over and we are almost certainly going to win. Still I’m angry at what the government has put so many through unnecessarily. This nation is so divided now and I can’t see how we come together again. The hate speech has been almost unbearable. I didn’t know so many Australians hated the LGBTQI community and our rainbow families so deeply.
"Still incredibly grateful that the huge majority of Australians didn’t fall for the hate or the fear mongering. Round 2 in Parliament next."
"I feel no different today than I did before the vote, but then I can tune out well. I view the survey was a necessary evil to get a result.
"If the yes vote wins. I'll be happy to know my vote was a part of what changed history, and can be a part of owning that legislation change.
"I understand my view is prob different to most... but I know the vote was the quickest way to equality. Even though I personally have no desire to get married, I feel people that should want to, should be able to. If the yes vote passes this law, I'll be proud that my vote helped my fellow LGBT friends have the ability to get married. What was said during the campaign was just words to me, and to be honest, if I could get through school in the 90s, this was a walk in the park! I didn't experience any homophobia or was treated any different from people I interacted with during or since the campaign."
"Honestly I feel conflicted because although I'm exhausted and glad it's done, I also feel sick because I know that no matter what happens, it isn't really going to be over. It feels like one hurdle has been reached and I'm already out of energy.
"As well, I feel sad that this whole ordeal was so damaging but people will expect us to just be over it once it's done, as if there won't be lasting impact."
"I feel like we've taken a huge step backwards. It seems homophobia has been legitimised and given a voice again."
"Tired. Anxious. Sad. Want to marry my husband in my hometown of Australia, like I did here in NYC 3 years ago! I won’t be coming home until then.
"I was so shocked to see such vile bigotry from the “no” voters. Truly sad. But they’re on the wrong side of history. Thing is - this isn’t above LOVE. I can love who I want. It’s about having the same rights & choices!"
David J. M. Samson
"I'm Australian by choice, yet I'm resentful & ashamed human rights are open to a "survey". Equality & respect shouldn't need to be debated.
"I'm in an 18-year relationship. It'd be nice to get married & have it acknowledged formally by the country I live in.
The results of the same-sex marriage postal survey will be posted on the ABS Postal Survey website on November 15, at 10am (AEDT)
If this story has caused you or someone you love distress, or if you're struggling after the postal survey, please consider calling the wonderful people at Lifeline on 13 11 14 (available 24/7), or talk to someone via their online chat service (available 7pm - midnight).