Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby is making a case against the marriage equality plebiscite by sharing her own harrowing experience with anti-gay hate speech.
In an heartfelt Facebook post shared on Thursday, the 38-year-old shares how the debate over whether to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania in the mid-90s affected her upbringing and perception of self-worth.
In her late-teens at the time, Gadsby says the debate taught her “how to close [herself] off and rot quietly in self-hatred”.
“I learnt this because I learnt that I was subhuman during a debate where only the most horrible voices and ideas were amplified by the media," she writes. "These voices also gave permission for others to tell me that I was less than them, with looks, words and on one occasion, violence”.
“For many, the debate was theatre. For me, it made me hate myself so deeply I have never been able to develop an aptitude for relationships.”
The comedian goes on to explain how she now lives with the daily effects of anxiety and low self-esteem bred during that period, and is concerned about how any present debate attached to a plebiscite will affect the current generation of young and vulnerable LGBTQIA+ people – particularly those in regional communities “who are isolated from positive voices”.
While she realises that the percentage of people opposed to same-sex marriage is relatively small, Gadsby says they “will no doubt be handed a megaphone in the name of entertainment.
“But this kind of entertainment will not only ruin young lives…it will end some of them. Speech is not free when it comes at such a cost,” she writes.
The plebiscite is set to take place in February next year.