It’s hard to put my childhood into words. I was raised with the influence of gender non-conformists, gay men and women, people who became extensions of my family. My parents also sit under the LGBTIQ+ umbrella.
While I have fond memories of playing fashion parade with my dad’s friends, having my hair done by them and singing to Madonna on long car trips, I also have early memories of friends not being allowed to come to my house, memories of my family being referred to as “mentally ill”. I remember concerned voices, asking if my brother and I were “okay” given the unique dynamic of our family unit.
We were always okay. Even though we had a colourful life, we also shared many of the traits most families share. We saw both of our parents play an active role in our life. We went on family holidays together. We laughed together, we fought through our teen years but we always made up. My family always showed me unconditional love and support. It confused me for a while that I was so scared to come out to parents who had exhibited self-acceptance to me my whole life.
As puberty graced me I buried the growing presence of my homosexuality. I guess I thought because I had long hair and hated sports that I mustn't be a lesbian - even in a rainbow family you aren’t completely free of internalised stereotypical assumptions. Maybe it was “just a phase” I often thought to myself. It was that sentiment that plagued me as I nervously paced back and forth waiting for my dad to answer the phone, when I decided to tell him I had a girlfriend. It took so long for me to take myself seriously, I dreaded being confronted with the doubt of others.
It took so long for me to take myself seriously, I dreaded being confronted with the doubt of others.
This is the part of my coming out story that I acknowledge I am truly blessed to have, something that not every parent could hand down to their gay daughter the way a gay father can. Since that phone call, to the day my dad and I marched Mardi Gras together hand in hand and every day in between I’ve been taught what it means to be proud. To not just accept who I am, but to recognise the beautiful implications of being a gayby lesbian.
Now when I look back I realise I wanted to protect my parents from being the realisation of the “Gay Agenda” as some anti-LGBTIQ+ activists would call it. I didn’t want onlookers to believe that the validity of my sexuality relied so heavily on the fact that I was exposed to loud and proud gay and transgender people in my life. Now I understand that no matter what your upbringing, religious orientation or family dynamic you can most certainly still turn out gay. And that's what makes the LGBTIQ+ community a family more than anything else.
Because what I’ve also been exposed to is people who have been rejected from their families and cast away. Gay children are in all kinds of families.
I didn’t want onlookers to believe that the validity of my sexuality relied so heavily on the fact that I was exposed to loud and proud gay and transgender people in my life.
It wasn’t long after I came out to my family that our nation endured a lengthy debate on marriage equality. Again I was reminded of almost half the country's opinion on people like me and families like mine. They warned everyone that granting marriage equality would be the beginning of a slippery slope. The survey result was a message to society that it was okay to be gay, for families to be gay – that we are legitimate.
As someone who has lived in this reality for my whole life I almost wanted to scream from the roof tops. We’ve been here the whole time, we’ve always existed and we always will. So when I watched the live feed of the inner-walls of parliament house of the passing of the marriage bill, I let my shame die with the inequality that our community had worked so hard to correct. No longer will I live my life any less than what it should be in fear of how the onlooker might perceive my family. We’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going anywhere.
You can follow Bre Smith on Instagram @triplecreambre