• Mojave and Laz on their wedding day. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The love that I found with Laz and the public acknowledgement of our relationship has helped me finally leave the psychological room I had constructed for myself.
By
Mojave

4 Jul 2019 - 9:02 AM  UPDATED 22 Feb 2021 - 3:48 PM

Follow the conversation on SBS Australia socials #WeRiseFor #MardiGras2021 and via sbs.com.au/mardigras

The 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras live Saturday 6 March 6pm AEDT on SBS On Demand or catch the full parade at 7:30pm on SBS and NITV.


 

I met my partner Laz online. It was 2012 and by our second date I knew he was the one.

Laz was born in Sydney to Hungarian refugee parents. Before meeting him, I had never met a Hungarian person and I wasn’t even sure where Hungary was.  Laz has a big heart and a warm generous spirit. He is loyal, makes me laugh and makes me feel safe in so many ways. I feel deeply loved by Laz in a way I have never felt before.

We’re different in a lot of ways. There’s a ‘bear in there’, and you don’t want poke the bear, while I tend to be more conflict averse. He loves the cold while I prefer warm weather. He became my HPB, my “Hungarian Polar Bear”.

We moved in together later that year, but the thought of marriage never crossed our minds.

You see, I’ve spent many years of my life hiding away in a small room. This wasn’t a physical room. It was a psychological room I had constructed for myself, to feel safe and hide my sexuality. I grew up in Sri Lanka in a country where being gay is still illegal. Despite moving to Australia at 17, my sexuality remained a secret I was terrified someone would find out.

I had come out to my mother many years ago. She is a religious woman and was upset initially but then seemed to acknowledge it without fully accepting it. I had also come out to close family and friends. But at work and with wider society, I didn’t talk about my personal life. I wasn’t ready to invite others into my room.

Fast forward to 2017 and Australia was in the middle of the marriage equality debate. I felt like an unwelcome spotlight had been placed on my life. My instinct, at first, was to retreat further into my little room.

At work, no one knew about my personal life. During the campaign, I overheard a conversation that stuck with me. A guy at work was saying that he would vote no, because he didn’t want any of his sons to turn out transgender. I instantly felt angry but also paralysed as to whether I should say something. The lady he was talking to enquired what he would do if the vote didn’t pass but his son still came out as transgender. Would he love him less? He did not respond.

The survey gave me the courage to come out at work and to the rest of my extended family. My aunty Kathy called me from Melbourne, unexpectedly, to say that she would be voting yes, and that she was very happy for me.

I felt like a young child out in the sun, running and laughing. People are seeing that child for the first time. It was a truly joyous experience for me.

She told me that she loved me and she understood how difficult it must have been for me. My family are not necessarily what you would call 'small l' liberal, but they reached out to me to show me that they cared for and accepted us.

We had underestimated people’s capacity to see that ‘Love is Love’. It was and remains an amazing feeling.

In December 2017, in wintery New York, Laz and I were walking slowly back to our hotel, after seeing the very camp Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular on Broadway. It was snowing lightly. My polar bear was in his element in this environment while I kept slipping and sliding across the ice. For the first time, we started talking about us getting married.

Back home, I asked my mum whether she was going to come to my wedding.  It was a tense conversation. I felt vulnerable. It felt like I was asking her whether she really did love me. She spoke slowly and said although she didn’t believe that marriage in the ‘church sense’ of the word was something she supported, she could still celebrate our relationship. I was flooded with a sense of relief. I felt happy and something deep in me settled.

Getting married has made me feel much freer in all areas of my life. It’s given me the courage to share my story and finally be myself. 

Finally, the day of the wedding - our celebrant Maggie pronounced us husband and husband. We kissed. And as we turned around, we could see the love and happiness on people’s faces and the tears of joy in their eyes. We spontaneously both raised our arms up in victory. We had achieved something we never thought we could.

The love that I found with Laz and the public acknowledgement of our relationship has helped me finally leave that psychological room I had constructed for myself so many years ago.  

I felt like a young child out in the sun, running and laughing. People are seeing that child for the first time. It was a truly joyous experience for me.  Life has felt very different for me since our wedding. I feel much freer in all areas of my life. It’s given me the courage to share my story and finally be myself.

Mojave lives in Sydney with his husband and works in finance. Outside of work, he enjoys learning about psychology and keeping fit.

This article is an adaptation of a performance made for the ‘Queering the Brown’ storytelling night in Redfern, developed and hosted by film-maker Gary Paramanathan. You can follow Gary's podcast 'The Skin We Live In' here

Follow the conversation on SBS Australia socials #WeRiseFor #MardiGras2021 and via sbs.com.au/mardigras

The 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras live Saturday 6 March 6pm AEDT on SBS On Demand or catch the full parade at 7:30pm on SBS and NITV.

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