Right now, I could, should I wish to, legally get married. As a bisexual Australian person, there’s a 50% chance I could get married, and 50% chance I couldn’t.* Honestly, how bizarre is that? I’ve never been one for gambling, but right now, whether I can legally be married is completely up to the gender of who I by chance fall in love with. Ludicrous, no? I’m a human version of a coin flip.
Yesterday, I joked to some friends that there was no way that the current government would, in yesterday’s party room meeting, decide on a free vote that would more than likely result in the legalisation of same-sex marriage. I even laughed that they would all owe me a drink in the extremely unlikely event that it would happen. That I would see myself become an equal to my heterosexual peers.
I didn’t joke because I found the situation funny. I joked because this is what I have learned to do as a queer person. Later in the day, I silently stared at my phone in a cinema before a movie began, watching the breaking coverage came through. The government was sticking with their original plan, a plebiscite, which the LGBTQIA+ community has already said will harm us, and potentially kill some of us. My heart broke. Again.
You might also hear your LGBTQIA+ loved ones laugh and joke about the hopelessness of politics, or the ludicrousness of their situation. This might disarm you, or confuse you, or it might even console you. It might lead you to believe that maybe things aren’t that bad.
But they are – we’re still second-class citizens, and every single time our rights are chosen for us, and we remain unequal, is shattering. It’s not surprising, but it’s heartbreaking.
The reason that so many of us will laugh, and joke, and roll our eyes on days like yesterday, is because there have been so many days like it, and many that have been far more emotionally damaging. Through those days, we have shielded ourselves for generations through humour. We’ve made ourselves resilient.
The LGBTQIA community has experienced a lot to make us this resilient. We threw bricks at Stonewall in 1969. We threw our fists in the air while the police arrested us at the protest that became the first Mardi Gras in Sydney in 1978. We threw our arms around one another and embraced after we were massacred in Orlando's Pulse Nightclub last year. We’ve seen murders, gay panic defence laws, homophobic assaults on the street. We’ve sat in hospital waiting rooms at 3am, after friends have been jumped for being queer. We’ve held loved ones' hands as they came out to their family, and were told to get out and never come back. We’ve been barred from the hospital rooms of our sick life partners, because we weren’t legally their next of kin. We’ve squeezed each other’s hands when homophobic and transphobic slurs are yelled in the street. We’ve seen a lot, and we’ve felt even more. We’ve only become stronger.
So please – do not let our laughter placate you. Let it light an empathetic fire of solidarity inside of you, to mirror our fire of hope and despair and strength.
We know, despite tough days like yesterday, that we are incredibly close to gaining marriage equality. We know the vast majority of Australian people support the LGBTQIA community becoming equal in the marriage laws.
But our resilience, our laughter, our hope got us to this point. That hope cannot be extinguished - not ever, but especially not now. It’s burning brighter than ever.
*That is, of course, unless I fall in love with a non-binary person, or transgender person whose gender on their birth certificate doesn’t correspond with us being an ‘opposite sex’ couple.