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Hang In There, There’s Always A Storm Before The Rainbow

The Government’s Marriage Equality Survey is deeply insulting, not only because of the tidal wave of hatred it has unleashed against people who already suffer prejudice and discrimination, but because the process itself is inherently homophobic.

Rather than dealing with Marriage Equality in the same way it deals with other contentious topics — through a parliamentary vote — the government has gone postal and thrown the LGBTQ community under the bus in the process.

Given this, many of us in the LGBTQ community are asking how we can support each other during this time. History tells us we can draw strength from the power of the collective.

I’ve written before about my own coming out story. I knew I was gay from about the age of 12 but I didn’t come out until my early twenties. Growing up in conservative, suburban SA in the ’90s and naughties, I didn’t meet anyone who was openly gay until I was at University. Eventually, I worked up the courage to go along to the Flinders University Queer Space. A space on campus that was autonomous for LGBTQ students. A genuinely safe space.

Many LGBTQ people feel mad as hell about what’s unfolding. For us, collective organising provides an opportunity to channel that rage into outcomes.

Through that experience and my involvement with student activism, I met many other students who identified as LGBTQ. Many have become life-long friends and comrades in progressive politics. In that sense, my university experience was really life changing. It put me on the path to coming out and finally embracing my identity as a gay man.

Fundamental to this was the connection with people who share a similar life experience. Being able to draw strength from the power of the collective, knowing that others shared my struggles and were there to confront them with me. This is a powerful thing in a heteronormative society.

Fast forward a decade or more, and the world has changed a lot since I was at university. Online dating apps, social media and more fluid approaches to sexuality, mean that sexuality is less of a taboo than it once was. There are far more opportunities to connect with other LGBTQ people, outside of traditional queer spaces.

Yet despite this, the Marriage Equality survey and the homophobia and transphobia it has exposed, is a reminder of the need for LGBTQ people to come together and organise collectively with the shared goal of delivering positive change.

Many LGBTQ people feel mad as hell about what’s unfolding. For us, collective organising provides an opportunity to channel that rage into outcomes.

For those LGBTQ people who are scared or in the closet, collective organising raises visibility and reminds them that they are not alone. For those feeling powerless, there is no greater remedy than a display of collective power. After all, we are always stronger in the fight against hatred and bigotry when we work together.

As surveys hit letterboxes in coming days, now is the time to channel passion into action. We need to talk to our LGBTQ friends and family and work together to ensure we win this vote. Of course this means voting ourselves, but it also means ensuring our social networks vote. It means knocking on doors, it means going to rallies, and it means calling local talkback radio, writing to newspapers and putting forward the ‘yes’ case.

Marriage Equality won’t be won by corporate donations or endorsements from celebrities (though, of course, this all helps!) it will be won on the ground through face-to-face conversations in our communities.

While this is a difficult time, the history of social change tells that by working together we will overcome this challenge. Afterall, there is always a storm before the rainbow.

This piece was originally published on the Huffington Post Blog on 14 September 2017.