Politics

Vote “Yes!” For Marriage Equality: An Appeal From A Closeted Gay Teen

We need straight allies to scream for us on marriage equality. We need straight allies to give us the voice we might not have right now.

This week I sat on the couch in silence as my dad questioned my mum’s choice to put a marriage equality filter on her profile picture. He said the boys at breakfast called him out for being in the photo. What I wanted to do was question him for being a self-centred bigot BUT, I didn’t. I haven’t even told anyone I’m gay yet.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Major works due, a biology assessment, high school creeping towards its end, and the entire fucking country playing a shitty game of football with my human rights. Still, I’m lucky and privileged in terms of my gay experience. I have never experienced an onslaught of bullying, and I believe that I (hopefully) live in a place that is accepting enough for when I eventually come out. But for now, no one knows.

I stayed quiet as a friend asked if a lesbian couple will kiss at her birthday. I’ve had someone ask me whether or not I was gay at a party and, when I replied no, counter with “thank god!”. I’ve had a conversation with a relative stranger at pre-drinks in which he said, “to be honest, gays are only 2 percent of the population, is it that big of a priority???”. Now, I may have failed my math trials, but that statement is completely absurd.

This was all before the same-sex marriage conversation reached its peak with the reintroduction of the plebiscite. Acceptance of my sexuality has long been talked about in the same manner as whether or not you like Game of Thrones.

I never spoke up because my crippling fear of being looked at differently outweighed my urge to tell these people that what they were saying can be intrinsically damaging — not just to me, but also LGBTIQ+ teens everywhere. I’ve been able to deal with this sort of thing my entire life, nodding my head to the dismissal of my existence, but the alleged plebiscite has erupted such an urgency and worry within me that staying silent is no longer an option.

The saddest thing about these stories is that they barely skim the surface of what the LGBTIQ+ community actually faces. Unlike other LGBTIQ+ people, I’ve never received death threats as a result of my sexuality; I’ve never been abused physically or mentally as a result of my sexuality; and even though my community is 14 times more likely to have suicidal ideations, I have never considered death as a respite. The government’s postal survey will in no way reduce these challenges LGBTIQ+ people face.

We need straight allies to give us the voice we might not have right now.

It’s as important as ever to remind the queer people around you that you love and acknowledge them (but not in a self-serving way because that could awkward and weird lol).

This whole conversation is bonkers. This entire “debate” is about whether two consenting people should be allowed to love each other. There are thousands of other closeted gay teens who want to yell from the rooftops that all they want is to be treated like a human being, but it’s not that simple.

Imagine living your entire life with a secret that is so ingrained within your character, but your entire government deems it taboo. I’ve lived through this hidden existence with the hope that one day, our country will finally progress over that big gay rainbow and promote equality. But for the first time in my life, I’ve felt doubt.

We need straight allies to scream for us.

We need straight allies to give us the voice we might not have right now — a voice that’s being trapped behind mounting stigma as this debate develops.

We need to win this vote to step forward as a country that rejects discrimination and the beliefs of angry, subservient, wrinkled, straight, white men.

Our existence means we’ve been fighting this battle since birth, now it’s your turn.

Call out your parents and family if they’re tiptoeing into homophobic rhetoric! Explain to them the consequences! Share a few Facebook posts! Retweet! Tweet yourself! Social media is magic! Enrol to vote! Vote yes!

If all goes to plan, 10 years from now, a boy like me will be able to sit up from his couch and tell his dad, “I’m gay, let Mum have her cute Love is Love filter and shut up.”

The author of this piece has asked to remain anonymous.

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