how not to handle human rights: a lesson from down under.

Most people would know that Australia is running a non-binding voluntary postal survey on marriage equality (Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds). As someone who is mostly closeted and has only recently dismantled the many layers of denial and self-loathing necessary to even let myself identify with the bisexual label, I have some things to say.

This plebiscite is useless. It’s non-binding. So it’s basically a glorified Facebook survey run by a bunch of 14-year-olds about which High School Musical movie was the best (the answer is Senior Year. Fight me.). The government doesn’t have to do anything either way with the result. Nothing has to change.

This plebiscite is a waste of money. It’s costing the Australian government $122 million.  One ! Hundred! And! Twenty-Two! Million! Doll-ahhhhs! Do you know how much it costs to make a fricking decision in parliament when that’s your mother fricking job? NO DOLLARS. That $122 million-fricking-dollars could be used to help fund education, healthcare, transport, public services or any number of clearly far more important things. Heck, it could be used to fund diverse and inclusive sex-education or create safe spaces for LGBT+ youth. Instead, I’m writing this post, so…..

This plebiscite is being used to stall. The government has been avoiding this conversation and we’re at the point where so many other countries have done this that Australia really needs to make a change. Unfortunately, this is a discussion that most of the government doesn’t feel like having. It’s like they’re two teenagers who know that their dog took a shit on the floor and are just not talking about it or making eye contact because they figure if they wait long enough their parents will clean up for them.  They’re buying time, trying to find an excuse to say no. It’s cowardly.

Most of all, this plebiscite is so fricking offensive. These last few months my mental health has been worse than it has been in a long time. I’ve been pushed further into the closet. I am more fearful than ever that my country has no place for me.

I don’t consider myself a weak person. In fact, I would say I’m pretty strong. Weather the storm and so on. This plebiscite has shaken me more than I ever felt possible. My anger and frustration, the usual reactions to utter bullshit of a similar variety, were replaced with a pain in my chest and a rock in my stomach. This was new. I had no idea how to process this. It’s part of the reason that I’ve been very absent. It’s hard to think straight (haha because I’m not) when you feel completely empty.

This whole situation has shown a complete and utter disregard for the well-being of others. It has created opportunities for people to voice their hatred and ignorance loudly and publicly to the detriment of others. Look, I get that it’s ‘free speech’ or whatever, but it’s not nice that this creates platforms for crazy people to spread fake news, okay? Okay, good.

To others who feel hurt deeply by the way that their country is putting human rights to a popular vote: I am sorry. You deserve better. Just hold on.

To all the people who have had to hear family and friends spew homophobic nonsense: They’re wrong. You’re amazing as your true and authentic self.

This bullshit will have a lasting impact on the LGBT+ community in Australia. We will feel this pain for a long time. We may gather together in our rainbow gear and hold up signs and remind our friends to vote, but this disrespect and the toxic environment of othering is really hurting us.

I hope that we win this. I hope that marriage equality passes in Australia. To entertain the idea of the alternative is altogether too painful.

This post is a little out of character for me. Usually, when I talk politics I like to pretend I’m a late night TV host but I just can’t turn on the Colbert or the Corden tonight. Maybe someone will see this post and feel a little less alone. Maybe not. Regardless, this was something that I felt I had to say.

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