Pass marriage equality or there's a gay florist strike around the corner

The Guardian-4 years before

Marriage has never interested us. The thought of making out in front of relatives after exchanging vows creeps me out, and I have enough anxiety in my life without needing to think about the politics of guest lists involving Chinese relatives I barely know. And then there’s the expense. The average Australian wedding costs $50,000. If I had that kind of money, I’d buy a round-the-world trip, or put it towards a deposit on a Sydney apartment I’ll keep paying off until I’m dead.


...l-discussion-on-marriage-equality-live"> For the longest time, I was deeply – almost aggressively – ambivalent towards the fight for same-sex marriage. When it came to the broader queer struggle, same-sex marriage felt a little … meh. Didn’t other issues – like suicide rates, teen and workplace bullying, the fact that our international brothers and sisters are beaten, drugged, imprisoned and murdered for being queer – take precedence over our right to a gift registry?


(That said, I am sure the credit I’ve built with my straight friends means they owe me a Kitchenaid by now.)

Last year, after the US supreme court made same-sex marriage a legal right nationwide, the American writer David Sedaris wrote in the New Yorker about his own mixed feelings about same-sex marriage. He said:


From the dawn of time, the one irrefutably good thing about gay men and lesbians was that we didn’t force people to sit through our weddings.

The battle for gay marriage was, in essence, the fight to be as square as straight people. That said, I was all for the struggle, mainly because it so irritated the fundamentalists. I wanted gay people to get the right to marry, and then I wanted none of us to act on it. I wanted it to be ours to spit on. Instead, much to my disappointment, we seem to be all over it.

In the end though, Sedaris eventually comes around … partly because there are tax benefits. And he also realises this fight is also for young people, for whom symbolism does actually matter. You cannot deny the power a future Woman’s Day cover, with Penny Wong and her wife on their wedding day, would have on a kid in rural Queensland passing it at a checkout with their parent. And, for better or worse, we live in a society that privileges married couples – not just in symbolism, but in the practical realms of finance and citizenship.


Facebook Twitter Pinterest So lately I’ve similarly concluded that same-sex marriage is worth fighting for. Because as much as I used to see it as a fight that overshadowed other queer struggles, what I now feel is that the debates around Safe Schools, forced divorce for transgender partners, putting PrEP on the PBS and same-sex marriage are all different branches stemming from the same root problem. Which is that, in 2016, many people in Australia – and many powerful men in parliament – still hate faggots, dykes, poofters and trannies.


Don’t believe me? Then why do almost half of all surveyed Australian queers hide our sexuality or gender identity at social events? Why do over half of us experience verbal abuse? Why have one in five of us experienced physical abuse? Why does 80% of homophobic bullying occur at schools, when they’re apparently supposed to be … well, safe?


Really, there’s only so much we can do tonight. Look at us. We’re a bunch of Guardian readers from the inner city (and I know a lot of you would’ve had lattés today). But we’ve got to engage, be heard, and have tough, civil conversations – not just with each other – but with people who are undecided, and even those who despise us.


And if you’re straight, please don’t let queers do this on our own. Because transgender, bisexual, gay and lesbian Australians are tired. We are tired of marching. We are tired of doing panels like this. (I mean, I’m on deadline; I’ve actually got work to do you guys.) We don’t want to sign any more petitions, because they’ve been signed already. Let’s pass this fucker and move on.


And I swear to God, if this goes on for any longer, a gay strike is right around the corner. Every gay florist, gay dress designer and gay caterer (i.e. every florist, dress designer and caterer) will shut their doors on you. The only wedding services left will be the heterosexual ones, like the wedding singers who only perform Bon Jovi ballads to backing tapes, and the florists that use fucking gerberas.


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