It’s a bizarre thing to suddenly give a crap about what other people think — to lock eyes with a complete stranger in the frozen food aisle of Woolies and feel the sudden, unmistakable urge to take their head between your hands and mouthe “please help me”.
But that’s precisely the impact Malcolm Turnbull’s poorly considered postal vote has had on me — it’s forced me into a state of psychological regression, whereby years of tedious self-work have unravelled and left me feeling like the emotional equivalent of a distraught toddler, lying at the feet of everyday Australians, crying for their validation, approval and support.
It hurts to be forced into a corner; to have no choice but to argue with loved ones about why their ‘Yes’ vote matters so damn much. I could choose to dissect the history of marriage as an institution, point out the numerous contradictions that come with citing The Bible as a source in modern-day debate – we have progressed on slavery, yeah? – or explain the strenuous research already conducted into the value rainbow families and same-sex couples add into the fabric of society.
But instead, I’ll be spending the next two months recounting my own sappy little love story, in the vain hope that it resonates — in some small way — as being both intrinsically human and intrinsically worthy of equal respect as my heterosexual peers and their relationships. So here goes.
I met my boyfriend, Brad, four years ago — and we met the old-fashioned way. I approached him in a public space, shaking with nerves, and asked for his phone number. He gave it to me — and I memorised it instantly, fearing I’d lose the piece of paper. There was a short period of courtship; nervous dates and surprise home visits after late-night bar shifts. I flew up to rural for north Queensland to meet his parents. I skulled a longneck of home-brew to impress his dad — emptying a third into the kitchen sink on my way to the restroom — and Googled Cowboys star Jonathan Thurston to make comfortable dinnertime conversation. Brad met my mother and survived it (which, if anything, is testament enough of his commitment).
I told him I loved him after two months and got his name tattooed on my left bicep, under a loaf of br(e)ad, so that I could add an ‘e’ if things didn’t work out.
We’ve lived together for three and a half years now — and it hasn’t always been easy. Between my occasionally debilitating anxiety and his chronic migraines, we’ve made more bleary-eyed trips to the emergency room and local pharmacy than most married couples would consider healthy. We’ve survived a failed start-up business attempt, the deaths of loved ones, one family crises instigated by my writing, a heap of debt, mental health issues, three overseas trips and several bouts of inevitable disillusionment.
And after all that, we still hope to get married, somehow start a family, and make a solid go of it — pretty mental of us, hey?
I’m proud of who I am. I’ve fought hard to love myself, and even harder to consider myself worthy of a relationship as caring, well-adjusted and healthy as the one I share with Brad. We are hard- working, taxpaying, passionate members of society — and it would mean the absolute world to us to have our families watch us get married one day.
Maybe you don’t believe in marriage — and that’s totally fine, you don’t really have to. But given the unfortunate circumstances of this postal survey, please consider checking your enrolment details and, when the time comes, ticking the little box next to ‘Yes’. Chances are that you won’t even notice the change — but you might just see a few more complete strangers like me walking with a bounce in their step, smiling on the street on a Wednesday afternoon.
And in this day and age, doesn’t that count for something?