Friday, 17 November 2017

Love Won: Celebrating The Marriage Equality Vote in Sydney.

Two days ago Australia finally voted YES for Marriage Equality. Living in Sydney, I got to see the reaction and take part in the celebrations first-hand, and I wanted to share it with you all as I think it's such a special and historic thing to be a part of. After a long battle against the Australian government, the Australian people spoke up, and Love Won.

Celebrating The Marriage Equality Vote in Sydney Australia

Just a bit of background first though: The Liberal party (which is actually the equivelent of the Conservatives in the UK and Republicans in the US) made the country carry out a postal vote on marriage equality, and it's been a super long drawn-out process that has caused Australia's LGBT community a lot of heartache and anguish. Everyone pretty much agrees that the vote should never have even happened, and that equality for all isn't really much to ask for in 2017.

The vote doesn't automatically ensure that legislation will be passed as it was a non-binding vote, but due to the controversy surrounding the postal vote, Malcolm Turnbull (the Australian Prime Minister) and his Liberal party know how much they fucked up, and because of that they're trying to - allegedly - push it through before Christmas. Anyway, enough of that stuff, let's get onto the celebrations...

Sydney was the second highest YES vote electorate in the country, with 83% of the population agreeing that everyone deserves to marry and show commitment to the one they love, no matter whether they are a man marrying a man, or woman marrying a woman. I live in Paddington which is pretty close to the home of the Sydney LGBT community, Taylor Square (a little like Soho in London), and because of its proximity to my work and home, it was the perfect place to help the community celebrate.

The vote was announced just gone 10am on Wednesday morning here in Australia, and Prince Alfred Park opposite my office had a huge screen up and thousands gathered to watch. We watched from the office windows, all wishing we could be down there, and with hearts thumping, the vote was announced as a big fat YES from every single state and territory in the country. 

Despite the vote not even affecting me directly, and despite me being just an ally and supporter, I got all teary and struggled to contain all the emotions going through my mind. I messaged my housemate Joe who was in South Africa visiting his family, and got even more teary when he told me he was crying! Pretty quickly I knew in my heart I needed to be out on the streets that night celebrating, so I cancelled my spinning class and plotted with my colleagues to join the street party on Oxford Street and Taylor Square.

5:30 finally arrived and we left the office and walked up towards Oxford Street, passing crowds of people waving rainbow flags and hugging, kissing, and high fiving their friends and loved ones. The atmosphere just walking up Oxford Street from the corner of Hyde Park was one of happiness and jubilation, and my heart tried to force out tears every time I saw a glimmer of the love surrounding us.

We joined the queue to get into the Oxford Hotel for a drink (after a few weeks of no drinking, I decided this was a good reason to break my no drinking rule), but as soon as we got in the police closed off Oxford Street and the parade started! So we raced back outside and into the crowd as the music started up. 

We managed to get right in-front of the huge sound system on wheels that was being pushed down the main road, and with the likes of Kylie, Michael Jackson, Belinda Carlisle, and all the greats being blasted out, we danced our way down the road we had just walked up. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, and I was grinning from ear-to-ear as we danced and shimmied down Sydney's main street, surrounded by thousands of happy, elated, jubilant people.

The atmosphere is honestly something I have never ever experienced before. The entire parade was completely peaceful, there were no risks or dangers or people being d***s, the police had smiles on their faces, and the tears of happiness were flowing. The entire crowd oozed love, and it made me so proud to be living in a city that welcomes absolutely everyone and is so accepting. The whole day just showed me how special Sydney is; the love in this city for fairness, compassion, and equality for all is unreal.

I'm a Moderate Catholic, I swing between voting for the Conservative party and voting for the Labour party depending on the leader at the time, but my values align more with the Lib Dems/Labour. I've been raised Catholic and went to all-Catholic schools, and although sometimes the acts of individuals within the church horrify me, for the most part I'm proud of my beliefs and definitely not ashamed of what I believe in. The backwardness of the church however, is something that I still struggle with, and I don't really understand how anyone could want to stop two people who love each other, from making the ultimate commitment to each other.

Personally I don't think the teachings in the Bible should be taken so literally, at the end of the day Love is Love. And men marrying men and women marrying women is NOT going to destroy the traditional 'family'. Coz guess what? GAYS CAN BE A FAMILY TOO. And they can have biological children using surrogates/donors, and they can adopt children in care homes in desperate need of love...just like straight people! Men and women will still marry each other too, LGBT's are not going to impact you or your life, or eradicate the traditional family just from having equal rights, and it's time the church saw that and stopped trying to prevent people from loving who they wish.

Anyway, after the parade we walked back up to the Oxford Hotel, and spent hours drinking with random people we'd never met, but made friends with for a few hours. We shared drinks, laughs, stories, and then when it was time to say goodbye and go home, I stumbled across to Mr Crackles for some pork belly. 

As I sat at the bus stop eating the mouthwateringly good pork, the touristy open-fronted Italian restaurant across the road had 'What a Feeling' from Flashdance blaring out and everyone in the restaurant was up dancing and singing along. Tears started streaming down my cheeks as huge emotional sobs erupted from within me. I have no idea if it was the prosecco, or the happiness surrounding me, but all the emotions from the day that had been building just exploded out of me all at once.

For me I think the whole day made me so emotional purely because there's now actually a chance that I'll get to see a few more of my friends officially proclaim their love and commitment to the love of their life, including one of my oldest and dearest friends. Knowing that they now know they are regarded as equal by the rest of Australia, and are accepted by the rest of Australia for who they are, is just so special. 

This week Australia showed the world what love is, and that love will always, always win.

Now, let's get this through parliament before Christmas!

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1 comment

  1. I want to say "It's about damned time, it's 2017 not the Middle Ages" like I'm surprised that marriage equality isn't already a given but sadly some of the world still have a long way to go. Good on Australia for catching up and the celebration is well-deserved! Ps. Would it too late for me to toss another shrimp on the barbie for a belated-celebration when I get here next week?! x

    Kyoto, Japan - Fushimi Inari Taisha - Posh, Broke, & Bored


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