‘...worst ho­mo­pho­bia I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced’

The Gympie Times - - NEWS - Sherele Moody Sherele.Moody@news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

I HAVE been on the verge of tears for days now.

It’s hard to pin­point the ex­act mo­ment that pushed me over the edge, but I’m spi­ralling into a mar­riage equal­ity de­pres­sion and that re­ally scares me.

Frankly, I’m ex­hausted from the on­slaught of ho­mo­pho­bic rhetoric spew­ing into my life. I can­not tell you how badly I wish some Aus­tralians would take a step back and think about the dam­age they are do­ing.

I thought com­ing out as a teenager in re­gional Queens­land 27 years ago was dis­tress­ing, but the at­tacks of the past few weeks are the worst dis­plays of ho­mo­pho­bia I’ve en­dured.

It’s al­most bro­ken me.

I’ll ad­mit, it’s par­tially my fault. In­stead of avoid­ing Face­book and Twit­ter over the past few weeks I’ve been dili­gently col­lect­ing ev­ery Tweet, post, meme and news re­port on the postal sur­vey that I come across.

I then share them un­der the hash­tag #re­spect­fulde­bate.

When Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull de­cided to make Aus­tralian vot­ers share their views on gay mar­riage via his wa­tered-down plebiscite, it seemed log­i­cal – as a jour­nal­ist – to gather ev­i­dence of how the de­bate played out.

While it’s been amaz­ing to see so many Aussies declar­ing their sup­port for mar­riage equal­ity there’s no doubt the Yes cam­paign has hit a few hur­dles along the way.

This in­cludes Chan­nel 10’s ridicu­lous de­ci­sion to fake a gay hate poster and co­me­dian Ben­jamin Law’s stupid dec­la­ra­tion on Twit­ter that “Some­times find my­self won­der­ing if I’d hate-f**k all the anti-gay MPs in par­lia­ment if it meant they got the ho­mo­pho­bia out of their sys­tem”.

The mar­riage equal­ity bat­tle is much like two par­ents fight­ing for cus­tody of a child. In­vari­ably one per­son sits atop a pedestal, blam­ing ev­ery fail­ure in the re­la­tion­ship on the other per­son and twist­ing facts to make them­selves look per­fect while paint­ing the other as the devil in­car­nate.

The other party learns fast that they can to never put a foot wrong be­cause even their small­est er­rors will be twisted into some­thing much worse.

That con­cept ap­plies to the mar­riage equal­ity cam­paign: Yes sup­port­ers need to act in a way that de­nies the No cam­paign any am­mu­ni­tion.

If we don’t hold our­selves to a higher level, the anti-equal­ity me­dia com­men­ta­tors, high-pro­file Aus­tralians and lead­ing lobby groups will use ev­ery mis-step we make to tear us down and in­flu­ence un­de­cided votes.

And that’s the de­press­ing part of this whole sit­u­a­tion. We are be­ing told we are a danger to chil­dren, we are bad par­ents, we are de­stroy­ing school, re­li­gion and so­ci­ety, and we are re­spon­si­ble for the end of free speech. All we can do is grin and bear it.

If that’s not bad enough, we have to cope with shock­ing at­ti­tudes like that of Mel­bourne break­fast ra­dio caller Don who told the ABC “Hitler had put all those kind of peo­ple in their own con­cen­tra­tion camps, it’s one of the two good things he did”.

When asked by ra­dio host Faine to re­peat him­self, the caller replied: “Hitler had con­cen­tra­tion camps for th­ese gay peo­ple, one of the two good things he did? The other one was build the au­to­bahn.”

And to top it off, peo­ple from within the gay com­mu­nity have de­cided to throw the rest of us un­der the bus be­cause if “they don’t want to get mar­ried, nei­ther should the rest of us”.

My brain hurts from the hate and my heart wants to throw in the towel be­cause the emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal cost is so much worse than I imag­ined it could be

It would be so easy to give in, to let the No cam­paign­ers have their way and to forgo this chance at en­sur­ing all same-sex cou­ples gain the le­gal pro­tec­tions mar­riage of­fers.

I’ve been close to giv­ing in point many times of late. But then I think about the gay men and les­bians who have been jailed, tor­tured or killed for fol­low­ing their hearts.

Th­ese war­riors paid the ul­ti­mate price for love and their sac­ri­fice is enough to push me out of bed in the morn­ing, put my big girl pants on and con­tinue fight­ing for what I be­lieve in.

The win will be worth it, no mat­ter the cost.

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