The struggle

Something big happened recently.  I'm sure you saw it on the news.  America made a very clear and legally binding statement about gay marriage.  This follows the Irish referendum showing community support and highlighting the change in attitude that seems to be enveloping the western world.  As a fan of equality I think these are great advances in politics and the law.  But of course we are still waiting in Australia.  The fight still continues here.

I am someone who thought about the idea of marriage growing up, but thought it unlikely that I would do it.  Until, of course I met Peter.  Like a flash of light we knew we had something special and we joked that the two least likely people were going to do something conventional.  Yep, it's good to keep people guessing.  We shocked people by doing something a non-traditional way, of course.  We had a whirlwind romance and decided very quickly to get married.

Marriage isn't for everyone, but we were lucky.  We had a choice.  We know people in long term committed relationships who don't need a piece of paper and a party.  And that's cool.  But we also have gay friends who would love to do what we did.    And for the life of me I can't understand why outdated ways of thinking should stand in the way of their happiness.  Love should win.

There were also comments on social media after the American announcement.  'Hey, that's great and all, but what about other more important LGBTI issues'.  Perhaps my response to this is simplistic.  Every single step forward should be celebrated.  It highlights the change that is going on.  Some areas of society need to be dragged along kicking and screaming to a more accepting mindset.  I think perhaps people have seen how quickly an online petition or social media campaign can grab the headlines.  We have become used to an instant response to outrage.  We want and expect change NOW.  This works sometimes, but it doesn't always bring politicians, the church, pockets of society and the law along with it.

Think of the Women's Suffrage or other civil rights movements.  It has taken years for change to occur.  And in looking around today I can see that even though some things are enshrined by law, society needs reminding constantly and new generations educated.  There are many that don't see the importance of equality.  Hell, it's hard to believe that in 2015 we are still talking about a referendum to acknowledge indigenous Australians in our constitution.  But the reaction of the media to indigenous issues are part of the problem.  When rallies held across Australia to protest the closures of remote communities, some news outlets missed the point entirely.  Sure, over 4000 people took at stand against this issue but the focus was on the chaos this caused commuters, rather than the issue people were protesting about.  Well, I salute you 'selfish rabble'.

Every day we are reminded that although the law and some areas of society are moving forward in their thinking, there are others that aren't.  The recent outrage when Clementine Ford took a stand against victim blaming, and was subsequently threatened and verbally attacked online.  The idea that women are 'destroying the joint' as pointed out by Alan Jones, which hilariously has now become an battle cry by feminists.  Destroying the Joint is a Facebook page highlighting women's issues from domestic violence to sexism. And speaking of sexism, the everyday sexism project allows women to catalogue the way in which they are treated in society.  The flip side of this Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, highlighting girls and women's issues, 'providing a healthy alternative to so much that is being marketed to young people on the internet.  Our motto is: Change the World by Being Yourself'.  A message I would have loved to hear when I was younger.

In many ways I can see how we have moved forward regarding gay rights, even in my lifetime.  But then something like this makes you stop and think.  The Humans of New York Facebook page recently posted a photo of a young boy, saddened by his future as a homosexual.  "I'm homosexual and I'm afraid about what my future will be and that people won't like me."  The outpouring of love and friendship and wise words brought a tear to my eye.  Reading some of the comments I was reminded how far we've come but also how far we have to go.

Equal rights are worth fighting for.  We are shown every day that unfortunately this takes time.  But also that each step forward, whether it's a change to law or a groundswell of community support, should be celebrated.  There is so much awfulness in the world that victories, now matter how small, need to be acknowledged.  And with each step forward, we are closer to the destination of equality and respect for all people, regardless of colour, religion, socio-economics, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender.

I saw this quote yesterday and cried.

I am a dreamer and lover of wishing on stars.  But I have also earned my backbone.  I have found my voice and try to speak up regarding issues of equality.  Why?  Because that is the world I want to live in, and I will be cheering every single step forward towards that vision.  The struggle may continue, but I am hopeful that one day my friends will be able to get married here in Australia, just like Peter and I did. #marriageequality


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