Olympic gold medalist and LGBTI advocate Matthew Mitcham has become the brand ambassador for a new line of engagement rings for same-sex couples.
Matthew Wade caught up with him to chat about the postal survey, marriage equality, and why this was a massive win for our community.
How did you feel when the Yes win was announced?
I’d been busy, so when I finally sat down for two seconds I got teary, particularly around what the results meant. LGBTI people probably make up about 10 per cent of the population, but more than 60 per cent of people believe we should be equal. It was nice and validating.
How was the postal survey process for you?
I assumed that it was going to get a little bit ugly, and it did. I got very frustrated with some of our opponents during the process but there were people on our side that disappointed me as well. However, knowing all of our history and the shit our community has been through I thought well, who can blame us?
The worst of it was online, and I think that’s because it brings out the worst in people, where many think there aren’t any consequences for what we say.
Even though we still need to legislate, what do you think this win means for LGBTI Australians?
I personally think that marriage equality is going to be catalyst for social change, it’s going to normalise gay and lesbian people a lot.
I hope it will also help to spark change in other areas like adoption reform and laws around trans and gender diverse people being able to be recognised as the gender they identify as without having to get surgery, at a state level.
Is it important for people with a platform to speak out for LGBTI issues?
Totally. The way we gain visibility has a large part to do with celebrities and people with a profile being visible and being good role models to the wider community. There have been so many sport fans that have come up to me over the years and said how much they appreciated my openness.
How did you become brand ambassador for Affinity Diamonds’ H&H (his and his, hers and hers) collection?
Affinity Diamonds had wanted to support the gay community in some way, and to do that they decided to launch this range of rings specifically for marriage equality, to acknowledge that love should be celebrated in all its forms.
They approached me to ask if I could be face of it, and I thought it was a wonderful concept and that they were so proactive in showing their support, as the whole thing was confirmed long before the postal survey announcement.
How important is it for wedding service providers, like jewellers, to show their support for same-sex couples?
I think it’s incredibly important to know there are places you can go where you’re not going to be judged. Marriage is supposed to be the most wonderful experience, and when you’re trying to buy a ring you don’t want to be turned away because of someone’s religious beliefs.
So Affinity Diamonds wanted to broadcast loud and clear that they support same-sex marriage and will create an environment where you can be completely free from judgement.
Do you have a message for LGBTI Australians?
This is a massive win for us and we should absolutely enjoy it, even though it’s a terrible shame we even had to have a survey around human rights in the first place. Keep fighting for equal rights.