Max is a 13-year-old champion who stole Australia’s heart when he marched at a recent rally in Sydney. Matthew Wade caught up with him to find out why marriage equality is so important.
After many schoolyard jokes about Chris Hemsworth between friends, 13-year-old Max Townes decided to turn his adolescent crush into a pro-marriage equality statement.
“All I want is the right to marry Chris Hemsworth,” it read.
“You’ve got five years until I’m 18 Australia – you too Chris!”
It went viral, with various news outlets publishing the photo of Townes marching with his sign, and he says the support remained long after the rally was over.
“A couple of times a week, when I’m walking to and from the train station someone will come up to me and say, you’re the kid from Facebook with the sign,” he says.
“It was my first ever rally, and it was really fun.
“It was so exciting to see the things people were doing to support the LGBTI community.”
The voices of young people are often excluded or ignored entirely in the public dialogue around marriage equality in Australia, but young advocates like Townes are helping to break through.
Since the postal survey was introduced and ballots began arriving in letterboxes around the country, younger Australians have been among the groups most impassioned in fighting for the rights of LGBTI people.
Townes says legalising same sex or gender marriage in Australia would make a big difference.
“If I started giving you a whole spiel I could go on for centuries but to sum it up, I’d feel proud if it was legal,” he says.
“Also, LGBTI people who may not have been able to come out of their shell might feel like they can if they’re treated like normal human beings.
“I think a lot of people are shy, and if marriage equality doesn’t pass, they might feel more insecure about coming out.
At his high school Townes says plenty of students have been talking about the postal survey.
“There are about two or three LGBTI groups that hang out together at school and most people are accepting. There are a few that don’t understand and ask personal and uncomfortable questions though,” he says.
“But the postal survey has been talked about a lot.
“Throughout the week we’ll conversations about it in class and debate it.”
Townes’ mum Meagan says she wants marriage equality to pass for the sake of her son and all other young people like him.
“We have a suicide epidemic in our country for various reasons,” she says.
“I saw a statistic that there are 3,000 suicide attempts each year in Australia from LGBTI kids, and that’s devastating.
“Making marriage equality legal will take away some of the stigma that young kids feel.
“I want all my kids to be able to get married. I wish we lived in a world where your sexuality was as exciting as your star sign.”
In response to the vocal ‘no’ voters around the country, Max Townes puts his counter argument plainly and simply.
“We’re not taking away opposite sex marriage,” he says.
“We’re not removing something and adding in something different, it’s really just saying that the whole population is equal.”