Toby Allen married his partner in America because he couldn’t in Australia. Matthew Wade caught up with the Human Nature star to chat about gay rights and the current postal survey on marriage equality.
Human Nature’s Toby Allen recently wrote a personal letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull imploring him to legalise same-sex marriage on behalf of his rainbow family.
“I would’ve loved [the postal survey] to happen in a different way, but I hope this is the last time we have to do it.
“My sister actually sent me a photo of my ballot arriving in the mail.”
Allen and his bandmates have lived and have been performing in Las Vegas for almost ten years, following a successful career down under.
They’ve previously performed at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, opened for Michael Jackson and Celine Dion at concerts around the world, and appeared on various major television shows including Oprah and Dancing With The Stars.
While they formed as a pop harmony group, their style has evolved over the decades to reflect a more big band, jazz sound, a sound that has seen the band’s Vegas residency extended through to 2019.
Given the more progressive marriage laws in the States, Allen has already married his long-time partner Darren.
“It’s embarrassing I can’t do it in Australia, I would have wanted to do it there first,” he says.
“Not a lot of people know about Australian politics outside the country, so there’s this sense that Australia is a forward thinking nation.
“I was gobsmacked that America overtook Australia in granting those rights to same-sex couples first.”
Allen and his partner have been together for 12 years, and now that the pair have kids as well, it’s prompted him to consider the legal rights and benefits that should be afforded to same-sex attracted Australians.
“[Marriage equality] might not make the biggest difference to a lot of people, but it can be devastating for someone in a same-sex relationship if one partner dies, or needs to be visited in the hospital,” he says.
“Allowing same-sex couples to marry puts them on the same playing field as everyone else – it’s just about equality.”
Despite their successful, ongoing run in Vegas, Human Nature are heading back to Australia for one Christmas show in December.
The show, which will see the band perform hits from their Vegas residency alongside Christmas favourites, will be hosted at Victoria’s Rochford Wines in the Yarra Valley. Kate Ceberano and Bonnie Anderson are also slated to perform.
Allen says the band can’t wait to reconnect with their Australian fans.
“We perform five nights a week in Vegas, but it’s great that we’re still able to come back and do tours in Australia and perform for the people that have grown up with us, and known us for more than 20 years,” he says.
He adds that many of the band’s LGBTI fans often commend him on his openness in the industry.
“There have been so many guys that have come up and say they feel empowered by someone like me, being in my position and being open,” he says.
“To know it can affect people is such a wonderful feeling.”
Given the current climate around marriage in Australia, Allen urges the country’s queer community to stay strong.
“Continue to be who you are, and fight for who you are and what you deserve,” he says.
“If this isn’t the last time we have to fight for this we’ll keep fighting for it.
“I hope everyone is getting out there and having their say – this could be the time we get it to happen, and if we can, we can move on and celebrate our lives.”
Human Nature will appear for a day on the green at Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley on Saturday 16 December. For more information and to buy tickets visit: www.ticketmaster.com.au or www.rochfordwines.com.au.