Rainbow Families Victoria’s Felicity Marlowe pens her thoughts on the not-so-unifying postal survey.
Dear postal survey,
I am so glad there is only a week to go before we finally part ways.
Please take all your crap with you too – your posters, flyers, badges, billboards on highways, editorials, letters to the editor, eulogies, talk back radio, social commentary, editorials, even the t-shirts – I’ve started to box up the detritus I’ve collected over your time here to hide in the shed till I can bear to look at it all again.
I am one of those who thought “I can do this” – I am supported, I have a partner who loves me, I have wonderful friends who support me and my family but even with all of these, you got to me.
I am so totally over you – you were so awful.
You have set back the hard work and gains of so many wonderful advocates and teachers – my friends and colleagues who have fought for a safe world for so many young LGBTIQ people. How dare you.
You have taken people’s lives and shattered some of our fragile wellbeing – my trans and bisexual friends whose lives you erased, my anxious eleven year old who saw your no skywriting, my strong resilient friends who are so tired and worn out.
I have spent hours with crying friends, raging at the unfairness of you – at just how unnecessary and evil you were. I’ve probably been drinking too much too but at least I haven’t taken up smoking again.
I’ve listened to songs that make me cry, sometimes deliberately, an endless loop of the pride playlist to help me cope and release my daily pent up sadness and frustration. The kids are sick of Same Love but because your supporters hate it, I play it even more.
I’ve equally spent hours creating connections in my community, talking to people, hearing their hurt and encouraging their activism – little things like putting up posters with a friend, heading to rallies with other families, playing in the park together.
And you persisted in following me everywhere for those eight long weeks – ever present and all consuming.
My social media feeds remind me of the hurt you caused, just like we said you would.
You have comprehensively shattered the fragile facades that our families have created to survive. Modest facades of politeness and civility that allow us to co-exist with our ‘difficult’ family members at every family event – Christmas day on repeat.
I’ve kept it together at social functions and work events, outwardly smiling and inwardly fuming when I’m told it will soon be over and everything will be fine.
You stormed across that calm and broke us. You exposed us to the elements – to No voting neighbours who we would never have known about, or the work colleagues who emailed to say they are sick of all this marriage equality bullshit and they will now vote no.
All these little things have added up and I just want you gone.
What happens to everyone in your path who you’ve damaged along the way?
To my beautiful friend who lives alone and who received a homophobic handwritten note in her apartment letter box on day one of your campaign and has worried about her personal safety every single day since.
To my friend whose mother announced at a family birthday party that she voted no, in front of her partner of 20 years and their three primary school aged children.
To the lesbian single mum I met who worries she is letting the side down because she broke up with her partner two years ago and who won’t talk about that hurt in case anyone votes no.
To the fourteen year old homeless lesbian I spent time with who is so perplexed about why you were even here and so worried about being herself in her unsafe school
To my lovely friends who fretted anxiously about hanging a rainbow flag outside their house in case they were attacked when the kids were home, in inner Melbourne for goodness sake (though I took our yes poster down from our front window when we went away for that reason too, just in case).
To the seven-year old whose best friend in primary school told her at playtime last week that her parents voted no.
Not so unifying is it?
To your supporters I say – you have no idea what you have done. And to Malcolm, who enabled you, your lack of leadership is astounding.
Yes I am resilient and you didn’t mean to but you actually made me and my friends stronger together. We formed new friendships in the face of you and found allies in unexpected places. So maybe some good came of you in a weird way.
But I should never have had to be treated this way in the first place. You took over my relationship, my work, my home, my sleeping and my waking hours, my time with my children, my down time, my social time, my wellbeing and my mental health. You consumed me and I hate you for it.
I only hope you will turn out to be worth it one day.
Felicity Marlowe was the Star Observer’s guest writer in October, penning a personal essay about the need to protect children around Australia from hate during the postal survey process.