If there is one issue that should unite us all it’s this one.

No matter what political party you support, no matter how conservative or radical your views on other gay issues, no matter how big or little a role your sexuality plays in your day-to-day life, the right to walk safely through our streets and show affection to those we love without fear of violence is fundamental and should be of universal concern for us all.

When past years have seen well over 1,000 people march down Oxford St for marriage rights – an issue that still divides some in the community – we should be able to far outperform that result when it comes to our own personal safety and the future of the one precinct in this city we call our own.

I’ve marched in too many protests past gay bars packed with apathetic drinkers content to gawk and laugh at those less cynical than them. I don’t care how big your night out was, or how great your other Australia Day plans are, you have to be at this vigil. It’s just one hour out of your life. It’s just one afternoon. There is no excuse.

If we fail to stand up for ourselves on such a basic issue, then why should anyone take notice of us ever again? If we fail to get action on this most fundamental of rights – one that has existed for decades in law – then what hope is there for any real equality in the future?

This issue will not be solved until we make the majority of Australians who support our full equality understand how bad things have gotten. They don’t read the gay press and don’t hear about gay bashings unless victims are brave enough to talk to the mainstream media – and all too often they’re not.

Until they see us gather in our thousands to tell our stories and see our scars and broken bones they will not understand the terror still directed at us by a hateful minority of Australians.

But once they understand the real life and death issue that homophobic violence remains, they will act, and with their support we can look to a future where it’s safe to hold your partner’s hand not just on Oxford St but on any street.

That future is only as far away as we allow it to stay.

The Reclaim The Right vigil starts at 4pm, 26 January at Harmony Park, next to the Surry Hills Police Station.

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