Have you ever not come out to someone because you were scared they wouldn’t like you? I ask this question because it was raised in the play 8, which I saw in Sydney last week.
It was a play about Proposition 8 — the only proposition my gay friends would ever turn down. It followed the court battle where folks for and against same-sex marriage faced off over the constitutional amendment that stripped gay and lesbian couples of the right to get hitched in California.
There’s a moving scene where a middle-aged mother reveals how she was afraid to tell people she’d fallen in love with another woman, because she didn’t want them to dislike her.
When she said it, I remembered that uncomfortable feeling I had in my belly before I came out to my folks, to my 80-something-year-old grandma, to my grade six teacher who I bumped into in my early 20s, and even to my closest friends — dreading they’d react badly. That same feeling that prevented me from clarifying to a guy I work with earlier this year that I didn’t have a boyfriend because I actually have an incredibly awesome girlfriend.
At the Q&A following the performance, Magda Szubanski, one of the many big names in the show, commented on how much that scene had resonated with her.
As one of Australia’s most popular entertainers and a natural-born people pleaser, Magda admitted she likes being liked and was afraid that coming out publicly might make people turn against her.
She said opening up to friends and family is one thing, but declaring your gayness to more than 20 million people is clearly another. Magda timed her confession with the marriage equality movement, knowing her profile would help change hearts and minds, but on a personal level she was terrified.
We all want to be liked. It’s a pretty basic human desire. So thankfully the majority of Australians have warmed to us gays.
And I must admit that seeing household names like Lisa McCune, Daniel MacPherson and Rachel Griffiths lend their support to marriage equality by performing in 8, as well as having shows like Sunrise and magazines like Marie Claire help fight discrimination with the ‘I Do’ campaign, I’m feeling a little more liked every day.
C’mon Julia — we’re very likeable!