Same-sex marriage vote: You will know in your heart whether you did enough

Sian Gammie doing a reading at a friend's wedding.

Sian Gammie doing a reading at a friend's wedding.

Save The Date.

When it comes to major life events, everyone thinks they’re the exception to the rule.

It’s interesting when it’s your floor plan.

Photos of your baby are the cutest.

It’s not too big an ask to travel overseas for your special event, right?

“It’s OK when I do it. It’s a once in a lifetime!”

But actually, as someone who has had very few major life events, other than birthdays (and everyone gets those), I haven’t really got to act as if I’m the exception to those rules. I’ve never asked someone to help me choose a cake, or a particular type of cardboard, or spend time looking through old photos to find the ones I look best in.

When the votes are in, you will know in your heart whether you did enough.

The lead up to this postal survey has got me thinking. I also know it’s got a lot of people thinking. I know this because a lot of people want to talk, and talk to me, about it. But honestly, I dread these conversations. They’re cringe-worthy, awkward, uncomfortable, redundant.

I’m hardly shy but I want to run a mile from anyone I think might mention this to me right now.

It’s like going up to someone’s nonna and being like, “don’t you just love spaghetti. Those are the long, round noodles! My favourite sauce with that is bolognese!”

She’s like, “Well yeah, idiot, of course I know. Porco Dio!”

If you want the nonna to like you, just be kind to her. 

Or ask her to tell you about spaghetti- not the other way around.

One person (outside the queer and allied family) has asked my opinion on this survey. One. Everyone else just preaches to the choir or conveniently has the conversation loudly near me, trying desperately to catch my gaze or gauge my interest but awkwardly not making eye contact.

Yes, I can hear you- you’re a real hero. Excuse me while I print out your rainbow certificate from the captain-obvious-file.

Read more: Wollongong woman’s open letter to the ‘no’ voters

When it comes to major life events, my last one was 15 years ago, when I kissed another girl and had to tell people about it. The scandal sort of killed the romance to be honest. And sure, the studded belt I wore was disgusting and my haircut was atrocious, but I think I handled it pretty well.

Now, we say, times have changed. But, just this week, 15 years after 15-year-old me was crying to my mum, two more 15-year-old girls were crying to me, in my classroom, for all the same reasons.

They sat there, on rigid chairs, absolutely bawling their little eyes out. Sobbing. So scared. So lost. Looking at me like, “Miss, why aren’t you fixing this for us?’

But what can I say? The country supports you? Protects you? Cares about you?

Not even a Yes vote will take those teenage tears away.

''Do not let people get away with saying that their privilege is more important than my equality.''

When it comes to major life events, this is their first one. And they’re just kids.

And yeah, I know, I know, they have me as their teacher and that’s great. But having me is not enough.

When it comes to major life events, you do sort of get a free pass to be just a little bit unreasonable and a little bit boring and a little bit demanding. And everyone accepts it. And actually we sort of like it too because we care about you. And we want you to know that.

Sian Gammie at some of the weddings she's attended over the past seven years.

Sian Gammie at some of the weddings she's attended over the past seven years.

Off the top of my head, I count 12 weddings I have attended since 2010.

At six of these, I’ve given speeches, prepared readings or acted as emcee.

For at least six, I’ve travelled far enough to need accommodation.

For seven, I’ve attended engagements parties, hen’s nights, buck’s nights and even a dreaded kitchen tea.

For all, I’ve bought an outfit, jacket, shoes, a new tie.

For four, I’ve been told specifically what to wear and done so (mostly) without complaint.

And for all 12, I have lead that dance floor like a boss.

I am, for all intents and purposes, an excellent wedding guest.

Now, let me state this just once - loud and clear and for the official record. Let this be minuted and done so in bold: none of this have I done begrudgingly and (almost) all of this I have enjoyed.

But there’s one part that I do not enjoy. And it’s been said at every single wedding in this country since 2004.

“A union between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others.”

I wince when I know it’s coming.

And then I try to think of analogies that indicate how sick and twisted it is that we do this.

Would you invite eleven friends to a silent disco, knowing there were only ten sets of headphones?

Would you invite your heavily set friend to a flimsy chair convention and then show them the smallest seat you can fit on?

Would you host a child’s 17th birthday at a pub and then ask them to stand outside, later telling them what a great, drunken time you all had?

“Creaming soda is just as nice as beer - honestly!”

It’s like, “well if that were true, you’d all be ordering creaming soda, right? There must be something special about the beer. I can tell because you all want it and I’m not allowed to have it!”

It’s hard to explain.

It feels like getting a parking ticket. And then going home for sympathy but getting dumped by your girlfriend instead. And then trying to escape it all with a holiday but arriving at the airport with an expired passport. You can’t leave. And it starts to rain. And your phone battery is dying. And everywhere you look everyone seems so happy. Then the advertising at the airport reminds you of when your dog died. And your friend has made an Instagram for their new puppy. And no one understands what a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day you’ve had. Or why that puppy upsets you so much.

Because the world does not revolve around you.

And so you grin. And you bear it. And you follow the puppy’s Instagram.

And yeah, it’s adorable. It wears a bow tie. And it’s cute as hell. But shit man, my dog is still dead.

So. That’s that. Maybe it explains it, maybe it doesn’t. But hey, as I said, this survey has got me thinking.

And what it’s got me thinking is that this very event, this hideous waste of money, this $122 million waste of time, this joke of a “vote” may just be my next big major life event.

My engagement, my wedding, my baby shower, my first born, my earning of equal status.

Ticking YES is not enough. If we lose and you haven’t had one single awkward conversation in the lead up - then you haven’t done enough.

And so, this time, I am asking you to save the date for me.

There will be no wishing well, no dress code, no poems, no three course meal, no overnight stay.

But I want you there. And we need you to be there.

And I hope, so much, that like we do for you, you will show up, you will participate, you will enjoy yourself or you will simply grin and bear it.

  • You will call your friends. 
  • Call your relatives.
  • Text every single person in your phone.
  • Engage your Facebook community.
  • Get a rainbow into that street-facing window.
  • Buy a flag.
  • Ask your coffee shop to put it on their blackboard. 
  • Chalk the pavement.
  • Get a rainbow badge, a sticker, a scrunchy.

Whatever.

Do not let people get away with saying that their privilege is more important than my equality.

It simply isn’t.

When the votes are in, you will know in your heart whether you did enough.

And, as usual, I will lead that dance floor like a boss.

This blog post first appeared on The Sian Show and has been republished here with full permission.

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