Thank you, Australia. 7.8 million times thank you

AS I write this, my tear ducts are quivering, the way they always do when I’m trying to take in something monumental has just happened.

Whether the tears they threaten would be of relief or happiness, I’m not yet sure. But finally, finally, there’s one thing I can be sure of: Australians have spoken. And they want me to be equal.

I cannot tell you how triumphant it feels to type that today. I have tingles of the spine variety and bumps of the goose variety.

Another thing I’m sure of: we’re all relieved this long campaign is over. Most are sick to death of it. Who can blame them? It hit saturation point weeks ago. Although something did resonate: eight in ten Australians participated.

The 61.6 per cent Yes vote, revealed today, confirms something independent research has consistently found since 2011: most Australians support same-sex marriage. Today, let us not gloat; but allow us to celebrate

As those ducts tingle, I repress the tears they want to release. It’s something us gay people have become experts at: repressing. Growing up lying about who we really are. Waiting till it feels safe enough to out ourselves. Hiding in closets. Letting go of our partner’s hand as we corner a different street with fresh potential for humiliation. For danger.

But today isn’t a day for tears. Soon, talk of closets and repression will seem odd to the next generation of young LGBTQI people. Today is for them. 

It isn’t for people like me, who are in a confident enough in their own skin to make a public declaration of love to one of their own sex in a marriage ceremony. It’s for those much earlier in the journey, nervous about who they are and how they’ll be treated for it. Who may’ve felt pessimistic about their future, or a desire not to be lesbian or gay at all. Who are disproportionately over-represented in suicide statistics.

It’s for people like Tyrone Unsworth who killed himself a year ago (almost to the day) aged just 13, after relentless homophobic bullying.

Imagine if Tyrone could’ve shared in the same happy-ever-after fairytale as everyone else. Optimism can do powerful things; its denial can crush and devastate. Let today be the day the tide turns on LGBTQI suicides.

For here it is, finally: modern Australia, a country that has matured and stood up for equality. It wasn’t just LGBTQI people who had a stake in this. It was their parents, their siblings, their employers, their friends. Anyone who has loved a gay person will be sighing with relief or rejoicing with vigour today. But they’ll be proud to call this modern, progressive country theirs. Read more via Herald Sun