I grew up in a conservative Greek migrant community in Melbourne, so I understand what it's like to live under the pressure of upholding appearances. I spent most of my life chained to cultural expectations – marrying young, following my religion, studying business – and not feeling like I had much say in the matter that is my life. But I am not an anomaly, and it isn't just the Greeks. Many migrant communities operate based on appearances, including Catholic and other Christian circles.
In the spectrum of opinion regarding gay marriage, there are people who are vehemently opposed, and there is nothing you can do to change their minds; on the other side there are the fierce "yes" voters. In the middle are the ones who sit quietly on the fence. These people will most certainly have a gay friend or family member whom they love and support.
When the culture is inextricably linked to a religion, like Orthodox is to Greeks, appearances have yet another layer added to them. Last week, a young man who attended church posted on Facebook alleging the priest said he would shoot any gay people that wanted to marry. In an interview with SBS, the priest said he couldn't recall if he said that and apologised if he did. But he still went on to say he felt sorry for gay people, and that in his experience he found 99 per cent of cases were molested, and that he does what he can to "bring them back".
It isn't just Orthodox priests making damaging statements; the Catholic Church has also threatened to fire employees who marry same-sex partners.
These will not be isolated incidents in communities and religious circles. Now is the time for the fence-sitters within these communities to put their money where their mouth is. Read more via Sydney Morning Herald