Dear Mr Abbott,
Imagine an Australia where over 50s are denied access to medical care. Imagine an Australia where black people are not allowed to adopt. Imagine an Australia where women are not allowed to vote. Imagine an Australia where Muslims are not allowed to attend schools.
Each of these ideas should sicken you. They are travesties: instances of specific and targeted discrimination against a slice of the Australian population.
Now imagine an Australia where gays are denied the right to marry.
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This is the Australia that your actions are perpetuating, Mr Abbott. This is the Australia that makes me sad for my country.
I am a gay male, 28 years of age, in a long-term stable and loving relationship with my partner of four years. His name is Kelvin.
I have loved him from the moment I met him. His intelligent conversation, subversive humour, and delightful smile are all I need in a partner. Every moment I’m not at work I try to spend with him.
Sometimes we kiss in public. Don’t worry, it’s always pecks, never pashes.
We love to cook together. Sometimes when I have sore feet from work he gives me a foot rub as we watch TV.
We take trips together, our last being a road trip around the USA. New York was beautiful and cosmopolitan; have you been?
Hopefully as you read this article, Mr Abbott, you can see a little of yourself here.
That’s the point. Gay people are not aliens, weirdos, or creeps. We are as varied as any other random slice of the Australian population. But if there’s one defining quality to being gay, it’s love. It just happens to be between two members of the same sex.
Beyond that, I’m just like you: a man trying to navigate his way through life’s crazy game.
A large part of me thinks that the homophobia I still see in Australia stems from a low-brow straight male reaction of disgust towards the thought of gay male sex.
I can empathise with that gut reaction. As a gay male, I find the thought of female genitalia off-putting. But what I do not do is allow this to translate into a misogynistic attitude towards women, let alone a national policy of discrimination towards them.
I have the mental strength to logically transcend my mental wiring.
Marriage has a loaded history as what was once primarily a transfer of property (the bride) from the father to the new husband, along with a payment (or dowry) for her upkeep. So don’t tell me this is about ‘traditional definitions’.
Thankfully, it has lost these patriarchal overtones for most married couples, and is instead an expression of love, and a joyous celebration of love between two people in front of their friends, families, and colleagues.
While you read this, Mr Abbott, anti-gay discrimination is happening somewhere in the world.
In Russia last month, did you know that two men walked through the streets of Moscow holding hands as part of a social experiment, and that they were taunted and bullied every few minutes by passers-by?
Of course, that’s just Russia.
Surely we in Australia can shirtfront such ugly social conservatism?
As someone who has published books in medieval history, I am acutely aware of the long history of association between the Abrahamic religions and homophobia. In the Middle Ages, arch-conservative churchmen wrote books about the scourge of male-male love, about the punishments of Sodom and Gomorrah.
That was the Middle Ages, a time when churchmen were more than happy to ignore Jesus’ message of love. This is the 21st century.
Now imagine a new Australia.
In this Australia, the majority treats minorities with calm and respect. Each acknowledges the other, accepts difference, and learns from diversity.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Kelvin and I think so.
Keagan Brewer is an academic and educator specialising in history and literature. He has recently completed his doctorate in medieval studies at the The University of Sydney.