When we were kids the ultimate trump card was the birthday party. My birthday was, and still is, in December. If any of my friends or classmates in primary school wronged me in the months leading up to my birthday party, the simple threat of “You’re not invited to my party anymore” soon corrected the situation.
Deprivation of access to something that was going to be good. Refusal of entry, and power to make the decision that would deem someone invited, or not invited.
I am not invited.
In 2017, the common and socially acceptable (and expected) thing is to create a Facebook event for any gathering. We don’t tend to bother with sending invitations, and we certainly don’t stand in the playground with a circle of friends around us as we shuffle through a pile of envelopes, calling out the names of ones chosen to attend said social event.
The reason for this? Well, Australia Post has lost the ability to deliver postal items in a timely manner. Just last week we sent a parcel via Express Post, which has still not arrived at the destination it was sent to. Express Post is, as the name suggests, express. Essentially, the approach I (and many others I know) tend to take is, if it’s important, email it or message it via social media, or courier it. If it’s kind of not really important, or there’s no other option? Then post it.
This morning, our Senate rejected a plebiscite regarding same sex marriage, or as some call it, marriage equality. Or, as I call it? Marriage.
This means that a postal vote will occur. It was cost an estimated $122 million. It is not compulsory to vote, and the result may not be binding.
I could make a list here of things in Australia that could benefit from a $122 million injection of funds. Health, aged care, education. But the thing is, I don’t know enough about politics to actually talk about those things in an educated way.
But what I do know about is what it feels like to be not invited to something. And to rely on the postal service when it comes to important deliveries.
As a gay woman in 2017, I feel a bit like the government has a pile of invitations at the moment, that they are shuffling while they clear their collective throats before calling out the names of people who are invited to partake in marriage. And I know my name is not on one of those invitations.
You see, the very moment I uttered the words that confirmed my sexuality, I lost my right to marry the person I would eventually fall in love with. In Australia, marriage is deemed to be between one man and one woman. Not two men. Not two women. One man. One woman.
So when you don’t have one woman in your relationship, or when you don’t have one man in your relationship, you are not allowed to be legally married in Australia.
We’re about to enter into what is already a pretty nasty period of parliamentary debate. Already, the Australian Christian Lobby has referred to the children of same sex couples as “the stolen generation”. There are going to be words flung around and opinions shrieked. Name calling and finger pointing. And outside of parliament, I anticipate that things will be worse.
The people I see at Tafe will be able to vote on my right to marry. And they won’t all be thinking that I should have that right. The people I see at work will have a vote. The people I stand in line with at the checkout, the people who have just moved in next door. Strangers and friends and acquaintances. They’re all going to have a say on whether or not I should be allowed to be legally married.
And to be honest, it scares me. And I’m out, I’m OK with who I am. Imagine if you were not OK? Imagine if you were still in the closet, waiting to find out if you were safe or not to come out?
My gut reaction, I’m ashamed to say, has been to act out of fear. To try to look less obviously gay. To think twice before holding hands in public.
But then I remembered the ones who are struggling with who they are. Who are still keeping quiet about their truth.
And I remember that at the heart of this, is, quite simply, wanting my love to be recognised as equal.
And so, the answer is not to hide it away.
The answer is to keep loving.
With the postal vote, yes or no, I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I don’t know how vehement people will be in voicing and acting out their disapproval. Am I going to be yelled at? Called names? Physically hurt? Because of who I love?
I can’t know. But I have the assurance that I am loved. And that’s what I will rely upon.
And hopefully, as those invitations are shuffled and reshuffled, and voices cleared and names read out, I will one day hear my name on the Invited list.