Gran's true colours shining
JAN Flynn is your typical loving grandmother.
A vibrant 72-year-old local lady, she is quick to show you a photo of her beloved grand-daughter Gabbi and talk about the strong bond they share.
This strong bond, along with mutual love and respect, is what got these two through a recent journey.
When Gabbi came out as a lesbian in her teens, Jan and her husband John were full of support.
"You've got to stand by your grandkids,” Jan said.
"Gabbi is very important to me and my husband John, she spent a lot of time with us when she was growing up. We're extremely close so naturally we supported her, she battled with coming out and it was a difficult time.”
Gabbi has since moved to Wagga Wagga, has earnt a degree in medical science, is studying to be a social worker and helps other youth come out through her work with Headspace.
Gabbi is in a long-term relationship with her girlfriend, Kat.
"I hate the word 'queer' and I can't get my head around the word 'gay' so I call them 'rainbows',” Jan said.
Gabbi and her grandmother speak almost every day and it was during one of these regular conversations Gabbi shared her desire to propose to Kat and her wish for marriage equality for same-sex couples.
"I have always been very traditional in my views about marriage,” Jan said.
"Kat is a lovely girl, she and Gabbi are very happy together but I just didn't like the word marriage, I would say to Gabbi that I think it should be called a commitment not a marriage.
"Gabbi and I had many discussions on the subject but she couldn't convince about the word marriage.”
A marriage equality forum was recently held in Coffs Harbour and, at the gentle urging of Gabbi, Jan went along.
"I went with an open mind and got so much out of that forum, I came away so happy,” Jan said.
"The guest speakers were so informative and there was just so much love in the room. I saw so many loving couples that night and thought 'why shouldn't all the rainbows be able to get married?'.”
Jan has given a diamond ring to her grand-daughter which Gabbi used to propose to her partner.
"It was funny how I got to have that ring,” Jan said.
"I was working as a receptionist in a doctor's office about 23 years ago and a young rainbow man named Vincent said he wanted me to have it.
"He passed away soon after. I kept that ring all these years and it just seemed right for Gabbi to give it to Kat. It fits Kat perfectly and I feel Vincent is looking down and is happy.”
Gabbi and Kat got engaged and celebrated with a party with their family and friends.
Jan's wish is that her grand-daughter and Kat can also soon celebrate a legal wedding in Australia in front of family and friends.
"All my friends are so supportive of the idea. I just hope more people educate themselves about marriage equality and realise how beautiful it is whenever two people love each other and want to get married.”
To learn more, or lend your voice to the campaign visit: www.equality campaign.org.au.