The worst homophobia I've experienced is breaking me
The attacks of the past few weeks are the worst displays of homophobia journalist SHERELE MOODY has endured since coming out as gay 27 years ago.
I HAVE been on the verge of tears for days now.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment that pushed me over the edge, but I'm spiralling into a marriage equality depression and that really scares me.
Frankly, I'm exhausted from the onslaught of homophobic rhetoric spewing into my life.
I cannot tell you how badly I wish some Australians would take a step back and think about the damage they are doing.
I thought coming out as a teenager in regional Queensland 27 years ago was distressing, but the attacks of the past few weeks are the worst displays of homophobia I've endured.
It's almost broken me.
I'll admit, it's partially my fault. Instead of avoiding Facebook and Twitter over the past few weeks I've been diligently collecting every Tweet, post, meme and news report on the postal survey that I come across.
I then share them under the hashtag #respectfuldebate.
When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull decided to make Australian voters share their views on gay marriage via his watered-down plebiscite, it seemed logical - as a journalist - to gather evidence of how the debate plays out.
While it's been amazing to see so many Aussies declaring their support for marriage equality there's no doubt the Yes campaign has hit a few hurdles along the way.
This includes Channel 10's ridiculous decision to fake a gay hate poster and comedian Benjamin Law's stupid declaration on Twitter that "Sometimes find myself wondering if I'd hate-f**k all the anti-gay MPs in parliament if it meant they got the homophobia out of their system".
The marriage equality battle is much like two parents fighting for custody of a child.
Invariably one person sits atop a pedestal, blaming every failure in the relationship on the other person and twisting facts to make themselves look perfect while painting the other as the devil incarnate.
The other party learns fast that they can never put a foot wrong as their smallest errors will be twisted into something much worse.
That concept applies to the marriage equality campaign: Yes supporters need to act in a way that denies the No campaign any ammunition.
If we don't hold ourselves to a higher level, the anti-equality media commentators, high-profile Australians and leading lobby groups will use every mis-step we make to tear us down and influence undecided votes.
And that's the depressing part of this whole situation.
We are being told we are a danger to children, we are bad parents, we are destroying school, religion and society, and we are responsible for the end of free speech. All we can do is grin and bear it.
We've seen material depicting:
- Women kissing animals.
- Men marrying multiple little girls under the "Love is Love" banner.
- Gay men as pedophiles.
- Gay people turning kids gay.
I don't have enough space here to go through all of the appalling material I've collected and I'm not sure I have enough words to tell you how incredibly soul-destroying it is for a gay person's brain to be constantly bombarded with it.
If that's not bad enough, we have to cope with shocking attitudes like Melbourne breakfast radio caller Don who told the ABC "Hitler had put all those kind of people in their own concentration camps, it's one of the two good things he did".
When asked by radio host Faine to repeat himself, the caller replied: "Hitler had concentration camps for these gay people, one of the two good things he did? The other one was build the autobahn."
Politicians like Matt Canavan tell us to "grow a spine", intimating gay people are are weak sooks because we don't appreciate the homophobia bombarding our lives, while Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce proclaims "get out of my face" because he is sick of people and businesses supporting marriage equality.
And to top it off, people from within the gay community have decided to throw the rest of us under the bus because if they don't want to get married, neither should we.
Gay couple Ben Rodgers and Mark Poidevin explained their opposition to marriage equality in an interview with the ABC recently.
"If we make one exception for one community - that being the same-sex couples - where does it stop? Do we then see other cultures being allowed to have multiple marriages? Do we allow, see the age of consent being lowered for another group of minorities? That is my concern of where it would lead," Poidevin said, regurgitating some of the key arguments from the No camp.
Then there is academic Caroline Norma, who reckons lesbians choose to be gay before pushing for women to forgo marriage because "in this conservative climate, there is every temptation for lesbians to assimilate".
"But now, more than ever, we must vote no in the postal plebiscite to register our protest at marriage. It's hurt us for too long," Norma wrote.
It wouldn't be too bad if, as Norma claims, we "chose" to be gay. If that were so we would simply flip over to our straight personalities and avoid this dirty fight altogether.
Although the Federal Government has passed laws aimed at reducing vilification during the voting period, I doubt they will make a difference and I suspect the hate will ramp up the closer we get to the November 7 cut-off date.
The vast majority of gay men and lesbians can expect to spend the coming eight weeks trying to avoid the ugly side of some of our fellow Australians.
I know I'm not the only gay person who is really tired. So many of my friends have confessed that they, like me, are struggling to put one foot in front of the other or to get out of bed each morning.
My brain hurts from the hate and my heart wants to throw in the towel because the emotional and psychological cost is so much worse than I imagined it could be
It would be so easy to give in, to let the No campaigners have their way and to forgo this chance at ensuring all same-sex couples gain the legal protections marriage offers.
I've been close to giving in of late.
But then I think about the gay men and lesbians who have been jailed, tortured or killed for following their hearts.
These warriors paid the ultimate price for love and their sacrifice is enough to push me out of bed in the morning, put my big girl pants on and continue fighting for what I believe in.
The win will be worth it, no matter the cost.
Sherele Moody is a News Corp journalist whose work was recognised with a 2017 Clarion Award.