Today, a friend of mine asked me “So why are you organising it in Gladstone of all places? I mean, isn’t it a bit small?” He also asked me “Why now? I mean, you’re moving to Brisbane, right?
I have an interview with The Gladstone Observer tomorrow about the rally, so I’m going to need to get my thoughts in order. I’ve already explained Why I Want To Marry and Why having a family some day is important to me. I’ve talked about Why Civil Unions aren’t enough…
I haven’t explained so far why I’m doing it here and why now. I’m going to start with the timing question.
I’m doing it now because… because our Federal member for Flynn voted against Marriage Equality this year. Because regional Queenslanders have been holding these rallies, from Mackay to Toowoomba, and soon in Albury/Wodonga as well! I cannot sit back and let our member decide that this lack of action is in any way indicative of the attitude in Gladstone. Because we’re moving into an election year and it is important that this is seen as an issue that regional people care about. Because this year the LNP proved that the State giveth and the State taketh away and I am sick and tired of fighting this ridiculous battle – I just want to get it settled properly.
And my friend is right, I am trying to move to Brisbane, soon. So why now? I have a life goal which is complex in its simplicity. My aim in life is to leave every place I go better off for having my presence. I don’t feel I’ve done that in Gladstone yet, and I see this as an opportunity. I also know that for this to work at a federal level, we have to change as many minds as possible…
So… why here? Why Gladstone? Well, for the reason I stated above about leaving places better than I find them, and because Gladstone is the population centre of the federal seat of Flynn, with over 40% of the seat’s population in the city. Gladstone’s opinions are very important for putting federal MPs in at Flynn. Because I see Gladstone as a place where it’s hard to break into social groups even without being gay, and I spent 4 years here before I connected with Gladstone’s queer community. So I have high hopes that this rally might bring some community spirit to the fore as well. And because in Gladstone, gay is invisible. A rally like the Place2B4ME is an opportunity to show other gay people that we exist, they’re not alone in this town, and sends a strong message to our same-sex-attracted youth that they are not alone in this town either.
So fine and good, but why rally at all? I say: A voice is only useful when you make it heard. We get one chance every election cycle to make our voices heard by electing a representative for our electorate. That’s once every 3-4 years. The other chances we get to make ourselves heard are writing letters, contacting your MPs, attending protest events like this one, and signing petitions.
So I say that this is an important part of the democratic process. It raises the awareness of the problem, demonstrates a lack of contentment with the status quo, gives MPs an opportunity to rub shoulders with a group of passionate people, and (unofficially) lends weight to petitions seeking similar outcomes.
So, I have two major goals for the rally: Change the mind of our federal members, and raise the community’s visibility to a point where perhaps other people can find it.