Sometimes it’s easy to feel like the world is a horrible place full of mean people. This isn’t true, but unnecessary orchestrations of moral panic allow people with outdated and misinformed opinions to emerge from the woodwork. For what it’s worth, I don’t think the world is overly rosy either. I think the world just ‘is’, and that people have the capacity for all things positive and negative, so we must remember that.
I’m writing this because I’ve witnessed a few pleasant moments tied to the marriage debate that I wasn’t expecting. At the café I work at on the weekend, a lot of the staff are same-sex attracted to varying degrees. We’ve have huge rainbow flag and ‘YES’ sign in the window and we’ve noticed a lot more young and queer customers coming in over the past few weeks. In the present context of the postal vote, ‘YES’ is the most obvious display of acceptance, alliance and safety for same sex attracted people right now. The importance of feeling safe and accepted cannot be overstated, so I’m happy that my workplace is visibly standing for that in the community.
Secondly, the YES flag has served as a point of conversation. My boss has had multiple chats with customers through the week who, for various reasons, have been ambivalent about how they will vote. She has taken time to listen to them and gently encourage them to consider people’s rights and think deeply about why they aren’t supportive. Several people have ended up realising that their uncertainty wasn’t really based on anything, which prompted them to consider voting ‘yes’ more seriously. She has managed to challenge people without being abrasive or confrontational, which is helpful if people have the energy to do that.
I’ve also encountered a few mums explaining the YES flag to their preschool-age children. Delightfully, the kids were only perplexed about whether that meant people could get married in the cafe! I’m sure my boss would allow it.
For anyone feeling distressed by the plebiscite, there are places to reach out for help. Prahran Psychology Clinic emphatically supports same-sex marriage, you can contact us on 1300 P LOCAL to enquire about clinical and counselling psychology services.
Switchboard is also available as an anonymous counselling service for LGBTQI people and their friends, families and allies. You can access them over the phone or online here:
Ref: Psychology Clinic