I grew up in regional South Australia, headed to church every Sunday, spent my childhood on farms, learnt how to shear sheep and ride bulls. Looking back, I can’t recall going to primary or high school with anyone who was openly gay. I went on to spend three years at Roseworthy College studying Agriculture. I don’t recall crossing paths with anyone who was gay.
For some reason I was homophobic and sadly quite passionate about my negative views towards gay people.
“I was the pig farmer from Kadina who found himself dodging conversations with this fella and feeling awkward to shake his hand.”
I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because older folk around me were. Or maybe because my religious upbringing was against gay people. I don’t know, it never really came up at church.
Things changed in my early twenties when I stumbled into a career with the SA media. When I began with SAFM I was shocked to discover one of my working buddies was gay and openly talked about it. I was the pig farmer from Kadina who found himself dodging conversations with this fella and feeling awkward to shake his hand.
That workplace changed me and taught me to love people from all walks of life. Turns out the gay fella at work loved racehorses as much as I did and knew more about the AFL than I ever will. Within months he was my best drinking buddy and he paved the way for many more gay friends. After being homophobic all my life I had become the complete opposite to homophobic, whatever that is called.
I was proud the day of my wedding when I looked over the crowd of my nearest and dearest and three wedding guests were gay men. I love them with as much love as I do for my other mates and it hurts me to think that as it stands they cannot get married to the people they choose.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the type of person who is going to get a rainbow tattoo across my chest and chain myself to parliament house until gay marriage is legalised. It simply does not bother me or affect me so I can’t think of one negative reason why it should not happen.
“If I can change my tune so greatly towards the gay community, surely others can too.”
For those who think it should never be allowed, which sadly includes a few people close to me, I ask you this: in the scheme of worries in your life how important is it to you? Let me try to put it into perspective.
I now spend a great deal of time with some of the world’s poorest people in Cambodia. Being surrounded by the issues they face on a daily basis reminds me how insignificant our issues in Australia really are. Recently one of the Cambodian families we support lost two children. They were homeless, living next to a creek, and sleeping on two pallets with an old tarp over the top.
“I look back at how I spoke and how I thought of the gay community and I am disgusted.”
Both children were aged under ten and died from preventable diseases. When we found out they were sick it was too late. I asked the head of the village how much treatment would have cost. The response was $40. Their lives could have been saved for $40. That’s a real issue. Preventing and stressing about two people who love each other from getting married is not a real issue to fight.
To those against it, I say channel your energy into a real cause. Find something else to get passionate about.
Here’s the thing that excites me. If I can change my tune so greatly towards the gay community, surely others can too. I look back at how I spoke and how I thought of the gay community and I am disgusted. There’s no point dwelling on the past, it’s far better to look to the future.
The beauty is, I can pass on my life lessons to others who have my old train of thought. Most importantly for me, I can pass it on to my children.
I’m all for the first gay marriage in SA. Hell, I’ll even MC their wedding for free!
Enrolments close on August 24, ahead of Australia’s postal survey on same-sex marriage. Make sure your enrolment details are updated so you can vote.
Check out our winter issue where we see inside Cosi’s home.
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