The Big Issue : Edition 548
THEBIGISSUE20OCT–2NOV2017 13 PHOTOSBYJAMESBRAUND IT’S HARD TO not be exhausted by the marriage equality debate. We’re all over it. Doesn’t matter if you’re slogging through the metaphoric jungle with a backpack full of “Yes” posters, organising a prayer meeting for marriage exclusivity, or achingly not giving a toss and just desperate for something, anything else to be on talkback radio, the nation hasn’t been this sick of something since the heyday of Eddie McGuire. How long has this postal vote schemozzle been going on? Ten years? Twenty? I know the result is announced on November 15 because I’m booked to DJ an announcement party, but there’s been so much time dilation due to the lack of clean process that it feels like we’re trapped in a Beckett play. “You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” There wasn’t much conversation to be had when the postal vote was announced 83 years ago back in August, and any genuine “respectful debate” ran out as quickly as the hot water at a seaside caravan park. We’re 24 hours into a 36- hour dance marathon, people are sleeping standing up, and occasionally slapping each other in the face to make sure they’re not disqualified. This isn’t even what’s worst. Not the sloppy process. Not the skywriting. Not the three months of hypervigilance and fighting shadows. Not private citizens being forced to duke out a volatile issue in the public arena because Malcolm Turnbull has the leadership qualities of a throw pillow. Not even the 40 per cent rise in calls to beyondblue since the vote was announced, from all corners of the community. The worst part is that we’re in danger of missing a golden opportunity to be happier. As a country, as a people. Genuinely better off. It’s not even “think of the economic boost from all of those pink dollar weddings”, although if our PM wasn’t so watery he could make a legitimate business case for marriage equality. But it’s a terrible shame that it’s been framed » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer and comedian who has a backpack full of “Yes” posters. FIONA SWOT IF..? “What can appear threatening at first glance...are all, ultimately, signifiers that it’s okay to be who you are.” as what regular society could lose, rather than what it could gain. Did no-one get a freaking whiteboard out and do a SWOT analysis? (If you don’t know what a SWOT analysis is I envy your innocence; neither did I until I did my Cert IV in Training & Assessment, but I’ve crossed that painful rubicon now and it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. You’re welcome). We’re all threats, no opportunites. I attend a lot of queer events. Not because it’s “politically correct”, but because they’re safe and fun. What can appear threatening at first glance – his pants have no arse in them, she’s got nipple piercings and a purple dog, they have no pants at all! – are all, ultimately, signifiers that it’s okay to be who you are. No judgement, no shame. Mainstream society, on the whole, is all about judgement, shame and internalised self-loathing. Most of us carry corrosive secret shames, which are all societally prescribed and, frankly, bullshit. Ashamed of liking spanking, ashamed of having sex before marriage, of not wanting sex at all, of being fat, of not being white, of having a disability, of whatever puts you outside the “normative” tent. A judgement list to infinity. Our time is spent shaming each other, and crushing our own spirits. There is no “normal”, no matter what it looks like from the outside. Wouldn’t it be a relief to put that expectation down? To let your freak flag fly? After you’re done voting, go hug someone who has no arse in his pants. Say I sent you.