My marriage equality referendum memories are bittersweet. We did it, it passed and that’s brilliant but it came at a high price to a lot of people. LGBTQ+ people literally had to knock on doors and ask for the right to get married, which was humiliating even when the canvass was positive.
The ‘No’ side were given airtime and column inches to spout hateful nonsense and lies, but we weren’t allowed call it homophobia because “balance”. Let that sink in.
On a personal level, the realisation that bi-erasure was a deliberate tactic by the ‘Yes’ campaign and not an oversight was difficult to swallow. Bi+ and trans people were made to feel at worst, like their experiences didn’t matter and at best, like allies in a campaign that directly affected them. So many bi+ and trans people worked their arses off, despite having their critiques silenced, because that’s how important the referendum was.
These experiences meant that the joy of the result was tinged with relief, sadness, frustration and anger for some LGBTQ+ people. I am delighted marriage equality passed, but (a) it never should have come to a referendum and (b) solidarity wasn’t there for the entire LGBTQ+ community.