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A bittersweet victory, after months of heartbreak


Australia’s ‘yes’ vote spelled relief and euphoria for members of Adelaide’s LGBTI community this morning, but as one couple told us, the process has been deeply wounding.

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Sarah K Reece, her partner Rose* and their daughter Poppy missed the televised broadcast of the historic moment which meant everything to them, but had cost so much.

They were late to the official results event – a sea of umbrellas in Hindmarsh Square – because they were dealing with a torrent of homophobic abuse on their Facebook pages from someone who lives in the couple’s neighbourhood.

“We missed the announcement unfortunately, we were stuck in the car … we had a little cry and had a kiss and kept driving and got here eventually,” Rose told InDaily.

“Now it’s time to party.

“It’s a signal to the people in my life, that I know voted ‘no’, that they don’t get to have that say over my life.

“We’re happy, we’re in love, and come the right time we’ll get married.

“We’ll have a celebration and they can come if they want – but they probably won’t, so that’s their problem.”

Sarah said today’s result “means everything – all of the slurs, the ‘freak’, the ‘queer’, all that stuff that’s other-ing and says you’re different and you’re strange and you’re less-than – that will start to melt away”.

“We’re going to be able to tell her (Poppy) one day that when we were younger it wasn’t even legal to get married here.

“Her ‘normal world’ will be that that is unthinkable.

“We won’t need to parade around wearing rainbows and having marches for the rest of our lives, for the next 20 generations because one day it just won’t damn well matter.”

But today was bittersweet.

The past several months have been deeply painful for the pair.

The survey has meant abuse from strangers and the reopening of old family wounds.

“Harrowing,” said Sarah.

“Heartbreaking,” said Rose.

“I’ve been told on buses that I shouldn’t dress my daughter in rainbow colours because it’s putting a target on her back.

“Conversations that have been laid to rest years and years are (… revived), everybody’s drawing their lines, and everybody’s making it clear what they do and don’t think.”

Sarah said she has watched a lot of people suffering.

“There’s some pretty major relationship bust-ups that have happened, and there’s folks that aren’t working that were working, and that were doing okay, and that had put a lot of effort into getting out of really hostile environments and finding somewhere safer to live and this made it unsafe again,” she said.

“This workplace chatter around the cooler around ‘those people’, except some of us are ‘those people’.

“We were brought up in backgrounds where we were told this was wrong, that we were going to hell, all that rhetoric still happens.

“And it sits in the subtext of these conversations.”

Sarah said the LGBT community would have to continue to fight for its rights following the result.

“It’s not over. A yes vote doesn’t mean it’s over,” she said.

“Everybody that is upset about that (the majority ‘yes’ vote) is going to come out of the woodwork now and all of the stress around how legislation’s going to happen, and if and what contingents are going to be put into it.

“We’re not done.

“This is just a nice celebration in the middle.”

The pair was among a few hundred supporters who, despite the rain, turned out to watch Australian Bureau of Statistics chief statistician David Kalisch on the big screen, announcing that the majority of Australians had voted ‘yes’.

The crowd reacted with a loud cheer as Kalisch revealed the majority ‘yes’ vote.

Friends and families embraced, many shed tears.

After the speech was over, some danced – but only briefly.

*Rose asked that her real name not be used.

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