Tell me your coming out story Mr Turnbull: An open letter to the Australian PM

What the publicly funded No campaign means to me and the rest of our queer young people

Dear Mr. Turnbull,

Can you tell me about coming out story? I know it’s a deeply personal question, but since you are at the forefront of a major LBGTQI issue which is currently being debated in parliament and in a highly public forum I’m assuming you wouldn’t mind. It is a quid pro quo type scenario isn’t it? You forced me out of the woodwork so it’s really only fair. We are all friends here after all. Can you tell me how long you knew for? That you were straight that is.

Do you look back now and realise that you clearly knew for so long but just didn’t really know what the words meant? Who did you tell first? Did you find your best friend, take them aside and fear that you would lose this person after you told them? Maybe you took a more public approach and just did it all in one hit. Announcing to your closest friends, family and hell anyone else that would listen that you were straight and admit you were happy! Proud to be this person you are.

Did you wait until you met your wife, before you told everyone, because it’s not really real until you have a wife or girlfriend you told yourself. All of the other relationships you had prior to this were just experiments, that’s what you told yourself, it’s also what a few people around you told you as well.

Mr. Turnbull, tell me about your coming out story. Was it awful? Did your parents piece together that the person you called a friend was really something more? Did they assume this because of the way your eyes lit up every single time they walked into a room. Did you manage to squeeze them into every single conversation you could think of? Because you loved this person, very, very much. With all of your heart. Did your parents sit you down and say to you “we know what you’ve been doing. We know what’s going on, just spit it out”. Did you cry? Did you feel so vulnerable, as if the weight of the world fell into your lap? Did your heart break when your mother asked you “what did I do wrong”?

Tell me about the time you were dropped off at the house you would now be sharing with your significant other and you were told “you’re making the biggest mistake of your life”. Did you in fact leave home because you felt as though you were too heavy a burden to bear? Did you believe them when you were told your career would be affected, and cry when you were asked “you need to really think about this, I don’t think you’ve thought about the repercussions”? Did you take this all in, and go back to your then partner who had not yet told their parents, due to facing similar repercussions and wonder if you were doing the right thing? Did you carry the secret hoping that no one would ever suspect? Did you wish with all of your heart that you were different, and that the thing you cannot change about yourself is the one thing you wish you did?

I wonder in how many public forums you sat, as they debated your rights, and then suddenly being told “oh you’re one of them. But you’re not like the rest! You’re my straight best friend” they would hastily tell you. Were you met with some who said “I don’t care what you do, just don’t do it in front of me”? Did you kiss your wife so innocently, only to feel eyes on the back of your neck as you leave your house to go to work?

I’m asking you all of these questions because surely, you must know. Surely you must know what it feels like because why else would you allow such public debate or scrutiny over the thing you cannot change about yourself, but often find yourself begging with whoever else will listen, that you wish you could. I admire your strength. No really I do. Because to publicly fund a “no” campaign would take a lot of strength. To publicly stand there, as a leader of our country and basically give people the right to discriminate against those who are fighting for equal rights.

Because it’s about teamwork isn’t it? Equality, for the “yes” and “no” campaigns. Banding together, or as I like to call it, crumbling under the weight of your conservatives. I can relate to this I guess. Conforming to the norm because it’s easier. I do this every day.

This issue is so much bigger than marriage equality. Surely you see this. Surely you can identify what ‘publicly funded no’ campaign looks like, and the damage it will do. Because what you’re really doing, is telling me to brace myself. And you’re right. It’s not winter. But something is coming.

Are you going to sit there, comfortable, with your wife and watch the advertisements that will fill our screens. Will you turn off the TV because the weight of the LGBTQI youth is far too heavy for you to bear. When a young queer person is sitting in the lounge room, listening to their homophobic parents comment and yell “damn straight, it’s disgusting! Letting the gays marry what will they think of next”, all whilst their son or daughter is forced to hide an entire part of themselves. Ashamed.

So Mr. Turnbull. Tell me about your coming out story. Because you must have one. You must! In order to continue on with this charade and nationwide joke that is our same-sex marriage plebiscite. I’m here to listen. And I know you’re scared. And worried. Probably terrified in fact, just like I am, that as of February next year, I’ll walk down the street and wonder with each person I pass“What box did they tick?”. Tell me your coming out story Mr. Turnbull. Because until you do, you will never. Ever. Understand mine.