With still a month to go before the results of the nation’s longest ever survey are tabulated, supporters of the marriage equality YES campaign took to Byron Bay’s Apex Park on Sunday to relax, reflect and re-energise.
The seven-coloured ‘rainbow region’ flag flew proudly beside the six-coloured LGBTI flag showing support from all sections of our community.
Entertainment from Mae Wilde and the Bollywood Sisters belly dancers got the crowd in the mood, while speeches came from Byron Mayor Simon Richardson, MLC Mehreen Faruqi, marriage celebrant Zenith Virago, a young gay man who grew up in Byron, and Ballina MP Tamara Smith.
But perhaps the line of the day went to MC Mandy Nolan who said, ‘this is not so much a survey on same sex-marriage as a dickhead poll. Now we’ll know where they live.’
She added that ‘even if you don’t believe in marriage, you should still vote YES – because this is not just about what YOU want: it’s a civil rights issue.’
Mayor Richardson acknowledged gay people had ‘more reason than most to respond in anger to the hateful and hurtful barbs being thrown at you,’ but pleaded, ‘this is a campaign about love – please don’t get drawn by the NO side’s hate campaign.’
Local marriage celebrant Zenith Virago said that despite having been marrying people for 25 years (including Mandy Nolan, twice) she ironically was still not able to marry.
MLC Mehreen Faruqi said that her support for the YES vote was not at odds with her Muslim upbringing, ‘which taught me that love and respect for others were so important’.
She added that like many immigrants growing up in Australia, ‘we demand respect for our cultures and it is only fair that we return that respect.’
A lone NO supporter, who identified herself as ‘Way Mild’ was allowed to address the group, but was only midway through a speech about how dinosaur bones were ‘planted in the earth to fool children into believing in evolution’ when she was played off by a man with a big sax.