Yesterday, my partner told me that a man he had known from his early twenties had taken his own life. “That’s the seventh person I know to commit suicide in as many years” he said. All of them were from the rainbow community.
During his late teens and early twenties, my partner spent much of his time engaged with the rainbow community across the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney. He often talks about the festering wounds left behind by the rampant discrimination and abuse of the time. Drug abuse, struggles to form meaningful relationships, depression and suicide are just a few of the long lasting scars left on the rainbow community by Australia’s early - and in many cases ongoing - lack of acceptance of sexual and gender diversity.
Wear It Purple was established as a counterbalance to that discrimination. Showing young people across the globe that they are heard, and there is hope. WIP strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people. Setting them in better stead for healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. Our work is far from done.
For many in Australia, the 15th of November 2017 - the day we voted Yes! to marriage equality - seems like a logical end to a long campaign for the rainbow community’s rights down under. And yes, the confirmation that a vast majority of Australians believe same-sex couples should have the right to marry was, and still is, a momentous occasion. Sadly, however, this is not the end of our journey.
New conversations have come to dominate the landscape and new frontlines in the battle have emerged. Recently, it was reported that at Brisbane’s Church and State Summit, The Australian Christian Lobby’s Managing Director Martyn Iles suggested conservatives target the transgender community in their post marriage equality pushback. Worryingly these conversations are not limited to fringe, far right gatherings either. In Canberra, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts successfully cajoled the Senate into banning the use of gender neutral language from the websites, training materials and other communications of Federal Government and Federal Government funded agencies.
We've seen it time and time again. Groups and politicians opposed to the provision of equal rights and opportunities for the rainbow community seek to manipulate the legislative process and censor sexual and gender diverse minorities out of existence. Whether it’s John Howard’s definition of marriage as the voluntarily entered-into “union of a man and a woman to exclusion of all others” or Sen. Malcolm Roberts saying our fundamental biology and relationships are represented through a strict set of descriptors, ultimately the implied message to LGBTQ+ Australians is the same; you are not welcome, you are not equal, you are less.
It’s painfully obvious that the Wear it Purple mission is as relevant today as it has ever been. No doubt things have gotten better for many, but the work is never done! And Wear It Purple Day 2021 provides an opportunity to start, engage with or simply tune back into the much needed conversations taking place in Australia today. Wear It Purple Day gives you the chance to be a visible force against discrimination and inequality in all its forms. Being bullied is a universal feeling, as is the feeling of relief at the sight of a friendly face, welcoming place or message of support. It’s this feeling of solidarity, togetherness and safety that wearing purple brings to your school, office and even street.
Today, many young people face similar challenges and discrimination as those in my partner’s stories from the 00s. But this time they are not alone! And this August 27 I’ll be proudly wearing purple to prove it. I hope you will join me.
If you or someone you know needs help now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or contact Qlife 1800 184 527.
Twenty10 are a Sydney based service working across New South Wales, providing a broad range of specialised services for young people aged 12-25 including housing, mental health, counselling and social support. If you need assistance phone: 02 8594 9555 or visit twenty10.org.au.
Check DCA's LGBTIQ+ Resources