'As I walked him to the station John said, 'I wish we could hold hands properly.'
The weight of what he said sank in. 'Maybe one day, when things change.''
Tim Conigrave wrote this in his swansong memoir, Holding The Man, about a time just under 40 years ago, when being gay in Victoria was illegal. Today we have gone a long way to set that world right. To go from criminal to marriage equality in 40 years shows that, although we are not yet an ideal society, we are progressing in the right direction. And it is important to recognise that, because although we may assume based the bubble of history in which we find ourselves, that the direction of social change is always progressive, countries across broader human history have and do go backwards. Homosexuality was decriminalised in the Ottoman Empire (what is largely now the Middle East) in 1858 – over 100 years before Britain. Now queer people in those territories are among the most persecuted in the world. In Uganda, being LGBTQIA+ was never a problem until Colonisation; it is illegal now. After celebrating this victory, we mustn't rest on our laurels, as there are so many more human rights to win. We must be vigilant, and make sure that we are always moving forwards towards equality, love and compassion.
Photo of Matthew Briggs (my boyfriend) and I by Susan Belperio (my Mother).