Australians have taken to Twitter to share their heartbreaking experiences of homophobia and transphobia.
#TheyGetToVote was started by comedian Josh Thomas (Please Like Me) ahead of the country’s postal survey on marriage equality. The hashtag was soon the number one trending topic on Twitter.
Thomas wrote on Twitter that he wanted to remind the ‘no’ camp what side they were on.
Marriage equality advocates were worried a public vote on the issue could open up the LGBTI community to hateful vitriol. But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised that Australians could have a respectful debate on the issue.
To no one’s surprise it didn’t take long after the postal survey was announced for homophobic posters to start appearing in major cities.
London-based Elias Jahshan was one of the many to share their stories on Twitter. The former editor of Australia’s LGBTI magazine Star Observer said the hashtag was a way for the community to ‘take control of the narrative’.
‘I joined along because I thought the reason why it started in the first place was a great one: to show those people who are voting ‘no’ the kind of league they’re putting themselves in,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘It’s rather frustrating when people who have never experienced any form of violence, judgement or discrimination for being who they are, tell us that they’re no homophobia,’
Jahshan said it was important to share these experiences even if it is hard to do.
‘We need to share real, human experiences of homophobia – it’s the best way to make ordinary people to at least sympathise with us, if they can’t empathise,’ he said.
‘We need them on our side, and sometimes being frank about our experiences is the best way to go about that.’
CW: some of the tweets discuss assault:
New hashtag: #TheyGetToVote. Where you say the homophobic abuse you've received or witnessed and remind the 'no' people what team the are on
— Josh Thomas (@JoshThomas87) September 13, 2017
My brothers put cigarettes out on my skin to try and burn the gay out of me #TheyGetToVote
— chloe 🥀 (@itschloedaisy) September 13, 2017
I made eye contact with a guy on a train when I was 19. He followed me off the train and tried to strangle me in Flinders St. #TheyGetToVote
— Paul Kidd 🗳🆈🅴🆂🏳️🌈 (@paulkidd) September 13, 2017
In one of my first jobs, a coworker told me on my first day: "If I knew someone around me was gay, I'd shoot them." #TheyGetToVote
— Matt Akersten (@MattAkersten) September 13, 2017
my extended family found out i liked girls and called me a genetic deformity and kicked me out of the house #TheyGetToVote
— ola (@trainwreckdua) September 13, 2017
Andrew was 5 foot tall and skinny as a rake. He was in a coma for months before he died after the assault. #theygettovote
— Alan Petridish (@Faustus_Socinus) September 13, 2017
— Ben Davison (@ClubeGaffer) September 13, 2017
Being run out of a Queensland country town by local police because "No lezzos work with our kids". #TheyGetToVote
— Miss Bailey Woof OAM (@MissBaileyWoof) September 13, 2017
I held a boys hand at school and was pelted with rocks then they threw me in the urinal. Teacher told me to, "be more aware." #TheyGetToVote
— BM (@macleanbrendan) September 13, 2017
Religious Homophobic neighbour tried to get our dogs put down when they found out we were gay #TheyGetToVote
— Sean P (@patullose) September 13, 2017
Coming out of a gay bar, some guy came past me on his bike, spat at me and yelled 'DYKE'. #TheyGetToVote
— Tess Randles (@I8AllYourBees_0) September 13, 2017
Because my own grandparents and aunties and uncles rejected me and i was banned from going to their funerals .. because #TheyGetToVote 🌈
— Mark (@bundybear2913) September 13, 2017