“Are you Ready for it?” – Intro
Think about all the greatest love stories, what do they all have in common? Love obviously, duh. Often however, what makes for a great love story is ‘forbidden love’ or when the couple have to overcome some kind of obstacle. Whether this is differences between class, race, culture, gender, sexuality or something else. Perhaps it’s a fight against family, who don’t believe your partner is good enough. Or a fight against society, because the love story goes against traditional stereotypes.
Romeo & Juliet, Edward & Bella, Enis & Jack Twist, Tony & Maria, Rose and Jack…
You get the picture. These might be fictional tales, but this is an unfortunate reality for many LGBT couples whose families don’t support them, or where homosexuality or marriage equality is not legal in their country.
OK look, our story isn’t dramatic. We also know we won’t go down in history as one of the greatest love stories ever told. Nevertheless, we do think its a story worth telling…
“Love Story” – How we met
I will start by saying this… We are the lucky ones, we have always had the unquestionable love and support of both our families. Australia now has equal marriage laws and it’s not illegal to be gay.
When we first met however marriage equality was not legal in Australia. Being born in the uk, I honestly thought this was terrible. In the UK civil ceremonies have been legal since i was at school and full marriage equality since 2013. However, I really hadn’t considered much how it would affect me personally. We were both not the types of girls that dreamt of white dresses at the age of 8, we were too busy failing out of trees. OK i was falling out of trees, Jessi is agile AF. The point i’m trying to make is, it’s not until you meet the person you are going to marry that it suddenly dawns on you that you might not be able to.
The day after I met Jessi, I told my friends I had met the girl I was going to marry. I had never been so sure about anything. I know this sounds like a cliche, and perhaps it is, but as they say – when you know, you know.
Like so many people, we first met down the local pub. I overheard Mils order a drink and said “You sound like you’re from London” She turned round, sarcastically smiled at me and said “Oh my god, you’re literally the first person to ever say that to me!?” She turned back to the bartender, and changed her order from one “dark and stormy” to two. By the way i despise dark rum, i just went along with it because she was really pretty.
We saw a sign to a comedy night upstairs, so decided to give it a go. It was legit the worst comedy gig known to man. After a few politically incorrect jokes, we decided it was best to find the darkest corner of the pub. We talked all night and as we left the pub at closing time it was absolutely pouring with rain. We had our first kiss, in the pouring rain. It wasn’t quite as romantic as the notebook though, because I then slipped and fell over in a puddle.
We spent the next couple of months smiling at our phones like complete idiots. Spending all our spare time together and wasting thousands of our employers dollars texting each other every waking second. We then did what any other desperately in love couple do, we moved in together.
“End Game” – Getting engaged
Almost immediately, im talking a couple of weeks not months I decided I wanted to propose. I also knew diamonds are expensive as sh*t and I had a bit of saving to do. Secondly, I needed to wait for a socially acceptable time to pop the question. In straight relationships, that’s about 3-4 years, but luckily in lesbian relationships anything after a year is legit.
So we spent about a year just soaking up how f**king cute we are. Living together in our adorable cottage (OK it’s actually a shed, more about that in another post).
As the year mark passed, I knew it was time. I planned a surprise trip to Fiji for Millie’s birthday, to drink cocktails, surf and ask her a very important question. Keeping the trip a secret lasted for about 3 minutes. I was way too excited and besides i’m rubbish at keeping secrets.
Somehow managing to keep the proposal a secret. The whole family involved with help picking a ring during the months prior. I knew I had to arrange a proposal that was “us” and not super cheesy or traditional. Its illegal to be gay in Fiji, so I knew whatever I planned would have to be indoors. Finally I settled on the idea of making a t-shirt and surprising Millie with it.
Look guys, its safe to say I nailed it. She said yes. Well actually she burst out laughing and said “Aren’t you even going to get down on one knee?” to which i replied “Bi*ch I made you a t-shirt”
“The Story of us” – Our fight for Australian Marriage Equality
A few months after our engagement, it was announced that the marriage equality postal vote would happen that year. Jessi and I were excited, but also seriously apprehensive having seen the Irish marriage equality referendum the previous year. It was time to prepare ourselves for a sh*t fight.
Jessi shared our engagement photo a few weeks later and tagged Australian Marriage Equality. AME responded by asking if we were interested in being filmed for one of their upcoming advertisements. Honestly, we didn’t jump at the chance. We had always previously been quite private about our relationship. Eventually though, we decided that if we could make a difference, even in the smallest way it was worth doing.
Our advert finally aired in the lead up to the voting deadline, the Yes v No debate was already in full force. Suddenly, people felt it important to share their opinion on a daily basis. It’s a very surreal experience to have the whole country debating your basic human rights in such a matter of fact way. Tick a box – Yes or No.
Even so, nothing prepared us for the feedback that we received. Thankfully most of it was positive. Understandably though it was the negative comments that really affected us. Australian Marriage equality swiftly deleted most of the hate filled comments. Some of pearls of wisdom bestowed upon us…
“Bad Blood” – A brief encounter with a stalker
Public comments paled into insignificance though, compared to the direct messages we received. The phrase “sliding into our DMs” really took on a twisted new meaning. Hate messages, death threats, rape threats, highly sexulised messages.
One guy in particular was relentless. Every few hours a new message from him would pop up, honestly I can’t bring myself to write down in words the content of his messages. But they were savage, next level sh*t. Eventually, after a couple of days and against my better judgement I accepted the messages and told him to f*ck off.
Before blocking him, I took a quick screen shot of the worst of the messages and a look at his profile. Just in case I told myself, genuinely believing that would be the end of it. The man in the profile picture was grinning. Stood next to his wife, holding what I assumed to be his daughter in a christening gown. A blue and pink “Its ok to vote No” sticker plastered across the bottom of his profile picture. I searched the name of the place he lived, and where he currently worked as a local member of parliament. I know right?! Out west near Parramatta, thankfully no where near us.
The next day working from home, I received an email and a facebook notification simultaneously. “We have noticed a suspicious login on your facebook – location: The same small town near Parramatta. Immediately, I called Australian Marriage equality. After sending over screenshots and more information, they would make some calls.
Five minutes later the phone rang it was the police, wanting to know if our address or telephone number anywhere on facebook. Immediately thinking about the party we were planning for the following week. Our address clearly part of the invite as well as the last thing shared to my page. “Yes” I confirmed, honestly a tiny embarrassed.
“Get out of the house now, don’t pack any belongings, just leave” was not exactly the expected response.
Visits to the police station, nights sleeping at friends followed for a week or so while the police investigated further. Eventually deemed a “passive threat”, “not an active danger” and “safe” to return home.
Knowing what he had said, coupled with the fact he almost certainly knew our address didn’t make for an easy return home. We slept with an array of makeshift weapons littered around the house – golf club, baseball bat, kitchen knife. As time went by things started to return to normal. The Australian government passed marriage equality on December 7th 2017.
“Reputation” – How we came to share our lives so publicly
In the wake of everything that happened, we had mixed emotions. A nagging feeling that more should be done to normalise same sex relationships. Around this time we entered a competition to celebrate marriage equality and win a wedding. Following the competition instructions, we shared the post and to our surprise won! (More about our wedding planning in another post…)
Thinking about how to thank the amazing vendors that were giving away their services and their time. Jessi came up with the idea of starting an instagram account, showcasing the vendors and celebrating our wedding. We thought it could be a good chance to document our wedding planning and keep a record of our lives together too.
Our expectation was a few followers and a bit of fun. We started to form friendships and connections with other couples and individuals, something we never dreamed of doing online before. Recently we have developed a strong case of “baby fever” seeing all the same sex families really inspired us.
Soon messages started coming in from teenagers all over the world struggling with their identity, or their parents reactions to them coming out. A stark contrast to the messages received from the no campaign haters, maybe here was an opportunity to do some good? Some of the messages we received were from people in Russia, India and other areas of the world where their struggle continues on a daily basis. We made an effort to reply to everyone individually, something we still take very seriously now.
We had always held the belief that instagram was for pretty pictures and photos of avocado on toast. Never once thinking that for some vulnerable groups of people it can actually be a lifeline. So here we are 9 months after we started our instagram, now writing this blog. Hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we can make a small difference to someone who is struggling.