Under the guise of the grey German sky, in the heart of Berlin, having just passed what was once Hitler’s bunker, a group of friends wove their way out of the maze that is the Jewish Holocaust Memorial.
Hearts heavy and mouths silenced after a cumbersome morning of German history, 21-year-old Nathan and a group of seven women roamed the streets of this once tormented land.
As the group peered at restaurant menus, waiters gawked at Nathan’s luck; how did this Aussie guy end up travelling with seven women? Many fellow tourists simply observed, speechless and envious. One curious waiter, however, had the balls to ask Nathan in his staccato north German accent, “What’s your secret?” to which he snapped back cheekily, “I’m gay” and strutted off with his band of girlfriends.
“We all shared a laugh in the moment, but when I think about it, it wasn’t long ago that homosexuals in Berlin were being persecuted and murdered for their sexuality,” Nathan reflects. Some onlookers rolled their eyes, succumbing to the bias the Western world still struggles to wriggle free from. It is not a surprise that people such as Nathan still grapple with the looming fear of judgement from their fellow countrymen. A gay Australian, confidently proclaiming his sexuality as though it weren’t an issue in the world? How audacious, how dare he, shouldn’t he be ashamed of himself, their glares suggest.
In this city, which a mere 70 years ago was the epicentre for racism and homophobia, it was a breeding ground for the extermination of minority groups. Striving not just to annihilate the Jewish community, but gays, gypsies, and blacks as well. Gays today should boast the same rights as any other person. On the other side of the globe, in Sydney, Nathan is made to, “Feel locked up inside a world that refrains me for being who I am.”
As Australians we are privileged. But, in ‘democratic’ Australia in 2017, how is it that some of us still claim more privileges than others? Why is it that I, a straight woman, can marry whichever man I please, be he a racist, a terrorist or even a neo-Nazi, but Nathan can’t marry the man of his dreams? Particularly in Australia, which is, “A secular nation, and religion should have no place in the decisions made by Parliament,” Nathan elucidates.
In the wake of the recent call for a postal plebiscite, Nathan is infuriated that, “The Government cannot find the courage to pass a bill in Parliament based on a basic human rights. Many progressive developed nations have legalised gay marriage, yet Australia is stuck in the past, restrained by the old-fashioned values of a conservative Government.”
It seems that in the first world, in a flourishing and democratic nation, we haven’t come as far from the discrimination which ruled in the 20th century as some may believe. If a bill won’t come to pass in Australia because of a prejudice of homophobic discrimination, the members of Parliament need to reassess what it means to represent Australians, and what differentiates our values from the homophobic values eminent during World War II.
Nathan wonders, if, “Numerous nations with an overwhelming Christian population, including Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, have allowed marriage equality,” why can’t secular Australia do the same?
Words by Georgia Cox
IG – @gee.cox
Art by Dominique Vine
IG – @dominiquevinedesign