Brisbane marriage equality campaigners and supporters gathered at the Sportsman Hotel to celebrate the first same-sex marriages on January 9.
Australian Marriage Equality Queensland director Peter Black, Shelley Argent from Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Brisbane LGBTIQ advocate Phil Browne, and longtime marriage equality campaigner Bill Rudkin were among those who gathered at the venue to celebrate the start of same-sex weddings after decades of campaigning.
Federal Labor MP Terri Butler and Greens Senator Andrew Bartlett also addressed the crowd at the event, which was hosted by Queensland drag star Wanda D’Parke.
Sportsman Hotel owner Neil McLucas said it was a historic occasion for the LGBTI community and thanked all of the campaigners and supporters.
For tireless advocate Shelley Argent, it’s been a 20-year fight for equality for her son James since he came out as gay in 1998.
“We chose January 9 because that was the day that everybody could officially get married if they wanted, and I think quite a few people were actually off at weddings, so that was great,” she said.
“When James came out as gay, the only right he had in Queensland was to be gay. That was it, nothing else, so we’ve come a long way.”
Shelley recently stepped down as president of PFLAG Australia after 20 years of supporting rainbow families and lobbying for LGBTIQ law reform.
“I’ve achieved and done much more than I ever imagined. My goals were to normalise homosexuality and to work to get my son the right to marry and the right to be a parent,” she said.
“Since 1999, there have been so many changes and recognition of rights. There’s improved understanding and support for LGBTIQ people, schools now have LGBTIQ anti-bullying projects, and we have anti-discrimination legislation and inclusion in workplaces.
“People are coming out or transitioning at a much younger age than they were 20 years ago with parental reactions generally with less shame, blame, guilt and fear.”
Shelley said she’ll remain the group’s national spokesperson and vowed to continue working on community education projects and supporting queer youth and their families.
Australia’s same-sex marriage legislation was passed a month ago, and while some couples were granted early exemptions, January 9 was the first official day of same-sex weddings.
One of the first Queensland couples to marry were athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan, who timed their vows so they could get hitched just minutes after midnight last Tuesday.
(All photos by Dylan Hodgon/HDGimage)