Organised by AWPR Director Adam Worling and Marie-Claude Mallat from MCMPR, the TV presenter and his long time partner David Novak-Piper were among 400 media people who gathered in front of the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park recently to support the yes vote in the upcoming Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.
Photographed by Hugh Stewart, the creative, media and communications industries came together in a show of force wearing the rainbow colours of PRIDE.
The aim was simple – to demonstrates their shared support of equality, kindness and inclusiveness to maximise the YES vote, mobilise those that are ambivalent and put pressure on our government to make the right decisions to catch up with world sentiment on this issue.
Here Neale Whitaker from Ch9’s The Block and more recently the new Foxtel show Love It Or List It speaks passionately about the the importance of this vote to him and so many.
Neale, why is voting yes important?
A YES vote means that you consider me equal. A NO vote means you don’t. To me it’s as simple as that. This issue is not simply about marriage equality it’s about human equality.
I find the concept and mechanics of the postal vote abhorrent but as many have said before me, we’re stuck with it, and the sole goal is to win. The arguments put forward by the NO campaign are specious and illogical, but the YES campaign has also kicked some own goals.
Equality must be the outcome and a YES vote is the only means to that end.
What does it mean to you personally?
I came out as a gay man in the UK in 1982. That’s just 15 years – or the blink of an eye – after homosexuality was decriminalised under British law.
In most states of Australia, including NSW, it was still illegal. At that time there was no concept of equality. As a gay person, many of us were resigned to lives of secrecy, deception and rejection. That was the straw we had drawn, whether we liked it or not, and any idea of equality – let alone same-sex marriage – was pure fantasy.
There were just a few activists (like Australian-born Peter Tatchell) fighting for gay and lesbian rights and they were considered a subversive nuisance by the authorities.
I have been very fortunate to have found acceptance in my life, largely through the industries I have worked in, but I’ve also known what it feels like to be part of a victimised minority. Others have not been as fortunate as I have. That’s why equality is so important to me personally. It’s not something I believed I’d see in my lifetime and to have it within our grasp is incredible.
Tell us about the day you joined other colleagues in media for the Hugh Stewart shoot?
It was wonderful to feel the energy and support of the creative industries we all work in. We were a mixed crowd: gay, straight, young, not-so-young, friends, family, bosses, interns, humans, dogs. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. And for that one hour or so in the sunshine we were all equal. It felt good to be part of the rainbow.
Finally, we are loving Love It Or List It, was it fun filming (and why)
It was a lot of fun! The chemistry between my co-host Andrew Winter and me was immediate – we just clicked – and the opportunity to just be myself was irresistible. No judging in this show (although you could argue that Andrew and I are both judged by the home owners) but an incredible chance to work with real Australians to solve their problems and create the homes of their dreams. I had to put my personal taste and my ego on the back burner and really listen to the home owners’ stories and their needs. We had a massive amount of fun along the way. And if the final decision didn’t always go my way, that was fine. I always felt that whatever decision the home owners made was the right one for them .
Love It Or List It Australia airs Wednesdays at 8.30pm on Foxtel’s Lifestyle channel