At least not in Australia – and I’d venture to say not in most other countries either. Even those that do have marriage equality enshrined in law, a number of issues still exist. But what exactly do I mean by post-gay? What does that world actually look like?
Well, there are no hard and fast rules, but a post gay world is a combination of –
Full legal equality
This is a given. If we don’t have full equality in every single aspect of life that is governed by a legal system or framework, then we’re not post-day. So while the US has marriage equality (for now at least, Trump might have other ideas), it’s pretty bad when it comes to employment law. There are no federal protections for employees in the US. This means you can get fired from your job just for being gay – and there’s nothing illegal about it. You can’t sue, you can’t fight for your job, nothing.
In Australia, things are the other way around. Sexual orientation is protected within employment law so you can’t get fired because of it. However, we are woefully behind every other English-speaking nation on earth when it comes to marriage equality.
So in a sense, neither country is post-gay. There are hurdles that need to be overcome and legislation that needs to be overturned before either country gets there.
Broad societal acceptance
It’s a bit hard to measure this one, but you know how they take national polls and surveys to measure sentiment about gay issues? Well, once the need for these kinds of polls stop, I think we’ll have crossed a threshold.
I mean, how many national polls are there asking people about how they feel about women voting? Or whether people of different races should be allowed to marry? The fact that we have polls on ‘gay issues’ means that we are not post-gay yet.
Little things matter too
It’s not just big measures like legal equality and societal norms that count. Little things matter too. I’d like to be able to walk hand in hand with my partner in public in the very heart of the city, as well as 500 miles out in the bush. But is that possible? At the moment no, and I’d say that it’s not looking too possible in the foreseeable future either.
Even countries who are further down the track when it comes to legal and societal metrics (like Canada, the UK) I don’t think have fully achieved this one yet. While friendly pockets definitely exist, they’re generally confined to within cities and contained to particular areas within those cities.
Sydney is a good example. Suburbs such as Darlinghurst and Surry Hills (where the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade passes through each year) are well known gaybourhoods. But travel even a few miles in any direction, and the safety offered by these suburbs is replaced by at least a casual sense of homophobia that puts us back in the closet – as least as far as ‘displaying’ our sexuality in public goes.
When gay acceptance reaches ALL (not just some) of these measures, then I think we can call it a post-gay world. Until then, we have some work to do.