When Jacob Carroll marches through the heart of Bendigo on Saturday alongside other supporters of marriage equality, he will reflect upon his journey to becoming an out and proud gay man.
In 2010, Mr Carroll was a Catholic College Bendigo student, a football player and an umpire.
He was also a “closeted college captain”, fearful of admitting his same-sex attraction because of the stigma it was sure to attract.
“Footy umpiring is a tough enough job as it is, running around out there getting abused already, without them knowing that you're gay,” he said.
Now 24 years old and comfortable with his sexuality, Mr Carroll hopes public shows of support for the LGBTI community meant more young people did not endure the same torment.
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It was not until he came out at university he realised a pall of sadness that followed him since primary school was largely the consequence of homophobia.
“Faggot, poofter, all those kind of slurs were thrown around,” he said.
“Subconsciously, what that does to you is insane, it's crazy how it just compresses and compresses."
The federal government’s postal vote on marriage was cause for similar consternation, Mr Carroll said, with many of his same-sex attracted friends feeling the pinch of public scrutiny.
If he was concerned, Mr Carroll feared what others still coming to terms with their sexuality could be thinking.
But a positive of the yes campaign was the sense of community it fostered among LGBTI people and their allies, he said.
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“How everyone joins together for the one cause, and how we can all support each other, is impressive,” he said.
“It sucks that we have to campaign, it absolutely does, but when we do, we’re so strong together.
“No one fully understands what it is like until they’ve been through the same things.”
He hoped voter judgment would not be clouded by those conflating the survey with issues relating to children and Safe Schools.
“It’s about people, not politics,” he said.
“All we’re being asked about is, should same-sex couples be able to marry?”
Now living in Melbourne, Mr Carroll has words of advice for schools like his, places he said must become welcoming for all students, not just those who identify as heterosexual.
“Maybe things were tolerated, or pushed under the carpet,” he said.
“But I hate the word tolerance.
“[Diversity] has to be accepted, and acceptance of it has to be promoted.”
Wedded to notion of equality
Bendigonians in favour of same-sex marriage are keeping their promise to campaign on the streets, with a rally through Bendigo planned for Saturday.
Hundreds are expected to parade from Bendigo Trades Hall to Rosalind Park from noon in a show of support for marriage equality.
The walk is part of the statewide Relay for Marriage Equality initiative, which has already passed through Mildura, Kyneton, Geelong and Ballarat. Rallies will be held next weekend in Horsham and Shepparton.
“There is a lot of hate out there right now, every bigot in the country has been given a platform to attack and demonise LGBTIQ members of our community and their families and none of us are completely immune to it,” keynote speaker Tashara Roberts will tell attendees.
She will also call on Bendigo councillors to advocate for marriage equality at their Wednesday meeting.
”Many other local shires have put their support behind the issue so when will City of Greater Bendigo make similar commitments?”