Yes voters enjoy at a street party in Taylor Square, Darlinghurst, to support same-sex marriage. Photo: Isabelle Bastian

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BY ISABELLE BASTIAN

Love was in the air last Sunday as events across Sydney celebrated the LGBTQ+ community and pushed for the YES vote.

Sunday morning brought over 6,500 people to Bondi Beach to participate in The Rainbow Walk along the coast to Bronte Beach. The walk’s goal was to “celebrate diversity and equality the best way we know how… with music, art, food, friends, and festivities.”
It did not disappoint. Along the cliffs, 25 musicians sang joyfully and strummed guitars. People young and old, with children, dogs, and even one with a pet weasel, stopped to listen before continuing on. The beautiful cliff top path was spotted with rainbow flag capes and colourful hats and shirts.

Rounding the corner to Tamarama Beach, walkers were met with a bright mural depicting an open can of LOVE gushing a rainbow stream across the length of the Tamarama Surf Live Saving Club’s building. Within the waves of colours, the word “yes” in languages from around the world floated: yes, oui, si, ne, shi, aye, ya, na’am, a-yo, tak, baleh.
At the front of the building, 30 lifesavers had painted their bodies with rainbow colours. They took photos with walkers and sold baked goods and drinks. All proceeds were donated.

The end of the walk brought even more excitement. Trainer boards had been laid out on the beach in the shape of the rainbow flag. On the grass behind the sand, volunteers were selling sausage rolls and tee shirts. The main event, however, was a giant canvas heart stretched across the ground. Across the centre, it read YES, but the rest of it was filled with personal messages.
As I watched, a little boy carefully painted “Love Is Love” and a five-year-old girl put down her handprint. People were painting in groups and couples wrote their names together. The canvas was covered in hearts of every colour.

Many of the attendees of the walk travelled over to Taylor Square in the afternoon for the Post Your Yes Street Party. With a line up of Alfie Arcuri, Ricki-Lee, Peking Duk, and John Paul Young, the party got started immediately. People filled the square holding high signs reading “Vote YES.” Children were perched on shoulders and dogs were abundant.
The rainbow banners hanging in the square hinted of the history of the area and the strength of the LGBT community. Even the group of Vote NO protesters who showed up on the outskirts were unable to dampen the mood.

Alfie Arcuri began with his new song, imploring the crowd that “with our hearts ignited, we can’t be divided, Love is Love.”
Next up, the young woman who introduced Ricki-Lee shared a funny story with an extremely relevant message. She began by describing how shocked she had been when Ricki-Lee had been eliminated from Australian Idol thirteen years ago. Leaning towards the crowd, she described, “Tears falling freely down my face, I turned to my teenage neighbour and said, ‘How? You voted for her, didn’t you?’ And she looked at me and said, ‘I didn’t. I thought I could rely on everyone else to vote.’”
Although a silly memory, the message rang true to the crowd in Taylor Square.

Many have criticized the vote as likely to draw a greater concentration of older voters who are more familiar with the mail system rather than the younger voters who have had less experience with it. The introducer’s story emphasized the message of the street party that you cannot rely on others to pass the vote. Each and everyone needs to get out and mail his or her own postal survey. Even in communities with a strong Vote YES presence, nothing can be taken for granted.

Ricki Lee sang many of her hits passionately to the crowd including “All We Need is Love.”
Peking Duk continued the celebration with a rousing cheer of “When I say “Vote”, you say “Yes””.
The day ended in style with John Paul Young leading the crowd with his classic “Love Is in The Air.”
The Rainbow Walk and the Post Your Yes Street Party mark the halfway point of the Postal Survey on Marriage Equality. As of Friday, 6 October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has received approximately 62.5 per cent of the votes or roughly 10 million forms.
The ABS will publish approximate results each Tuesday until the survey closes. Eligible persons have until 6PM on Friday, 20 October to request a replacement form. All forms must be received by the ABS by 7 November and the results will be released on 15 November.

The Vote Yes Campaign plans to remain very active in the weeks ahead. A speaker at the Post Your Yes Street Party emphasized, “We need to keep this energy going for the next couple of weeks. We need to make sure YES is a success and everybody puts their postal surveys in those little red boxes up the road. We need to make sure that we poll as many people as we can, so if everybody here can text at least five people who they think may not have yet posted their surveys and tell them to post their surveys today, we can win this, but we need to keep on going and it is just so awesome to have the community all here together.”
So make sure you post your survey!

To connect and celebrate this historic time, you can attend some of the exciting events coming up in the next few weeks.
21 October is the YES rally at 1PM in Belmore Park. Coinciding with rallies around the nation, the event plans to make their voices are heard. They call for “Nothing less than equality, no more delays!”
29 October is Yes Fest! Held at Spotless Stadium. The festival is described as “A massive festival that brings together the country’s most beloved artists to share their support for marriage equality.” It features Client Liaison, Flight Facilites, Elizabeth Rose, Jimmy Barnes, Kirin J Callinan, Killing Heidi, Megan Washington, The Preatures, Tkay Maidza, and Touch Sensitive. All profits from ticket sales go to Australian Marriage Equality.
Come out in the following weeks! Each and every person’s survey is important, so make sure you post it soon and then get out and celebrate!
Let’s make YES a Success!