South-west dairy farmer Jason Smith started crying as he milked his cows on Thursday evening. With his headphones in, he listened live as marriage equality laws passed the federal parliament.
Mr Smith, whose story of being a gay fifth-generation dairy farmer resonated across the country earlier this year, said after advocating for equality for so long, the feeling was “brilliant”.
“I couldn’t stop crying. I just got this feeling of being equal and being okay and having the rest of the country accept me,” he said.
When he woke up this morning, Mr Smith wondered if he had dreamt the whole thing.
He said he hoped the decision – the “final frontier” in rights for the LGBTI community – would be a boost for LGBTI people living in rural areas.
“It knocks you for six. It’s just going to make life so much easier for rural LGBTI people to come out and be more accepted,” Mr Smith said.
“There’s still a lot of hate around, there's still a lot of negativity, but this will go a long way to turning things around and just normalising things.”
Mr Smith said on Friday morning when he went to his local shop, the owner patted him on the back, nodded and gave a wink to show his support.
“I don’t currently have a partner to rush off and get married, but I know now that when I find that special person, there’s going to be no barriers,” he said.
Mr Smith said he couldn’t wait to see the first same-sex weddings in the south-west, and the gravity of the change would continue hitting home.
“It will be when each person gets their first invite to a same-sex marriage,” he said.
“One day soon everyone will be comfortable in being themselves and that’s what I want.
“The sooner you can realise who you are and just be yourself, the better.”
The farmer praised Liberal MP Warren Entsch for his long-time role advocating for same-sex marriage, describing him as “the hero here”.
“It wasn’t directly affecting him, but he knew it was for the greater good of our country,” Mr Smith said.
For now, Mr Smith said it was time for healing, and for people to continue checking in on how their gay friends and family were doing.
“The emotions it has brought up aren’t going to go away straight away,” he said.
“The loved ones of LGBTI people should check in on their mental health and how they’re ticking along in the coming weeks and months.
“(Everyone should) concentrate on healing and enjoying this great leap forward.”