I bounce my arse over to the next stool at the bar, next to the American boy with the goatee. His name is Aaron. I haven’t spoken to him yet. It’s noisy here, and so I have to shout to be heard by the pretty South American barman. His name is Hector.
“Hey. Can I tell you something important?”
Hector, Aaron, Joost and Tony are listening, I think. They’re surprised to hear me talking. I’ve been here for an hour or so, but I’ve been too shy to talk to anyone directly. Apart from Hector, obviously.
I’m really shit at gay bars.
Hector replies: “No. You can’t.”
“Never mind that right now,” I say. “You know I’m from Australia, right? Well, we’ve been having this long postal survey thing there to see if gay people are allowed to get married.”
“The result is being announced in half an hour.”
Before I left on this trip, I thought that when I landed in England, I would for the first time be in a jurisdiction where I was permitted to marry. But that’s not true, of course.
Holland was the first country to legalise gay marriage. The world’s first gay marriages happened here in April 2001. Sixteen and a half years ago. And I was in Amsterdam for a few days in 2008.
Which is why some of the people at the bar just assumed that we had equal marriage already.
The bar has wifi, of course, but it’s not great, and like a lot of pub and restaurant wifi networks here, it requires you to check in on Facebook before you connect. It’s a security nightmare. I’m expecting lots of spam from here on in.
I don’t think I can stream video on this network, so I’m refreshing Twitter repeatedly to find out what the result is.
My friend Simon said all along that he was hoping for a result in the sixties. That seemed very optimistic to me. Here at the bar, people are assuming that it will be a YES vote. “But there’s Brexit,” I say, “and Donald Trump. Unexpected things happen.”
This trip was planned before the postal survey was announced. I remember realising that I would be on my own when the result came in, and that that would be terrible if the news was bad. Which is why I’m at the Spijker Bar, drinking water and horrible Dutch beer.
It’s been a horrible few months. You all know that. I’ve been sleeping badly, full of rage and anxiety. I’m a wealthy middle-aged white cis male, with a supportive family and a supportive workplace. Other people have had a much worse time than me. It’s still been pretty bad though.
The NO campaign was vile and so mendacious, and disgustingly transphobic. I won’t be forgiving them in a hurry. And I won’t forget about the millions of dollars that conservative Sydney churches spent to get their lies disseminated.
The chief statistician does a lot of throat-clearing, apparently. It’s a big day for him. So by 12:03 AM, we still don’t have a result. I tweet anxiously —
— only to find my Twitter stream full of people swearing in all caps at the statistician as well.
I couldn’t see him of course. But he had a big smile on his face; I think the people watching him would have suspected at least that he had good news to deliver.
Sorry I wasn’t there to celebrate with you. It sounded like it was amazing. I’m having fun, but I really miss you all as well.