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96FM Boss Faces Rainbow Flag Vitriol At Vic Park Council

Here we are, the first papers for the Same Sex Marriage Survey will be posted to households this week, and never have we heard so much from both arguments, for and against marriage equality.

I have the privilege to work in one of the best workplaces in Perth - 96FM is a fun place to be and full of open-minded people who accept and love me and my partner, Ben. 96FM is a big family.

It’s a far cry from my early days.

My story is like that of so many LGBTQI Australians. I grew up in a small rural community in WA’s South West, hid who I was, faced bullying and for a long time, was in a very dark place. But I am one of the lucky ones, I had a supportive family and landed a job in an inclusive workplace.

Not everyone was as lucky as me, some haven’t had support, have been bullied, and some have ended their own lives. That’s why, on Tuesday night, I was proud as punch when my town, the Town of Victoria Park, passed a motion in council to fly the Rainbow flag outside the town’s administration building from now until November.

At first, I don’t think I truly understood what this would mean to me if the motion passed. And as the debate between the councillors and the statements from the public continued, I realised this meant a great deal.

I sat in the front row of the public gallery and, behind me, were angry residents who were opposed to the flag. I could hear their comments, it was truly upsetting and offensive. One lady got up to speak and said, “what’s next, a tree flag”? Like many comments from the NO side, just truly bizarre in their reasoning.

As one councillor said, and I paraphrase this, “as a straight bloke, I don’t know why the affects me, but if flying the flag helps some members of the community, I’m for it”. And it truly does. Flying the Rainbow flag hurts no one in the community, but makes those like me, who have faced some pretty nasty stuff, feel a little bit supported through what is a horrible time.

So horrible, that I have deactivated some of my own personal social media accounts so I don’t have to see so much of the hatred.

Over the past few weeks, since the announcement of the postal survey, I have pondered the role that I would play and that 96FM would play in the marriage equality debate. I have a large soapbox on which to stand, but should I use it?

The polls have consistently shown that Marriage Equality is largely supported by mainstream Australia and that a public vote will pass. So, there was no real need for 96FM to preach about the issue. Commercially, we are required to play campaign ads for both the YES and NO sides, despite my own personal views.

So, I, and 96FM won’t tell you how to vote, that choice is yours.

But if like the town of Victoria Park, our flying the flag makes you feel a little supported, then we’re waving that flag.

Geoff Watts – Head of Content.

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