Interview of Kerry Pedersen by Freya Bennett
Hey Kerry, how are you?
Really well thank you Freya!
Where do you live?
I live with my partner in Keilor Downs in the western suburbs of Melbourne
What is your partner’s name?
You are engaged to Irene, congratulations! Tell us a bit about the proposal?
I was caught totally off guard. We had planned a trip overseas a few years ago and were in Paris for part of it. One rainy evening we were at Sacre-Coeur which was close to where we were staying. I really wanted to head back to the apartment but Irene was all ‘So what if we get wet … we’re in Paris!’. She then sat me down on a little bench seat, there we were with all of Paris before us. It had just started getting dark and so the city lights started coming on..one by one. Irene started talking about how much the years we had been together meant, and all of a sudden she was holding a ring up and proposing to me. It was such a beautiful and unexpected moment. Of course I cried and said yes.
How long have you and Irene been together?
Five years this October.
Did you know you wanted to get married when you were first together?
I would say no… I knew I wanted to be with her and share a future together, but I hadn’t considered marriage because it was never a possibility for us.
In Australia, gay marriage is still not legal; how does that make you and Irene feel?
It makes me feel modified as a person– like the perception is that we are somehow lesser and our love is not worthy of recognition.
Are you and Irene waiting until gay marriage is legal to have a ceremony?
We would definitely love to have a ceremony in front of family and friends. It seems totally unfair and wrong that we have to WAIT for something that is open and accessible to others to be equally accessible for us.
Have you thought about travelling overseas to get married?
We have, but sadly our marriage would not be recognised here.
Why is it important for gay marriage to be recognised in Australia?
I would like to consider the country I live in to be inclusive in every way; gay marriage is an extension of this. I see it as a human right as opposed to a political decision. It seems grossly unfair that we pay our taxes, contribute to society in so many ways, we feel we are good, law abiding citizens, and yet, we don’t enjoy the same basic legal, human rights as our neighbours. It doesn’t seem fair because it isn’t fair. Until you are on the receiving end of inequality, you cannot fathom how it makes you feel as a person.
Have you ever faced discrimination in public for being gay?
Yes, often we are stared at, we have had people call out names as they drive past us– you know, really mature things like that! When we were in Paris we actually had a man approach us and he started harassing Irene, telling her that she’d never be a man– cause I’m sure that’s exactly what Irene wants to be! You just learn to live with the ridicule, but some days are harder than others. Some days the constant stares take their toll.
If yes, what does it look like?
It’s ugly, and at times is quite scary. It wears you down after a while, and it can erode your self confidence and self worth if you let it.
What advice do you have for teenage girls (and boys) who are gay?
I can honestly say that it DOES get better. There is a whole community out there who will embrace you and take you under their wing. It was a really big deal for Irene to come out– she lost all her family and friends. She basically had to start again at the age of 27. But she found an amazing world out there, and now has the most amazing circle of friends who are more like her family. Yes, coming out may be scary, but there is no greater way to live than by being honest about who you are. It really is true that if you are honest and open– there is nothing anyone can ever do to hurt you. You have all the power.
If you could make the world understand one thing, that would that be?
Love is love. It is really as simple as that.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I am so happy in my life that I just see myself being ten years older … maybe having lived in Paris for a while. With my beautiful wife.
What’s one thing you wish you had known as a teenager?
That it really does get better.
What advice would you give parents of a gay teenager?
Love them through it. There is nothing like living an authentic life where you can love freely, and be loved and accepted for who you are. It is the greatest gift you can give a child.
Any final words of advice for Tigress readers?
Just to love human beings…give others the benefit of the doubt. I think there is such negativity in the world, such suspicion about others – but there are good people in the world, effecting change where it’s needed. Good will prevail, I’m sure of it!