Last year at a rally I met Chris, a young guy who was in his first gay relationship. He couldn’t march because he was scared he might be seen. Nothing new so far – fear of being “outed” is all too real because the consequences range from loss of former friends to being rejected by family, physical violence and harassment.

For some reason I gave this guy my mobile number; I never do that. About a month later he rang me. He had “come out” to his parents. Their reaction was to throw all his belongings from his bedroom window – everything he owned. It was pouring rain, and his stuff was all over the lawn.

I organised someone to go and collect him and his stuff (at least, as much as they could see in the dark). It was around midnight. I found him a safe place for a couple of days, then went with him to collect his laptop and uni work. The parents said they didn’t have a son and knew nothing of what I was talking about.

A couple of days later, he tried to kill himself. Again I went to visit, this time at a psych ward. Through a cousin and some detective work, I found he had a brother. Andrew was much older and had been told to move out about 10 years earlier. I found Andrew, and he took his brother in.

Sadly, Chris hung himself two weeks later. He left me a note saying he couldn’t live with being forsaken by his faith and parents. Andrew had found Chris and couldn’t live in the house any longer. He packed up and moved to Canada. He too committed suicide, just prior to Christmas. I scattered both boys’ ashes at St Kilda beach. Chris’ ashes I did on my own. For Andrew’s, their 14-year-old sister wagged school to be there. She hadn’t even known she had a second brother. The “Christian” parents denied any knowledge of either boy and took the sister’s mobile and internet access away.

The reason for telling this story is that I don’t think people realise how much a rally means. When the government knocks us back, time and again, it’s people like this that are harmed. Equal rights aren’t just about marriage, but about so much more.

Those two guys will be in my heart forever. When my son died, we celebrated his whole life, not his sexuality. We handed out rainbow ribbons and had an art exhibition. His partner is my best friend and always will be. His ex gave the best eulogy you could ever wish for, hearing how much he was loved, what marriage and love mean. I’m doing a commitment ceremony in a few weeks for a couple; their vows to each other are heart-wrenching because filled with love.

Same-sex marriage shouldn’t be a question; we shouldn’t have to fight for it.