Love letters—the ones in licked and stamped envelopes—are only sent by people without email addresses or mobile service. Yes or no?

Well, the answer is no. In late-2017, over 7.5 million Australians posted a love letter in support of same-sex marriage. It’s likely the first time Australians were officially given the opportunity to express a view—any view—on homosexuality. And the message was an overwhelming YES, in black or blue ink as per government guidelines.

YES to equality, YES to same-sex marriage, YES to LGBTIQ+ empowerment, YES to love and YES to respect.

Amongst the general kerfuffle surrounding the controversial Australian Marriage Equality Postal Survey, people came together in the Brunswick Street Gallery to celebrate love, respect and equality for the LGBTIQ+ community.

Curated and produced in partnership with future ensemble, RESPECT—A Queer Affair was a two weeks art exhibition and schedule of community events aiming to promote positivity within the Queer community in the lead up to the postal survey.

RESPECT—A Queer Affair, RESPECT — A Queer Affair | art | future ensemble

The exhibition and community program—80 artworks and five events—were opened by Green Federal Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt and Comedian Kirsty Webeck. Featured works ranged from first time artists who felt passionate about the event to prominent Australian artists like Caleb Shea and Samuel Hodge. Audiences were entertained by acts from The Beastie Girls and Po Po Mo Co. While funds were also raised for Minus18, a youth–led, not–for–profit organisation improving lives of LGBTIQ+ youth through self–empowerment and social inclusion.

Beastie Girls, RESPECT — A Queer Affair | art | future ensemble
The Beastie Girls performing in front of audience members and Samuel Hodge's triptych Skate or Die (2015).

Australia legalised same-sex marriage in December 2017 after all of those millions of love letters were posted with one word of solidarity and respect: yes.

RESPECT—A Queer Affair was proudly sponsored by the Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank, the City of Yarra, Meld Studios, Academy Xi and Local Peoples, Citizens of Good Design and Social Impact.