I’ve always wanted to visit the beautiful continent of Australia, but it seems my fear of tarantulas the size of cantaloupes wins out every time I begin to plan my next vacation. That said, a heartwarming and progressive story from the Aussie territory known as Phillip Island in Victoria has me once again pondering a visit to the lovely land down under.
A few days ago, Victoria resident Mykey O’Halloran took to social media to thank his fellow townspeople for coming to his defense against vicious homophobia. The ordeal began when O’Halloran, a hairstylist by trade, relocated to the Philip Island area. When his plans to paint his residential bungalow in rainbow colors became known to his neighbors, five men paid him a not-so-welcoming visit. O’Halloran reported that then men, one of whom lived across the street, aggressively banged on his door, verbally assaulting him and promising death threats if he moved forward with his vibrant painting plans.
The event was unsettling as O’Halloran shared with the local press that he had moved to Philip Island in hopes of living in peace, nearby the ocean, in an inviting community. Instead, he found himself terrified inside his home a month after moving in and secretly recording the men’s homophobic slurs, verbal assaults, and death threats from on the other side of his door. O’Halloran explained,
“This was my first interaction with the neighbor since moving to the island in February. I had no words and I totally I went into fight or flight mode, my heart was pounding. I stayed relatively calm until he said, ‘If you paint your house rainbow, I will f**kin’ kill ya — A death threat, for choosing the color palette that I want for the house.”
In a report from the Bass Coast News, O’Halloran shared that he reported the incident to Phillip Island to the police. He commended them for taking the matter seriously as police ultimately charged a 23-year-old with making threats to kill and for unlawful assault. A shaken but undeterred O’Halloran declared to the media, despite the threats and the arrest, “This house will be rainbow, and it will be rainbow with pride.”
That’s when things took a turn for the better. The homophobic assault made local and national news in Australia. This time around, there was an outpouring of public support for O’Halloran and more than 100 people from the community, as far away as Melbourne joined him over this past weekend to paint and transform his home— from basic drab to rainbow fab.
It’s a beautiful ending to an ordeal that was undoubtedly difficult to endure. O’Halloran’s bravery is commendable. And we must not lose sight of the fact that he was able to draw strength from his community and even the police who decided bigotry and homophobia would not be tolerated in their town. This story is a prime example of how we can over come hate when we all, from every background and persuasion come together and look out for each other. Reflecting on his situation, O’Halloran has advice for those facing similar adversity and bigotry,
The message we must take out of this situation and learn from this is to stand your ground. Don’t let bullies tell you how you should be living your life, whether that be someone you know, someone you don’t.
Read more about Mykey’s Rainbow Colored World at QNews