How Kath & Kim star Magda Szubanski’s public fight for equal rights inspired the nation

"I absolutely identify as gay and for a very long time have"
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She’s long been one of the most famous faces of marriage equality in Australia, but for Kath & Kim star Magda Szubanski, her sexuality journey hasn’t always been easy.

WATCH: Magda Szubanski nails argument for same-sex marriage – again

On Valentine’s Day, 2012, the 60-year-old publicly came out on national TV, announcing on The Project: “I absolutely identify as gay and for a very long time have.”

At the time, same-sex marriage was still not recognised by law and the popular actress was hoping to “supercharge” the case for marriage equality by speaking candidly about her own sexual preferences.

“I am absolutely not straight,” Magda added. “I wouldn’t define myself as bisexual either. I would say I am gay-gay-gay-gay-gay-gay-a little bit not gay-gay-gay-gay. Unfortunately there’s not actually a word to describe me so I have to express myself through the medium of the dance.”

Magda Szubanski
Magda Szubanski came out publicly on The Project in 2012. (Credit: Network Ten)

While her remarks came with Magda’s trademark sprinkle of humour, there had in fact been some much darker moments on the road to embracing her attraction to the same sex, despite realising she was gay in childhood.

Magda had previously been grilled about her sexuality by a journalist in 1992 causing her dismay, and ultimately leading her to come out to her friends and family.

Shortly after her Project appearance, Magda confessed she had once been suicidal when she first realised she wasn’t straight and found it extremely difficult to deal with her feelings about it.

“People will say ‘Why did I take a while to do this [come out]?’ I needed to be as solid as I could be so I could do this in the strongest possible way and be really clear about myself,” Magda told radio station 3AW.

“I didn’t want to come out and botch coming out, as it were. I wanted to be effective and useful for other people, and to get on really solid ground yourself can really take a while. It can really take a while – it can be a journey – so that’s why I think it’s really important to respect people’s journey, whatever that is.”

Magda szubanski
“I absolutely identify as gay and for a very long time have.” (Credit: Getty)

Magda was even more candid about her struggle when she spoke to Tracey Grimshaw on Today Tonight in 2016 about her battle with depression.

“Mine [battle with depression] was also the sexuality thing definitely, that was terrifying to me, absolutely terrifying,” Magda divulged.

“And I was probably 5 or 6 when I first started to realise… When I was growing up it was an absolute bloody trauma.”

She added: “When I was growing up it was still a psychiatric illness and it was illegal and it was conflated with pedophilia and it was the most disgusting thing you could be.”

Magda szubanski
Magda played a crucial role campaigning for the “Yes” vote in the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite. (Credit: Getty)

Magda also told Marie Claire during her childhood she used to “pray to be straight” and needed years of therapy to fully accept herself.

In more recent years The Weakest Link host drew on her experiences and channelled that as well as her high profile into fighting for equality during Australia’s controversial 2017 plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

She was widely credited as having a crucial role in the “Vote yes” campaign, which was ultimately successful.

“Marriage has changed,” Magda told The Sydney Morning Herald during the campaign. “It’s not about the merging of family dynasties now, or other obligations. It’s about the merging of two souls.

“For gay people, the outside world was hostile to us for a long time and the only safe place was our intimate partner. We’re not seeking to undermine marriage, but to underpin it. I think it will lead to change, but it will be a good change.”

And while there are still issues with complete equality, things are looking a lot brighter for Magda than they were four decades ago. As she told Marie Claire previously: “I wouldn’t wish to be straight now”.

Magda szubanski
“I wouldn’t wish to be straight now” (Credit: Getty)
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