For Ivan Hinton-Teoh, who grew up in Tumut, the long campaign for marriage equality in Australia began with convincing just one person to say yes - his partner Chris.
The first time Ivan proposed, then prime minister John Howard was pushing through amendments to the Marriage Act to seal off the union to same-sex couples.
Not a good omen, he admits, even for a couple so in love.
"Chris couldn't see how we could ever get married," he says.
It took another seven proposals and three different ceremonies - including in Canada - before the law back home finally caught up to the pair.
On Monday, Ivan will be awarded a medal of the Order of Australia for his hard work to make it happen, first as deputy director of Australian Marriage Equality and now as co-founder of Just Equal, an organisation that formed to keep LGBTIQ people safe during the divisive and at times dangerous 2017 postal survey on same-sex marriage.
It's an honour he feels uncomfortable accepting alone.
During the period he calls "the most stressful of his life", Ivan was campaigning up to 90 hours a week unpaid, sometimes working in call centres at night to rake in extra cash, but mostly relying on his partner and his parents Dianne and Ian Hinton to keep him going.
"They deserve this medal, not me," he says.
These days, Ivan's parents are both active LGBTIQ campaigners in their own right but back when he was a kid the family lived in a conservative country town over the border, where Ms Hinton was a church elder.
"Mum even wrote to the NSW government in outrage when she [mistakenly] thought it was funding Mardi Gras," he says.
"That's what it was like back then. Now she's marched in more Mardi Gras parades than I have."
When Ivan was five, his older brother Corey died in an accident on their Tumut farm, very nearly shattering the small, tight-knit family apart.
"It was horrendous," he says. "But my parents somehow got through it together, they stayed together, and I think it made me realise the value of marriage.
"They haven't recovered from the trauma but they've found a way to forge a path through it together."
Yet coming out as gay to the grieving parents he so desperately wanted to look after felt impossible.
Between the hypocrisy he saw in Sunday school and the increasingly violent homophobia he faced in the schoolyard, Ivan says anxiety and depression began to take a dangerous hold.
"Even as young as five or six, people knew I was different," he says.
"I was carrying that secret and that shame, I didn't have any role models back then, there was no support."
I was one of those young people at risk of losing hope and ending it all. I nearly did.Ivan Hinton-Teoh
Instead, at 18, the same afternoon he finished his final Year 12 exam, he packed up his life into his car and moved up the road to Canberra. There he met and proposed to Chris, but he would be 29 before he finally came out.
"We actually met the same way my parents did - on a tennis court," he says.
"We did a strategic roll-out. I came out to my parents and then a year later Chris came out to his to try to keep the controversy to one household at a time."
By then, his parents had stopped going to church. But the family was at first resistant to telling his grandmother that his "flatmate", the same man who had come over for regular family dinners and helped carry both her and her bags on a trip across Europe, was the same man Ivan planned to spend the rest of his life with.
"I was getting frustrated whenever she'd ask 'have I met anyone?' because he was right there," he says.
"Eventually I snapped and told her...and there was this huge pause. I thought maybe we'd forgotten to put her hearing aid in, but then what came out of the mouth of my racist, homophobic grandmother was: 'I thought I sensed the love when we were in Europe'."
Today, while the scars of the same-sex marriage plebiscite are not healed, the Hinton-Teoh family is stronger than ever.
"I still lose sleep because I don't know how many people we lost," Ivan says.
"We know some people killed themselves. I have friends who don't talk to their families anymore because they voted against their human rights.
"We got there but we know people need more support. The fight [for equality] is not over yet."
The conversation turns again to his mother at Mardi Gras, and her long years as president for P-Flag, a group of family and allies supporting queer people.
"When we lost Corey, it was just me left," Ivan says. "I think part of why my mum campaigns so hard now is she knows there are still other kids out there who need a mum, they need the hug they haven't gotten from their own parents in a long time. My mum's there for them all now too.
"Our opponents might try to dehumanise us, but marriage is very much a family issue."
- The Canberra Times