Today’s offering is a little different to the usual- two people who I’ve spoken to on Facebook who’ve allowed me to share what it felt like to be in Ireland this weekend.
Here’s Naomi O’Kelly. Naomi is an Irish woman based in Scotland, where she works as a community artist, storyteller and theatre maker. You can find her at Walking Around Like We Own The Place, and this is what she had to say about the overwhelming sense of joy and relief that came with the referendum- a sense that many people outside our country can’t really grasp to its full extent:
I get the impression that some outside of Ireland are sceptical about the mass emotion – an ecstatic hysteria – coming out of the country at the moment about the referendum. And I totally get that, because from the outside it might seem that the Irish people are saying, “Ok, gay folks, I now annoint you with equal rights, yeah, you can thank me later. Actually – thank me now – yeah, keep thanking me, go on, we’re great.” Ha! And I really, really want to explain to sceptical ‘outsiders’ that it’s not like that.
I think that the huge outpouring of emotion is actually about something other than gay rights. It’s about a national release from what I can only think of as ‘evil’. (Yes, a very emotional choice of word.) The Authority in Ireland is traditionally narrow minded to a very cruel extent (abortion is denied even to minors who have been raped), whereas the broader population of ordinary people in Ireland are just not like this. The roar of relief from Ireland is reaction to the fact the NO VOTE DIDN’T WIN. It’s about finally, finally, getting to say, “No, you don’t get to persecute people in my name and in the name of my nation.”
So, for me, and I think for many, it’s not only about granting a right that should, of course, already be in place (equal marriage rights). It’s about having the opportunity to do that. After this referendum, I see my own country as a place where my own gay relations can be less afraid, and I also see the hope that women will be allowed to choose what happens to their bodies. I never saw Ireland this way before, and it matters so much to me. This is BIG.
And here’s John. If you’d like to hear more about his wedding and what led him there, you can read more in this gorgeous article from Confetti. Here he is, though, speaking about what this means for his own life, and his own family:
For me, this weekend’s results meant everything. I’ve been with my partner for over 10 years and last July we had a civil partnership surrounded by our friends and family. Up until this weekend, that was the most loved I’d felt. The day we said “I Do”, I could feel genuine love and acceptance in the air from our friends and family. This weekend I felt it from every corner of Ireland.
Next up, we’ll get married. We are in no rush however as in my eyes, the day we said ‘I Do’ in July 2014 was the day I married the man I love. Now I get to say “I Do” all over again to the same man.