Guest posts: what next? What this means.

As a follow-up to last week’s Guest Posts for Equality series (read them!), I asked people to share their thoughts on two topics: what does the referendum’s result mean to them, and what comes next.

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.

John CP


Guest posts: what next? What this means.

Guest post: What now? Why do we throw our less respectable queers under the bus?

As a follow-up to last week’s Guest Posts for Equality series (read them!), I asked people to share their thoughts on two topics: what does the referendum’s result mean to them, and what comes next. 

The author of this post has asked to remain anonymous, as they are currently only out to a small number of their close friends.  


Now that the referendum campaigning is done, and the yesses have it, I’d like to talk about something I felt I couldn’t much during the past few weeks. The run up to the vote has been wearying, painful and damaging to the queer community. The venomous homophobia spewing forth from the many heads of the Iona hydra has taken its toll on everyone. How deeply that pain is felt depends heavily on the network of support a person has around them, and I for one am grateful that my immediate family and circle of friends are, at least most of the time, not outwardly homophobic.


While hateful lies published by right-wing scummers are easy to criticise, to mock, and, for some, to brush off, it will be harder for those of us on the Yes side to self-reflect and see the many ways in which our campaigns have been harmful to the very people they claim to represent. A good example of this is the incredibly misguided “Straight Up For Equality” campaign. The slogan serves no purpose, other than to state that you can vote in favour of same sex marriage, even if you’re Not A Gay. For straight people, literally the only people not directly affected by the outcome of this referendum, this campaign gives them an excuse to assert their own heteronormativity, to maintain an “us and them” straight versus gay dichotomy, while allowing themselves to feel like progressive liberal heroes. Straight people, listen up; this is not about you.

Another thing that the Straight Up For Equality slogan implies is that there are only two types of relationships, straight or gay, and that your sexuality depends on which relationships you happen to be in. What of queers who aren’t gay? Do two bi women in a relationship suddenly become lesbians? Are a straight woman and her pan husband in a straight marriage? What of individuals of nonbinary gender? I can imagine the answer from our self-professed straight allies would be something along the lines of, “…huh?”

This notion of straight and gay binary has been rampant throughout the referendum campaign. Using terms such as “gay marriage” when you mean “same sex marriage” erases the identity of the majority of people on the queer spectrum. I was surprised to see some of my bi friends championing former president Mary McAleese for the speech she gave to BeLonG To, in which she stated, “the only children affected by this referendum are Ireland’s gay children.” Using “gay” as a catch all phrase to mean the LGBTQIA community hurts those of us who are queer in anything other than the most mainstream, socially acceptable way.

A powerful symbol of the appeal to acceptability is the mural in Dublin of two men embracing, with the slightest suggestion of a kiss, which was followed almost as an afterthought by a mural in Galway of two women, decidedly not kissing. An important thing to note here is that all four individuals in these murals are white, able-bodied, and to be presumed cis. Where are the murals of our queers of colour, our queer Travellers, our queer trans folk, our queers with visible disabilities? No, poster gays (and lesbians if you insist) only please!

Why do we throw our less respectable queers under the bus? Are we afraid that mainstream society would vote against same sex marriage if it knew the reality of queer diversity? Is that is a society into which you would happily be assimilated?

I can only hope that the inevitable post referendum drop-off of “acceptable” queers (i.e.; gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry) will give rise to a more radicalised approach to queer politics in Ireland.

Fingers crossed.

Guest post: What now? Why do we throw our less respectable queers under the bus?

Guest Posts: What Now? Thoughts as we celebrate the 34th Amendment

As a follow-up to last week’s Guest Posts for Equality series (read them!), I asked people to share their thoughts on two topics: what does the referendum’s result mean to them, and what comes next. 

Jon Hanna was born in County Down, but has lived in the Republic for all of his adult life, and Dublin for all but a few months of that. He once swore off activism on the basis that he doesn’t think he’s very good at it, but does still occasionally write things like this.


The strong sisters told the brothers that there were two important things to remember about the coming revolutions. The first is that we will get our asses kicked. The second is that we will win.

25 years ago, those words were part of the Queer Nation Manifesto handed out by the Act Up contingent at the Pride parade in New York.

At a time closer to the Stonewall Riots the parades commemorate than to today,
at a time when here in Ireland the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, and the 1885 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act made sexual acts between two consenting men illegal,
at a time when one of the ways you could identify someone on television as gay was visible Kaposi’s sarcoma,
at a time when people ganging up with the clear and premeditated intent to kill a gay man, because he was a gay man, and doing so, could expect to be given a suspended sentence,
at a time not long after that had happened,
I began to realise I liked boys as well as girls.

The right to same-sex marriage isn’t a right I hope to exercise, because I still liked girls as well as boys, and the person I since met, that I want to spend the rest of my life with, is a woman. And we got to celebrate our love and our wish to be together recently, in a beautiful wedding.

But you are who you are. And I am who I am. And when as a schoolboy I came out a little over 20 years ago, I was lucky to have that received well by good people. And I’ve mostly been lucky to have other such good people around me throughout my life, whether I was married, single, dating a woman, or dating a man. That my life never ended up such that I ever wanted to marry a man, is far from the point, and that is the same for many others who are LGBT (and let us not for a minute forget the T, or anyone else that doesn’t fit the cis, hetero pattern that we’ve for so long been told is “normal”).

Not everybody has been lucky in that way. And nobody should have to be lucky that way. People need protected rights, protected not just by a few good people they are lucky to have around them, but by the people; that “we the people” don’t hand out moments of decency, but insist that all of us the people are treated with respect.

And those who are gay need to have their gay lives, and their gay loves or lack of them as those gay lives unfold, treated with respect.

And those who are trans* and those who are ace need to not have their lives forced into the mould of another’s.

And those of us who are bi need to have our lives treated with respect, with the loves that may come to us as our lives unfold neither allowed because they are straight enough to fit the norm, or allowed because they are gay enough to distance us firmly from the norm, but accepted because they are our loves and they are our lives, and we are all of cherished as citizens by all of us.

And we the people should have been able to legislate for same-sex marriage through our representatives. But when some in the Dáil insisted it wasn’t constitutionally possible without a referendum, that was what we the people had. And, on the day that would have been Harvey Milk’s 85th birthday, a million Irish people said that they think all of our loves and all of our lives should be given the same respect. And that brought with it something that no constitution can give the Dáil the power to deliver, something that goes further than the right to marry the person you love, or even the equality it still brings to those with no intention of such a marriage; it brought a genuine sense that we belong in this country, that we the queer people are indeed seen as part of we the people.

And in a moment of fear that we would lose, and that the loss would push us back grievously, I thought of the few rare optimistic words in the Queer Manifesto; “The second is that we will win.”

The strong sisters could tell the brothers that, because the sisters had been in other fights before, and they knew that we would win, just as they knew that we would get our asses kicked.

They were right on both counts.

And if it’s tempting now to think that we are near the beginning of the end, we need only look at the sisters’ fights to know that this isn’t the case (Repeal the 8th!). There will still be fights, and we will get our asses kicked, and we will win. As will the sisters. It’s not the end, but an Ireland where a million people vote to allow marriage to be lawful “without distinction as to their sex” — an Ireland where people will not only travel to their polling station to do so, but thousands will fly or sail into the country to do so — can be one where we might be near the end of the beginning.

Guest Posts: What Now? Thoughts as we celebrate the 34th Amendment