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

Never Stop Holding Hands: how love took on a monster, and won.


Panti said that she got through an entire day without checking herself, and that she does not feel oppressed.

A couple of friends of mine walked to the local shop together. A man approached them shook their hands, and told them to never stop holding hands.

Another friend talked about all the same-sex couples she saw holding hands, embracing, being unapologetically together on our streets and in our parks.

And I walk down the street alone with a Yes badge on my shirt- I can’t bear to take it off yet. It’s met on every street with infectious, unstoppable smiles. Moments of overjoyed connection with strangers- and not just the strangers we’ve been led to expect. The buttoned-up, the middle-aged, the most conservative appearing of us can’t help but break into grins when we see each other.

This is about marriage, but this is about so much more. This was about changing a society, and it was about letting everyone in that society know how it had changed.

This campaign was hard. It was cruel at times. The helpless frustration of seeing signs on every street telling you that you are unfit, inadequate, should be happy to put up with less. Hearing unashamed bigotry dressed up as genuine concerns in a cowardly media. Feeling the weight of money and influence wielded by people who hate us so much that they threw everything they had into keeping us down. Hearing stories of kids of same sex couples, of adopted kids, of kids of single parents seeing those same posters telling them that their families weren’t enough, and feeling helpless to do anything about it.

The campaign was cruel, and it was an unnecessary cruelty.

But- and here is the beautiful thing- the campaign was also kind. We didn’t just fight. We cared for each other. We knew that we could only win by sharing some of the most vulnerable parts of ourselves with strangers, and by being judged for those. So we did. On doorsteps and streets and online and in newspapers and even on TV we shared our stories, our families, our lives and our fears, in the hope that they would find a spark or humanity and empathy in people who had never met us. And it did. Continue reading “Never Stop Holding Hands: how love took on a monster, and won.”

Never Stop Holding Hands: how love took on a monster, and won.

They Were Right: This referendum is not (just) about marriage.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get married.

That’s not, by the way, anything to do with my being queer. I don’t know if I’ll ever get married, because I don’t know if I want to get married, and because I haven’t found myself in the kind of relationship that marriage would make sense with. I don’t know if twenty years from now I’ll be married, single, living with my three favourite partners, or traveling the world in a refurbished double-decker bus with a giant ginger cat.

I can tell you, though, that the last of those is the one I spend the most time daydreaming about.

Of course, maybe me and my giant ginger cat won’t be on our own in our double-decker bus (with a balcony taking up half of the top level where I keep my plants. Of course). Maybe we will.

I don’t really care about getting married, myself. If I find someone I want to be with for the rest of my life, then we’ll do that regardless of whether the state calls it a marriage, and it’ll mean every bit as much to the two of us. I do care deeply about the legal rights that come with marriage, and about being able to protect my loved ones and have the families that we create legally recognised. Marriage might do that. It might not. I don’t know what shape my family will be, in ten or twenty years. I’m ambivalent about marriage as an institution. I don’t like the idea that the state can privilege one kind of family and relationship over all others, giving some families (specifically, those based on lifelong monogamous dyadic relationships, if we’re getting technical about things) rights that others don’t have. It is abhorrent to me that the state has the  power to name this a family and that legal strangers, and that we have no way to change this. If we have to have legal definitions of family, I want one that is inclusive of all kinds of families. Of all of the bonds of kinship that we create. If we have to legally encode these things, I want a structure that is flexible. One that doesn’t prescribe one kind of ideal relationship, but instead accurately describes the relationships and families that we do have.

I’m one of those queers your mum probably didn’t know enough to warn you about. The ones who have no interest in emulating heteronormativity and think that, frankly, society as a whole would do well to learn from what we’ve been up to over the decades.

Like I said? I’m ambivalent about marriage.

Yet if this May’s referendum is defeated? I’m not sure how I’ll stand it.

Continue reading “They Were Right: This referendum is not (just) about marriage.”

They Were Right: This referendum is not (just) about marriage.

Whose country is it anyway?

I’ve been thinking about a couple of comments that Marcus Ranum made on my last post (thanks for the food for thought, by the way!). Here’s the exchange:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 11.19.25
Now, obviously (especially since he actually said it in as many words) the suggestion wasn’t a serious one. It’s just an expression of frustration, and a legitimate one at that. I threaten to move to the far side of the Moon on a regular basis, right? It got me thinking, though. Continue reading “Whose country is it anyway?”

Whose country is it anyway?

From Danielle: End Direct Provision in Ireland

Danielle has been writing about direct provision:

A woman stands in the background of the picture, facing you. Between you are the backs of three heads. Above this is text which reads:

A comic about the system of direct provision in Ireland, wherein those seeking refugee status are given less than €20 per week as an adult, and less than €10 for their children.

Due to the Citizenship Referendum of 2004, those born in Ireland no longer receive automatic citizenship unless at least one parent already has citizenship.

Kids who’ve grown up here, made friends, and known no other country are deported after long processes to find out their legal status.

Racist and xenophobic members of this country, including the ruling government, want to keep this system. Those seeking asylum are fighting back, and I hope those of us with the privilege not to be directly affected by these abuses will have their backs.

The Irish Refugee Council are holding a national demonstration on the 20th of November 2014 to end DP. It’s not everything, but DP is a system nobody should have to live under.

Yep. What she said.

From Danielle: End Direct Provision in Ireland

Ask A Bisexual podcast is up!

If you didn’t catch it earlier, here’s the podcast of myself and two other members of Bi+ Ireland talking bisexuality with the absolutely lovely people at PrideTime on NearFM. And answering forever the question of what I actually sound like in real life 😉

I’m so damn proud of what we’re doing with this group.

#BiVisibility – A panel discussion on bisexuality by Pride Time @ Nearfm on Mixcloud

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Ask A Bisexual podcast is up!

Ask A Bisexual: Coming to a radio near (er, probably far from) you!

Got a burning question about bisexuality? Or just want to hear some devastatingly sexy Irish accents saying incredibly clever things? Myself and two other Irish bi+ activists, Janet Ní Shuilleabháin and Danny Pio Murphy, will be on Dublin’s NearFM later today- 5.30pm GMT- talking all things bi+.

If you’ve a question you’d like us to answer or if you just want to send gloriously effusive fanmail*, pop Near FM a tweet or an FB message. And if you’re somehow too far from Dublin to get NearFM on your radio, here’s the livestream.


*you should probably leave the fanmail until after we’ve started talking, though.

Even bloggers have to pay the bills! Monthly subscriptions- no matter how small- help give me the security to devote time to this place and keep a roof over my head:

Monthly subscription
onetime donation
Why Donate?

Ask A Bisexual: Coming to a radio near (er, probably far from) you!

Direct Provision: Sex Work Is Not The Problem

This week here in Ireland, reports have come to light that women living in direct provision centres have been engaged in survival sex work.

Some context, for those of you unfamiliar with Ireland’s asylum processes:

When people come to Ireland seeking asylum, they are housed in what’s called “direct provision” until their cases are heard. Direct provision is a system where food and accommodation are provided to a person, and they are given a small allowance to live on. Doesn’t seem too terrible at first glance- who wouldn’t want to be given a place to live and 3 meals a day?

It turns out, though, that direct provision isn’t exactly what you’d call cushy. Continue reading “Direct Provision: Sex Work Is Not The Problem”

Direct Provision: Sex Work Is Not The Problem

Women Excel At Sport, Journalists Talk About Manicures

I play roller derby. Wait- let me say that properly: I skate motherfuckin’ ROLLER DERBY, beaaaatches. That’s more like it. Y’see, roller derby isn’t something I can talk about neutrally. This is a game where “derby saved my (metaphorical) soul” has gone from a common statement to a boring-ass cliché. Practically everyone I know who plays this game says it’s changed her life. It’s helped her find her confidence and her grit. It’s shown her how to love the body she has and appreciate it for what it can do, not how conventionally attractive it is. It’s given her a community, friends and role models. It’s taught her how to (literally) get beaten down and (literally) get back up again. In this game I’ve gotten bruises and sprains. I’ve seen people break bones more times than I care to remember. Far more important than that, though? They get those bones healed and put their skates back on. I see us getting knocked over and getting up again and knocked down again until our muscles will barely obey us when we stand again, and I see us doing it again and again until finally, somehow, we break through. And in between all of that, I see the hours we put in, every single week. Spending our evenings and weekends, every week, training in any hall that’ll take us. Spending their days off organising, promoting, planning, coaching and paperwork. And more training. Always, more training. And what do people say about us? Catfights and punches- both of which will, by the way, get you expelled, and have never happened at any game I’ve been to or played in. Booty shorts. Girls in fishnets hitting each other. Short skirts and tight tops.

But this isn’t about roller derby. This is about rugby.

Continue reading “Women Excel At Sport, Journalists Talk About Manicures”

Women Excel At Sport, Journalists Talk About Manicures

When My Nan Died: Religion, Closets and Love.

My nan died three years ago this week.

I hesitate to describe any one moment as the worst. Grief is always different, and to say this one is the worst feels like a denial of all the rest of it. Like it implies that I loved the others less.

When my gran- my maternal grandmother- died, the loss was profound but we knew it was going to happen. Dementia is almost incomprehensibly cruel, but the one thing it does give you is a long time to say goodbye. A decade of being present as this woman I loved changed into someone I loved no less fiercely, but differently, time and again. And a few days I’ll be grateful for forever, when we knew this was the end, we gathered together, sat vigil by her side and said goodbye over and over. And when she was gone we all piled onto her bed and hugged her goodbye and talked for hours and slept and ate apple cake and made horrible jokes. And she stayed in her front room for the rest of the week while hundreds of people came to say goodbye. We ate more apple cake and my cousin said a mass in the kitchen and the Catholics passed around communion wine while the assorted nonbelievers sat on the floor behind the counter drinking Coronas.

It hurt like hell when my gran died. But these things helped. Continue reading “When My Nan Died: Religion, Closets and Love.”

When My Nan Died: Religion, Closets and Love.