LGBT Community and Pride: Where have they been?


In the past week we heard a lot from people from all sides of our community regarding Dublin Pride’s decision not to allow speakers from community and activist groups after Saturday’s parade. Fortunately for everyone, Pride were able to come to an agreement with LGBTQ groups, allowing them a small amount of time to address the Pride crowds.

There’s one thing I kept on hearing last week from some people associated with Pride Committee members that I’d like to address, and that’s this: where were the community and activist groups all year? While Pride Committee members were volunteering their time to put on a festival.. where was everyone else?

Where were they? Here, of course. Everywhere.

I find it difficult to understand how members of the Pride committee could see that they gave long hours to their group, but not that everyone else is doing the same.

The vast majority of the work that goes into every LGBT community or activist group in the country is voluntary. Even organisations with paid staff rely heavily on volunteers. Throughout the country, every evening and weekend, people give long hours of their time and donate their incredible expertise to build our communities and campaign for inclusion and equality.

We all give our time.

Activist and community groups build and sustain the community that Pride celebrates. They give us a place to go for the other 50 weeks of the year. They run the support groups and helplines. They organise our regular meetups. They run the campaigns that will- oh, they will– build a society where LGBTQ people are not only equally respected under the law, but equally valued as members of our society.

Activist and community groups have been working their butts off on activism and community building. That’s what they do. They also gave Dublin Pride what they asked for- filled out their forms to be part of the parade- and no doubt assumed that in the absence of any further information, the day would continue to be organised in a similar way to how it had been for years. Dublin Pride are the people who had responsibility for letting everyone else know if something else was going on.

If they didn’t do that? They should own up. Complaining about having put in long hours to people who do the exact same thing with their own evenings and weekends? Not doing anyone any favours. Hopefully next year’s committee can learn from this year’s mistakes, take ownership of their jobs and make an event that is both a spectacular party and a call to action.

Equality, already!


There’s a lot of reasons to support marriage equality. Respect for human dignity. Excuses to wear fancy hats. Recognising and valuing love and commitment. Giving your assorted aunts a day out. Thousands of legal rights and responsibilities. Cake.

I’ve got one more.

Every time I watch a marriage equality video, I cry.

I’m not talking a single dignified tear. It starts a few seconds in with that tear. By the end of a 3-minute video, the tear has been joined by its sisters, brothers, cousins, friends, old babysitters, and everyone who’s ever worked at its favourite cafes. What I’m trying to say here is that marriage equality videos- every single damn one of them- make me bawl. I’m crying right now just thinking of ’em.

In fairness, I cry at straight couples getting married too, but I have to actually know the people involved. Show me an old queer couple that I’ve never met and tell me that they’ve been waiting longer than I’ve been alive to have their relationship recognised, though? You’d better have brought a stack of tissues with you, ’cause I’ll be sobbing before you can get the words out.

This is a problem. Sometimes I have to appear professional. Like a grown-up in control of herself who won’t turn into a teary mess in seconds. The only way that I can see to deal with this is for every country, everywhere, to get off their asses and legislate for equal marriage- preferably on an evening or weekend, so there’ll be no problem with me hiding under a blanket with a bucket of icecream. Let’s get this out of the way in a morning, have our happy cry, and then get on with things.

In the meantime, check these out. You can try to tell me you’re not moved if you like, but I won’t believe you.

If you were to fancy throwing any links into the comments that’ll make me ugly-cry? I’d probably complain, but I’d also watch every sniffly one of them.

 

Why Marriage Equality Should Matter To Straight People


P1020064

Marriage equality. Same-sex marriage. Gay marriage. Whatever you call it, it’s kind of a big deal these days. We hear a lot about why it matters to LGBTQ folks- that pesky equality thing, being treated with the same dignity and rights as others, protecting our families, having nice days out with excellent hats. But, as every LGBTQer will tell you, most people aren’t queer. Most of you are raging heterosexualists. And those of you of a heterosexual persuasion might sometimes wonder what, precisely, is in it for you? Why should you leave your warm, comfortable sofa and take to the streets for the rights of a bunch of strangers?

As it turns out? A lot of reasons. Here’s a few of mine:

1. You Want To Marry People Who Love You Back, Right?

Have you ever met someone who started off LGBT, was oppressed for it, and genuinely turned straight? I haven’t. As a wise man once said, “there ain’t no cure for love“.

Discrimination against queer people has never stopped us from being queer. What it has done is force people into the closet and into relationships with people that they might love, but they can never really love. If you want to be sure that the person who you marry is someone who feels as much for you as you do for them? Make sure that people can marry the ones they love.

2. The Infertility Thing

A bunch of the arguments against marriage equality go something like this: While two people of any gender can share love and devotion, it’s only the physical union of one (cis, though they never mention it) man and one (cis, though they never mention it) woman that can physically create a child, and it is in the interests of society to support this.

Let’s leave aside the kinda-bizarre implication that we want, as a society, to support LGBT people getting into different-sex marriages. It shouldn’t be difficult to see what’s intrinsically wrong with that.

Not all straight people can have kids- biologically, at least- with each other. Not all straight people want to have kids. If marriage is only for people who can physically create a child with each other, then what about infertile people? Post-menopausal women should be banned from marrying anyone at all, and childfree people consigned to civil unions at best. Fertility tests would be mandatory before marriage licences, and marriages that don’t produce children within a couple of years would be annulled.

Sounds ridiculous, eh? It is ridiculous. And it’s not going to happen. But think about it: do you want your marriages to be defined by whether you have children or not? Do you want to be seen as less valuable if you choose not to have kids? Do you want infertile people to be shamed, do you think it’s okay if their relationships are seen as lesser?

If you accept the idea that different-sex marriages are better because lots of people in them can have kids without any outside help (and even by accident), then you accept the idea that having kids somehow makes a relationship.. better. Do you want your relationships defined by whether or not you can physically make a kid with the person you love?

I figured not.

3. It’s about family and community.

LGBT people don’t live in a world separate from everyone else. Maybe your kid is LGBT. Maybe it’s your parent. Or your aunt or your uncle. Maybe your cousin or your sibling. Either way, chances are that there’s at least someone in your circles who’s not entirely straight & cis. We’re part of your families, we’re your friends, we live in your communities. Do you want some of the people you love to be treated as if they were less than others? Isn’t it a little… awkward?

4. It’s About Love

Anti-marriage equality advocates would have you believe that marriage is about anything- anything– other than two people who love each other making a lifelong commitment to each other. They say that it’s about babies- ignoring the many thousands of kids raised by loving same-sex couples. They say that it has nothing to do with love, and that marriage is by definition something between one man and one woman, without giving reasons why. Anti-equality advocates would say that your genitals (which they overwhelmingly feel are directly tied to your gender) are the most important defining feature of the love you share.

Don’t you think that your relationships and marriages are worth more than that? If you love someone, isn’t that love about far more than one of you being A Man and one of you being A Woman? Those of us who advocate for marriage equality say that love is something between you and the unique individual that you love. We say that love doesn’t need to keep anything else down to be special- it’s beautiful just as it is.

These were just what I came up with. Can you think of any more? What’ve I missed?

LANDSLIDE VOTE FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY!


Ireland’s Constitutional Convention just voted by a 4/5 margin to amend the constitution to allow for bring in marriage equality. We have a long road ahead of us- there’s going to be a lot of ugliness in that referendum campaign.

But I am so goddamn proud of my country right now.

From Marriage Equality: Do us a favour?


Check out the video.

And then go here to send a message to any of your local TDs in the Constitutional Convention, to let them know that you support the right of all people in Ireland to marriage equality, regardless of gender or orientation.

And then share the video and get everyone you know to do the same. Because it’s about damn time all marriages were treated equally under the law here, don’t you think?

An oldie on civil partnerships


As you read this, I’m off learning how to drive bikes around Kildare for the day. If you’re in Kildare, you’ll be able to recognise me by the giant L plate on my jacket (classy!) and the look of sheer terror on my face every time my instructor makes me go past 40kph.

Since I’ve been talking about marriage a lot lately, and in recognition of the fact that the UK and France are both planning on bringing in equality while Ireland drags its feet and files its nails, here’s a video I made back when Ireland first brought in civil partnerships. You get to hear my thoughts on the matter AND see three-years-ago me. Bonus!

Why Marriage Equality Matters To Me


They say that every little girl dreams of her wedding day. I didn’t. I dreamed of spaceships and faraway planets, about eking out a life on deserted islands, about robots and post-apocalyptic worlds and deep-sea diving. A wedding wasn’t a dream come true for me. Not like the first time I strapped myself into SCUBA gear and slipped into another world.

While I’ve changed a lot from that little girl who dreamed of outer space and deep-sea exploration, I’m not much different in many ways. I still dream of exploration and discovery. Every time a plane I’m on takes off I’m still secretly thrilled. And though I don’t get to dive as much as I’d like, I still soak up everything I can learn about the places I’ve never been.  I still have lazy daydreams of Mars.

I was never a girl who dreamed of her wedding day. And while I can’t say that I’ve never daydreamed about promising to share my life with someone I love, getting married is still not the first thing on my bucket list. As a poly person, especially, it seems like the kind of thing I’d have to put an inordinate amount of deliberation into. How could I make a promise to one person knowing that it meant I could never promise the same thing to anyone else? How could I ask a partner to hold me above all others?

I’m not a woman who dreams about marriage. Sharing my life with my chosen family? Splendid! A great big party to celebrate the love that we share? Spiffing! But I’m not sure that marriage is for me*.

It still matters.

Valuing Choices

Whether I or you choose a particular thing or not there is something immensely important about the freedom to decide. Choosing to have children or not, to pursue a particular career or hobby or not. I’m immensely aware that, say, the freedom to choose a career is something that was for far too long circumscribed by gender. And that it’s still often circumscribed by class. Whether I want to be a carer or a chemist, to have no children or a dozen or just one or two, the ability to decide the course of my life can’t be overvalued. We have this one life. It’s the most precious thing we will ever have.

Choosing to share your life with another person or people is one of the most important things that any of us will do. We are what we think and feel, what we do, and the networks of people within which we live. Society isn’t something apart from all of that. It’s the sum of many smaller interconnected people and networks. It’s part of us. We’re all part of us. And whether we as a society value the ways that people choose to follow their hearts and live their lives matters.

Neither ‘tolerance’ nor ‘acceptance’

It is immensely important to me that my society can value what I- a childless, unmarried woman- contribute. It is immensely important to me that those choices are valued equally with the choices of others to have and raise children, to devote their time to caring for others. Sure, we can all just go ahead and do the things that we want to do regardless of the opinions of others. But the vast majority of us care what others think. Whether we like to admit it or not, the opinions of others matter to us. We do crave validation and respect. We don’t want our lives to be met with sidelong glances.

Even if I choose not to marry, being able to do so regardless of the gender of my partner(s) has huge symbolic value. Denial of marriage equality isn’t just saying that I can’t access a particular contract. It says directly that my society feels that there is something missing, something inferior about same-sex relationships.

Whether I choose to marry or not, I will not accept the profound insult inherent in this.

I want to know that even if I do not choose to marry, my relationships are valued equally regardless of the gender of my partner(s). I want to know that I live in a culture that does not merely tolerate or accept the love that I feel and the relationships that I build, but celebrates relationships regardless of gender. I want a culture that values everything from the tongue-tied nerves of giddy crushes to the sweet familiarity of years of devotion. I want a culture that celebrates what partnerships bring to our lives- love, support, joy, knowing that someone is on your side whatever you go through, deep understanding, working together for mutual happiness, strengthening ties, caring for others and so much more. I don’t want a culture that tolerates that. I want one that thinks it is bloody brilliant.

Marriage equality doesn’t mean that every person in the country celebrates love equally. But it means that enough people do that we have collectively decided to make a point of enshrining equality in our laws.

And that? Whether you or I or the person next to you marries or not, and whatever the gender of the person or people they love? That matters.

*of course, because I wrote this I’ll probably be merrily skipping down to the local city hall before you can say “eat my words”. Which is what you get for writing things on the internet.