Pride kicked off in Dublin and London this week – Belfast doesn’t have theirs until late July – incidentally the parade is the day after my play debuts, so we’re all hanging around for the whole weekend. But it’s got me thinking about what being queer in Ireland really means.
For those who don’t know Ireland is actually two countries and one country all at once – blame the St Andrew’s agreement – which means that you can be Irish, British and Northern Irish ALL AT ONCE – including dual citizenship and holding two passports.
And while in some ways Northern Ireland is amazing, sometimes it is so fucking backward that it’s embarrassing. And when it comes to gay rights the backwardness is not only stifling, but embarrassing.
In 2015 we held a vote on gay marriage – a basic human right, yeah? – in which NI OVERWHELMINGLY voted FOR gay marriage (70%) but it was shot down because of the stupid power sharing executive we have here – who are more concerned with bitching with each other and trying to score argument points on ‘principle’ than any of them are with actual politics or the welfare of the people they represent. And so the DUP (rather ironically named the DEMOCRATIC Unionist Party) decided that nope, they weren’t having gay marriage because it would be an insult to the sanctity of marriage in the traditional Christian sense.
Let’s bear in mind that at the time of that decision Peter Robinson was First Minister – his wife Iris Robinson openly stated that homosexuality was an abomination and that abortion was against God’s will while she was banging a 19 year old and conducting a sting of dubious property deals. But hey, us queers in a committed monogamous relationship are the ones to be vilified. Hmmmm.
When Peter Robinson left government and was replaced by Arlene Foster I actually had high hopes. I had, in a previous life, worked as a mid level civil servant in Ms Foster’s Department and had generally found her to be a level headed, intelligent and kind person. So you can imagine how betrayed I felt when I realised that the person I had professionally admired was just another muppet who shouldn’t have power.
Much as I generally don’t like Stephen Nolan (don’t know him personally, I’m sure he’d a nice bloke but his broadcasting style is not to my liking) I seriously respected him for the following interview: nolan vs alene re. same sex marriage
‘What is democratic about blocking that vote?’
And there we have it, Stephen Nolan asking the question we all asked.And the anser? Well… be prepared to be angry.
Arlene Foster (when asked why the DUP didn’t accept the majority vote from the people of Northern Ireland regarding gay marriage) : Because we have a mechanism to protect the institution of marriage.
Yeah. I’m gonna let you stew on that for a few seconds.
Now, I will hold my hands up as divorcee and say that yeah, my first marriage didn’t work out. But shit happens and we are all adults. That DOES NOT mean that I don’t take marriage seriously. And here’s the thing – I got a registry office marriage. No church, no religion involved, yet it was still a ‘marriage’ – so where does the religion come into things regarding gay marriage when about half of all NI marriages are registry office, non religious services? Not only that, but what about us queers who are religious? Like me? Might be a surprise, but yeah, I take my faith pretty seriously. And no, I don’t think God has an issue with who I am attracted to (made in his image, shall not judge etc) and neither do the 2 clergymen I know well.
Obviously this is a straw poll based I conducted in casual conversation over 20 minutes, but from experience it’s pretty indicative of the NI population in general – NO ONE CARES WHO YOU ARE FUCKING.
I’ll not even go into how Foster tries to justify her bigoted opinion by saying that basically it’s all fine because we have civil partnerships – while completely ignoring the fact that it takes away a basic human right from thousands of people to deny them a marriage.
Now, note the last minute or so of the interview where Arlene Foster very awkwardly avoids the question of whether she would attend a gay marriage of one of her kids – I think we can all tell the answer to that from her response.
And so, ladies, gents, others, you see the shit we put up with in NI on a daily basis regarding sexuality vs religion.
For some reason people seem to think I must not either understand or follow a religion because I’m queer – they are continually surprised to find otherwise. And even more so when they discover I know the texts just as well, and often better than they do.
So, while we are on religion (and sorry for the non religious folks, but bear with me here) let’s look at scripture:
James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
And is this assuming that queers aren’t faithful? Doubt it.
Here’s the thing, there is A LOT of bullshit bigotry surrounding homosexuality, but it basically comes down to this:
Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
What those Christian Fascists like to spout are two passages of the bible – both from Leviticus, which, let’s be honest is a bit of a cunt of a book when it comes to basic human compassion. But hey-ho. there’s always Timothy to fall back on – have you shaved? cut your hair? eaten lobster/crab/prawns/clams? Got a tattoo? Have your ears pierced? Damn, desecrated your body. Do you wear mix fabric (all you polyester wearers are fucked) or do you wear expensive fabric? (silk? hahaha, you are fucked too). Is that a wedding ring I see? Is it gold? Silver? Platinum? Well HO.LI.SHIT. congrats, your token of matrimony and conformity has basically condemned to you hell according to the BIBLE you fucking preach at me every fucking day.
I have a serious issue with people telling telling others they are going to hell ‘because the Bible says so’ while all the time flaunting their own disregard of the ‘rules’ – if you are going to use religion as a reason to oppress then YOU CAN’T FUCKING CHERRY PICK.
And so, here we are. In 2016 where many members of the population are denied basic human rights because one small group of politicians disregarded a population poll on the issue because they fear for the sanctity of marriage (unless of course it’s there own, where spousal abuse and infidelity are just fine).
And so, while I have pride in myself and my loved ones and pride in my countrymen, I don’t have so much pride in our politics.
Wishing I had something more cheerful.