Way back in the 1980s I was talking to this Scottish lad Miko on a Bristol building site.
Shaped like the blocks he was hodding, Miko was as hard as the hobs of hell. Don’t ask me how, as those were less enlightened times, but we were talking about ‘gays’. He reliably told me, in his best shuggie Glasgow, “There’s none of that goes on up the road.” By up the road he meant the whole of Scotland. Rab C Nesbitt would have been proud.
Times have changed and we no longer deny our gay brothers and sisters. Back then, as depicted in the film ‘Pride’, gay folk were harassed and bullied by the old bill. Gay people and similarly oppressed striking miners made strange bedfellows.
Tom Robinson Band sang of gays being on the jackboot end of police brutality, tabloid newspaper lies, ‘queer bashing’ and having to live secret lives…
“Put down the queens and tell anti-queer jokes, Gay Lib’s ridiculous, join their laughter, the buggers are legal now, what more are they after?” (’Sing If Your Glad To Be Gay’). And would you believe it?!.. it was equality they were after, which has to be prised finger by finger from the clenched fists of the fundamentalists.
To win Friday’s ‘Yes’ vote required overwhelming support from heterosexuals who had the Catholic Church ringing in their ears.
Tweet of the week goes to Sanjeev Kohli; “Remember it was Adam & Eve not Adam & Steve (Who accepted a magical apple from an evil talking snake).”
If you are convinced other people don’t have God and are certain God is on your side, he probably isn’t. Fundamentalists create a God whose views are conveniently the same as their own. They wear their concept of God like a security blanket. With God on your side you can do anything. God was on the side of Oliver Cromwell, the men who smashed aeroplanes into the Twin Towers and Isis as they behead anyone who has a different God.
The world and our understanding evolves but fundamentalists are stuck in a time warp.
When Pope John Paul II urged Irish voters to reject divorce in the 1995 referendum, his late intervention drove many to go to the polls to vote for divorce. People were at the end of their tether with the church and a Pope who had said nothing about revelations of the systematic abuse of Irish children and the subsequent cover-up by the church.
It is still difficult for people to listen to the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin pontificate about the nuclear family with fresh revelations of nuns selling children to rich Americans, as depicted in the movie Philomena, and destroying documents that would help them find their mothers years later. The lack of humility is breathtaking.
A number of priests courageously stepped out and said they would be voting Yes. They were few and far between however as the church continues to exert an attitude of compliance rather than open debate. Just ask Fr Brian D’Arcy who was called to heel in 2012 by the Pope for expressing challenging views in his newspaper column.
It is inspiring that the Irish people rallied to support the LGBT community.
In a very moving interview Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran, a devout Catholic, spoke of his love for his gay son Finnian, and said, “I’ve come on a journey, in terms of my belief, and I feel comfortable in urging all people of faith to consider the equal marriage referendum seriously and to vote yes. In my view, it’s the right thing – the moral thing – to do”. So too former President Mary McAleese.
Telling a gay man or woman to be straight is like telling a fish to ride a bicycle, whatever Iris Robinson’s psychologist may say. People do not choose their sexuality. Such a vote would not have been possible a few decades ago. Not a chance. Celebrities and sports men and women encouraged support for equality.
People cared enough to fly home from foreign shores to vote in a referendum that will have no impact on their lives. Donegal star Eamon McGee took a stand and was lambasted from the pulpit by a local priest. The Gaelic Players Association and the IRFU also stood shoulder to shoulder with the gay community. We live in changing times. Ireland is standing on its own two feet and shrugging off guilt driven religious control.
It is a nonsense to talk of accepting gay people as equals while out of the other side of the mouth telling them to sign a different piece of paper when committing to their monogamous, loving relationship.
In 1895 Oscar Wilde was arrested for “indecent acts” and his name was removed from the playbills outside theatres in London and New York.
“The love that dare not speak its name” is a phrase from the poem Two Loves by Lord Alfred Douglas. It was mentioned at Wilde’s trial and it is classically interpreted as a euphemism for homosexuality.
Since then Wilde has taken his rightful place among the greats of Irish literature. He said, “The world was my oyster but I use the wrong fork,” a wonderful metaphor.
We have come a long way. Next year is the hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising.
The Proclamation calls on the Republic to “cherish all the children of the nation equally.”
Last Friday was a great day for Ireland.