The Real Cost of Homophobia

Hello to all my readers.

As I said in a previous post, I want this blog to be about more than style, or fashion. I want to make it about real life.

Recently, my Irish readers might have heard about a controversy surrounding RTE (the Irish national broadcaster), a Dublin businessman (and drag artist known as Panti) called Rory O’Neill and various commentators from the more conservative side of Irish life- namely John Waters, Breda O’Brien and The Iona Institute. I will let my readers catch up on the controversy themselves, but I wanted to publish a letter I recently sent to RTE, and to a number of Irish national newspapers. I have no belief that anywhere will print it, or even answer it, but I am so incensed about the entire thing, I had to write something.

Dear Sir,

I am primarily writing this to the complaints department in RTE, however I feel it necessary to include a number of other media outlets, to maximise the possibility of my story being heard. I think it’s important for you, and others across Ireland, to understand the real consequences of RTE’s handling of the Rory O’Neill/ John Waters/ Iona Institute story.

For many years now I have listened to the lies being pedalled by John Waters and the Iona Institute- and mark my words, they are LIES. They are lies about me, my personal life, my habits, my morals, my friendships, my relationship and my intentions. Oh, not by name. You see, I’m a lesbian. I am in my 30’s, I’m well educated, I work hard, I have paid my share of taxes, I have never broken the law. I volunteer my time with disability groups, I give money where I can to those who might need it, and I have a wonderful relationship which I have maintained for 10 years. I would LOVE to get married some day, yet according to John Waters ‘difference of opinion’, I only want to do that because I “want to destroy the institution of marriage because (I’m) envious of it”. That is a lie. And yet, apparently it’s ok for him to not only hold that opinion, but to publish it, to be given a microphone for it, to give it legitimacy in the public domain. And if someone was to call him out on it, then he gets to be protected.

I’m also one of those lesbians that everyone can tell is a lesbian. I don’t fade into the background, I don’t ‘blend in’. I can’t ‘pass’ for straight. I have no desire to, most of the time. I say most of the time, because there are times that I wish I didn’t look so darn gay. Those are the times that I get yelled at in the street. When I’m called a “f*cking dyke” by passers-by. When I get asked to leave the ladies toilets because I apparently don’t look like a woman. When mothers with children give me suspicious looks, like I’m going to suddenly try and ‘indoctrinate’ their daughter. Probably the worst I’d do is pull a funny face to make them smile. Comments like John Waters being given legitimacy means that people feel fine doing those things. Hey, if respected people in the media can say things like that, why can’t I?

So, he (and the Iona Institute et al) lying about me and others like me by saying we’d make unfit parents, that we want to make a mockery of marriage, that wanting to be equal in the eyes of the law is somehow us ‘getting above our station’, is fine. Obviously, since RTE apologised and have granted damages to those people after Rory O’Neills correct assertions on the Saturday Night Show.

John Waters IS homophobic. So is The Iona Institute. There’s really no two ways about it. Homophobia does not just mean being ‘afraid’ of gay people. It encompasses intolerance, a lack of respect, feelings of superiority. I think we can all see that given Waters (et al) comments on the subject, he IS homophobic. But by all means, apologise to him. Apologise to him for creating that “debate” you say is so important- so long as it’s not a debate that might get some ‘important’ people like him upset.

But so long as you’re apologising, try apologising to the thousands of gay people who are actively discriminated against here in jobs and housing every day because of who they fall in love with. Try apologising to ME because the comments written and condoned in the media allows people to think it’s ok to yell obscenities at me in the street. And hey, I’m lucky. I’ve never been beaten up or KILLED because of who I love, but there are hundreds of people who are, every year. Try apologising to them, RTE.

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