I was quite shocked and disappointed by a comment in the Irish Times this afternoon in reference to photographic coverage of the campaign. The comment reeked of sexism, diminished the debate and sullied the positive result for the Yes Campaign.
I quote the comment in full for your edification.
“Yet another photo of two scraggy looking blokes with beards snogging? How about a few pictures of some hot blonde lezzer chicks”.
I suggested to the young man that there are surely plenty such images on Google to satisfy his needs. I hinted that he might try something along the lines of a sexist search string such as ‘hot chicks getting off’. As a cautious writer, I do check my references and material. I Googled the string myself, in the interests of pure research, you understand… But I digress.
The referendum result in favour of Marriage Equality is fantastic. It bodes a better Ireland, an Ireland where equality for all citizens is guaranteed in the foundation document of our law. It signals a better Ireland where bigots and oppressive institutions no longer hold sway. It is an Ireland that I am proud to live in, a society that I am proud to be a part of.
A less visible but nonetheless seismic outcome impacts on straight people as much as it does on the LGBT community. It is the freedom from that ingrained cultural obsequious treatment of ‘the other’. To grow up in the white, straight, Christian culture is to carry the guilt of our forefathers. We are infected by ghosts of those pervasive, deeply rooted colonial attitudes that spoke of ‘savages’, ‘dirty Arabs’ and ‘backwards natives’.
Despite the fact that I grew up dirt poor on dystopian Scottish housing estates the threads of that attitudinal arrogance poisoned my worldview. Its shadow was there despite my daily interactions with this not quite normalised social grouping. The referendum forced the attitude out from the shadows and allowed me to slay it, through the act of voting. The LGBT community have liberated themselves from an underhand form of second class citizenship. But they have also liberated the nation from the vestiges of its shameful collusion with colonialism.
There are heroes in this, such as Senator Katherine Zappone, long time civil rights activist Senator David Norris, Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar who recently came out publicly as gay. a few Campaigners like of Max Krzyzanowski have walked the streets, held up signs and flags, spoken with eloquence and persuasiveness on a myriad of TV and radio debates. Real heroes are the thousands of first time voters, many still in school, who engaged the electorate with passionate statements, and showed us that this was about the Ireland that they want to grow into.
What about the thousands that came back from their economic banishment abroad to have their say? I was moved. I have never seen crowds returning just to vote, just to engage with the political system. It sends a message, of caring, involvement, and ownership, not just with regard to full civil rights for the LGBT community, but with regards to the whole political system and establishment.
©2015 John A. Duignan. All rights reserved.