Who Dares to Speak of Homophobia – Speech

IDAHOTThis is the Speech I gave at St Annes Shandon for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 18th as part of Cork LGBT Awareness Week.

“On November 13th, 1895, I was brought down here from London. From two o’clock till half-past two on that day I had to stand on the centre platform of Clapham Junction in convict dress, and handcuffed, for the world to look at. I had been taken out of the hospital ward without a moment’s notice being given to me. When people saw me they laughed. Each train as it came up swelled the audience. Nothing could exceed their amusement. That was, of course, before they knew who I was. As soon as they had been informed, they laughed still more. For half an hour I stood there in the grey November rain surrounded by a jeering mob.

For a year after that was done to me I wept every day at the same hour and for the same space of time.”

This is a statement by one of history’s and Ireland’s greatest playwrights Oscar Wilde, referring to his arrest for “gross indecency with men,” a charge for which he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. I use his poignant statement not only to illustrate how far the world has come in treating LGBTI people with dignity and equality, but also to show how far we still need to go and why it is important for Days like International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to exist.

The Collins dictionary defines Homophobia as an “intense fear or hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality”. To most of us it is through direct actions we see homophobia. Whether it is in direct discrimination, a beating, a mugging or even a murder. But as Oscar Wilde’s quote shows, it does not have to be a direct action, it can be standing on the side-lines and laughing as much as doing something.

We all have a responsibility, as an individual, as a community and more importantly as a community of faith in this place to be a place of welcome, to ensure we do not stand on that platform and laugh, that we stand next to that person being jeered and give them comfort. Is that not what Jesus would have done?

That is not an easy thing to do. Society and the church in many cases seem to be more interested in trivia then doing the work of God. Recently the Right Reverend John Gladwin, the retired Bishop of Chelmsford spoke of this in St Paul’s Cathedral.

“In 1933 Dietrich Bonhoeffer arrived in England to pastor the German church. His opening sermon in the Sydenham congregation was a response to the question on his mind, ‘why does the church seem so dull, preoccupied with trivia?’ This is what Bonhoeffer said:-

It is because we like too much to talk and think about a cosy, comfortable God instead of letting ourselves be disturbed and disquieted by the presence of God – because in the end we do not want to believe that God is right here among us, right now, demanding that we hand ourselves over, in life and death, in heart and body and soul and mind. (Bonhoeffer and Britain by Keith Clements. CTBI)”

I suppose this is where I lost interest in the church I was raised in. It did have a cosy, comfortable view on god. As long as you went to mass every Sunday, went to confession, abstained from meat on certain days, you would be ok. There was no challenge, there was no conviction.

This led me to stumble into St Fin Barre’s Cathedral in 2009 for an IDAHO, as it was then, service that included the Bishop. The welcome, the conviction and true belief shown on that night is what has led me to here before you on this Service for IDAHOT. A member of St Anne’s Congregation, it’s Select Vestry, a Minister of the Eucharist and representing it on Diocesan Synod. I feel very privileged to have been welcomed into this church, this place and this community as an equal and allowed to take on these roles within this Church.

St Anne’s has led the way on this Island as an inclusive church and has inspired many other churches to stand on its conviction and be inclusive and a welcome to “whoever you are, and where ever you are on your journey in faith”.

At the beginning of this LGBT Awarness Week, Bishop Colton, who was guest of honour at the opening reception backed this up by saying

 

Many of you see the Pride flag when you come into the church, some of you may have even spotted it on the tower – thanks Brian!, but I do encourage you to look at the back of the church on your way out and read the mission statement. The last few lines sum up to me so much of my faith

We are committed to a Church that conveys the Christian message in signs and symbols, especially in the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. We are committed to taking all people seriously – married and single people, gay and straight, those who have a natural faith and those who struggle with belief. We are committed to identifying and affirming what is good and identifying and opposing what is evil, and living as best we can in the confusion in the middle.

This is the last event of Cork LGBT Awareness Week, and the LGBT Community in Cork is very lucky to have such supportive agencies in Cork who come together once a year to raise awareness in our city and county about LGBT issues.

This along with Pride and the services here in St Anne’s mark us, as a city and church, quite different from anywhere else. We as a city and church should take pride in what we do. People do recognise this. Last November I had the honour of representing Loafers in the Mr Gay Ireland competition and it was very obvious how highly Cork is viewed across the LGBT Community in Ireland

While we can be proud of all the work done, we must not rest on our laurels as there is still a lot to be done.

I know, as do many of you, of people in this city or even ourselves, who have been shouted at, kicked and beaten here in Cork because of who they are and who they love. In 2014 this is no longer acceptable and needs a community response.

When we hear people belittling those in the LGBT community we need to stand up to them. When people within the LGBT community hate on those within the community we need to stand up to them. We as a community need to stand together, with our allies in the wider community.

We should not allow ourselves to squabble between Gays and Lesbians, between Queers and Bisexuals, between Trans* and Cis-gendered, young or old. Yes we all have different needs and issues but sometimes we do need to all come together, recognising our differences but acknowledging that working together we can make a difference to all of us.

Tackling Homophobia in schools and in our society, fighting for a yes vote in next years referendum, ensuring that Gender Recognition Bill is fit for purpose, making sure that supports exist for LGBT people in Rural Ireland, raising awareness of the Gay Blood Ban, making certain that older members of LGBT community will be treated the same way as their straight family and friends and in general being there for each other. As the American Christian Right would call it that is the Homosexual Agenda in Ireland. Not exactly the downfall of society, now is it.

This week ILGA Europe an Association of LGBT Associations in Europe published its Annual Review and Rainbow Index. In it Ireland was ranked 22nd of 49 countries. This may surprise some of you. What would surprise you more is some of the countries ahead of us. Croatia, Montenegro and Albania in the Balkans, and Estonia, Czech Republic and Slovenia in Eastern Europe are all ranked ahead of us.

While the UK, Belgium and Spain top the list it is no surprise to see who is at the bottom of the list, Russia is 49th on the list with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Monaco and the Ukraine. While we are fighting for more protections for our community here in Ireland, the LGBT Communities in those countries have little to no protection. I believe that we in Ireland owe a duty to them. To get involved in campaigns, to raise awareness of the situation in these countries, whether it is through All Out or Amnesty International or one of the many other Human Rights organisations. We cannot and should not remain completely focused on Ireland but show our solidarity with LGBT people in Europe and around the world who are in much greater danger then us.

The Church of Ireland is currently having a conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief. This conversation looks set to go on and on according to the recent reports at this year’s General Synod. We in this Diocese will also be having a meeting at some stage, I am told, on the issue also. That is what makes this day and the events in Newry, Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Belfast and Derry/Londonderry so important. Its not that these services happen, but that they keep happening, is what gives me hope. The work of Changing Attitude’s Ireland and many individual LGBT Christians in Ireland constantly challenge and remind the wider Church of their responsibility to the LGBT Community.

Going back to the Bishops Speech at the beginning of this week, he made a point that resonated well with me and might with you also.

I want, therefore, to encourage especially those gay and lesbian people who are involved in church life, or who once were, to engage with the debates many churches are having at the current time. [As] Shirley Temple Bar tweeted: ‘Sharing LGBT stories is an important step on the road to equality.’ I agree with that, and I ask you not to give up on religion and religious institutions.

It is essential that your voices and experiences are heard and listened to.  More important, it is vital that you do not let people drive you away.  The loving welcome and inclusion of you is not theirs to take away: that love, that inclusion, that welcome, that belonging are God’s gift – God’s grace – offered to you as much as to anyone else.

I finish with some words from the Benedictine blessing which is often said in this place,

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world.

Because he has, and you can.

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Stand Up! – Don’t Stand for Homophobic Bullying

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...
Image via Wikipedia

This is an excellent video from  Belong To on Homophobia and bullying. Do watch it.

Irish anti homophobic bullying advertisement, created as part of BeLonG To Youth Services annual Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Weeks. The campaign promotes friendship amongst young people as a way to combat homophobic bullying.

For more information on the campaign please see: http://www.belongto.org/campaign.aspx

Written & Directed by Anna Rodgers & Aoife Kelleher
Produced by Zlata Filipovic

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrJxqvalFxM’]

There are talks that an LGBT Awareness week will be happening in Cork in the lead up to the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). When details emerge I will of course blog them.

Jan Moir

I wasn’t actually going to blog about that Jan Moir article in the UK Daily Mail (they had more sense not to publish in the Irish version) but a statement released by Jan Moir claims that we are all over reacting and there is a ‘heavily orchestrated internet campaign‘ against her. (Link via @Glinner)

It is amazing that someone with views like that are allowed print them. It is crazy and it is offensive.

To be honest, I wasn’t too much bothered by Stephen Gately’s death. Yes, I did think it was sad and a tragedy for the family, his partner and his friends, but it didn’t really effect me personnally. This on the other hand has incensed me.

She dosen’t think she has done anything wrong and there in lies the problem. How can you write something that flies in the face of the facts and invent a story around what happened and then wonder why people are angry and claim it is ‘orchestrated’ and ‘mischevious’? That is just absurd! It’s mind boggling!

Its not very often you see mass outrage among friends online. My friends on twitter and facebook have been giving out about her, both gay and straight. Its impossible that this is orchestrated!

I hope the Press Complaints Commission come down heavily on the Daily Mail (if they can).

Anton Vowl has a brilliant fisking of the article and Charlie Brooker has an excellent article in Comment is Free on it.

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That’s so Gay

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education NetworkImage via WikipediaScott has an excellent post about this campaign in the US on how LGBT People are treated, Hilary Duff took part in the campaign. I have embedded 3 of the ads below but read Scotts post for more on information the campaign.

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"Humanity must be saved"

Pope Benedictus XVIImage via WikipediaFrom the gays??? What? Really? We are responsible for the downturn in humanity? Has the Pope been having chats with Fred Phelps?

I am amazed and disgusted. I find myself in complete agreement with the headline from Froodie’s blog “Pope Benedict incites hatred, misunderstanding and probable bullying and violence.”.

While I know a lot of Catholics don’t agree with the Church on everything but this does not help in anyway. A lot of elderly people do listen to the Pope for advice and guidance and him saying things like this do not help.

It is a step back for the Church in general. I have a lot of respect for individual priests who hold differing views then the Pope, but this will not help those Catholics who are gay and still hold the Church in high regard.

Other blogs have reacted in various ways to this declaration. Iain Dale thinks the Pope should “Just Join the BNP & Have Done With It“. Una of Unarocks points out that the Pope is teaching the wrong stuff and should be concentrating on “Love” a very good point! Also she points out

On one hand, i suppose, you can laugh this stuff off- who gives a fuck? Who cares what an old repressed dude in a wine dress says? Surely if you get pissed off by this it legitimises his statement as something worth listening to? Then on the other hand, this is a man with huge power and influence and a massive willing and listening audience who believes ten per cent of the population is evil.

And I agree with her fully on that point!

I love Joe Scanlon‘s post title on this issue “Plant a Tree – Shoot a fag” which basically could sum up the Pope’s speech to some people!

As the papers point out (Irish Indo and UK Times) “The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are”. So they think the fact that you are gay is not sin (yay, therefore not a choice) but we can choose to ignore it! Really? You can ignore the fact that you have fallen in LOVE? I don’t think so. Having actually experienced true love for another man, it is an overpowering experience (as it is for anyone I would assume straight or gay) that hits you. It cannot be ignored. Yet this “ancient institution” expects us do so. No thank you! There is reason I CHOOSE to no longer to be considered a Catholic. I CHOOSE no longer to be associated with comments such as this or the on earlier this year from a high ranking Vatican Official that called homosexuality “a deviation, an irregularity, a wound”.

An issue that most of these posts and my comments so far are on the issue of transgender which the Pope also tosses into the mix. He opposes Gender Theory and said

“That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator,” the Pope said.

“Human beings want to do everything by themselves, and to control exclusively everything that regards them. But in this way, the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit.”

Wow! Even Iran is more ahead then the Catholic Church on Transgendered issues when it espousing beliefs such as this.

The Church needs to get a grip and move with the times. The Church is losing membership and it wonders why? The Church has to be seen to approach issues with a modern mindset, something it has failed to do since the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

I wonder what he will complain about next Christmas? Single mothers?

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Go Maccy D’s!

Thanks to Shiva over on GayCork.com for brining this to my attention!

From On Top Magazine

McDonald’s is defending itself for its support of the GLBT community after Christian group American Family Association (AFA) announced a boycott of the company yesterday.

The AFA has launched a new website denouncing McDonald’s for its support of the GLBT community. The website, found at www.boycottmcdonalds.com, says the boycott of McDonald’s is about the company refusing to remain neutral in the culture wars. “McDonald’s has chosen not to remain neutral but give the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage.”

The scuffle began when AFA officials found out that McDonald’s’ Director of Communications Richard Ellis was a board member of the National Gay Lesbian Chamber Of Commerce (NGLCC), in addition McDonald’s is a member and has donated to the organization.

The group asked McDonald’s to removed itself from the chamber.

In a letter to the AFA, McDonald’s officials expressed continued support to the GLBT community. “We will continue to support our people and their right to live and work in an inclusive society.”

In March, the association ended its two-year boycott against Ford Motor Company after it stopped advertising in the gay media. The automaker, however, has said it stopped running all niche advertising when the economy soured.

The association, founded in 1977 by Rev. Donald Wildmon, has a long history of objecting to equal rights for gays and lesbians. It has lobbied against gay marriage and hate-crime legislation that would benefit gays

The AFA has also supported the “ex-gay” movement, which believes gays and lesbians need to reaffirm their belief in God by removing their same-sex attractions. They believe this is possible through religious means, including group discussions, counseling, Bible reading and prayer.

Challenging the notion that gays need to change is the group Truth Wins Out (TWO). A blog post on the group’s website by its executive director, Wayne Besen, said: “McDonald’s is not promoting a “gay agenda.” They are simply supporting equality for all people in the workplace… The group [AFA] is all hat and no cattle and has emerged as one of the most dishonest groups on the far right fringe.”

While I am no fan of Maccy D’s in Ireland (the food is nice in the US and Germany) fair play to them for standing up to the bully’s in the AFA who have started this “culture war”. It is people like the AFA that give Conservatives a bad name, especially religious ones.

Of course the AFA is one of the major opponents of the “Homosexual Agenda” and their Boycott website is full of references to it.

Any ways, Im off to buy a Big Mac….

Gay Pride: Triumphalist or rembering a historical battle for human rights?


The other day I was bored and was watching BBC Parliament. It was a recording of the previous days debates in the House of Lords, which is very interesting. Though one member of the House gave me something to mull over and hence this post.

Another thing that we see regularly—I do not know whether it is an annual event—is the gay pride parade, which I and many others consider to be triumphalist and could be used to incite hatred against other sexualities. People may think that that is far-fetched, but these days nothing is far-fetched.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon, Independent Labour

Source: Hansard

This was during a debate on amendment No. 137 (Lord Waddington) to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.

For those interested the amendment was as follows:

Schedule 26, page 269, line 19, at end insert—

“13A After section 29J (protection of freedom of expression), insert—

“29JA Protection of freedom of expression (sexual orientation)

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion of, criticism of or expressions of antipathy towards, conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct related to that orientation.””

Source: Hansard

But the amendment aside, Lord Stoddart does raise an interesting point, Is Gay Pride Triumphalist? Or are we celebrating or Liberation that started in New York in 1960’s?

For me Gay Pride is a double edged sword. Its celebrates the fact that I am who I am, but at the same time I think Gay Pride can sometimes creat more differences then their are. I also feel gay pride has lost its political roots as demonstration for human rights, not just for homosexuals but for all citizens.

People views of Gay Pride today vary from fun, carnival like atmosphere (eg Cork, which welcomes everyone to join in the parade) to brash, sexual all night parties (eg Amsterdam). These are views I have come across in the two and half years I am out.

So where does the future lie for Gay Pride? Please leave comments and I will post on this one further.

Anti gay adoption article in Todays Irish Examiner

Saw this over on gaycork.com. This article was on page 18 of the paper, im really annoyed by it.

article removed for legal reasons

Northern Ireland, the "hate capital of the West"

Via Gay.com

Northern Ireland is “ the hate capital of the West”, according to new university research, with an astonishing 44% of its citizens proving disturbingly homophobic.

The research from University of Ulster, to be published in economics journal Kyklos, said that Northern Ireland matches Greece in their significant animosity toward gays and immigrants.

Vani Borooah, Professor of Applied Economics of University of Ulster and John Mangan, Professor of Economics at the University of Queensland collaborated in the study, which surveyed 32,000 people across 19 European counties, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

The Human Rights and Values survey asked respondents what they thought of minority groups – and how they would feel about having members of certain groups as their neighbors.

The five groups included members of another races, immigrants or foreign workers, Muslims, Jews, and homosexuals.

An astonishing 44% of the 1,000 respondents of Northern Ireland said they didn’t want even one of the five groups as their neighbors.

Bigotry proportion of Northern Ireland was followed closely by Greece with 43%.

The lowest proportion occured in Sweden with 13%.

Homophobia was by far the main source of bigotry in most western countries: over 80% of bigoted people in Northern Ireland and Canada, and 75% of bigots in Austria, the USA, Great Britain, Ireland and Italy wouldn’t want gays or lesbians as neighbours.

In Scandinavian countries the main target of hostility turned toward Muslims.

74% of bigoted Danes, 68% of bigoted Swedes and 63% of bigoted Icelanders did not want Muslims as neighbours.

The study also came up with the following conclusions.

– Women are less likely to be bigoted than men.

– Some evidence that financial dissatisfaction might also be a source of bigotry.

– Students were less likely to be bigots than non-students.

Click here to see the full research report.

Morning Briefing, 21st February

Dia Duit!

Well between the Govt. delaying the Civil Union Bill 2006 and the Polish President making homophobic remarks in Ireland (RTÉ) I’m really pissed off!

The UK are to make an announcement on withdrawal of troops from Iraq (RTÉ) It is thought likely that Mr Blair will make any announcement in an oral statement to the House of Commons following his regular weekly appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions. I hope he does pull ’em out

At 5:00pm this evening the Seanad will debate the Mental Capacity and Guardianship Bill 2007, please if you know a senator ask them to vote for it.

The Civil Unions Bill 2006 also goes to a vote this evening after the continuation of the debate at 7:00p, tonight.

Trocaire has launched an online neworking site called ‘Just World’

Thats all i can find for now!

Slán