29 Sep 2008
GAY men kissing in dublin city
Sunday Tribune sent gay couple Sam Whelan-Curtin and Colin Delaney into
Dublin city during the daytime, and again late at night, and asked them
to freely express their feelings for one another.
down Grafton Street, arm in arm and occasionally pausing for an
embrace, the young lovers attracted plenty of stares from interested
passers-by. Many others simply walked on by.
stand and kiss across from Trinity College, the pair were joined,
albeit unwittingly, by a second couple – this time a man and a woman –
standing just a few feet away in a similar embrace.
crossed the Liffey, the man sitting beside them at one of Dublin's most
visible landmarks, the O'Connell monument, politely moved his seat to
his right when our couple embraced, but said nothing.
the pair repeated this in the Jervis Street shopping centre, two young
girls sitting opposite became enthralled by the 'show'.
reporter overheard a running commentary, with one providing regular
updates to the other as to what the pair were doing. Standing outside
the Jervis Street shopping centre, a group of young teens payed scant
attention to the pair.
But it was by no means unusual for
this observer to overhear comments, throughout the day and usually left
of stage, as to the couple's sexuality. Many of these were abusive, and
predictable in their tone: "Look at those queers/gays/fags" or some
But others seemed genuinely intrigued,
pointing out to their friends and loved ones the simple fact that two
men were engaged in a public display of affection.
the best example of this was later, when one group of teens and
pre-teens also became fascinated by our pair as they stood outside the
Central Bank on Dame Street.
At one stage they urged them to kiss, before laughing when they did.
crucially, throughout the day no comments were made directly to the
couple, with spectators content to confide to each other their true
thoughts on the "spectacle".
When we repeated the experiment a few days later, this time late at night, reactions were far more direct.
a bar near O'Connell Street, for example, the party was in full swing
on the dancefloor. When Colin and Sam got up to join, and kissed, the
reaction among the other males around them was unmistakeable.
was just kind of talking between themselves, and a good few cleared the
area. It was an increased type of machismo, or super-machismo, about
them," said Whelan-Curtin. "It was far less concealed than in the
daytime. They had no qualms about us seeing them talking about us."
pair got similar reactions in a nearby bar: as soon as they embraced on
the dancefloor, the young men who had been happily dancing in groups
began to filter away.
Barring the odd few stares, their female counterparts did not appear to mind, and frequently kept on dancing.
felt the reactions were more pronounced probably because people were
more drunk," said Delaney. "I did expect more stares… but I didn't
expect people to move away, although I didn't feel threatened in any
way. It was just weird. I feel like I should be disappointed that
people are that freaked out."
Both Delaney and Whelan-Curtin
said they had expected a much greater reaction, and believe many of
those who stared or commented are just not used to seeing gay people
openly expressing their affection for one another.
But at no
stage were our pair the subject of physical or verbal abuse – at least
not to their faces. As Whelan-Curtin put it: "People will say things to
each other. But they won't say it to you."
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