On Saturday afternoon, Penny and I went to the ‘LGBT Noise’ demonstration on Dame St to support their campaign for gay marriage (and against the weak, second class, civil partnership bill that is due to come before the Dáil - though I wouldn’t hold your breath). There were about 150 people there, mostly the usual suspects, and we had a pleasant, social afternoon. Long time activist Tonie Walsh made a rousing speech (delightfully, he couldn’t resist aiming a few kicks at the Catholic Church. I howled when he referred to the Pope as “that German eunuch in Rome”!) and Penny got lots of attention and met a few other gay dogs.. It was nice to see some politically engaged young gays, and those of us who were there had our batteries recharged somewhat. And I think Noise were happy with the turn-out as it was a lot more than their last demonstration at the Dáil.
But 150 people? That’s pathetic. There were a couple of thousand gays drinking and dancing and hitting on Brazilians within a 500 yard radius of Dame St twelve hours earlier. Where the fuck were they? Where the fuck is the righteous anger?
When some bouncer in the George is mean to a drunk gay, the forums light up with horrified nellies, protests are mooted, and Facebook groups are set up. But when a fundamental human right, available to everyone in every civilisation since the formation of human societies is denied them, they can’t be arsed getting out of bed. Where is the righteous anger?
When Sunday clubbing hours are curtailed, angry gays join angry protests outside the Dáil, petitions clog up our inboxes, and outraged gays shout about the nanny state. But when the government that taxes them the same as everyone else, tells them that in return they’ll only have some of the same rights afforded to everyone else, they can’t be arsed having brunch an hour later than usual. Where the fuck is the anger?
When Alexandra and a bunch of other people you’d never heard of a few weeks earlier, make it to the X Factor final, you won’t leave the house and no one can get through to you because you’re furiously text voting, but when you’re told you’re a second class citizen and your relationships aren’t real relationships, you can’t be arsed walking over to Dame St from H&M because the cute assistant has just gone to check if they have that cute jacket in your size. Where the FUCK is your righteous anger?
And don’t bother telling me that you’re not interested in marriage. That you think it’s an outmoded institution, a hangover from a patriarchal society that was only about the protection of property. I don’t give a crap. Plenty of other gays do want to get married, and you should be furious on their behalf. Furious that something as basic and fundamental as marriage, something that is taken for granted by everyone else, something that society expects, encourages and cherishes for everyone else, is closed off to them, and them only. Anyone else can get married. Any race, any creed, any gender… Hell! Any idiot, murderer, rapist, child molester. Any asshole, racist, queer-basher. Any dumb-fuck soccer hooligan. Any mentally disturbed lunatic. But not the gays! The sky will fall down!
And where were those gays who do want to get married? The ones who’ll be rushing to the registry office if and when the weak-brewed, watered down, domestic partnership version of marriage is thrown at us to shut us up, and the government slaps itself on the back for being modern and progressive.
Why the fuck are you watching your Sex In The City box-set when you should be rioting in the streets?
What is it going to take to make you angry? What is the spark that will finally light a fire under you? Are you waiting for a gay Rosa Parks? Well, you have one. In fact you have two. Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan have already refused to sit at the back of the bus. Do you need a gay Emiline Pankhurst to throw herself under the King's horse? Will that finally wake you up? If you think the fact that you can hold hands with your boyfriend in Top Shop is progress enough, then that’s all your going to get. If you act like a second class citizen, you’ll be treated like one.
And it’s not just the gays I’m pissed off with.
I’m pissed off with the pensioners. When their medical cards were threatened, the streets were in tumult with anger. And rightly so. But the sleight against the pensioners was much less than the one against us. The government wanted wealthy pensioners, who could afford it, to pay for their medical expenses, not deny them all a fundamental right given to everyone else. Can you imagine the reaction if the government had decided that pensioners marriages were no longer valid? Or even if their marriages were to be downgraded to a weaker version of marriage, a faux marriage, because after all, old people’s relationships aren’t real, they’re just pretend relationships so a pretend marriage should be good enough for them. They would have torched the Dáil. And the pensioners didn’t protest alone. Gay people were out on the streets. Gay people wrote to newspapers. Gay people lobbied their Td’s, called radio shows, threatened to oust the government at the earliest opportunity. But where are the old folk when we need them? Why isn’t your granny calling Joe Duffy to express her outrage that you are expected to take on all the responsibilities of citizenship, but only some of the rights. And don’t tell me she has a religious objection! I don’t give a toss if she has a religious objection. She’s welcome to it! We’re not asking to get married in her church. We’re asking - demanding - the right to civil marriage, under the same law, in the same state, that we too are supposedly equal citizens of. It’s pay back time Granny. Quid pro quo.
And where are the bloody students? When college fees were muted, gay people rallied too. We scratched their back, and now they can bloody well scratch ours. Quid pro quo. And the farmers? Quid pro quo. And the unions! Where are the bloody unions? Gay people pay union fees too. And the nurses, and the teachers, and the rest. In the 80’s, the Dunnes Stores workers went on strike rather than handle oranges that came from apartheid South Africa, a country and a people half a world away. And yet they couldn’t give a toss that the guy working on the check-out beside them is segregated.
But it’s hard to see why they should care when you don’t seem to.
Perhaps the problem is that we gays have wanted to be left alone for so long, that we’re used to keeping our heads down. We don’t like to draw attention to ourselves by rocking the boat. Well I’m fed up not rocking the boat. It’s my bloody boat too! I want to scream and shout and kick and throw things. I want to riot! I want to take to the streets and hurl abuse. I want people to know how pissed off I am. I want to break things and tell the people who campaign to keep us in our place to fuck off. I want to scream, “How DARE you! How fucking dare you stick you nose into my business! How dare you try to tell me who I can and cannot marry?! How dare you tell me that my relationships aren’t real?! How fucking dare you! Fuck off and mind your own bloody business, you interfering, mean-spirited, petty, backward, ignorant, patronising asshole!
I have a lot of respect for ‘NOISE’ and their campaign. At least they’re doing something. But I think the time for protests that are about making pretty pictures that will hopefully make it into the Evening Herald are over. What we need, is righteous anger. What we need is a Stonewall riot. Oh I’m not suggesting we rip up the pavement slabs and loot Arnotts. But what we need is a 1,000 gays to get angry on the street. What we need is 2,000 gays with eggs to turn up at the Lenister House railings at Merrion Square and have them hail down on the cars of country TD’s, to chain the gates shut, to refuse to move, to pour paint on the pavements. What we need is for 50 gays to get arrested. So what if we get arrested? A day in court and a fine? We’ll have a whip round! But we need to get angry. We need to be our own spark.
No more Mister Nice Gay.