Maman Poulet Has Moved
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This is my final post this week on Ryan Tubridy and the understanding (or not) of lesbian and gay identity in Ireland. (Yeah thanks be to jaysus!)
Today's show (link here - good for the next 6 days) had a panel discussion on lesbian and gay issues in the 21st century Ireland. The panel was large - two mothers of lesbian/gay children, 4 gay men - one younger, one middleaged, one 60 + and one a social diarist, three lesbian women including a lesbian teacher and Inspector Finbarr Murphy.
The issues covered included coming out, violence and discrimination. The parting words from Inspector Murphy were ' if you are a victim, please contact the Gardai.' So yes we got the issues that I hoped would be talked about and that Ryan has been constantly reminded about since his dismissive remarks last Friday morning.
But what did we actually learn from prime time radio's coverage about lesbian and gay identity?
I think we learnt that we are still 'alien', still 'other', still 'them' and 'their', whilst listeners and Ryan know more about some of the issues that affect us - I doubt 'they' know what it is like to 'be' us. Anne the mother of a lesbian who started this broadcasting journey last Friday wanted to stop the 'them' and 'their' but in fact the way in which Ryan and the team tackled the subject was all about issues and life incidents rather than life stories. There were too many speakers, all very eloquent, all worth spending a lot more time with. It became a rush around the table to get the issues in, rather than spending some time fitting the jigsaw puzzle of identity together.
There was one comment from a contributor that went half way to making the point that we have lives rather than gay moments or incidents. Dave talked about the importance of concentrating on the quality of life of lesbians and gay men and not just the strive for equality.
We didn't hear anything about lesbians and gay men as carers, parents, brothers, sisters, politicians, decisionmakers, artists, sportsmen, paper pushers, busdrivers or spiritual people.
There was a mention for lesbian teachers, but it soon focused on bullying of students and not about the 'lived experience' of lesbian teachers. I think those listeners who did not know about lesbian and gay identity or who thought it didn't matter still don't know about the issues and how they form a part of our lived experiences. Sure we might get people marching in and supporting Pride marches, and the next time someone gets bashed or loses their job there will be concern.
But will the windows still twitch and people tut when a lesbian couple move next door, when a gay man brings his child to school, when a lesbian poet publishes poetry or wins a medal for Ireland in the next Olympics and is out and proud about it? I think so - I think people will say 'can't they just shut up about it' because they still won't hear or understand what 'being' lesbian or gay is.
I am heading off tomorrow to continue to be a lesbian. I don't mean just by spending time with my lover, or organising that my cat gets minded, or marching in North West Pride slightly nervous remembering my first pride march 14 years ago. And I don't only refer to those conversations I will have with friends over the weekend about my life, their news, our stories, or dancing at a disco where I will be with other 'aliens' either. In fact in being a lesbian I mean all parts of my life, how I work, play, love, think, these are all part of being a lesbian and not just whom I love or are attracted to.
Ryan, if you think you have done the 'Leaving Cert course' in lesbian and gay Ireland, I'm sorry your syllabus was very poor.
So for the third day since his initial off the cuff ponderings on whether there is a 'gay issue' in Ireland or if we really need Pride, Ryan Tubridy will return to discussing lesbian and gay issues on Wednesday morning in a panel discussion.
Sean R in the comments here looks at the issue of Tubridy and his ignorance of lesbian and gay issues and identity in Ireland. I don't know if he really does not know the issues, or if it's a Dublin 4 thing or if indeed its a middle class 'all my gay friends are happy homosexuals with no issues'. In this short piece I want to look at the responses of the gay community/lgbt individuals and allies and the changes in how lgbt people feel freer to say what they think.
I have been thinking a lot about Gay Byrne and how he would be handling the whole thing. I don't think he would have been as dismissive, he would of course have loved to interview a mother of a gay child and did do so many years ago. There would be much handwringing. I think people would know that Gay would realise there are still issues though - he had many controversial moments with lesbian and gay subjects on radio and tv over the years but I don't think he offended gay people as much
Of course it was a very different time when Gay Byrne was the housewives choice on the radio. Now we have people ringing, texting and emailing, using their names mostly, calling in, talking on forums about how Ryan is handling (or not) the issues.
Queers are disagreeing with each other - ie. gay people are themselves questioning pride, but many are also placing pride in a political context. People who are not activists have contacted the show angry about their lack of rights be it in the lack of recognition of their relationship by 'in laws' or ignorance of the state.
And then there is the violence - the perceived and actual violence - the name calling, the physical violence and the safety in public space issues. It's good to hear people address these issues and put them into contexts that heterosexuals might understand. For so long many straights have just thought of gay issues as two women getting it on, or disgust at sodomy. Many callers to the Tubridy show are illustrating the non-sexual reminders that are really needed in this debate.
I do expect that Ryan will hint at the fact he is being PC'ed out of it - that is he will try to illustrate divisions in the lesbian and gay community to back up 'there is no gay issue or need for gay pride' - and that will help as straight callers are very quiet on the issue.
Finally for now if you have not heard Izzy of North West Pride ask Ryan out for a pint in a gay bar you can listen here for the next 6 days or so. You'll find the interview about 1hr 15mins into the programme. It's a great piece on Pride and rural versus urban issues and on the definition of hate crimes and where hate comes from. And isn't it interesting that his two interviews on air have been with a lesbian and a mother of a lesbian. I wonder what the panel discussion will bring.
You know the way the Brits suddenly adopt Irish sportsmen (particularly those with granny passports) in times of triumph? Today Lucy Clouting ‘profiles the most inspiring, creative, dynamic women in Britain’ in The Guardian.
With her inclusion of Dr.’s Zappone and Gilligan she seems to forget that Ireland became a republic in 1948 or had its own constitution as Eire in 1937 or infact that it’s the Irish State that the couple are suing.
Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan
Lesbian couple fighting for their marriage to be recognised in Ireland
So far: Zappone and Gilligan met while graduate students at Boston College in the US in the early 1980s and subsequently got married in Canada. When they moved to Ireland (Gilligan had grown up there and they are both Irish nationals now), they wanted to secure parity with heterosexual married couples and for the authorities to recognise their entitlements to "privacy and family life" as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Gilligan says "the case is the evolution of a whole life of social activism". Together with Zappone, she founded a community-based education project in 1986, which is now known as An Cosán: "We wanted to address the endemic poverty in west Dublin and to empower people through education."
Zappone is a philosopher and member of the Irish Human Rights Commission. Gilligan lectures at St Patrick's Teacher Training College in Dublin and is Chair of the National Educational Welfare Board in Ireland.
What's next? "We're looking for justice for ourselves as well as those who share our sexual identity." The case will reach the High Court in October.
Ah he is back from his holidays and it does not take long for Ryan Tubridy's thoughts to turn to telling us how being gay is not an issue in Ireland anymore.
As regular readers of Maman Poulet will know Ryan's been here before.
Talking to Anna Nolan this morning Ryan attempted to gloss over the gay thing because it's not an issue. He said he could not understand why one needs a gay pride march in Sligo. Anna said being gay was still an issue and pointed out that same sex public displays of affection - handholding - would be something that most gay couples would think twice about.
He kept off the ' gay thing' for the rest of his interview with Anna, and then the phonecalls and texts started. Callers pointed out why gay pride was needed, about homophobia in rural Ireland and about gay bashing. Ryan said he did not know about the rise in attacks against young gay men when one texter pointed this out to him. It was a real case of if ' I didn't know about it then it must not be an issue but thanks for telling me anyway.'
Anne rang in - a parent of a gay woman. She like many parents who support parents of lesbians and gay men was one of the best advocates for lesbian and gay rights I have heard in a long time. She put Ryan right without making it sound like we queers are societies misfortunate's - she pointed out that we are not them and they but we are all us. She talked about why coming out is still an issue, the bullying and violence that happens in schools and elsewhere, why we need Pride marches, why our relationships deserve recognition, and why society needs to cop on.
Ryan was still thinking it was all a bit too much fuss. He then asked about how Anne felt when her daughter came out to her. Anne said she already knew and ' She came out of my belly gay.' That is a T-shirt slogan in the making! And he did not believe that young people could know they were gay or lesbian at 12 or 13. Anne pointed out that maybe Ryan was looking at girls at that age - Ryan said yes but it was too young for gay people to know as they were not formed yet.
You could feel Ryan was not comfortable being told by a woman who was articulate and opinionated and able to match him point for point. When he was not getting anywhere you could see he was glad to end the conversation.
Each time gay issues are raised on the Tubridy show, Ryan tries to dismiss the issue, more people are responding and telling him he is the one that is misguided and not the lesbians and gay men and their allies. Each time he fails to get it.
You can listen to Anne's call here (link good for the next 2 days) - it's 1hour 14 minutes into the programme, Anna Nolan's interview is earlier in the programme - about 18 minutes in.
And I think some banners for Ryan's attention are needed for NorthWest Pride next week. You can find out more about the events to take place at in Sligo here and the theme Straight but not Narrow, which calls on heterosexual allies to support lgbt's is more relevant than ever.
(Now I have typed that it has to happen. Normal Service will continue until then.)
A few months ago, Donal Lynch, the only gay in the village aka columnist for the Sunday Independent questioned the Johnny Report on hate crimes (Downloadable here) experienced by lesbians and gay men in Ireland. Dermod spent some time debating the merits both of the report and Lynch's dismissal of it. I also added my views here
Further research from Victim Support in the UK published today highlights the non reporting of hate crimes by those affected. Crime and Prejudice (pdf file) reports on the experiences of those who had been victims of race and homophobic crime and analysed the views of those affected towards the police and other services. It makes extensive recommendations for changes in responses of police and victim support organisations.
What is most interesting for me, and I suggest required reading for Donal Lynch, are the reasons given for non reporting of this type of crime, the types of crime experienced and the suggestions made by victims (I hate that word). They fear not being listened to or being outed and being harassed further. No doubt Lynch will pull holes in this research too to suit his own arguments but I again contend that just because you don't see it or feel it does not mean that it does not happen.
Time to repeat an earlier call I made for Victim Support groups here to look at Hate Crime and work with lgbt groups on developing policy on the issue.
Yes this really is a compliment!
Entsch - whose previous career as a bull-catcher has left his front teeth as crooked as a pig dog's hind leg - also sees advantages for hetero chaps who've copped a belting with the ugly stick. "They're usually young, pretty good-looking fellas," he's said of gay men, "and it gives us old fellas a chance at these good-looking young sheilas."
The first podcast (discussion type) at Irish Election is up. You can hear yours truly amongst others pontificating on the Greens and the FF attempt of wooing, Coalitions in various flavours and public spending.
The sound is a bit woozy, we were skypeing from all parts of the Island but its good stuff and interesting to hear the voices behind the blogs. Well done to Cian and Simon and may it be the first of many!
Download it here.
Just installed Windows Live toolbar and am testing the blog feature - Windows Live Writer. I generally hate toolbars so will this one be any different.
The second last bank (public) holiday weekend before Christmas beckons. Before I head off to watch some of what is on offer at Look Out - The Dublin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, I thought I'd leave ye some reading/watching!
Griff also talked about how blogging adds believability and makes the officeholder appear a real person, and how the discipline of recording what you are doing helps clarify your thinking, and allows you to chronicle how you form your opinions on issues.
"Ronan Keating's philosophy is simple," it [Press release] declares, which is something of a surprise to those of us who had a fiver on it being a complex marrying of Aristotelian ethics with late existentialism. "I believe that the most powerful thing in the world is love," states the man who sang Love Won't Work, "especially the love of your family. I hope that one day we may have true peace on earth and that we can all help to make the world a better place for our children." Wait! He left out wanting to work with animals (unless years spent in a band with Shane Lynch counts as ticking that one off).Nuff said.
Having not flown since Ryanair introduced their baggage charges, it only struck me today when Aer Lingus announced their intention to introduce a baggage charge that this might make a good Equal Status Case?
Am I right in thinking that it is downright unfair that those who are not able to carry bags and who cannot avail of assistance will be forced to pay for their bags to be carried? Even if you do have one of those Greencap assistants or other service providers with you, the last thing they want to be doing is hawking your bags around as well as your body! I know that I won't be trawling through the place that does not deserve to be known as an international airport with a bag and will have to check it in.
State may face legal challenge over its access to phone
In a potentially far-reaching legal challenge, a privacy rights watchdog group is demanding that the Government and Garda cease the collection, storing and accessing of mobile and fixed-line phone data, writes Karlin Lillington.
Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) has given the State seven days to comply, after which it will begin legal proceedings.
The ultimatum is contained in letters sent on Wednesday to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Minister for Communications, the Marine and Natural Resources, and the Garda Commissioner, asking for undertakings that data retention legislation will cease to be implemented and enforced and requests for access to data will cease.