Watch An Irish Drag Queen's Powerful Speech About Homophobia
"For the last three weeks, I have been lectured to by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and who is allowed to identify it."
Irish drag queen Panti Bliss - also known as Rory O’Neill - took to the stage at Dublin's Abbey Theatre to make an impassioned 10-minute speech about homophobia in Ireland.
Panti has been the subject of controversy in Ireland for weeks, after accusing the Catholic lobbying group the Iona Institute and several national newspaper columnists of "homophobia" on the national broadcaster RTÉ.
RTÉ promptly paid €85,000 in damages to four Institute members, and to Irish Times columnists John Waters and Breda O'Brien. All six complainants were offered the chance of right of reply, or to take part in a debate on the issue on a future edition of the Saturday Night Show, but all turned these down.
On the day of Panti's speech, journal.ie reports that around 2,000 people also protested in Dublin against RTÉ's attitude towards homophobia.
Have you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car goes by and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out the window as they go by, and they shout "Fag!" and throw a milk carton at you?Now, it doesn't really hurt. I mean, after all, it's just a wet carton, and in many ways they're right – I am a fag. So it doesn't hurt. But it feels oppressive.When it really does hurt, is afterwards. Afterwards I wonder and worry and obsess over: what was it about me? What was it they saw in me? What was it that gave me away? And I hate myself for wondering that. It feels oppressive and the next time I'm standing at a pedestrian crossing, I hate myself for it, but I check myself to see what is it about me that "gives the gay away". And I check myself to make sure I'm not doing it this time....For the last three weeks, I have been lectured to by heterosexual people about what homophobia is, and about who is allowed to identify it. Straight people have lined up - ministers, senators, barristers, journalists - have lined up to tell me what homophobia is, and to tell me what I am allowed to feel oppressed by.People who have never experienced homophobia in their lives, people who have never checked themselves at a pedestrian crossing, have told me that unless I am being thrown into prison, or herded onto a cattle truck, then it is not homophobia. And that feels oppressive.And so now, Irish gay people, we find ourselves in this ludicrous situation where we are not only not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we're not even allowed to think it, because the very definition - our definition - has been disallowed by our betters.And for the last three weeks, I've been denounced - from the floor of the Oireachtas [the Irish parliament], to newspaper columns, to the seething morass of internet commentary - denounced for using hate speech because I dared to use the word 'homophobia', and a jumped-up queer like me should know that the word homophobia is no longer available to gay people. Which is a spectacular and neat Orwellian trick, because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia, homophobes are the victims of homophobia.