Other blogs have posted this video and a few have given some background. I posted it on Feb 5th and I think it is important enough to re-post it, in case one of my few readers hasn't seen it. It concerns a controversial commentary by Rory O'Neill, aka drag queen Panti Bliss on an Irish Saturday night TV show in which the performer referred to certain individuals as homophobic. The TV network immediately caved to those individual who threatened law suits and paid out 85,000 Euros to settle out of court. READ MORE HERE
I have said before, and I will say it again: We LGBT folks should no longer stand silently by while allowing straights to define the conversation about our sexuality, our lived experience, our rights. They should not be the ones to define what it means to be gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender. They should not be the arbiters of our morality, our choices, or whether or not we conform to the unrealistic and oppressive standards of some mis-interpreted scriptures.
What was the controversy in Ireland about? It was about the appropriation of the word Homophobia by straights who were allegedly libeled when referred to by Panti as "homophobic". In Panti's words:
So now Irish gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation where not only are we not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we are not even allowed to think it because our definition has been disallowed by our betters.
And for the last three weeks I have been denounced from the floor of parliament to newspaper columns to the seething morass of internet commentary for “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. (emphasis mine)
Panti says it well and better than I do.
And as someone else much wiser than I once said, (and I paraphrase): "let those who have ears hear" but sadly many with ears will stick their fingers in them and make babbling noises with their voices to block out hearing the truth: (full text below)
I personally think this is the essence of our current struggle: that non-LGBT are still defining the conversation about us.
This has to STOP.
No longer can bigoted, homophobic, self-appointed experts, or those who consider themselves morally superior, or those who have some religious or political agenda be allowed to dominate the conversation about US, about our lives, about our rights, about or future. Let alone the ignorant, rigid, homophobic, religious literalists who insist on spreading their hateful opinions and illogic in comment sections of internet blogs and news journals.
Am I being too repetitious? Let me repeat in other words.
Further, there shouldn't even be a debate about us
in the halls of congress, in the blogosphere, in the churches.
As far as I'm concerned, this phase of conversationwith non-LGBT folks is OVER:
- whether or not we "choose" to be gay or lesbian or bi or trans,
- whether or not we are "intrinsically disordered",
- whether or not we "deserve" rights,
- whether or not we "recruit" young people, or are pedophiles
- whether or not we should marry, or adopt children
- whether or not we should be able to order a wedding cake,
- whether or not we should be allowed to visit a partner in the hospital,
- whether or not we should be fired by the Catholic school,
- whether or not we should be allowed to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade,
- whether or not we should play NFL football,
- whether or not we should be made "unmentionable" in our schools,
- whether or not we should be imprisoned or tortured or put to death for who we are.
The only conversation now, the only conversations we should engage in, are those in which we participate as full citizens with the dignity of full equal rights.
Full transcript of Panti Bliss' speech:
Hello. My name is Panti and for the benefit of the visually
impaired or the incredibly naïve, I am a drag queen, a performer, and an
accidental and occasional gay rights activist.
And as you may have already gathered, I am also painfully
middle-class. My father was a country vet, I went to a nice school, and
afterwards to that most middle-class of institutions – art college. And
although this may surprise some of you, I have always managed to find gainful
employment in my chosen field – gender discombobulation.
So the grinding, abject poverty so powerfully displayed in
tonight’s performance is something I can thankfully say I have no experience
But oppression is something I can relate to. Oh, I’m not
comparing my experience to Dublin workers of 1913, but I do know what it feels
like to be put in your place.
Have you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car
drives by and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out the window and they
shout “Fag!” and throw a milk carton at you?
Now it doesn’t really hurt. It’s just a wet carton and anyway
they’re right – I am a fag. 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 at a pedestrian crossing 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.
Have any of you ever come home in the evening and turned on the
television and there is a panel of people – nice people, respectable people,
smart people, the kind of people who make good neighbourly neighbours and write
for newspapers. And they are having a reasoned debate about you. About what
kind of a person you are, about whether you are capable of being a good parent,
about whether you want to destroy marriage, about whether you are safe around
children, about whether God herself thinks you are an abomination, about
whether in fact you are “intrinsically disordered”. And even the nice TV
presenter lady who you feel like you know thinks it’s perfectly ok that they
are all having this reasonable debate about who you are and what rights you
And that feels oppressive.
Have you ever been on a crowded train with your gay friend and a
small part of you is cringing because he is being SO gay and you find yourself
trying to compensate by butching up or nudging the conversation onto
“straighter” territory? This is you who have spent 35 years trying to be the
best gay possible and yet still a small part of you is embarrassed by his
And I hate myself for that. And that feels oppressive. And when
I’m standing at the pedestrian lights I am checking myself.
Have you ever gone into your favourite neighbourhood café with
the paper that you buy every day, and you open it up and inside is a 500-word
opinion written by a nice middle-class woman, the kind of woman who probably
gives to charity, the kind of woman that you would be happy to leave your
children with. And she is arguing so reasonably about whether you should be
treated less than everybody else, arguing that you should be given fewer rights
than everybody else. And when the woman at the next table gets up and excuses
herself to squeeze by you with a smile you wonder, “Does she think that about
And that feels oppressive. And you go outside and you stand at
the pedestrian crossing and you check yourself and I hate myself for that.
Have you ever turned on the computer and seen videos of people
just like you in far away countries, and countries not far away at all, being
beaten and imprisoned and tortured and murdered because they are just like you?
And that feels oppressive.
Three weeks ago I was on the television and I said that I
believed that people who actively campaign for gay people to be treated less or
differently are, in my gay opinion, homophobic. Some people, people who
actively campaign for gay people to be treated less under the law took great
exception at this characterisation and threatened legal action against me and
RTÉ. RTÉ, in its wisdom, decided incredibly quickly to hand over a huge sum of
money to make it go away. I haven’t been so lucky.
And for the last three weeks I have been lectured by
heterosexual people about what homophobia is and who should be allowed identify
it. Straight people – ministers, senators, lawyers, journalists – have lined up
to tell me what homophobia is and 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 in prison or herded onto a cattle train, then it is not
And that feels oppressive.
So now Irish gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation
where not only are we not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we
are not even allowed to think it because our definition has been disallowed by
And for the last three weeks I have been denounced from the
floor of parliament to newspaper columns to the seething morass of internet
commentary for “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 –
But I want to say that it is not true. I don’t hate you.
I do, it is true, believe that almost all of you are probably
homophobes. But I’m a homophobe. It would be incredible if we weren’t. To grow
up in a society that is overwhelmingly homophobic and to escape unscathed would
be miraculous. So I don’t hate you because you are homophobic. I actually
admire you. I admire you because most of you are only a bit homophobic. Which
all things considered is pretty good going.
But I do sometimes hate myself. I hate myself because I f*cking
check myself while standing at pedestrian crossings. And sometimes I hate you
for doing that to me.
But not right now. Right now, I like you all very much for
giving me a few moments of your time. And I thank you for it.
Get Wow!ed over this: