Monthly Archives: May 2015

Being gay in May in Ireland 2015

Reflecting on the momentous ‘yes’ vote on same-sex marriage by a popular vote in Ireland that took place yesterday,  I remember the time that my son told me that he was gay. It took place in my sitting room one night when he was seventeen years of age. The year was 2002.

Ireland was a different place thirteen years ago. It seems like such a short space in time, but looking back from the inside out, society has radically changed since then.

Over the intervening days after he ‘came out’, as parents I hope we provided lashings of emotional support. I remember it being a bit ‘hit and miss’ at times and his dad struggled more than I did. He thought it might be ‘just a phase’. This was a path that we never thought we would have to walk, and we were completely unprepared for it.

While I was supporting him, I was also trying to cope with my own personal feelings of grief, as I silently and secretly mourned the daughter in law that I would never have, and the loss of his children that would never be born that I would never hold. How selfish of me.

A few nights later overhearing him crying alone in his bedroom believing that we might not accept his orientation was heart-breaking but pivotal in our relationship and how we viewed him as a person. We immediately surrounded him with acceptance and love and assured him of our support. How could we not. (His dad and I  quickly got over ourselves and our own feelings.)

Over the next few weeks we eventually had conversations about his own troubles and about his sadness on realising that he might never be a parent as he has always loved children, but all the while we talked about a future where many things, including being a father were possible.

I believe that we all have unconscious trajectories of how we hope life will work itself out for our children. We have dreams and hopes, and we want the best for them. We don’t want their lives to be marked by discrimination, prejudice or hatred, and naively we expect that somehow the universe will deliver.

My son’s ‘coming out’ marked a transitional period in our lives. As an Irish Mammy, I was consumed by imaginary future hardships, rejection, acceptance, and how living/working in Ireland as a gay man would be. He on the other hand was coping with the day to day struggles of being ‘different’ and coming out to his peers and how they viewed him.

Throughout this time he was still my boy, beloved and unchanged, and my extended family, but especially my mother Monnie and sister Annie were the most wonderfully supportive people when I told them. They reassured him of their acceptance and love, and I never loved my mam more than I did during that time. She never made a smart comment, lewd or otherwise as she would never hurt him. She embraced his orientation, and throughout the remainder of her life would always ask him about boyfriends, his love life etc. in the exact same way that she asked my daughter about her boyfriends and her love life. I absolutely know how she would have voted this week.

Ireland and the world has changed so much in the past thirteen years, and being gay in 2015 is not the same as it was back then. Society has changed, protocol about being gay has changed, school policy on bullying has changed, workplace discrimination has changed, and homophobia and how it impacts on people has been highlighted and changed.

I am not suggesting that it has changed for everyone, and I realise that there are still people who are gay, afraid to be themselves, afraid to be honest and afraid to ‘come out’ to their families and friends. I hope it shifts for them.

The momentous changes that I have seen taking place in Ireland over the past few years in relation to people are staggering. From a Catholic country that was bound by religious oppression and from what Rome unilaterally decreed, we have emerged egalitarian, free thinking and accepting. Perhaps being an oppressed race historically for so long, we have finally learned who we are as a people. We have survived the tyranny of oppression as a colonised country, and we have also survived the tyranny of a religion/church that is outdated, misogynistic and unforgiving.

We have turned our backs on the sovereignty and allegiance that we had to an ideology, to a church, that cast Irish women as second class citizens, who abused these women and their children, and within the protection and confines of their church denied any wrongdoing. We have at last abandoned the discrimination that forced so many gay people to live secretive furtive lives, living in fear of being exposed as being ‘different’, and this week we voted on equality to enshrine in our constitution the legality of same sex marriage.

It is not ‘Ireland’ that has created this incredible societal change; it is the people of Ireland. The ordinary, simple, wonderful Irish citizens who are united in their belief that gay people are equal in their demand for legal marriage status in their own country. I stand proud and tall with every Irish person who voted ‘yes’ on May 22nd 2015.

A ‘yes’ vote has changed the Irish landscape forever, and as the proud mother of a gay man I am so glad and thankful that my fellow country men and women voted with me at the polls, ensuring that if my gorgeous son ever wants to marry a man that he loves, he can. Little did I ever know that night back in 2002 that this was ever going to be possible.

Destiny is an ever changing road, filled with hopes and dreams that sometimes become a reality.

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Time moves on and people change…

Living a small life can reduce your thinking and the way that you interact with others despite you believing that it’s the best way. It can be like a comforting cardigan that you won’t throw out despite it having had its best days behind it. If it fits, and you feel comfortable wearing it, it can be something that you just snuggle into without going to any real effort to change it. You mend the tears, sew on a new button and keep on wearing it while time moves on and you resist letting it go.
Writing this Blog over the past few years, I know that have been very reflective in my writing. All of the entries have sprung from a real place deep inside of me. Sometimes I recounted an event, time or feeling. Other times it’s just been a story. But it has always been a memoir that I wanted to share.
I have recounted many stories and shared how I felt when they occurred. They have all been my personal recollections of events that took place in my life. Some entries have been about activities that were more current, but I unhesitatingly wrote about my feelings and how I was navigating a particular phase in my life as I documented them. At least I believe I did. I have loved recording them.

The sudden death of my darling sweet and younger sister six years ago had a profound life changing effect on me. In the everyday moments that I missed her and cried for her, I continued to live. Sometimes I didn’t want to. The emotional pain that I experienced was indescribable. I have been struggling all the time.
Writing helped, and the Blog somehow allowed me to rewind life and to include her in the stories that I wrote about. It kept her alive. There were nights that I would have a few glasses of wine and feel the need to pour words out, remembering times we were all together as a family. Looking back, I believe it was a coping mechanism. Even if I didn’t mention her singularly in my writing, my family memories always included her, so it was a way of keeping her close, near me, alive.
Recounting stories where all the members of a family are intact in that written moment suspends reality and can dupe a person into thinking that life is unchanged. But it’s a fool’s paradise, reality catches up and feelings and emotions have to be dealt with. Coping with loss is not exclusive to me. I am not so self-important to think that others do not feel this emotion in a similar way, and countless people who live on after the death of someone beautiful, unique and special somehow find a way to continue living. I poured my loss out in my Blog.

Writing is very personal.
Every single letter in the alphabet is available to be used by everyone. No one owns them. No word belongs to anybody. So I never worried about ’copying’ anyone’s feelings, or ‘plagiarising’ a sentence about loss. All the words were ‘mine’. Language is universal, and how feelings are understood is down to the expressiveness of the writer. My Blog was never really about how I was perceived by others; more that I hoped that my words and feelings were understood.
Anyway………
I am now really enjoying a new chapter in my life having recently joined a local creative writing group. People and their ideas can be so diverse and wonderfully different. I simply love sitting in, listening to individuals who are writing their own personal memoirs, film scripts, short stories, fiction and plays. It’s a democratic group, and a ‘prompt’ is suggested and agreed every week that we are collectively asked to adhere to.
It’s been a challenge. I have never written fiction, prose or poetry. All my previous meanderings on the blog have been about me, myself, and I. My life had become too small and inward-looking.

Writing about my past, my personal history, my family, has been hugely therapeutic, but I recognise that it’s now time to change, to move on.
Because I am now part of this lovely group I am exploring different ways of writing that I never considered before, and despite my initial misgivings about joining, I look forward to meeting them every week. We have had recent workshops where different styles of writing are explored and discussed, and encouragement and feedback are ever present.

I hope I am eloquent enough. I recognise that I am like an anorak woman who collects beautiful sounding words and learns the meaning of them. I have been like this all of my life. When it’s appropriate, I will never use a mundane word when there is an alternative more expressive beautiful one that I can replace it with. Such is the allure of language for me.
In this creative writing group that I now belong to I am spreading my wings. I am exploring the writing of fiction, prose and poetry. My joined up words are like migrating birds. They may have taken a long time to get here, but once arrived; they soar, dip, land and take off again. I am unafraid to be expressive. I am uncorked, explosive and unafraid.

Destiny? Let’s be having ya.