Irish Youth should take pride in our attitude toward equality
But we’ve still got work to do, says Craig.
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I’ve been very sceptical of just how tolerant young people are of LGBTQ in Ireland. And how can you blame me, when the most commonly used word to describe something negative is “that’s gay”, and jokes about “taking it up the bum” are even more common. I was worried I was in a minority of people supporting equality for LGBTQ people, I was worried it’d take another generation or decade at least for young people to start standing up to homophobia in our classrooms.
And then it happened. I realised right there and then, Ireland has done a fantastic job at instilling the fact that we are all in fact equal citizens in its youth and there’s no such thing as a “half-person” just because of what or whom they like.
I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed at about 10:30pm and I saw it. A homophobic status. Usually I laugh them off, and do my upmost best to respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but this status was a little different – it was directed at gay people. As in gay males. The practice of homosexuality between two men. Not two women. Not trans* people. Two men.
“Idgaf I acc can’t stand Gay People”
It read. 11 likes. 16 Comments.
I swiped past, shaking my head in disappointment. I had, and I still do have a wealth of respect for the boy who posted the status. Up until now, I considered him a decent bloke. My initial impression was that he was looking for attention. So I scrolled back up and decided to check the comments. For the sake of ease, let’s call the poster – Ben.
The first comment read “Agreed”. But the other dozen comments that followed, were of an entirely different viewpoint. The following swept the floor with the poster on the “likes” front.
“Can’t stand people for being who they are? Wow” – 13 likes
“This is the most stupid status ever” – 10 likes
“Then again…you give out about racism isn’t it all human right to be who you are?” – 11 likes
Don’t worry – the bit where he aims it towards men is coming.
“Bet you don’t mind lesbians” – 7 likes
“Obvo” – Ben replies.
The status was gone after about 30 minutes. The lad got what he wanted; attention. He tried posting homophobic viewpoints, but it just landed him in a serious mess. He apologised and said there was no need for what he had done, and that he was sorry. Fun over, I thought.
The next day in English, equality pops up. On the front of women’s rights – somehow linking into the recent ordeal of a woman not getting a job because she refused to comment on her viewpoint on homosexuality when asked by a nun in a job interview. So out of nowhere.
“Ben put up a status giving out about being gay on Facebook the other night”
Immediately, the mood in the room changes. Not to one of laughter, not to one of dismissal or tolerance towards Ben’s actions. But of rage. The entire class’s eyes are on Ben. Including the “Mega – Ally” that is my English teacher. She goes on to say how she forbids homophobia in her classroom and is a big supporter of freedom of speech – but anything that breaches the dignity of Sex, Race or Orientation she’ll solve by, for the want of a better term – expulsion from her classroom.
Ben tried to deny it. But the amount of phones filled with screenshots of Tuesday night’s status that were being drawn from people’s pockets was insane.
“Don’t even lie you fool – I’ve it screenshotted right here”
I honestly couldn’t believe it. My class was packed not only of Allies to the LGBT Community, but ones who were infuriated by Ben’s comments. All of a sudden, being a young person in Ireland – got a whole heap better. I was surrounded by people who weren’t just tolerant of LGBTQ, but sick of just being tolerant, they too wanted equality for all of us. To my knowledge, there weren’t any LGBTQ people in the room, not that it’d make any difference. But if there where, I’d love to have seen their reaction, filmed it, and placed it in comparison to the moment it all changed for Ben, and he realised tolerance of real homophobia is practically extinct in 2015 Ireland.
But don’t pop open the champagne just yet, Ireland still lacks equal rights, and Ireland’s young people are still homophobic – as casual as it might be. The conversation soon shifted to laughter regarding trans* people – shifting my mood from one of joy to one of “it’s progress”. Something needs to be done and it has to start with us, the students. Because once the students start standing up to homophobia – this ridiculous ideology that gay is wrong will eventually wither away from Irish intellect.
The referendum that takes place this spring on Marriage Equality, might sound like a nail in the coffin for Irish Homophobia – but it’s not. We’ve still one heck of a journey to take on. We need to accept the fact that everyone has the right to an opinion – whether it’s one of racism, sexism, or phobia towards identity or orientation – but that opinion should be kept to themselves.
Once this referendum is won, and I’m confident it will be won – we as an Irish society, particularly, us, the young have a major job to do – we need to make sure equal rights transfer from law to practice to the grounds and souls of those who demanded it in the first place and for those and the reasons they demanded it. Equal rights is only the beginning, we won’t stop and we can’t stop until we have equality.