Monday, March 10, 2014

A noble call

The video above from early last month features Rory O'Neill, aka Panti Bliss, a leading drag performer in Ireland, speaking about homophobia, what it is and means. It’s a great speech, one that lit up certain parts of the Internet.

The ruckus started when O’Neill appeared on RTÉ’s “Saturday Night Show”, called out some people for their homophobia, and, as he put it later on Twitter, his “appearance on the Sat Night Show has been taken off the RTÉ Player because someone I mentioned is upset…Legally upset.” Put another way, RTÉ proved O’Neill right: Homophobia exists and is strong in Ireland.

In his oration, O’Neill said that for three weeks he’d been denounced and lectured to about what homophobia is and who has the right to use the word, that gay people can never call anyone homophobic—only straight people can do that (logic is never bigots’ best trait…). He says, “Now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia, homophobes are the victims of homophobia.”

This particular oration is good not just because it calls out homophobic bigotry, which is always a good thing to do, but also because it also puts it into context—what it means from a gay perspective, and also that being homophobic is not, in and of itself, a hateful thing; like everything else, it depends on what a person does with it, whether they act on it and do hateful things or not.

As I often say, though, if someone doesn’t want to be called a homophobe, then they shouldn’t act like one. It’s quite simple, really.

And I, fortunately, don’t know anyone who acts like an anti-gay bigot. I know a handful of people who I’m quite sure have homophobic thoughts or attitudes, but they would never dream of acting on that to oppress me or any other LGBT person. They are clearly not homophobes or bigots because they don’t act like one. They get it.

True anti-gay bigotry is waning, becoming the sole property of far-right religious and political extremists and nuts. Even mainstream people who don't much like gay people have moved on, no longer wanting—or needing—to focus so intently on the lives of LGBT people. The majority of such people have moved on to important things, and oppressing other people simply isn’t one of them.

So this is a speech worth celebrating and spreading for the truth is speaks, for the context provides, but especially because there are SO many people who need to hear it.

Meanwhile, there have been dance mixes made out of Panti’s speech. The first that I know of, in mid-February, was a track by Out!rage Dublin called “Oppression”, which uses samples from the speech. They’re donating the proceeds from the track to support LGBT youth in Ireland. Here’s that track:

More recently, the Pet Shop Boys created a mix (below) that features the speech, leaving Panti’s words in context. I think it’s quite good. But anything that helps spread the message is fine with me.


coreplane said...

I rather like Stephen Fry's comparison of homophobes (in his lovely BBC series "Stephen Fry: Out There") to people who spend their entire lives trying to get rid of red telephones. It's baffling in it's pointlessness and illogic-- like something out of 'Alice in Wonderland'.

BTW, if you haven't seen it, it can be found on Youtube.

coreplane said...

OK, I just watched Panti's talk. Wow. I mean .... wow. I can identify with the "stopping to check yourself" thing, and being briefly ashamed when a companion acts "too...", then hating myself for feeling that way. I've done both of those.

There's also, perhaps, the additional factor that some (not all, since I'm here) of my ancestors actually *were* herded into cattle-cars and taken away to industrial extermination plants.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Neil Patrick Harris talked about this, too, in relation to his starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/11/neil-patrick-harris-out-interview_n_4942924.html). Which I think goes to show that checking one's self is a common thing, really.

I haven't seen the Stephen Fry series, but will check it out—thanks!