I’m sure most of you have already heard but I just thought I’d put up this post regardless. Today, the 23rd of May, marks the start of a bright new future for Ireland. The majority of voters said “Yes” to same sex marriage and it feels absolutely wonderful. I woke up this morning and was still unequal but by four o’ clock all of that changed.
People of all ages came out in full force to support this referendum. It was my first time voting and I feel so proud to have made history alongside my fellow voters. My civil partner and I went out canvassing for marriage equality and were met with such mixed reactions that I really didn’t know what result to expect today. Doors were slammed in our faces and we were told by some people that they would be voting “No” to our equality.
The strangest reaction we received was from one gentleman who confidently told us that gay and lesbian people do not exist. Apparently, according to this guy, lesbians are ugly women who can’t get a man and gay men are just guys who don’t have the courage to speak to women. Obviously.
Over the past few days I’ve felt such a mixture of emotions. Seeing the pictures of people returning home from other countries, making the journey home from college and work and going out to vote both alone and with their families has really moved me. Such support is overwhelming and I will never forget how I felt when the results were announced. My partner and I had our civil partnership almost four years ago and have always felt, in a way, like we were married but now this is different. This is not in our minds or in our hearts. This is our love given the validation it deserves. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’m posting this for two reasons. 1. To show my support for the trans* community. 2. To share my recent and one of my first experiences of ignorance towards what it means to be trans.
I was having a group conversation with some people recently when someone from our area who is transitioning was brought up. This individual is undergoing hormone treatment and is transitioning from male to female. This individual has also had surgery to get the breasts she’s always dreamed of having. Anyway, the people I was talking to said this woman was a man pretending to be a woman and that he was dressing as a woman for attention and kept emphasising that because this woman still has a penis she is definitely a man. The worst thing was I don’t even think that these people fully realised how ignorant, damaging and almost cruel their statements were. I told this group that gender is in your mind and doesn’t require the individual to have genitalia that perfectly match their preferred gender. I tried to explain that not every trans person will have bottom surgery and that’s okay because they are still their true gender and should be referred to as such. The fact that someone can transition from being male to female, still have a penis and be referred to as a woman completely baffled these people and I think they still walked away thinking that it couldn’t be true and that if you have a penis you must be a man regardless of how you present yourself.
The conversation then extended to either trans people should tell people what genitalia they have before dating them. This, again, divided opinions. I think this is completely up to each trans person and how comfortable they feel disclosing that information.
I tried to appeal to these people by asking them to imagine what it would feel like to be born into the wrong body. I also asked them to imagine how devastating it would be to be presenting as the woman you always knew you are while taking hormones and after undergoing surgery just to still be called a man. This still didn’t really work.
This conversation gave me a very small taste of what it’s really like to be trans and it opened my eyes to how judgemental people really can be. I know it may not sound like it but this group of people are generally quite open minded yet when their idea of what it means to be male or female was challenged they completely closed the doors of their minds and almost refused to even consider any new information. I truly empathise with the trans community and am furious that people who think this way are out there. Maybe it’s simply a lack of education or maybe it’s blatant transphobia. I walked away from that conversation still angry that people could put down another human being so easily. Just know that you all have an ally in me.
Last week I found myself in a new course which, of course, equalled to coming out all over again. It’s a natural part of my life as a lesbian but it can be a little bit of an intimidating task when you know you’re going to be in the same class as these people for the next few months. I’m way too proud of who I am to let anyone else change that but you don’t want any hassle either. I’m sure most of you can relate to that.
I let it drop into casual conversation that I have a wife (civil partner) which surprised a lot of people. Why were they surprised? Because I’m a lesbian? Nope! It was actually because I’m so young. I’m 22 but I’m often told that I look younger. The fourth anniversary of our civil partnership is in September which was even more shocking to them. They were impressed by our dedication to each other at such a young age in these modern times and were genuinely happy for us because we have found true love. The fact that my true love is a woman was irrelevant.
Receiving such warmth and acceptance from these people really made me look forward to a future where those kind of responses are the norm. They were actually so accepting that they made me feel like there was actually nothing to accept in the first place. I was not seeking equality in their eyes because to them I’m already equal. Pretty cool, right?
Just wanted to pop up a short post to let all of my followers all over the world know exactly what’s been happening here in Ireland for LGBT people. In case you didn’t already know, on May 22nd a public vote will be held regarding marriage equality. Campaigners are working hard at the moment in the hopes that the yes side will win and the no side are working equally as hard. Some amazing videos have been uploaded in the hopes that we’ll be able to appeal to the public to vote yes. I, like so many other LGBT people and allies, am desperately hoping that history will be made in May.
In 1993 homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland so, really, we’ve come a long way since then but we still have so much more to achieve. Check out one of my favourite marriage equality promotional videos below and keep your videos crossed for us!
Yesterday they walked together hand in hand as they took their touches for granted. The town is alive with a hive of activity. It’s occupants seem to be too busy to notice. They don’t see the interlocked fingers as sweaty palms embrace. Their gaze does not include the love before them. The open declaration inspires little in it’s wake.
Today I too walked the same crowded streets as I weaved between those too busy to take a breath. Today was different. Right now I am the main attraction as I hold on tightly to her hand. Too many stares penetrated my space. I can suddenly relate to that goldfish confined to such a small bowl, a centrepiece to feast your eyes upon. Foul language and volatile behaviour rain down upon as we continue our nervous march. We exchange a look and silently agree. We will not let go.
Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow equality will welcome us as we march in a proud parade. Our colours will shine as we are given a guard of honour by supporters, children and animals alike. We will march as one to the beat of the same drum as we leave behind our reality to pretend we too can act like them. Tomorrow we will get a taste of what the future might be as we mingle safely in our numbers. Tomorrow I can be me. I can be me safely without judgement, fear or risk. I shall consider that day to be the greatest sample of freedom I could ever be given.
Ireland is actually so bad sometimes at supporting LGBT events in smaller towns. These small towns are the ones who need the support for their LGBT groups and communities the most. These places don’t have drop in centres, LGBT cafés or gay bars. They’re not granted the funding required to enable them to get their own premises so their meeting venues are the most difficult to source. They rarely get any funding at all but have so much passion and so many ideas. This is the reality for any group outside of the cities here in Ireland so putting an event together is even harder for them and advertising it is twice as hard. Night club venues don’t want to offer a room on one of their busy nights so you need to hope that people will bother coming to your event on a night that is not usually worth going out on. There’s so many obstacles so why are our own LGBT community one of them?
It would be so easy to fill a venue if the gay people from each area actually got together and went to these events and brought along their friends or family members. Wouldn’t it be great to just sit and chill at an event full of same sex loving peers? It’s so hard to meet other LGBT people in rural areas so when groups put effort into getting an event together I like to see a good crowd at it but unfortunately that’s rarely the case. Rural based groups from all around Ireland post pictures of their events online and the main thing they usually have in common is poor attendance. Why? I love going to these events when the opportunity arises for so many different reasons yet I am constantly disappointed by the lack of support from other people. A group can’t be held responsible for a lack of public support yet the public must have their reasons too for not attending. We need each other to fill these events and keep these small groups going. Together we can make them bigger and we can help to enable them to be more progressive and successful. It would be so sad if these groups and localised events disappeared, it really would. I hope that doesn’t happen.
Today I was involved in a conversation about anger, challenging behaviour and how to deal with conflict. To be honest with you all, I am the type of person that would happily run a mile from a potential argument but I now realise that’s a habit that I must consider changing. Don’t get me wrong here: I don’t mean that I should be aggressive or irrationally challenging. That would make any situation so much worse. The advice I received today was so simple yet I never considered it before. I was told that if someone does something which upsets me I should always highlight it immediately. I shouldn’t let it slide or think that it doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t be afraid to speak up for myself or defend my feelings.
The woman who gave this advice also claimed that taking this strategy on board herself changed how she valued herself and how others treated her. We all should have a massive amount of respect for ourselves because let’s face it; respecting yourself encourages others to show you the same treatment. I’m going to try telling people that they’ve upset me before they get the opportunity to do it again. It’ll be difficult to break such a long term habit so I guess the greatest challenge will be standing up to my own ideas of what I’m worth rather than the challenge of standing up to the person before me. I think a lot of the time we do not mention the ways others hurt us because we think we don’t deserve to be treated any better than that. You never deserve to have someone intentionally or even unintentionally hurt you. Speak out. You’re worth every syllable.
Hey all! I have been swamped with assignments hence my absence from WordPress and blog land. The downside – missing out on my virtual socialising, the plus side – an awesome qualification at the end of all this hard work.
I’m hoping that volunteer work is on the horizon for me pretty soon which prompted this thought process… does being butch actually decrease your job opportunities? Will this be a factor in a future employers decision regarding your potential employment? Or does this discrimination only exist in certain types of work? To be honest I’ve never been served in a shop by a butch woman. I actually haven’t encountered one elsewhere either for that matter but I am not sure if that means that butches aren’t being hired or if they’re just not applying for these jobs in particular. Even if they are applying for these jobs it must also be said that a lack of qualifications is a possible reason for them not achieving employment also. It could be any number of reasons really so it’s hard to blame discrimination alone.
Like I already mentioned, I am hoping to get some work experience through volunteer work which will revolve around caring for people who have intellectual disabilities. One thought which struck me recently was “Should I grow my hair? Should I make myself look less butch?”. I know, I know, you should always be true to yourself but I still found myself thinking about how my looks could potentially impact people’s impression of me. I was initially thinking that having longer hair may help my cause but then I got a haircut so I failed big time there. Then I wondered if my small chest is a factor when I’m presumed to be a guy but no way on earth would I be happy wearing something designed to emphasise what little breasts I do have. Wearing make-up just isn’t me… I’d probably end up looking like a drag queen to be honest.
In the end I thought to myself “Why can’t being butch be an asset for me instead of simply being something negative?”. After some research I found out that there is very little out there to help or educate people who have intellectual disabilities and identify as LGBT so this lead me to thinking that I could actually be able to offer some form of support for these people. Maybe sharing my experiences and knowledge could actually inspire understanding and compassion amongst those who have intellectual disabilities. It’s something that many heterosexual workers and volunteers may not feel equipped to handle so perhaps that could be where I can help?
I guess my point is that sometimes your sexuality and your style may be more of an asset than you first realise. Our world is undeniably becoming more accepting and even more fond of us rainbow folk and I’m glad I didn’t even entertain the idea of changing myself to fit in or be more accepted when this energy can be better put into helping to transform attitudes for the better. Right now I’m genuinely pretty excited about the possibility of speaking about a topic that remained taboo for such vulnerable people for so long. I’m feeling determined and ready to play an active role in my community.
I hope all of you are having a great week.
Take care of yourselves. 🙂
Quick post again because I’m super busy lately… Exciting times guys and gals! Tomorrow (or maybe it’s today somewhere) will be our 3rd wedding anniversary! Time has flown by so much but I couldn’t have found a better person to spend it with. It doesn’t feel like three years since we said our vows in front of our friends and family in an intimate venue followed by a buffet, cake and just enough alcohol to toast the occasion.
We’ve grown together as a couple and have grown as individuals with each other’s help. The spark is still there more than ever so that makes this anniversary even more special. Nobody could ever come close to being as amazing as she is to me.
Cherish your loved ones because they are so precious. Don’t settle for someone you like when the one who makes your heart beat faster is out there waiting for you. I found the one who makes my heart beat faster in a dirty pub that is really the very last place that you would think that true love could blossom in yet it did. ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol is our song so three guesses what will be on repeat in our house this week… Have a great love filled week everyone!
Best wishes to you all,
In follow up to my last slightly negative post here’s something a bit more positive… here’s my top five recommended boosts to your general wellbeing.
1. Take at least an hour or two every week to unwind. Sit down and enjoy doing nothing, chill out with a movie, read a book, do whatever you really enjoy doing. Your you time should preferably not include several other people shouting “shots!” as you drink yourself silly while partying the night away. That’s awesome too but it’s not really going to help you relax, is it? Spending Saturday nights in front of the tv with some munchies and a warm drink can be a welcome break from a hectic night life or from a busy week.
2. Grab your partner, best friend, Mother or sibling and do something you’d both enjoy every so often. Check out a new movie, go to a gig or restaurant or even visit a new place together. While you’re there take plenty of pictures. Making great memories matters so much more than sitting at home surrounded by pretty items that are often meaningless. Spending your time and money on experiences is a much better investment than dedicating most of your cash on random items. Less is more when it comes to stuff but you can never get enough of life and what it has to offer.
3. Remind yourself regularly of the great things you do have in your life instead of focusing so much on the things you don’t have. Chances are the things you don’t have probably won’t make you as happy as you think they will. The happiness that comes from shopping is only a temporary feeling which is not to be confused with the happiness that comes with personal contentment. Being envious of other people’s relationships, families or children is a wasted emotion because not everything is always as great as it seems on the outside. Comparing yourself or your items to others and their possessions will mean that you will never actually find real happiness because you’ll end up constantly chasing everyone else’s dreams.
4. Organise your surroundings. If your home is organised it will more than likely help your mind to feel more organised too. It helps your mind to relax when you know that the items, documents and general contents of your home are in order or at least it eases my mind! If that fails then it’ll still be a bonus to not have to face any stressful situations of not knowing where certain things are – that really wrecks my head, hence why I rank organisation as such an important thing!
5. Go for walks often. I mean a walk for pleasure not to actually get somewhere. Avoiding junk food and going for strolls is a fantastic combination that will really help your body to feel less sluggish and more energised to complete your healthier lifestyle. Throw in some water instead of fizzy drinks too or dare I suggest swapping one of your coffees for a bottle of water to refresh your body even more. Junk food tastes great but it tastes so much better when it’s a rare treat rather than a daily necessity and your body will be seriously grateful. A healthy body, healthy mind and well nourished soul will have you feeling tons better over time.
I’ve made adjustments to my life that genuinely make me feel so good so the above list is just a bit of advice from me to you based on my experiences. I thought I was doing just fine until I started changing some small things then some bigger things. Little by little one goes far. Love yourself, always.