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Colin Farrell Pleads with Irish People for Gay Equality in Emotional Letter About His Brother

Farrells

Colin Farrell writes about his gay brother Eamon in an open letter to the Irish people published in that country's Sunday World newspaper.Farrell has written about his brother before in support of an anti-bullying campaign in Ireland.

Writes Farrell in Sunday World:

I think I found out my brother wasn’t grovelling in heterosexual mud like most boys our age when I was around 12. I remember feeling surprised. Intrigued. Curious. Not bi-curious before you start getting ideas.

I was curious because it was different from anything I’d known or heard of and yet it didn’t seem unnatural to me. I had no reference for the existence of homosexuality. I had seen, by that age, no gay couples together. I just knew my brother liked men and, I repeat, it didn’t seem unnatural to me. My brother Eamon didn’t choose to be gay. Yes, he chose to wear eyeliner to school and that probably wasn’t the most pragmatic response to the daily torture he experienced at the hands of school bullies.

But he was always proud of who he was. Proud and defiant and, of course, provocative. Even when others were casting him out with fists and ridicule and the laughter of pure loathsome derision, he maintained an integrity and dignity that flew in the face of the cruelty that befell him.

I don’t know where those bullies are now, the ones who beat him regularly. Maybe some of them have found peace and would rather forget their own part of a painful past. Maybe they’re sitting on bar stools and talking about “birds and faggots” and why one’s the cure and the other the disease.

But I do know where my brother is. He’s at home in Dublin living in peace and love with his husband of some years, Steven. They are about the healthiest and happiest couple I know. They had to travel a little farther than down the aisle to make their vows, though, to Canada, where their marriage was celebrated.

That’s why this is personal to me. The fact that my brother had to leave Ireland to have his dream of being married become real is insane. INSANE.

It’s time to right the scales of justice here. To sign up and register to vote next year so that each individual’s voice can be heard

How often do we get to make history in our lives? Not just personal history. Familial. Social. Communal. Global. The world will be watching. We will lead by example. Let’s lead toward light.

Farrell served as his brother's best man in his wedding in Canada in 2009, later celebrating the union in their home country.


Challenge To Northern Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Launched - VIDEO

Gay marriage ban northern ireland

Gay rights campaigners in Northern Ireland are preparing a challenge to the legitimacy of the province’s ban on same-sex marriage, reports Buzzfeed.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage remains illegal. Politicians at the Northern Irish Assembly have rejected motions calling for same-sex marriage on three occasions, most recently in April. This has been due in part to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) invoking a “petition of concern” to effectively veto any vote on the issue. Petitions of concern were designed to ensure no laws were passed exclusively by politicians representing either the nationalist or unionist communities. 

According to Gavin Boyd of activist group the Rainbow Project, preparations are underway for a test case challenging the status of same-sex couples who marry elsewhere in the UK but are not considered to be married when they travel to Northern Ireland.

“The legal challenge as it is planned involves two people who were lawfully married in England returning home to Northern Ireland, where they are no longer considered to be married. We consider that to be unlawful, unjust, and unjustifiable.”

Watch a report on last April's vote, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, is due to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage early next year.

Continue reading "Challenge To Northern Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Launched - VIDEO" »


Gay Wedding Video Of The Day: Michael And Marty

Michael and Marty

Marty & mumMichael and Marty were married in Omaha on September 27th.

Marty's family traveled over from Ireland for the wedding.

Watch their beautiful wedding video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "Gay Wedding Video Of The Day: Michael And Marty" »


Is the American Right Wing Influencing Ireland's Vote on Same-Sex Marriage?

Ireland
4th generation matchmaker Willie Daly chats up love seekers at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in Co. Clare, Ireland. This is the 2nd year the 158 year old festival has included gay people. Ireland will hold a referendum on same sex marriage next year. Corinne Purtill Instagram

 

BY CORINNE PURTILL / GlobalPost

The whole world is watching as the Irish prepare to head to the polls next spring.

LISDOONVARNA, Ireland — Willie Daly looked a little tired on a recent Saturday night.

This is the busiest time of year for the fourth-generation matchmaker, who collects lists of love-seekers’ preferences and particularities and matches them up like a human OkCupid.

For the last 157 years, his tiny west coast village has hosted the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, a month-long mingle session created back when people were too busy toiling in the fields to find partners themselves. Although the basics of matchmaking haven’t changed much since Daly’s great-grandfather got into the business, times in Ireland have.

Since the festival opened to gay singles two years ago, the line at Daly’s table has included men and women seeking soul mates of the same gender. Depending on the result of a vote next spring, they could join the 3,000 married couples he claims to have already paired.

“All my life has been about finding love for couples,” says Daly, a gray-bearded septuagenarian with a fondness for meandering anecdotes. An intoxicated parish priest lost his birth certificate; he doesn’t know his exact age.

“I think everyone deserves to find love,” he adds. “I just never done it before with gay people and lesbian people.”

IrelandThis spring, the Irish will hold a referendum on whether the state should recognize same-sex marriages. If they vote yes, Ireland will become the 12th European country to recognize gay marriage and the first to pass it by popular vote. At the moment, the polls look good for proponents of marriage equality. Seventy-six percent of likely voters said they supported same-sex marriage when the referendum was announced in November, a number that’s remained high since.

All of Ireland’s major political parties back the referendum, the exact date of which hasn’t been set. Even a majority of farmers — traditionally a socially conservative constituency — say they favor gay marriage.

A greater percentage of people in Ireland support same-sex marriage now than did in Britain last year before equal marriage became law in England and Wales.

(Scotland passed gay marriage laws separately. Northern Ireland lawmakers have rejected several attempts to institute same-sex marriage there.)

“I’d vote for it, yeah,” said Jeremiah Murphy, 61, from the doorway of the Ritz pub in Lisdoonvarna’s village square as the matchmaking festival continued down the street. “I’m not gay meself,” the retired sugar factory worker said in a Cork accent thick as butter. “But I wouldn’t stop them. They’re not doin’ me no harm, are they?”

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Is the American Right Wing Influencing Ireland's Vote on Same-Sex Marriage?" »


Irish LGBT Activists Protest Gay Group In New York St. Patrick's Day Parade - VIDEO

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Irish LGBT activists are protesting against the decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal to take part in next year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade because the event continues to exclude other gay groups, reports Newsweek.

OUT@NBCUniversal, Universal’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Straight Ally Employee Alliance, will be the first LGBT group to participate in the parade.

This year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio boycotted the parade because of its anti-gay policy. The City Council, many Irish politicians and Guinness followed suit. Despite this, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the decision to take part last March.

In a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, activists from groups including Irish Queers argued:

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb0798ec48970d-800wi“Instead of that pressure leading to Irish LGBTQ groups taking their rightful place in the community’s parade, OUT@NBCUniversal has jumped into the space it created.

"OUT@NBCUniversal is the gay employee/marketing group of the parade’s sponsor. The Irish LGBTQ community is still excluded from the parade. The ‘lifting of the ban’ is a sham.”

The letter also reiterates recent demands that OUT@NBCUniversal “withdraw from the parade until Irish LGBTQ groups are part of the parade” and calls for de Blasio and Mark-Viverito to boycott next year’s event.

Irish Queers was denied a request to take part in 2015 because organizers say the parade is full. It is thought that two other Irish LGBT groups’ applications were also denied.

De Blasio and Mark-Viverito have both indicated that they have yet to make a decision regarding next March 17th.

Watch a report on the fight for LGBT inclusion in the New York parade, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Irish LGBT Activists Protest Gay Group In New York St. Patrick's Day Parade - VIDEO" »


Colm Tóibín's 'Nora Webster': Book Review

BY GARTH GREENWELL

It’s hard to explain the speed and excitement with which I turned the pages of the Irish writer Colm Tóibín’s astonishingly beautiful new novel. Nothing extraordinary happens in it, at least at the level of plot, and it’s almost free of the large-scale dramas that usually unify novels and give them their tension and forward momentum.

Nora WebsterInstead of those dramas, Nora Webster offers not just the texture but the shape of what we might call daily life: quotidian events and minor crises swell and then ebb away, without anything building to a life-altering climax. How to understand, then, the profound changes undergone by its protagonist, or—rarer still—how deeply I was moved when I reached the final pages?

When the book begins, Nora Webster has just lost her husband to cancer. This novel is perhaps the most careful and revelatory study of character I have read, but such is Nora’s—and Tóibín’s—reticence that only slowly, over the course of the novel, do we realize how profoundly she loved her husband and how devastated she is by grief, how pain has separated her from the people she loves and undermined the certainties of her life.

Instead of grand gestures of mourning, the opening chapters concern themselves with the petty annoyances of living in a small town. The book is set in Wexford, Ireland, where Nora is surrounded by people she has known since childhood. “She knew the story of her life,” Nora thinks about one woman, “down to her maiden name and the plot in the graveyard where she would be buried.”

Nora has to defend herself against both the sympathy and the prying of the town, carving out a privacy in which she can learn how to bear her new circumstances. “She would learn how to spend these hours. In the peace of these winter evenings, she would work out how she was going to live." 

Part of what this means is learning how to relate to her children again, who have changed in the months that she spent caring for her husband as he died. Her daughters are away at school, and during their visits she finds herself excluded from a new intimacy they have forged. “It was like being in a room with people who knew each other in ways that she did not, who had a language in common but, perhaps more importantly, could understand each other’s silence.”

Her two young sons return from the house of the aunt who kept them, and since they don’t speak of their father Nora doesn’t understand at first how deeply they are grieving. But Donal, the older of the two boys, wakes at night screaming with nightmares, and Nora discovers that he has been bullying his younger brother. The book is deeply moving in its portrayal of Nora’s bewilderment as a single parent: “She did not know whether it was better for him to cry or not to cry,” Nora thinks at one point about Donal. “Someone would know that, she thought, but she did not.”

Nora returns to work for the first time since her marriage, and with financial independence comes, very slowly, a new confidence and eagerness for life. “It pleased her now to be grateful to no one,” she thinks at one point, as she begins to explore new interests and to discover a new strength. She learns almost not to care about the gossip she knows her actions provoke, and, having established her privacy, she learns how to engage with her family and neighbors in a more authentic and nourishing way.

Most profoundly, Nora finds a way toward a new life through music. Her mother had been a singer, and in the months after her husband’s death (the book covers a period of about three years), Nora begins taking singing lessons. She sings Irish songs, but also Schubert and Brahms, and at meetings of the Gramophone Society, a group of classical music lovers a friend encourages her to join, she discovers a depth of response to music that suggests to her possibilities for life she had never considered.

Colm_ToibinAs she listens to a Beethoven trio, Nora “thought how easy it might have been to be someone else, that having the boys at home waiting for her, and the bed and the lamp beside her bed, and her work in the morning, were all a sort of accident. They were somehow less solid than the clear notes of the cello that came through the speakers." 

The end of the novel doesn’t offer any final resolution of Nora’s troubles and dissatisfactions; there’s no tidy summing up of lessons learned. Nora hasn’t healed from her husband’s loss, but she is a changed person from the woman we met in the first pages, able now to face both her grief for the dead and her responsibilities to the living.

Colm Tóibín has already written, The Master and Brooklyn, two of my favorite novels of the last decade, and his essay collection, Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodóvar, is essential reading. But Nora Webster is an even greater achievement than those earlier books. Tóibín has mastered a rare alchemy, somehow producing, again and again, a kind of quiet sublimity out of the unvarnished moments of daily life. Read this book. I’m not sure art gets much better.

Previous reviews...
Saeed Jones’s ‘Prelude to Bruise’
Michael Carroll’s ‘Little Reef and Other Stories’
Francine Prose’s ‘Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932’
Mark Gevisser’s ‘Lost and Found in Johannesburg: A Memoir’

Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for both the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and a Lambda Award. His new novel, What Belongs to You, is forthcoming from Faber/FSG in 2015. He lives in Iowa City, where he is an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


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