A Stone’s Throw Away

Between December 16th, 2015 and April 16th, 2016, I lost 1st 7lbs.

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but have kept getting distracted or putting it off. This morning I caught myself becoming tempted to wait until I’d lost 2 stone to write about it; that kind of thinking is the exact opposite of how I’ve maintained my health changes, so I decided to kill that scary thought and finally get around to it.

I spent the Christmas/New Years holidays of 2014-2015 in New Zealand with my family; by the time the summer of 2015 came around, and the weather was nice enough for me to wear some of the clothes I had bought over there, none of them fit anymore.

I got a full-time job in July, and I thought that with the 30-minute walk down and back every day, I’d loose the weight in no time. I didn’t account for the fact that my lunch every day would be a roll from the deli (I worked at a corner shop). Also, my parents were in Wexford a lot during the summer, so I often came home from work at about 11:30pm with something from the Chinese takeaway and a 2 litre bottle of Coke, and sat alone watching repeats of Mock the Week on Dave.

I went back to college in September and had the busiest semester I’ve ever experienced – I didn’t even have time to think about my weight, let alone do something about it. But by the time exams were coming, I was fed up, and that’s really the best motivation for anything. My mum was interested in joining Curves, an all-female gym which specialises in circuit training – we had been members back in 2011 when my cousin was getting married – but she didn’t want to do it alone, and asked if I would do it with her. She offered to pay for my membership, so of course I was like fuck yes, why not.

We joined on December 16th and since then I’ve been making changes.

 

Exercise

At Curves, they recommend that you do 4 of their workouts every week to see results. Myself and my mum go at least 4 times a week and sometimes more. It’s really handy because it only takes about an hour out of your day. We normally go at 9am and it’s probably the best start to the day you could have. (Sidebar: it’s REALLY good for curing hangovers. I’ve gone a few times thinking that I would throw up on the squat machine, but if you go easy and build it up, it just makes you skip feeling like total shit. It’s amazing.)

We also have a cross-trainer at home that my mum got on this amazing discount because she’s on the mailing list of like every home furnishing store in the country. (I literally had to talk her out of buying two of them, “one for each house” – which, yes, is absolutely the worst sentence I have ever heard her say.) But holy shit, the workout you get from it is intense. I could go straight to college from Curves without even looking in a mirror, but I have to set aside specific times and days to go on the cross-trainer, because if I don’t shower directly after using it, I become full of self-loathing. The bottom of my pony tail is soaked after using it just because it’s been tipping off the back of my neck as I work out. Using it is a mental challenge as much as a physical one, and I have to bargain with myself to force myself to keep going. 25 minutes feels like 2 hours. But I have a workout playlist on Spotify and that helps me power through. It’s pretty sick and totally worth it – after using it I feel like a beacon of health.

 

Diet

I’ve made a lot of changes with my diet in the last 4 months and I’m continuing to make more as I go. I’ve found that not being too strict on myself has made it 100x easier to maintain a healthy diet. The first change I made was swapping white carbs for brown. So I eat brown pasta instead of white; wholegrain rice instead of basmati; and spelt instead of white bread. (I have fallen completely in love with spelt, please serve it at my funeral.) But I don’t eat absolutely no white carbs; last night myself and my mum made homemade wedges using regular old potatoes, and every now and again I’ll eat my dad’s spag bol if we’re lucky enough that he agrees to make dinner for us. Eating brown most of the time, though, means that I can eat white every now and again without the guilt. (My stomach finds the white carbs a bit hard to digest now anyway, so sometimes I just don’t bother with them.)

I also stopped eating regular butter (or spread, whatever) and now I take Benecol light, but there are heart problems in my family so I’m doing that more for the sake of my cholesterol than anything else.

One of the most important things I do is drink at least 3 litres of water a day. It seems crazy, but exercising makes it easier, and once you get used to it, it’s hard to go without it. It’s all about making it into a habit.

The rest is just small stuff that adds up to make a difference. At home I used to eat a lot of processed ham and cheese, but now I eat tuna or smoked salmon on spelt for lunch. Often I’ll just take like five slices of spelt and butter them, and take them into college in a lunchbox to eat throughout the day. If I’m having steak (which I only eat ‘rarely’ … because red meat isn’t great for you if you have it too often) I don’t take it with pepper sauce anymore (which was a hard one).

A lot of the time, if I’m making my own dinner, I’ll just make brown pasta and chicken, and cook the chicken in tomato passata or some other sauce. (SuperValu does a really nice tomato and marscapone sauce which I had to stop buying because I was just eating it every day.) When I’m cooking with my mum we make a lot of stuff with green veg, like different kinds of curries or stir-fries. Tonight we’re making chilli prawns with asparagus and rice noodles. And on weekends we make smoothies with whatever fruit we feel like, and we experiment to see what works well together. It’s easy to keep it varied and interesting while also being healthy.

The most important thing about all of this is that it means I don’t feel guilty about ‘cheating’ every now and then. I still live my life like normal and it doesn’t affect my social life too much. If I’m with friends and they want to order pizza, I’ll eat pizza. If I’m meeting someone for dinner, I’ll get whatever I feel like, not just the healthiest thing on the menu. (I don’t count calories, and I think this has kept me sane throughout the last few months.) If I’m PMSing and I feel like chocolate, I’ll dip into my leftovers from Christmas and Easter. But this doesn’t happen too often, because when you get used to eating healthily, I think your palette changes. The thought of drinking even a sip of Coke right now makes me feel sick, and I used to be addicted to it. The thought of drinking an energy drink makes me feel even more sick – I drink Vit Hits and vitamin water for a boost instead. (Vit Hits are another thing I want on the menu at my funeral. They are the shit.)

Basically, once you get into a routine of eating well, temptations leave as quickly as they come. And once you eat well most of the time and exercise regularly, you can afford to binge every now and again, and you can even afford not to cut out some stuff if you feel like you can’t let it go. Like everyone I’ve talked to about healthy eating has told me to cut out cider, but I love myself, so I’m not going to do that. Also, I still don’t eat breakfast, because my stomach is always unsettled early in the morning. You don’t have to do everything by the book, just do what suits you.

I’ve forced myself to see results in how I feel rather than whatever number is on the scales. A good thing about Curves is that you only get assessed every 4 weeks; if I were being weighed every week, I’d probably feel a lot shittier about myself. Trying not to get hung up on the numbers is hard, but it’s so much more rewarding when you’re noticing the changes in real life rather than in some arbitrary measurements. Being able to say ‘I’ve lost a stone and a half’ is cool, but it feels even better to say, ‘none of my jeans fit me anymore, I need to go to Penneys.’

A good few people have complimented me on my weight loss, and that feels great. It also feels great to go to parties and even go to college without worrying too much about what I look like. Obviously I still have insecurities, but my weight was always a really big one, and my anxiety around it is way better now. I’d still like to lose more, and to keep being as healthy as I can, because it makes you feel better mentally, too. For now all I can do is keep eating spelt and jumping on the cross-trainer as often as I can, and see what happens.

JK Rowling and the Minority Representation

Last year we hosted a discussion night on the topic of ‘Harry Potter and feminism.’ It was our first discussion event so we didn’t really know what to expect; it ended up lasting for over four hours, and it’s still up there in my top 5 favourite events that we’e ever run.

The discussion inevitably opened up to not just the representation of women in the series but of other minority groups, especially the LGBTQ+ community. People were defending JK Rowling for not including any queer characters in the series, for a few reasons – they’re children’s books, she was writing in the 1990s, the books wouldn’t have been allowed to be published in certain countries if they had gay characters, and so on. All totally relevant points, and very likely the reasons why she didn’t include any queer characters in the books. But something was annoying me about it, and it took me until the very end of the discussion to figure out why.

Yeah, JK Rowling is a white, straight (presumably) woman, so issues of LGBTQ+ and racial representation didn’t affect her personally while she was writing the books. (She did represent the working class and issues of poverty in the story, as well as depression – because these things personally affected her life at the time.) Yeah, it was the 1990s, when diversity in the media wasn’t as humongous a topic as it is these days. Yeah, the books probably wouldn’t have been published in China if they had gay characters.

It’s all true… but my overwhelming feeling about these things is, so what?

Studies have shown that minority kids who don’t see themselves represented in the media suffer as a result, and that those who do have representation are much better off. I’m sick right now as I write this, and I wrote four academic essays this week, so fuck it, I’m just going to be blunt; when it comes down to it, more media representation for minorities means that less kids kill themselves.

We all know that no one is born prejudiced and that it’s instilled in us by our environments – since childhood. That’s why children’s media is actually the perfect place to have minorities represented. We’ve all seen the Vines of kids who are like “So sometimes boys can love boys, and girls can love girls? Oh, that’s cool, can I have ice cream for dinner?” I don’t understand it at all when people say that queer characters would be ‘inappropriate’ for children’s literature. Why do people act like anything queer is inherently sexual, anyway? Ron and Lavender can snog the faces off each other, but Seamus taking Dean as his date to the Yule Ball would have been too much? (Seamus Finnigan is my gay Irish son and you’ll have to pry that headcanon out of my cold, dead, queer hands.)

Ultimately, for me, media representation for minorities is the top priority. It’s one of the most powerful and beautiful features of literature: giving a voice to the voiceless. It’s literally life-saving. Of course things were different 19 years ago, and it’s not surprising that there are no explicitly queer characters in the books. (Before you say it – yeah, maybe it would have been inappropriate for Dumbledore to discuss his sexuality with Harry, but you can’t tell me that Rita Skeeter wouldn’t have been all over that shit after her interview with Bagshot.) Coming from a 2016 perspective, though, representation is just so much more important than all of those other factors.

This was basically what I realised at that discussion. ‘Minority representation in Harry Potter would have been amazing, what a shame.’ But what I’ve realised since then is – it’s not over. The Fantastic Beasts movies are coming out later this year and Rowling is writing the screenplays. The Cursed Child play is debuting just before that, and Rowling has been heavily involved in production. And it’s 2016.

No pressure, JK Rowling, but this is your chance. No more metaphors or subtext. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all great writing and fun to unpack, but it’s not enough anymore. We need explicit representation and we need it now.

From what I’ve seen so far, I’m optimistic. Not just because Rowling plays ‘minority Hogwarts student bingo’ on Twitter every now and again (bless her, she means well, and her Twitter account is amazing). There was a queer character in The Casual Vacancy (which I desperately need to re-read); Rowling has strongly voiced her support of POC Hermione for Cursed Child; and from the Fantastic Beasts trailer, it looks like the leader of the magical government in the US is a woman of colour. I do think that becoming more active on Twitter and engaging directly with the fanbase has had a big impact on Rowling’s approach. The Fantastic Beasts trailer says, “In 2016, writer JK Rowling invites you to return to the wizarding world.” I personally never left, but now that Rowling is back again, I can’t wait to see what the expanded wizarding world is going to look like.

General Election = General Confusion

Procrastination has become just another feature of my personality by now, but the only thing that has rivalled my college work this year in terms of just how much I have not been bothered to do it, is research on the upcoming General Elections. I had intended to watch the TV3 leaders debate to get an initial sense of things, but at the time it aired I actually happened to be speaking in another debate … about Harry Potter. My team won the debate, we all went to the student bar to celebrate by drinking pints on empty stomachs, and I forgot to set the leaders debate to record. Not the best start.

Not that watching a leaders debate is much help, as I discovered upon watching the one on RTÉ. I persevered through that shitshow for two irritating hours, only for them to totally ignore the issues of mental health, reproductive rights, public transport, the environment, animal welfare, the Irish language, apprenticeships, low-hour contracts, third-level fees and accommodation, among many others. Call me self-centered, but I was looking forward to hearing what the potential leaders of my country had to say about the issues that matter the most to me. This is obviously too much to ask – my bad.

And so I accepted reluctantly that it was time to do some independent research. I don’t know about other people my age, but this time last week I truly knew shit-all about party politics. A few weeks ago I thought I had to choose between every single candidate running for election in the country, not just the ones from my own constituency. I had general notions, of course, but I didn’t have much faith in these because I couldn’t back them up with my own findings. They were just general consensuses (that plural definitely seems wrong, but I’d have to be a huge knob to write ‘consensi’) that I had heard.

Thank fuck for SmartVote. This is a really, really helpful tool. You type in your constituency, answer 30 quick questions about your political views, and submit. The site then lists all the candidates from your constituency in order of ‘most compatible with your views’ to least. Not only does it do this, but if you expand an individual candidate’s profile, it will show their answer to each specific question and their reasoning for this answer.

Some problems I encountered with SmartVote:

  • Some candidates haven’t been interviewed. I had a score of 0 compatibility with a few independents, but this was just because their answers were left blank. Make sure you don’t write off anyone at the bottom of your list – look them up and find out what you can about their policies, they could easily end up being your favourite.
  • Also, candidates from parties haven’t been interviewed individually, but their party stances on each issue have been supplied instead. This is grand for most issues, but as I understand it, some parties have policies where they allow their members to vote independently on certain issues. I think this is Fine Gael’s approach to the abortion issue? Not 100% sure. In any case, SmartVote won’t be able to tell you the individual views of party members for issues like these.
  • Another problem: the coverage varies with each constituency. People from Dublin have seemed well impressed with the site, but friends from the West have told me that it provides barely any information on their independent candidates. It worked well for me, but may not for everyone.
  • Even if every candidate in your constituency has been interviewed, the results aren’t perfectly accurate. Please god don’t just look at your list and think ‘Grand, that’s the order I’m voting in then.’ Some of the questions are sticky and it’s difficult to know how to answer them. You might click ‘somewhat agree’ for one statement because you think the answer is variable or dependent on circumstance. A candidate with exactly the same view on the issue as you might answer with ‘somewhat disagree’ for the same reasons as you. This will come up in your results as a disagreement with the candidate. Expand their answer so you can see what they’re actually saying.

Despite the fact that I’ve just outlined a number of its flaws, SmartVote was a huge help to me for understanding all this stuff, and I highly recommend trying it out. I took that quiz a few nights ago and gathered as much information as I could. This made the whole thing seem way simpler and less confusing.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned so far that my constituency is Dublin South-West. My #1 candidate on SmartVote is Katherine Zappone (I got her both times I took the quiz). I’ve been familiar with Senator Zappone since early last year, from being involved with the Marriage Equality campaign. Of course, me being oblivious and ignorant to these things, I didn’t realise she was in my constituency until the election posters went up earlier this month. Apparently she’s been working in my area for 30 years and counting. Who knew?

Studying Senator Zappone’s policies made me really excited – we have such similar views! I should definitely give her my #1 vote! Right?

… Maybe not. There are the parties to consider too. From looking into all of this over the last few weeks, here’s where I stand:

  • AAA/PBP seem like they have pretty solid views, but also seem to spend most of their time and energy criticising the current government, rather than outlining their own intentions. Also, they just seem really… intense or something? They’re like, ‘Young people! Let’s start a political revolution! Fuck the system!’ It’s a bit Extra. Democratically voting in a slightly more progressive government doesn’t really seem like a political revolution to me. Also, don’t think I don’t see you clinging onto the water charges issue to get Tallaght votes, Paul Murphy. I see you. (Sure, it worked in the by-election, but maybe focus on some other issues now please.)
  • Fianna Fáil… actually I don’t know much about them, just that their leader looks like Voldemort and that John Lahart is pretty much an A-List celebrity in Rathfarnham. Also, my parents’ generation seem to think they single-handedly caused the Recession. Has everyone forgotten that it was a worldwide Recession and it was inevitable that we would be hit because, like, all of our trading partners were, too? I could definitely be wrong here – I think I was only 12 when the crash happened, I remember people in school asking my business teacher if the country was in a ‘Reception’ – and it’s definitely an over-simplistic view of things, but I would have thought the recovery was more important.
  • Ahh, Fine Gael and Labour. It makes me sad to have no faith in these parties, but I just… don’t. I don’t have much more to say on that, either.
  • Sinn Féin… actually do not seem that bad. Really. Sarah Holland is really impressive. But voting for Sinn Féin just before Easter in the centenary year of 1916 is just not something I’m going to do.
  • The Social Democrats seem really sound!… It’s a shame there are literally none of them running in my constituency. Oh well?
  • Who the fuck are Direct Democracy Ireland? Seriously. I have not heard them mentioned by one person I’ve talked to, or even in the media. Not at all. I think Stephen Sinclair and his beautiful moustache might be something I’ve hallucinated.
  • RENUA are the literal Antichrist.
  • Even though I’d pay Francis Duffy to let me take him to the barber, the Green Party have impressed me the most in my research. (Francis, if you’re reading this, I apologise, and thanks for following me back on Twitter, you seem like a sound bloke.) I quite happily sat and read their 60-page manifesto yesterday evening. I’ll be upfront: I don’t fully understand all the economic stuff. Doesn’t matter, my vote still counts the same as everyone else’s and I’m still allowed to be picky about which issues are red-line ones for me. Sorry adults! One or two things in the Green Party manifesto seem a bit dodgy – like the automatic assumption of organ donorship without prior consent? Come on now lads – but overall, reading it actually made me really excited. Their policies on health, education, the environment, society and culture seem really sound. They value women’s rights, the safety of LGBTQ+ kids, animal welfare and the Irish language. I like these lads, which is way more than I can say for any of the other parties I’m being asked to vote for.

I haven’t forgotten about the Independents. I think Katherine Zappone is fantastic. Deirde O’ Donovan is also very impressive. So is Joan Summerville Molloy, though I can’t find her stance on abortion anywhere. Peter Fitzpatrick is distractingly good-looking but there are a good few things on which we disagree. And I don’t know much at all about Kieran Adam-Quigley, Frank O’ Gorman, Declan Burke or Eamonn Maloney. They’re going to be my task for the next few days (because apparently I hate fun).

My main worry about voting for Independents is… what actually happens if they get seats? An Independent party seems contradictory to their entire thing, and I don’t see how it wouldn’t be driven into the ground by disagreements. And I wonder if Independent voices would get lost in a coalition. I haven’t been able to find these questions answered anywhere.

Additionally, I have no fucking clue how polling works. I know everyone is asking for my #1 vote, but does that mean I have to list a top 3, a top 10, or put every single candidate in my constituency in order of preference? I asked my parents – they can’t remember. I Googled it with like five different variations in my phrasing – couldn’t find anything. Helpful. Maybe it’s all supposed to be a big mystery, and that’s part of the fun?

This whole thing is so strange. My parents are even less informed than I am, and none of my college friends are in my constituency, so they are all facing different questions from me. With Marriage Equality, it was a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. A general election is infinitely more complicated, and research only makes me realise that I need to do more research.

So that’s what I’ll do. As much research as I can before next Friday. Hopefully I won’t end up regretting who I choose to vote for? I suppose we’ll see.

Orna

Thoughts, (hopefully) 9 days from Marriage Equality

(This is a post I published on my Tumblr account back in May, little over a week before the Irish Marriage Equality Referendum, reposted here in what is probably a more appropriate format.)

As many of you know, the citizens of the Republic of Ireland will be asked to vote on Marriage Equality on May 22nd 2015. If the referendum passes, the Irish Constitution will be amended to state that “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

Unsurprisingly, the referendum has been the most major topic of conversation over the past few months, and has received an enormous amount of media coverage. I have personally attended numerous events in support of the Yes campaign and have discussed the vote endlessly with my friends, queer and otherwise, and certain family members. With only nine days to go, I feel an overwhelming mix of pride, exhaustion, anxiety, hope and distress.

The discussions around the referendum have been made (cough, unnecessarily, cough) extremely complicated because of the expanse of issues that have been raised, and inevitably I have A Lot of Thoughts about it and I think it will make my head clearer to set them out.

I don’t mean this to be a ‘this is why I’m voting yes/why you should vote yes’ post, and I haven’t really explained too much about the circumstances because this is more for me to organize my thoughts. To that end, if anyone has any questions stemming from what I’ve said below, or any comments, feel free to inbox me and I’ll be glad to discuss.

On democracy
Many people – mostly straight people – have said this should not be something we should even be debating or voting on. That same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage and that there should not be a chance that this could be voted down. While I agree that, in an ideal world, this should never have been an issue, we do not live in an ideal world. The Constitution currently does not allow for same-sex couples to marry. In order to amend our Constitution, a country-wide referendum needs to take place. This was the case with divorce and will likely be the case with abortion (again) in the coming years. The fact that there has been such demand to amend the Constitution in the first place, and the fact that the government have acknowledged the demand and put the amendment to a referendum, is significant. However we may feel about our right to marry being debated and voted on by everyone in the country – and I’m not jumping for joy about it myself – it is important that we recognise this as a positive move.
Of course, the country being a democracy means that its citizens are free to vote either way and campaign either way. While I am much less than delighted that people can freely claim that a relationship of mine may be less worthy of marriage than that of an opposite-sex couple, they are allowed to do so, and as we’ve seen, they’ve gladly embraced the opportunity.
The tearing down, defacing and vandalism of their campaign posters is not something that I support, and I am disappointed in these actions and in the hate and threats that certain No campaigners have received directly from supporters of the referendum. Firstly, this is playing right into their hands and allowing them to easily dismiss the Yes campaigners by painting us as immature and bullying. Secondly, it has opened up a painstaking dialogue about the No campaigners’ ‘right’ to vote no, and has caused them to play the ‘many No voters are afraid to admit that they are voting No and doesn’t that undermine equality??’ card. And thirdly, and worst of all, directly sending a person hate and threats is an unacceptable thing to do in any situation. Full stop, no excuses, no wiggle room. I know it hurts that they are campaigning against our right to marry, and to be fully protected under the Constitution. It hurts me beyond anything I can explain. But sending hate and threats is never acceptable.

On ‘Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father’
This was a curveball which took a lot of us by surprise upon the debut of the No campaign posters (which was about as modest as a slap in the face), especially young people such as myself who were born after the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ireland in 1993, and so had never experienced until now any publicized political debates and campaigns in Ireland concerning members of the LGBTQ+ community. But after I got my head around the fact that this was their chosen angle, in a referendum which so obviously concerns something else, I then had to ask myself how I felt about this argument. It was something that I had never thought over before, and I decided to take time to consider it thoroughly. This is what I have come up with:
I reject this outright. I reject outright the notion that every child is entitled to a mother and a father. I reject outright the suggestion that children need one parent of ‘each’* (*according to the gender binary) gender in order to be raised properly. I realise that the statement is also highly offensive to single-parent families, and opposite-sex families who avail of surrogacy and adoption, whom I will touch on later, but these are not the families against whom the No side are campaigning first and foremost. The No campaign clearly display here their view that in order for a child to be whole it needs to be raised by two parents, both its biological parents, one man and one woman, and the posters place a significant emphasis on the child’s biological mother. This perpetuates all sorts of misogynistic ideas which present (cis)women as inseparable from their abilities to bear children and suggests that it is a woman’s duty to raise any child she bears; that by a woman deciding not to raise her biological child, even if she passes it to the care of a loving family, she is somehow doing the child an injustice. The idea that a child needs two parents, of one gender and one sex each (i.e. one male who is a man and one female who is a woman, the latter of whom birthed the child), reeks of the gender binary system, and is exclusive of transgender, genderfluid, and intersex parents.
The overlying statement, however, is that a same-sex couple is simply not good enough to bring up a child; that the child needs the presence of both a woman parent and a man parent in order to be raised properly. Aside from this being, once again, a very gender-binary-centered notion, it is extremely offensive to same-sex couples. To same-sex couples who have raised or are currently raising children, it tells them that they have not been enough for their child. To same-sex couples who wish to raise children in the future, it tells them that they will never be enough. That these couples’ parenting skills and the love that they have for their children are not good enough. And lastly, it tells every single queer person in Ireland that they are not fit to be parents because of their orientation.
I reject this outright.

On everybody’s deathly fear of being called homophobic
I have lost count of the amount of claims I’ve seen – from both Yes and No camps – that voting No does not make one homophobic* (*in this case I use ‘homophobia’ as a blanket term for all queerphobia as this is the term more widely used by the Irish public). It’s clear that people will go to drastic lengths to avoid being called homophobic. People can be quick to judge and throw around labels, but homophobia has recently become a subject whose touchiness is on par with racism. The lengths that homophobes have been going to to justify their homophobia are quite amusing. But I really do feel that this is the bottom line: the belief that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples (whether one is concerned with ‘the children’ or otherwise), and the belief that they should not have equal Constitutional protection, is homophobic.
I do not mean to say that all people with these beliefs are horrible people without hearts who should be cast out of society. Quite the opposite: I believe that these people have been socially conditioned in the same way that I was and that every person in Western society is. I believe that these people are simply at a different stage than myself in the process of un-learning the beliefs that we have all been internalizing for the entirety of our lives. We are all homophobic to a certain degree because homophobia is present in all aspects of our society and we have all internalized it. The sooner we stop seeing ‘homophobic’ as a grievous offence, and acknowledge that it is an unavoidable symptom of the current Western culture, the sooner we can start to reverse the damage done by social conditioning.

On the negative impact of the referendum
I do not know what the result of the referendum will be. However, I do know that a Yes majority will not fix the irreparable damage that has been done to many Irish people throughout the course of this referendum.
Before we even consider the queer community, there are many individuals who have been and will continue to be affected by the ‘Vote No’ posters. Single-parent families are the most obvious group. Parents who have managed to get themselves and their children away from dangerous or abusive situations are now being told that they have failed their children by denying them their father/mother. Opposite-sex couples who have adopted or availed of surrogacy are being told that they are not good enough for their children. People whose spouses/partners have died are being reminded every day that their children have been left lacking. Children at vulnerable ages who come from backgrounds such as these are seeing the posters and feeling inferior because they do not have a traditional family unit. The posters are making them resent their single-parents or their step-parents.
I am a 19-year-old woman who identifies on the bi/pan spectrum. My entire family is Irish and I have lived here since I was 2 years old. I am fortunate enough to be in my second year of attending an excellent university which has a fantastic LGBTQ+ society, in which I have become more involved this year. I am over 18 which means I can get into nightclubs. I have spaces in my life which are exclusively queer. Having these spaces and meeting other members of the Irish LGBTQ+ community over the last two years has changed my outlook on my sexual identity and on my life in general. Even so, the referendum has taken its toll on my mental health and outlook. The old feelings of shame and discomfort, which never leave fully, have been extremely prominent again. There is a large amount of people in my country who believe that a relationship that I may have with a woman is less valid than an opposite-sex relationship, and that I would not be a fit parent were I with a woman. I do not know just how large this amount of people actually is and I live in fear that they might turn out to be the majority. This hurts me more than I can say.
There are young queer people in Ireland who are not in university and who are not old enough to go to nightclubs (safely), and who thus do not have exclusively queer spaces. There are also many older queer people in Ireland who have been living in isolation their entire lives and who also do not have exclusively queer spaces. I worry so so much for the mental health and wellbeing of these people, because if I am affected this badly even in the favourable position that I am in, how badly must they be affected?
Seeing posters all over our homes, in our cities, in my beloved Dublin, which declare our inability to parent, which declare us undeserving of the Constitutional protection that marriage would afford us, is endlessly hurtful. The hurt caused by the No campaign will not be repaired magically by a Yes majority vote. The relief, the pride and the gratefulness will be indescribable, but the hurt has already been caused.

On this being a positive step forward, but only that: a step
I will close this long-winded post by stating my belief that, while this is an extremely positive step forward (and I’ll most likely be off my tits in Pantibar on the 23rd if/when the Yes vote prevails), this is not the be-all and end-all of issues within the LGBTQ+ community. This referendum has done nothing to strengthen the visibilty of non-gay members of the community and nothing to highlight issues of intersectionality. While this was not the job of the Yes campaign, it certainly won’t help the people like me who are a minority within a minority group. Terms like ‘gay community,’ ‘gay marriage’/’straight marriage’ have been widely used and are exclusive of LGBTQ+ people who are not gay or lesbian. There are still all of the issues that there always have been and they will not all end with civil marriage. However, it’s a damn good place to start.

Looking forward to partying with you all on the 23rd,
Le grá agus beannachtaí,
Orna