We need more Helens and Conors

I know the woman who wrote this letter to Dermot Ahern about her sons. She’s brilliant. It won’t be self-serving, cliquey, rainbow waving gay groups or “pride” parades that’ll bring about equality, it’ll be people like Helen Doody talking about her gay sons, it’ll be Conor Pendergrast talking about his two mums and it’ll be friends of gay people who are sharing their experience about their gay friends with greater society. If gay people are hiding themselves away at work and skulking in gay bars on weekends and only coming out in daylight for a single annual pride parade, exactly how can society understand and identify why we want to be treated as equals? It’s easy for a society to be ignorant and even hateful of a vacuum. Who’s creating that now though?

12 Responses to “We need more Helens and Conors”

  1. That’s excellent. What a great mother. I wonder if ‘Dermot the Frog’ will even read it.

  2. What a cool mother.

    I find your post a bit harsh otherwise though. I don’t hide myself at work; I’m not sure if I’ve ‘skulked’ in gay bars but I certainly go to them. And I’ve taken part in these parades both by myself and waiving a rainbow on behalf of gay organisations including Gay Switchboard Dublin, a gay group which, like can hardly be called self-serving and cliquey.

    I must admit I find the second half of the post unclear. Are you saying that Pride (or people who take part in it) is somehow responsible for gay people not being seen by society as equal?

  3. Stray ‘like’ in the second paragraph. Typo (not coming over all Corkonian or anything) 🙂

  4. Gareth says:

    What a beautiful letter – its only as you become an adult that you see the full extent of what your parents do for you.

  5. MJ says:

    Crikey. I’m welling up! Print out that letter and pin it to every noticeboard in every workplace and in every shop. Suberb.

  6. JK says:

    A very moving letter, a very loving mother. Ahern is probably the more intelligent out of an extremely bad lot and he must be moved by this.

  7. Rod says:

    Magnificant letter.
    But I would point out that it is because of the “self-serving, cliqey, rainbow waving gay groups and ‘pride’ parades” that both Helen and Declan are where they are today.

  8. Rod says:

    Sorry! Have to just add that your blog tag-line, “invisible people have invisible rights”, is incredibly ironic considering your dismissive attitude to Pride!!

  9. Rod, Helen Doody is where she is today because of Pride? Lovely logical leap. Check out irony in the dictionary, it’ll be worth your time I promise, you’re abusing it as much as the exclamation marks. If gay people were visible for more than once a year when they go to pride and friends, family and colleagues knew them for who they were, then those rights would reappear.

  10. lisadom says:

    Have to agree with you Mulley. but as a medja savvy fellow you must realise that Pride is only the beginning (and didn’t they P.R.. it beautifully with a pretty Lesbian in shorts holding the flag for the trad media)
    The follow through is what is important and how you make it possible for folks to be out and proud year round ACROSS the island of Ireland is what will make the difference.
    Helen Doody’s letter and story is relate-able media. It is the hook that will get the Mams and Da’s to listen and think and imagine how they would feel if it was their son or daughter being ignored and discounted by the state.
    You have an aural tradition in this country and an educated populace. Tell the stories. Tell The Stories.

  11. glitzfrau says:

    Matt, thanks for linking to those two brilliant and brave blog posts. You are very right in saying that Helen and Conor’s personal stories will find a way to people’s hearts, perhaps a way that Pride can’t find.

    But with Rod and Daddy or Chips?, I’d like to disagree with the idea that, in some way, we the gay community are to blame for the discrimination against us, because we have in some way failed to find a strategy to melt the hearts of the country. For one thing, Rod is right, Pride does achieve a lot. For another, being out is a scary and dangerous thing to do in many circumstances. For every vocal Conor Prendergast, there’s three or four bullied and scared gay people, terrified that they may lose their families, their friends or their safety if they come out.

    Yes, visibility is important. Yes, we should all be as out as possible in the workplace and the street IF we decide it’s safe for us to be out – but it’s not safe for a lot of people. The onus is on the rest of the country to think about how they can make Ireland a gay-friendly place day to day, not just on us to put our safety on the line campaigning day in day out for our basic rights.

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