In four days time, Ireland will vote on the marriage referendum. Rather than tell you how I feel about the referendum and why I am voting yes, the following guest post is written by a pretty, witty and gay friend of mine on how she is feeling this week.
Like most people at this stage, I just want this referendum to be over. The majority want it to be over because they are suffocating from the overload of opinions and coverage that this marriage equality referendum is creating. I want it to be over because for me, personally, it’s been an emotional roller coaster.
On one hand, I feel so hopeful and excited that this small country that I love will be the first to let the people vote on marriage equality for same-sex couples. On the other hand, I have found the debate patronising and even humiliating to a point.
At times, it feels like I’m standing awkwardly beside a group of people who I’m very fond of and have never offended as they openly discuss the pros and cons of whether I should be invited to a party with them or not. Feeling that exposed can be uncomfortable and slightly wounding. (Now to be fair, if this was a real life situation I probably could appreciate the cons of my attendance because many a time I have inadvertently run amok at a party but that’s beside the point)
A group is not deciding whether I am worthy enough to attend a party, my country is deciding whether I am worthy enough to enjoy the same equal rights as everyone else.
Despite the confusion and distraction that the Brigade of the “Down With This Sort of Thing” has showered us with, I am hopeful that everyone is informed enough to know that this referendum has nothing to do with surrogacy, adoption, religious marriage or parenting. Heterosexual couples may rest assured that they will not be forced to adopt random gay people and be compelled to engage in polite chit-chat over breakfast every morning for the rest of their lives. That would just be uncomfortable for all of us. This referendum is about one simple thing and that is whether two people in love in Ireland may enjoy the constitutional protection of marriage.
Like many gay people, I have struggled privately with the self-inflicted shame of my identity and have often lacked a sense of belonging because I was aware that I was slightly outside the circle of the “norm”. Unlike some, I’m blessed by the support of a very open-minded family.
Also, Irish society has evolved so quickly that I take great solace in believing that future generations of gay people in Ireland won’t suffer the same self-doubt and feeling of exclusion that was par for the course before.
I am a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend but most significantly I am Irish just like you. Amongst thousands and thousands of other Irish people I have to wait in anticipation until the weekend to find out if my country will extend the reassuring and accepting hand of equality to me. I just want this referendum to be over so I can sit back, breath, absorb and hopefully enjoy history in the making. So for the love of God please just invite me to the bloody party by answering with one simple word that niggling question I have; am I equal?