Stop flaunting your sexuality

Why is there a need to validate our sexuality in this day and age? Why is there even a need to come out at all? Why can’t we just love who we want to love, be with whoever we want to be with? Why is it assumed that we’re all born heterosexual, with young girls being told that one day they’ll find their Prince; oblivious to the fact that for some it might actually be a Princess? Because it’s 2016 Ireland, and although people think we’ve made leaps and bounds since the Yes vote in the marriage referendum, we haven’t come that far yet.

We understand what it means to be straight, and we understand what it means to be gay. For decades we’ve been campaigning for gay rights, proclaiming that gay people were born this way and were not able to change their sexuality. Eventually, people began to accept that others were gay. They did not entirely understand it, but they got their head around the concept. Then along came bisexuality; people were finally comfortable coming out and admitting that they were attracted to more than one sex. There are many different sexualities out there, and it’s up to each individual to find onelesbian that fits their preference (or they may choose not to label themselves at all). We’re now aware that heterosexuality isn’t as “normal” as we once thought, so why is there still a need to say, “I’m gay.”?

After the success of the marriage referendum, some may think that the process of coming out is way too dramatized. That it shouldn’t be a case of proclaiming, “Look at me, I’m different!” When really, nobody actually cares and you’re not that different at all. It seems that now, if you come out people are thinking “What’s the fuss about?” Because it’s just another gay, bisexual or queer person. We know so many of them now, and that’s amazing. Coming out should not be dramatic, nobody wants it to be. But for many people, it is.

As much as we like to tell ourselves that the world is a kind, loving and accepting place, sometimes it just isn’t. Yes, people have become more accepting of the LGBTQ community since the marriage referendum, but we still have a long way to go. People seem to forget that, although our generation are overwhelmingly accepting, some of the older generation are still alive, kicking and not too happy about same-sex relationships. There are parents out there with a “not on my doorstep” attitude, and small town syndrome is still prevalent all over the country.

When young people come out these days, it can still be dramatic. They go into it knowing that they could lose some of their best friends and closest family members, and for some of them, they do. You might think it’s not that big of a deal because your family voted Yes in the marriage referendum, but for some people coming out, it’s a huge deal. And granted that it all goes well, that your family say they still love you and your friends couldn’t care less: if you’ve waited 23 years to come out and you’re finally comfortable with your sexuality, it’s a big thing. You should be able to celebrate that without complaints that you’re making a fuss.

There have head shaking and sighs about LGBTQ people throwing their gayness in your face since the beginning of time. What started with “I don’t mind gays, but I hate when they flaunt it” has turned to the likes of “I’m not judging you because you’re gay, I’m judging you know because you’re talking abolesbian3ut it on social media” as time has gone by. And what that boils down to is this; you are flaunting your non heterosexual sexuality by coming out and being visible. By having a presence, and letting people know that, “Hello, I’m Laura. I’m 26, I’m a nurse, and I’m gay.”

Ask an LGBTQ person about why they make such a big deal out of their same-sex relationship and you’ll get the same answer as you would from any heterosexual couple. When you’re in a relationship with somebody, they become a big part of your life. You’re proud of the person they are, you want to show them off and show others that you are together. It’s normal.

It’s not about flaunting anything. It’s wanting to show affection to your partner, to let them know that you appreciate and care about them. It’s about kissing them goodbye outside of the car, rather than hiding away inside. It’s about being comfortable holding your partners hand in public, just because you want to be close to them. It’s not a statement, and it shouldn’t be.closet

Ideally, we would love to live in a world where nobody had a problem with the LGBTQ community. But unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. This is why people still feel the need to “come out”, to label themselves and this is why sometimes the process is still quite dramatic. We don’t want it to be, but in reality, it is. And until there comes a time where we have complete acceptance of the LGBTQ community, some feel that they have to ensure they are visible. That they can say, we’re here; we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual, and whatever else. They still have to remind people that they exist.

The generation below us need to see that LBGT people are here, that LBGT people are visible, and most importantly that LGBT people are normal. They need to have someone to relate to, whether it’s a family friend or a famous Youtuber that they can identify with. With visibility comes the breaking of stereotypes, like the camp gay man and the big butch lesbian. It can only get better from here, but we have to be patient.

As much as we all want coming out to be a thing of the past, we need to respect that for some people it’s still a huge deal. Until it’s a thing of the past, the LGBTQ community will still feel the need to validate their sexuality. Because once upon a time, they had somebody they looked up to and thought, “He/she is just like me.” Maybe they want to help somebody too.

 

“Everyone I’ve asked is voting yes”

With the marriage referendum fast approaching, it’s a topic that’s never far from conversation here in college. It’s plastered all over Facebook, with young people coming out in force to show their support for gay rights. Almost everyone that I’ve talked to has said “The marriage referendum will definitely pass, everyone I’ve asked is voting yes,” but me? I’m not so convinced that it will. “Everyone” that we ask is voting yes, but who is “everyone” exactly?

You’ve all seen the “NO” posters littered around the streets, and are familiar with the arguments used by the “NO” side to sway the public their way. But through the wonderful world of social media, these arguments have proven to be invalid and incorrect, and every young person that uses Twitter or Facebook is aware of that. But what about the people who haven’t been informed of this? What about the people who don’t use social media, like some of our mothers, fathers, and grandparents? How are they supposed to know that what they’re being fed by the “NO” side is a pack of outrageous lies? All they’re seeing are posters telling them to think of the children, and many of them are going to believe it because they don’t have access to the correct information. I think we can all agree that the “YES” posters aren’t exactly what we would have hoped for. So that leaves it up to us to talk to them about the marriage referendum, and inform them of the truths.

If you are unsure as to whether your family members are voting yes or no, you should talk to them about what the marriage referendum really means. Start the conversation with something simple and open, so that they don’t think you’re just forcing your opinion down the115ir throat. Yesterday, I brought up the topic to my Mum by calling her and asking her if my polling card had come in the post yet. She said that it had, so I got straight to it and asked if she’d made up her mind about which way she was voting yet. As a woman who really cares about her own children, I know that the “NO” posters had probably grabbed her attention on more than one occasion, but she said that she wasn’t sure if she’d vote, so I knew I still had a chance to sway her towards the “YES” side. After our phone call and some searching on the internet, I sent her this picture on Viber, followed by a text to let her know that it was just a fact sheet to help her decide which way to vote. It was simple, non-invasive and hopefully effective, and I’d advise everybody to do the same with their relatives who have had minimal exposure to the “YES” side.

116We can’t blame people for saying they’ll vote “NO” when they haven’t been informed of the true facts about the referendum. I told my Dad that gay people can already adopt children in Ireland, which I’m pretty sure he didn’t know beforehand. I also made the point to my parents that one day I’ll have children of my own. Sure, the marriage referendum doesn’t affect them right now but what about if I have a child who turns out to be gay? Wouldn’t they want them to be happy too? They agreed, and it’s straight forward facts like this that can easily sway people towards the “YES” side.

It seems that “everyone” is voting “YES” because the “NO” voters are staying quiet. They know in their hearts that their opinion is that of a homophobic one, and that other people will get angry with them because of it (and rightly so). But these people aren’t going to stay quiet on May 22nd, as opposed to some of the “YES” voters. A huge percentage of 18-22 year olds failed to register, and others can’t due to college exams, work, or being away from home on the day. Something as simple as not being able to get a lift to the polling station could stop somebody from voting “YES”, no matter how much they want to. I think it’s important that we realise that a referendum can be lost by just ONE vote, which shows the importance of using yours.

We have one more week until the referendum takes place, and it’s important that we spend our time wisely. Don’t just presume that “everyone” is voting “YES”. It may seem that way in college, where people are more open minded because of what they’ve seen on the internet. But there are still people who are being misinformed by the “NO” side and being led astray. It’s our job to teach these people the truth, and ensure that the referendum passes on the 22nd. You have a voice, use it.

For further information on the marriage referendum, visit this website: http://refcom2015.ie/marriage/

I Guess I Should Come Out

Coming out is a scary thing for anyone who has to go through it. Depending on your family and friends, they could react in a various ways and it’s something that you have no control over, you just have to let it happen. It’s something that can put a lot of stress and strain on a person’s life, and I’ve witnessed this myself watching friends who are scared beyond belief to tell their loved ones about their sexual orientation.

I remember one day when a friend of mine told me that he’d come out to his parents, and that they were totally okay with it. I never told him this, but it made my smile stretch from ear to ear and I even shed a tear or two (of happiness of course). But it also made me start to think, why do I feel all this relief? Why am I so happy that somebody is being accepted for who they are? It all seemed a bit backwards, so I’ve decided to go ahead and do this “coming out” thing myself.

I, Michaela Deane, am a person. I am not straight. Nor am I a lesbian. Nor am I bisexual or transexual or anything else. I’m a person, just like everyone else on this earth and mine or anybody elses sexual orientation shouldn’t effect anybody elses feelings towards me unless I am linked to them romantically. I’d like to think that if I brought a nice guy home to my parents, that they’d be happy for me. But I’d also like to think that if I were to bring a girl home, that they’d be happy for me too. I’d like to think that my friends wouldn’t look at me differently because of the person that I love, and if they did they wouldn’t be a friend of mine for much longer. We are all people, and we all deserve to be able to freely love who we want to.

Seeing people go through the emotional turmoil of trying to come out to their loved ones pains me, and it makes me think, why bother? If you’re straight there’s none of this coming out mullarky. Why are LGBT’s made to slap a label on themselves, just because they’re not part of the more common sexuality? If I went downstairs to my parents and said “Mum, Dad, there’s something I need to tell you.. I’m straight.” They’d look at me with a puzzled expression and probably ask if I was feeling okay. So to hell with labels, and to hell with sectioning off “LGBT’s” from society. They don’t need to labeled. They are people, we are people, we all love the same way. 

 

So here I am, “coming out” as a person who 100% supports loving whoever the hell you fall in love with. I’m coming out as somebody who wants equality for our future. I’m somebody who will want my children and grandchildren to know that I’ll love them no matter who they end up in a relationship with, as long as they’re treated with the respect they deserve. I’m coming out as somebody who will be voting yes in May, in the hope of making our country an easier place to be yourself in.

#YesEquality