We are busy working on an exciting programme of theatre for the 14th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival which runs from May 1 – 14 2017.
You are warmly invited to be a part of this unique, welcoming and unforgettable event in one of Europe’s most fun cities.
We are currently building the 2017 programme and will be in touch shortly regarding your submission. For more contact our Artistic Director at email@example.com.
Why not organise a trip to Dublin to this unique and friendly event?
Why not be a part of the largest Festival of LGBT-related theatre in the world? Whether you want to learn more about theatre in a range of areas, give something back to the community, meet new people or see great theatre we have a role for you! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to raise your profile to local and international audiences? Want to contribute something to the arts and LGBT communities? Want to arrange a social night for your employees? We have packages to suit you! Contact email@example.com.
We are at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 from August 18th to 23rd seeking relevant works for our 14th annual Festival in 2017.
If you have a work of theatre, dance, cabaret, music or other works with an LGBT theme, relevance or exploring gender and sexuality then we want to hear from you!
To our past participants and friends and supporters at the Fringe we would also like to hear from you.
We will also be at the Promoter’s Breakfast in the Arts Industry Office on Sunday 21st August.
We are trying to see as many relevant works as possible. However if we can’t get to see your work we still want to hear from you.
Please get in touch and provide us with some information about your show. If it takes place after we leave Edinburgh we can arrange for a Festival associate to see it. Otherwise email us and provide as much information as you can about the work … scripts, images, recorded footage etc.
As we see works during the Festival Fringe we will tweet comments and tips on Twitter at @GayTheatre.
The award winners and nominees for the 2016 International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival were announced last night at our closing Gala and Awards Night at the Teachers’ Club.
Festival Artistic Director Brian Merriman paid an emotional tribute to Sean Meehan as a new award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Gender or Identity’ was inaugurated in his memory.
Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners as well as all of the production companies and individuals who participated in IDGTF 2016.
Full list of nominees and winners:
Mark Power, Cal Folger Day and Sean Denyer: music and lyrics in The Ref, IRL
Peter Darney/Julie Addy for 5 Guys Chillin’, UK
Lynda Sturner, Helen, ‘Superlubricated’, USA
Grouse Lodge Academy, Technical volunteers
Michael Bay, ‘Sexmaniac. Anarchist Theatre for the Mentally Unhinged’, Germany
Elliot Headley, 5 Guys Chillin’, UK
Arnold Thomas Fanning, ‘McKenna’s Fort‘, Ireland
Tickets are selling fast for many weekend shows.
There may be a couple of standby tickets at the door but otherwise no more tickets available.
ALMOST SOLD OUT
A small number of tickets may be available on the door but pre-booking is strongly recommended to guarantee a seat.
SELLING FAST (BUT STILL AVAILABILITY):
(For these shows you should be able to get tickets at the door but pre-booking is recommended. Please arrive in good time for the performance)
All other Friday and Saturday performances still have reasonably good availability. However keep checking for updates.
We have a completely new line-up of productions starting from 7:30pm this evening and running until Saturday.
Our week two programme has something for everyone, including:
If you enjoyed ‘The Ref‘ in week one, you’ll love these must-see shows looking at Marriage Equality and its impact on everyone – male, female, gay, straight.
Proposal Under the Rainbow – Equal Marriage (…with a Few Hurdles in the Way)
A man plans to marry his fiancé – both successful and in love.
One small problem… he must first face his future mother in law – Lady Dorothy – and she is not going to give her son away easily!
Don’t miss this comedy, showing that the battle for marriage is not quite over yet!
May 9 – 14 @ 9pm; Matinee May 14 @ 4pm
YES – How Marriage Equality Changed Our Lives
Ireland said YES and their lives were transformed.
Recapture the excitement and drama of the referendum in this funny and moving drama.
7:30pm Mon-Sat; 2:30pm Sat 14; Over 18’s only
Like the perfect date – the characters in these shows are attractive, sexual and intimate.
However beware – beneath the surface lie hidden desires and secrets waiting to be revealed.
Behind the adult themes and a dash of humour these shows also pose deeper questions about relationships, intimacy and the sexual activity of LGBT people.
F*cking Men – Candid, Lustful … and Moving
This smash-hit play from the King’s Head Theatre in London finally reaches Dublin!
Follow the stories of 10 men looking for erotic encounters and maybe more.
Candid, lustful and brutally honest.
7:30pm Mon-Sat; 2:30pm Sat 14; Over 18’s only
5 Guys Chillin’ – Hidden Encounters of Real Men Revealed
Another play from London looking at the sex lives of men – the secretive world of ‘Chemsex’ and online hook-ups.
Based on real interviews with real men don’t miss this critically acclaimed piece.
See this and F*cking Men for only €25 with our Venue Ticket
9pm; Mon-Sat; 4pm Sat 14; Over 18’s only
A male escort meets a Premiership footballer for regular, secret encounters.
However in our tabloid age some secrets can’t be kept forever…
An intelligent, funny play looking at a closeted gay footballer and homophobia in sport.
9pm; Mon-Sat; Adult themes
Remember Me – An Explosive Encounter With Your Ex
A man meets his ex – both looking for comfort and intimacy.
Things however don’t quite go to plan as feelings are laid bare in a roller-coater of romance, raw emotion and revealed secrets.
7:30pm; Matinee May 14 @ 2:30pm
Alex seems to be an attractive, respectable, mid-twenties guy.
But this is all a lie… Watch his world collapse as he succumbs to all of his desires and fantasies.
May 9 – 14 @ 9pm; Matinee May 14 @ 4pm
Fancy an evening of comedy?
Our week two shows feature a diverse range of comic characters ready to tell these stories and even dish out a few tips on relationships and life!
Erect But Unstable – A Comedic Cabaret of the Ups and Downs of Love
John Arthur Sweet brings his award-winning comedy to Dublin.
Playing multiple characters from Montreal’s Gay Village, he will teach you a thing or two about love and relationships with sharp observations and many laughs.
7:30pm; Matinee May 14 @ 2:30pm
Must Be Nice – All Irish Families Have Their Secrets!
Jimmy Doyle tells the hilarious story of growing up gay in an American/Irish Catholic family. Like all Irish families they are tribally loyal but full of secrets.
From Hollywood to a farm in Ireland, Jimmy will reveal all in this comedy show, produced by singer Brian Kennedy.
May 9 – 14 @ 9pm; Matinee May 14 @ 4pm
Dear Attractra – Late-Night Love Advice (and Songs!)
Unlucky in love? Feeling down? Don’t worry, agony aunt Attracta Tension is here to solve your problems…
With candid advice, sharp wit and a few songs thrown in – laughter is definitely the best therapy!
From the team that brought you ‘Angela She Wrote: Lansbury the Musical’
May 13, 14 only @ 10:15pm
International Theatre Shorts – Moving, Funny, Diverse Short Plays from Around the World
Too busy to see all our shows? Want moving stories, love, lust and laughs all in one night?
Then check out our ever-popular programme of International Shorts.
From coming out in Iran, to lesbian nuns, Julie Andrews and contraception.
A varied and entertaining night for four short plays is guaranteed.
Amazing Women’s Theatre Happening Right Now
For 14 years IDGTF has proudly provided a platform for women to perform their works, told the stories of women’s lives, celebrated outstanding women forgotten by history and supported female playwrights.
#WakingTheFeminists 2015: hundreds of women (and supporters) gathered at the Abbey to question the lack of representation of women in theatre for 2016…
We are putting women on the stage right now in 2016. Now is your chance to stand up for women in theatre!
Our productions by women and about women need your support – not just to support women who are on stage and making theatre – but because their stories are powerful, compelling and exciting.
#FeministsAwake! POWERFUL THEATRE BY WOMEN & ABOUT WOMEN
Check out some highlights from our ‘Feminists Awake’ programme – plays by women, about women’s lives, sexuality and the crucial role heroic women have played to shape modern Ireland and the world.
From Helen of Troy to the brave women of 1916 to young women today breaking the mould and defying social taboos! Comedy, drama, cabaret and more.
FESTIVAL WEEK 1: ONLY 2 DAYS REMAINING – SHOWS ENDING MAY 7
Three women defy social conventions to live as a three-way couple and celebrate female sexuality, identity and art.
However things don’t always go to plan in this intelligent, witty and very colourful drama!
Bellelen Helen of Troy – Look Beyond Appearances
A group of lustful men watch a beautiful woman perform for them.
But as her dance unfolds she reveals her powerful inner story as the legendary Helen of Troy.
A moving piece celebrating the strength of women from the legends of ancient Greece to the modern day.
Waking Beauty – A Modern Fairy Tale With a Twist
The classic fairy tale: a beautiful young woman meets a handsome prince and they live happily ever after…
Not here! This young woman secretly desires a beautiful and mysterious stranger and no prince or spell can keep them apart.
A romantic tale that cleverly challenges the usual clichés, by a talented group of young Irish women.
Eirebrushed – Uncovering The Amazing Heroines of 1916
Eirebrushed looks at the LGBT heroes of 1916 and reclaims their voices.
But more than challenging the accepted story of Padraig Pearse and Roger Casement, this play celebrates two heroic women – Elizabeth O’Farrell and Eva Gore-Booth who were ‘airbrushed’ from history.
These two amazing heroines return to share their revolutionary and courageous contributions in 1916.
The true story of a Dublin woman in love with another, on the cusp of the Rising in 1916.
Told mostly in her actual words, Honor Molloy reveals the true story of her great aunt.
Presented in the Irish Historical Shorts along with ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ and ‘The Gentleman Caller’ three short plays revealing the fight in Ireland to love who you wanted to love.
‘Seriously. Camp. Cabaret’ – A Night of Cabaret & Burlesque
Every gender and sexual identity is gloriously celebrated in a magic night of music and performance from classics to hidden gems.
Finally… don’t miss Word Play – a gay man thinks he gets all the abuse in life but his straight female friend has a few observations of her own to share! A comedy about friendship, exploring the labels we give both women and gay men… with some beer thrown in.
International Theatre Shorts – Nuns, Julie Andrews and more!
Our second programme of International Short plays looks at LGBT people from around the world.
Julie Andrews, nuns, lesbian love stories, condoms and a moving coming out story from Iran all feature in this diverse programme in the lovely Cobalt Café.
‘YES’ – Marriage Equality And How It Changed Our Lives
The majority said one simple word; for a minority that word meant everything.
If you have enjoyed The Ref then check out this drama that captures the excitement of the 2015 Marriage Equality Referendum and its impact.
A new play from Colette Cullen.
Northside or southside… buy tickets and more!
Want to find out more about IDGTF 2016 and buy tickets, books, T-shirts and more?
Our brand new Pop-Up Shop is open daily from 11:30am-6pm at 9 Parliament Street directly opposite the Front Lounge.
Plus grab a tea or coffee while you are there.
And remember that on the ‘Northside’ you can call into Flanagan’s Restaurant at 61 Upper O’Connell Street to our Box Office where you can also purchase tickets.
Open Mon-Sat 12-3pm. Bookings/enquiries by phone: +353 (0) 89 202 9673
From adult drama to cabaret to comedy we explore the loves, desires and lives of LGBT people from around the world.
Check out some programme highlights over the two weeks of the Festival exploring love, lust and relationships.
WEEK ONE – Mon May 2nd to Sat 7th
Bellelen Helen of Troy – A Greek Beauty Reveals Her True Self
A pole-dancer enthrals a lustful group of men with her dance… but she is more than she seems. This is legendary beauty Helen of Troy, transformed into a trans Greek migrant escaping economic chaos. As she performs she will reveal her true self to her audience…
May 2 – 7 2016 @ 7:30pm; Matinee May 2 & 7 @ 2:30pm
In a fascinating piece full of surprises three women explore their sexuality, bodies, power relationships, feminism, philosophy, iconic female artists.
Funny, erotic, dark, cerebral, physical … this play has it all!
May 2 – 7 2016 @ 9pm; Matinee May 7 @ 4pm
Straightened Out – A Musical Celebration of (Equal) Love
Martin P. Koob brings us on a musical journey celebrating love and love songs. Enjoy a glass of wine and give in to romance at this late-night weekend show at the Cobalt Cafe.
May 6 & 7 @ 10:15pm
Waking Beauty – The Story of a Girl Who Wanted More
A little girl is raised to believe that happiness comes from her looks and being chosen to be loved one day by a man… But what if a girl demands more? This romantic drama reveals both hidden heroes and alternative happy endings.
May 2 – 7 @ 9pm; Matinees May 2 & 7 @ 4pm
… and don’t miss our Irish Historical Theatre Shorts featuring a real life lesbian love story from 1916 and our Marriage Equality comedy drama – ‘The Ref‘.
WEEK TWO – Mon May 9th to Sat May 14th
Erect But Unstable – Multi-Faceted Comedy about Queer Love
This gem from Canada explores queer love and sexuality through multiple monologues. Don’t miss this award-winning comedy drama.
May 9 – 14 @ 7:30pm; Matinee May 14 @ 2:30pm
F*cking Men – A Portrayal of Male Desire
Three gorgeous men star in this smash-hit play from London’s King’s Head Theatre. A look at the erotic encounters of 10 men searching for sexual satisfaction.
May 9 – 14 @ 7:30pm & Matinee May 14 at 2:30pm
5 Guys Chillin’ – True Stories of Drugs, Hook-ups and Grindr
This graphic and gripping play also from the ‘King’s Head Theatre’ explores real stories of real men from the world of ‘Chemsex’, Grindr and instant gratification…
May 9 – 14 @ 9pm; Matinee May 14 @ 4pm
Remember Me – Retracing a Relationship
Luc pays his ex a visit, both men searching for comfort and consolation. Swinging from hysteria to moments of tenderness a relationship is laid bare in this Irish drama.
May 9 – 14 @ 7:30pm; Matinee May 14 @ 2:30pm
Male escort Kyle gets more than he bargained for when he is hired by a closeted premiership footballer. But can the truth be hidden forever in this exploration of sexuality and homophobia in the world of soccer.
May 9 – 14 @ 9pm
Proposal Under the Rainbow – Meet the Mother-in-Law!
Two fictional dynasties, the Jamesons and the Guinnesses are about to be united as Vivyan plans proposing to his partner Timothy. But first he must face a tricky challenge… the approval of his formidable future mother-in-law, Lady Dorothy!
May 9 – 14 @ 9pm; Matinee May 14 @ 4pm
Alex seems like a normal 25 year old guy on the surface. But behind the moral facade he indulges in his deepest darkest desires. Don’t miss this high-energy adult drama from Germany.
May 9 – 14 @ 9pm; Matinee May 14 @ 4pm
… and from a moving coming-out tale to condoms to lesbian nuns and Julie Andrews don’t miss our sparkling selection of International Theatre Shorts.
Discover our special 1916 programme and please note some important programme changes
At IDGTF 2016 we celebrate heroes and history makers.
One of the highlights of the Festival is our special 1916 Rising programme, where we celebrate the courageous LGBT women and men who fought for personal and national freedom but whose true stories were suppressed or forgotten.
Through drama, short plays and our free seminar we will ensure that their incredible stories are finally heard, including fascinating accounts in their own words.
Don’t miss this special programme running as part of week one of the Festival from May 1st to 7th
IDGTF 2016 launches with a special free seminar exploring the contributions of lesbian and gay people to the Rising.
Chaired by Seamus Dooley of the NUJ it will feature a distinguished panel of academics and writers who will explore the Rising from different perspectives.
This free event is open to all but please register online to guarantee a place.
Sunday May 1st at The Teachers Club (Main Hall): 12-3pm.
This exciting new addition to the programme looks at one of Ireland’s most controversial revolutionary figures and famous gay icons – Roger Casement.
Drawing on his own journals, letters and writings – as well as the infamous ‘Black Diaries’ this play has been described by critics as ‘powerful’, ‘thought-provoking’ with ‘an impressive and assured performance’.
May 2 – 7 @ 7:30pm; Matinees May 2 & 7 @ 2:30pm;
(Replaces ‘Beautiful Friends’ advertised in the brochure)
Eirebrushed looks at the LGBT revolutionaries who fought for personal and Irish freedom and asks what they would think of the modern Ireland that was born from their struggles?
Named after courageous Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell who was literally airbrushed from historical images of the Rising, this play also looks at Padraig Pearse, Roger Casement and Eva Gore-Booth the revolutionary sister of Countess Markievicz.
May 2 – 7 @ 7:30pm; Matinees May 2 & 7 @ 2:30pm.
Our ‘Irish Historical Shorts’ take a look at LGBT history from the time of Oscar Wilde up to late 20th century Ireland. One highlight of this fascinating shorts programme is Honor Molloy’s ‘And In My Heart’ – the true love story of her great aunt as a young lesbian in a revolutionary era.
May 2 – 7 @ 7:30pm.
New Festival Venue and New Book
Appropriately for our 1916 Centenary Programme we introduce a new Festival venue for 2016 – ‘The Pearse Centre’ on Pearse Street opposite Trinity College. Check our 2016 Venue Map for more.
The plays ‘Eirebrushed’ and ‘Wretched Little Brat’ by Brian Merriman have been published in a single volume priced at €15 online including postage.
Also available for a limited period for just €10 direct from Festival venues and our soon to open Festival pop-up shop.
Learn new perspectives on the personalities surrounding 1916 and the lovers of Oscar Wilde.
Due to circumstances outside of our control, all performances of ‘Beautiful Friends’ and ‘To Kill A Machine’ have regrettably been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. For any queries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The good news is that we have added four new productions into the 2016 programme – more history makers, more comedy and more music!
‘McKenna’s Fort’ – the story of Roger Casement (see above)
‘A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade’ – a straight drummer accidentally becomes a gay rights activist in the fight for LGBT inclusion the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Don’t miss this witty and highly original take on the parade.
Wed 4, Thu 5, Sat 7 May @ 9pm; €10 matinee Sat May 7 @ 4pm.
‘Seriously. Camp. Cabaret’ – for one night only cabaret and burlesque favourites underCURRENT bring you drag, cabaret, burlesque and live music, from Broadway and pop hits to obscure gems.
Fri May 6 @ 9pm.
‘Dear Attracta’ – if you enjoyed the sell-out hit ‘Angela She Wrote: Lansbury the Musical’ in 2015 you’ll love this late-night drag and comedy show from GLAD Productions. Meet agony aunt Attracta Tension as she dishes out no nonsense replies – and songs – on life’s problems.
Fri May 13 & Sat May 14 @ 10:15pm.
Please note the following important announcements regarding the programme:
We regret to inform you that the runs of ‘Beautiful Friends‘ and ‘To Kill A Machine‘ both scheduled for May 2 – 7 have been cancelled. In both cases this is due to external circumstances outside of our control.
All ticket holders are being informed. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. For more contact email@example.com.
New 1916 Show:
We are delighted to announce that the acclaimed one man show ‘McKenna’s Fort‘ about Roger Casement will replace ‘Beautiful Friends’ in the Teacher’s Club from May 2nd to 7th at 19:30 with matinees on Monday May 2 and Saturday May 7th at 14:30.
This builds on our strong 1916 related programme as we uncover the LGBT heroes who played strong and often under-appreciated roles in the Rising.
New Comedy Musical Show:
We are delighted to welcome back Andrew Deering and Glad Productions who gave us the 2015 hit ‘Angela She Wrote: Lansbury the Musical’.
They return with a brand new late-night show for IDGTF 2016: Dear Attracta.
Expect drag, comedy, drama and some music in a magical hour in the Cobalt Café.
For two nights only: Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May at 22:15pm.
New Burlesque Cabaret Show:
Dublin-based burlesque favourites ‘underCurrent’ bring us a new show ‘Seriously Camp Cabaret‘ for one night only in Players Theatre Trinity College on Friday May 6th.
Bringing you Broadway classics to hidden gems this musical treat is not to be missed.
New Comedy Drama Show:
Building on our theme of heroes and history we bring you an acclaimed and witty look at the struggle for LGBT inclusion in the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – ‘A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade‘.
With rave reviews from the 2014 Tiger Dublin Fringe we are delighted to announce this late addition to our 2016 programme, running at 9pm in week one in Players Theatre Trinity.
Four performances only: Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th and Saturday 7th at 9pm and a €10 matinee at 4pm on Saturday 7th.
The scripts of the plays ‘Wretched Little Brat’ and ‘Eirebrushed’ by Brian Merriman have been published as a single-volume book on sale now.
Both works challenge the commonly held understanding of two key events in modern Irish history and explore the personalities involved – the 1916 Rising and the trial of Oscar Wilde and its aftermath.
‘Eirebrushed‘ tells the untold story of the lesbian and gay heroes of 1916. Drawing on extensive research this play restores the voices of the LGBT heroes of 1916, asking ‘what makes a hero?’ and what would they think of the Ireland that has emerged post-1916?
Eirebrushed was a sell-out hit of IDGTF 2014, has featured as a play reading abroad and returns in the IDGTF 2016 programme.
‘Wretched Little Brat‘ premiered at the IDGTF 2015 ‘Winter Programme’. It goes beyond the infamous trial of Oscar Wilde to uncover the true story of persecuted love, moralistic law and endless litigation between Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie) and Robbie Ross, Oscar Wilde‘s lovers.
This joint volume will be on sale at the Festival Box Office and at Festival venues for just €10.
It can also be purchased online, including postage and packaging to Ireland and abroad for €15.
Secure Online booking for all shows is now available for all shows, powered by Ticketsolve available 24/7 here!
Here are some booking tips:
Our brochure is now available throughout Dublin city centre and at venues or you can download a copy.
Introduction from Festival Artistic Director, Brian Merriman:
Welcome to the 13th Festival, where we will pass our 3,500th performance.
It is an exciting year, not only will we commemorate the lesbian and gay heroes of 1916, but heroes of the present day too – our guests who bring their stories for the first time from Russia and Iran. It is so important that we can provide a stage for all in Dublin – the birthplace of Oscar Wilde. We rely on you to be their audience – to hear their stories and affirm their LGBT theatre.
Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde form a bridge before and after 1916 to the present day and to have companies bring their work to you from Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Spain is important. Our first partnership with the Kings Head Theatre in London demonstrates clearly that Dublin is a recognised hub for celebrating the contribution and stories of LGBT people worldwide through theatre as an artform.
Despite this incredible profile worldwide, we are still 100% reliant on voluntary effort to bring this unique form of theatre to Irish audiences. We still have no office, no staff, no reliable resources which is unequalled in any other event operating at the scale we do. How do we do it? Two key elements – our volunteers and our audience! Companies make huge sacrifices to come to Dublin and our volunteers work tirelessly to ensure they are supported, that you know about it and that we co-produce quality theatre, giving a stage for the first time in Ireland to great LGBT theatre.
Thank you to all who continue to support us, to our grant aiding bodies the Arts Council, Failte Ireland and Dublin City Council, our sponsors and the many people who keep coming forward offering help and filling our theatre seats!
Please continue to enjoy this diverse programme of drama, comedy, music, history and identity. Follow us on social media and mention us frequently in your own posts. Please step forward with a suggestion or support – we love to hear form you! To all who have brought us to our 15th season (we had two winter festivals) – thank you.
Looking forward to meeting you again during the first fortnight in May! We are all part of the IDGTF 2016 – Are You?
Thank you for your invitation to speak today – it is rather a narrow topic and I am sure, having been alphabetically ordered, that by this stage, the distinguished speakers have already covered the issues comprehensively. So I will try to take a particular perspective. I want to ask some questions and set you some challenges.
LGBT people are like all others, born with distinct characteristics that complete their identity. These characteristics can be used positively or negatively in policy and culture, to lead a fulfilled life or to justify the placing of barriers on the road to personal, social and economic freedom and participation, not encountered by other people. How do we cope with that? LGBT people come to expect and tolerate a higher degree of discrimination. We always have. We became tougher, as so many young people who found they were no longer connected with family or community, in a way they were schooled to expect, became independent in their need to survive. The strong ones did anyway. It is comforting to speak in the past tense about that, but it is not wholly accurate.
We all have our differences. It’s what makes life interesting and it is of use. As the recent referendum demonstrated – society needs its minorities. Why? Because minorities often create the opportunity for the majority to come together, to finally do the right thing and what celebrations ensue! Just as was said post decriminalisation – ‘sure you are all legal now, what’s the problem? This is not an accurate analysis of what our life experience is or what has been embedded in a workplace and societal culture.
Watch out for the signs. I worked while doing my Masters here in UCD on a school show and noticed that within a day or two, many students made a point of telling me one of the teachers was gay – I was never told anything personal about any other teacher. Section 37 of the EEA allowing religious bodies to discriminate in order to protect their religious ethos was not born as a measure to discriminate against LGBT employees, it was born to protect a minority religion from being subsumed by the majority religion’s ethos in the healthcare system. Beware of the law of unintended consequences. I recall when civil partnership was introduced, public servants who applied for their legal entitlements to seek ‘marriage’ leave were now risking endangering their employment, if they worked in the health or education sectors. The majority religion was delighted to support the minority religion’s rights, smartly recognising the exemption as a licence to discriminate against another minority they found far more threatening.
As we celebrate this new equality, we pay little attention to the legacy issues. To those who were prohibited from getting married or believing they could sustain a relationship, as families ignored their need to love, it is too little too late. Those whose compulsory singlehood, means that even if they had a partner at 65, this legislative reform came too late to provide for pension qualification, as they retired before 2011 and the discrimination remains ongoing for those people in their older age.
At one time, the common bond of shared discrimination united us – there is a divide now – a generation who are born free and those who were not – it is vital not to leave them behind as we stand on their shoulders. I see many signs that that is exactly what will happen in our new freer culture.
There is also a human reaction on our side. When you are no longer different, nobody wants to interview you – and I know some NGOs are finding this new normality quite an adjustment, as are young people who created a media identity from being ‘different’. We are not. We must not create issues for the sake of maintaining profile. I asked Messrs Manning and Mills on Twitter would they ever be invited to speak anywhere by the Iona Institute once the referendum was decided? I’ve been proven correct. A dysfunctional society rendered us different because it was incapable of inclusion. The new Republic thrived on finding, ostracising and punishing difference – ask the Magdalens, the institutionalised children, people with disabilities and many others including of course ourselves. Perhaps we will finally no longer need to explain ourselves in our families, in our communities and in our workplaces? That will help.
It is held that customers are more likely to ‘do business’ in a place where you can ‘see yourself’ behind the counter. How many LGBT citizens see themselves reflected in their workplace or service providers? Diversity means difference – but it is not acceptable for us to wait to be declared or labelled different or to accept any such declaration. It is for employers and the service providers to develop the knowledge and capacity to respond to difference. In doing so, it will clearly see the merit and ability of all workers. Those who don’t, or don’t want to embrace this equal opportunity, may plead the ‘cost factor’ in accommodating diversity. How much does changing your attitude cost? – nothing. Attitudes change more rapidly when there is leadership from the top. Attitudes that have been embedded in workplace culture for decades, will not be changed in any meaningful way overnight. They will not be changed by holding a conference, tolerating a small diversity project, setting up an LGBT committee, while concealing the old ways at the core. Real change means invoking the merit principle and sticking to that in the workplace.
It is important too that the outcome of the referendum does not push our detractors underground, where they can influence and thrive. There are those who wish to maintain discrimination and they exist, but dangerously are perhaps now less visible. There is an advantage in being able to see ‘the enemy’. Discriminators must be told clearly that it is they who now behave differently, by being out of step with an inclusive, pluralist society. The boomerang of difference must be swiftly returned to those who seek to discriminate. The responsibility to explain such behaviour is now theirs, not ours.
Human rights are not something one group gives to another – they are something you
I was never openly discriminated against – people knew that I had learned to tackle that form of discrimination head on. What I encountered was far more covert. It is the whisper at the coffee break at the interview panel. The slight hesitation at the reference phone-call, the mention of your family status, or of course the physical gesture. And people in positions of privilege, still sore at the defeat of exclusionary Ireland will, like the Masons, still find a means to use their codes and ‘handshakes’ to get their prejudiced points across.
I have during my career been present at many a human rights discussion. I have heard a ‘human rights’ protector proclaim that the current ‘gay agenda’ was to ‘tell people not to kneel down at mass’ or as another protested that she had’ given two of them a lift in her car one day’.
So while the electorate’s message is clear that we are no longer different – the challenge has always derived from the fact, that we accepted the shame and the ill treatment in the past. Do not accept being treated differently now. Your personal life can remain that or you can share it openly in work. What is different and shameful is ongoing discrimination and whether it is on this ground or any other. We have learned the hard way – our commitment to combating discrimination should not be just for ourselves, but to combat all forms of discrimination. Where its existence can be tolerated, it can be reborn.
I have always believed in equality, and even I found it a challenge to fight blatant, hurtful, discrimination. I was giving a talk one day and when I left, I asked myself what I was going to do about the discrimination I was facing. In order to seek redress we need to ‘out ourselves’. So I did take on two bodies. One a bank and the other a service provider and challenged their harassment and discrimination. (Give details of cases). I practiced what I required of others, challenged and won. It wasn’t easy, but putting up with discrimination is worse.
Nobody here needs special treatment in the workplace of the future – we need equal treatment. Though the laws protect us from discrimination in employment and in the provision of goods, facilities, services and accommodation, we who have made progress, now have an ongoing duty to challenge the concealed actions of those who cling onto their powerful positions, where they can discriminate, covertly, at will.
We are stronger now. Our self esteem and mental health is better. Our families are more loyal, our communities more welcoming. We have a right to expect fairness and to be judged only on our many merits. We each must work to ensure that, not only for ourselves, but to prevent other minorities accepting or facing what we did. Ireland is a better place now, but our duty is to embed a new culture of respect in workplaces and communities where none previously existed. Ireland has been cosy without that for 100 years. It’s a lot of time to make up for.
Our annual Table Quiz takes place on March 22nd from 8pm. Tickets are €40 for a table of 4. If you don’t have a table come along and we will find a way to accommodate you.
Hosted by TV3’s Conor Clear join us for great prizes and a raffle.