This post has taken me a good few hours to finish. I've actually toned it down a lot on re-reading, all of which wasn't doing my blood-pressure any good I guess. Trying to be as objective as possible when I'm this close to the subject has been hard. So I decided to screw on my journalistic head (just like Wurzel Gummage if he had one) as much as I could.
I may have only been back in Northern Ireland for only 10 days but I've already learnt a lot in my few short days back here.
First a personal observation, I'm a lot more confident with myself and my sexuality now than when I last lived here. The other day I boldly lifted Attitude off the shelf in Asda between two blokes and strode confidently to the checkout to pay. It was only later that I remembered the looks they both gave me, not hateful, just shock that I was so bold.
The other is that here in Northern Ireland the gay community or at least that which takes part in Pride in more 'christian' and forgiving of the religious bigots than their counterparts over the water. As I read with great joy the attitude that Belfast Pride took to the protest against them, I saw it in action on Saturday at Foyle Pride. The many Christians in the parade shouting back their forgiveness and love at those who were protesting. I know there have been individual incidents down the years, but I like the approach that the Pride committees take here, it's show tolerance to everyone whether they want to be involved or protest. Indeed the approach led to the Parades Commissions saying it had no issues with either the parade or counter protest in Belfast.
Earlier today I was directed towards this comment thread I'll warn you now it does make for pleasant reading. For those of you who don't want to read it and I suggest you don't bother I'll give you a potted version of some of the lowlights. Highlights they are not and the whole threat gets sickening in too many different ways, many based on falsehoods, untruths and narrow mindedness.
Too bad this "Pride Parade" didn't end in the same way as that "Love Parade" did in Germany a few weeks ago.
That was in the death of 19 young music lovers.
It would be lewd if this was a hetrosexual event, it's "family fun" because homosexual militancy fits in with some peculiar liberation narrative fabricated by some deranged quacks a couple of decades ago.escalating to this:
When I see pork [police] acting the hardmen against peaceful protesters like this I often wonder what it would be like if someone suddenly produced an assault rifle and dropped about ten of them. They'd piss themselves.
[This parade] is just a way of portraying gays as normal, you are not normal. As a matter of fact, many gay people regard themselves as having an alternative lifestyle.
Which ignores the fact that alternative lifestyle is the moniker put on people by narrow minded people not those living the 'alternative' lifestyle themselves often, and it applies to heterosexuals as much as homosexuals.
Or this one which shocked me in a whole new way:
I interpret the homosexual question in the same way as the multiple sclerosis question or someone with permanent or semi-permanent difficulties in walking...et al They shouldn't be subject to abuse, harrassment et al. I'd mandate programs to educate people in that spirit. Additionally they should have optional treatment. Either way they should, if their character is up to scratch, have no barriers to lead full and rich lives and have no doors closed to them.
Very true. These parents [who brought their children to the parade], who probably have more brain fluid then brain matter in their heads, have to be serious deranged to bring their children to something like this. Think about it, a parade is a form of celebration. These parents brought their children to an event that celebrates the idea of two people of the same sex sodomizing, molesting, and urinating on each other and engaging in all kinds of other deprived sex acts. The idea that such things are worthy of being celebrated only shows how criminally deprived and insane the world we live in has become. Everything good and noble is mocked and savagely attacked while all that is sick, deranged, and deprived is upheld as good and normal.It almost looks like people who store up wrath are looking for a target, any target and the LGBT community in the province will do all too handily.
In the middle of it all is this:
Very disturbing information has emerged of the homosexualist infiltration in Catholic circles.Before linking to another Catholic Website that has information off Facebook and pictures of an individual who happens to be on the Belfast Pride committee amongst other things. Followed up by this.
man seeks relationship
? this dangerous pervert needs to be stopped.
What person doesn't deserve to find a relationship, the fact that he is looking for one is surely not a sign of perversion but quite the opposite!
This is where I do get really angry, as I know the individual concerned. It lists his occupation, it lists a lot of personal information about him. Just like Chris Myers the individual works for a politician, but Chris gave up under the pressure he was under from falsehoods, the language used here is hateful and grotesque. The attitude of some of those posting is vindictive. The information is extremely personal. It is also on a discussion board that is lacking a complaint button that I can find. There is almost an incitement to hate going on in many of the comments in both locations.
The individual concerned is my good friend Mícheál (who has blogged his own response), so no doubt when some other nutter decides to raid his publicly available pictures in future I'll likely end up in there somewhere too. That will be one that is hard for some of the hardcore to explain a Catholic Scout and a Presbyterian Boys Brigade man walking side by side carrying a rainbow flag or the pink jack.
I know it had an impact on him, but like me I feel that he doesn't care a pair of fetid dingoes kidneys what is going on. If he or anyone else does there are people who are going to be there for them. I'm still going to be the person I've learnt to be over the recent years. That man who proudly picks up the gay mag in public. Is not scared of offering other men hugs, consoling or otherwise, in public places.
I may have returned as a brave new, more confident, out, Northern Irish man. But while one gay campaigner is saying that homophobic sentiment is on the decrease, some of the sentiment that some of the homophobes display here is far once than anything I have witnessed in England or Scotland. There is still some way to go and Foyle Pride's first parade on Saturday is only going some way toward that. I guess I'm part of that work going forward, for however long that is, it's the attitude I've come back here with, I'm not gong to avoid any questions that are asked, see the start of Operation Evacuate.
There is an anger for the things and way that people posted the things on that thread boiling up inside me. However, the good politician within me is going to use that to make things better. I don't want Northern Ireland's young gay men to have to spend 17 of the first 22 years of their adult lives outside the province to gain the confidence I have. I want them to be able to do that right here.
I guess that is the third lesson that I've learnt since coming back here. Has it really only been ten days?
Update: I've had a request via Twitter to add these links to the blogpost.
Belfast Pride www.belfastpride.com
Foyle Pride www.foylepride.org