For the last three weeks I have been denounced from the floor of parliament to newspaper columns to the seething morass of internet commentary for ‘hate speech’ because I dared to use the word ‘homophobia’.”
When it comes to fighting for LGBT rights worldwide, there may be no other drag queen who is causing as loud of an uproar as Ireland’s Panti Bliss.
“I do know what it feels like to be put in your place,” Panti stated at a post-show oration at the Abbey, the national theater of Ireland, this past February. “Have any of you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car goes by, and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out the window as they go by and shout ‘Fag!’ and throw a milk carton at you?”
[quote]”Now it doesn’t really hurt. It’s just a wet carton and anyway they’re right – I am a fag. But it feels oppressive. When it really does hurt, is afterwards. Afterwards I wonder and worry and obsess over what was it about me, what was it they saw in me? What was it that gave me away? And I hate myself for wondering that. It feels oppressive and the next time I’m at a pedestrian crossing I check myself to see what is it about me that ‘gives the gay away’ and I check myself to make sure I’m not doing it this time.”
“Have any of you ever come home in the evening and turned on the television and there is a panel of people – nice people, respectable people, smart people, the kind of people who make good neighborly neighbors and write for newspapers. And they are having a reasoned debate about you. About what kind of a person you are, about whether you are capable of being a good parent, about whether you want to destroy marriage, about whether you are safe around children, about whether God herself thinks you are an abomination, about whether in fact you are ‘intrinsically disordered’. And even the nice TV presenter lady who you feel like you know thinks it’s perfectly OK that they are all having this reasonable debate about who you are and what rights you ‘deserve’.
“And that feels oppressive.”[/quote]
This speech, which has rightfully been called ‘Pantigate’, has swept the world and has become the gateway for Panti to use her voice to help affect LGBT rights worldwide. The video has gone viral since being uploaded to YouTube. It has been viewed around the world and is highly praised for its power and elegance. Even the BBC picked up the story shortly after it went viral.
The Independent interviewed Panti following a powerful speech she gave at Dublin Pride. In the interview she looks at how religion has impacted the LGBT community. She states, “When I came out to my own mother, who’s a religious woman herself, I never doubted that she loved me. But of course it took her a long time to come to terms with what her church had taught her all her life, and who her son had turned out to be, and that caused her a lot of difficulty and a lot of pain.”
Panti’s fight isn’t over yet. In fact, it’s only the tipping point. And now, to help take her story and voice to the next level, a group of film producers have launched an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a documentary film entitled ‘The Queen of Ireland’. “‘The Queen of Ireland’ is not just about Panti Bliss the performer, or Rory O’Neill the accidental activist. It is about how one man in a dress has mobilized a nation and an international community to stand up and fight against injustice.”
If you can, please donate to this campaign to help spread Panti’s message and raise awareness of LGBT rights issues worldwide.
I don’t think who I am, and what rights and privelages I ‘deserve’, is up for debate anymore. I think people need to grow some balls and take a stand on it. So it’s going to be unpleasent and this is the final fight.”