Is this all there is?

Whenever I’ve declared to loved ones that I believe I’m going through a quarter-life crisis, they chuckle. They think it’s a joke. And really, I don’t particularly blame them. You see, our media has portrayed twenty-somethings to be carefree and blissfully youthful, with “their whole lives ahead of them”, so what could they/we possibly have to worry about?

young 1

The thing is though, I don’t think I have ever felt carefree and youthful; particularly not once my twenties started. With my twenties came more stress, more responsibility and more pressure. There is not only an overwhelming pressure for young people today to go to college and qualify in a particular discipline, there is also the addition of social media to ensure we always compare ourselves to our friends.

I know it’s inevitable at this point that older generations may be thinking But young people have so many opportunities nowadays! Gone are the days of fighting for your rights! The world is a sea of possibilities for young people today! And yes, I do get that. I really do.

For instance, if I was born as a woman in a different time, I likely would have birthed 4+ children by now and be chained to the kitchen sink, with no access to a blog, and most likely I wouldn’t have directly chosen this life. I probably wouldn’t have had any access to education, at least past primary school level, and a rewarding career was most definitely out of the realm of possibility.

I have complete and utter respect and adoration for the women of the past. I really do. They birthed children, cared for them, managed the home, cooked, cleaned, nurtured their husbands, and in a lot of circumstances, were rarely even acknowledged for doing so. It was merely a cultural expectation that that is what you did as a woman. There was no choice involved. That was the only path for a lower class woman in the past. But, were they happy? Quite simply, I cannot answer that. I cannot speak for the women of the past. But I can only assume that if they were happy, it was merely that they never had the opportunity to know anything different.

My point is, ones happiness is hugely dependent on ones circumstances. Nowadays, us millennials have been brought up to aspire to greatness. I recall that as a child, it was merely assumed that we would all finish secondary school and progress to third level education, become an academic of sorts, and achieve this mystical greatness. 

In fact, I cannot recall one instance from either my primary or secondary education in which a teacher made any insinuation that us (the future generation) could achieve greatness through a trade, through a retail job or through being a homemaker. It was merely assumed that we would become professionals and achieve GREATNESS.

And through this upbringing, we began to believe that once we were adults, we would be fulfilled and free and well-off. And yes, maybe us millennials became entitled as a consequence to this. Through our upbringing, we were taught that we were special and important and by merely being qualified and having the patience to study at third level for 3/4 years, this magical greatness would embrace us. We wouldn’t embrace it, but it would come running after us because we were that important.

businessman

The thing is though, by the time we reached that level, of finishing college with honours, there was no greatness to be had. I distinctly recall in Ireland when the R word hit the media like an incurable virus; Recession. It meant that before I even finished secondary school, I knew that my home country was in a terrible state. At one point, you couldn’t turn on the news or open a newspaper without a mention of this DREADED RECESSION.

But still, we were urged socially to finish college and achieve greatness. And if we didn’t achieve greatness, well that was just our fault for being entitled and unwilling to work from the bottom and go the extra mile; which apparently are traits that us millennials are severely lacking.

So, why are millennials so entitled and unwilling to succeed? Is it really as black and white as that? As a millennial, I say no. I was brought up to believe that I would instantly achieve this wondrous greatness upon reaching adulthood. I was brought up to expect greatness and fulfillment. was brought up to expect more. And yes, maybe was brought up to be somewhat entitled.

Admittedly, obtaining a degree in something as obscure as TV and Media Production was probably not my most sensible decision. Perhaps naively, I chose to follow my dreams because at the back of my mind, I thought doing so would ensure greatness.

Unfortunately, it has been three years since I graduated from college and as of yet, I have not secured greatness professionally speaking. To date, I have completed a 9-month internship for a community radio station, have worked in a banking call centre, and have worked in IT. Admittedly, I am proud that I have sustained employment for the most part. However, it has not exactly been the employment I was raised to aspire to.

college meme

 

I’m going to be completely honest here. I feel disappointed in myself. I feel disappointed that I have not achieved the greatness that I was taught to aspire to. I feel disappointed that at 25 years of age, I’m not fulfilled. I’m not happy. I don’t feel young and carefree. I feel lost and as though life is something happening to me; not something I determinedly and shamelessly embrace.

I have to ask at this point… Is this all there is? Is adult life really this hard? Is adult life really about typing ones days away in the office and budgeting ones earnings to pay for your bills and rent? If so, do I really even want to be an adult? I genuinely don’t think so.

But again, I have to ask the question… Am I only feeling this way because I’m an entitled  millennial?

Have I been raised to have impossibly high standards for myself? Have I been brought up to think that I am entitled to greatness?

Truthfully, as a non-psychiatrist, I cannot really answer that question. But I can, as a millennial, make the educated presumption that my upbringing has taught me that I am special and deserving of the best of the best.

I do think that there is an unbelievable pressure on young people today. Both professionally and socially, we are constantly being compared to one another and called entitled and delusional.

Maybe this is true. But is it our fault? I don’t think so. I actually think that our older mentors; teachers, professors and parents, have attempted to make us millennials more successful than they perhaps ever had the opportunity to become.

Is this all there is? Sadly, yes. Adulthood is adulthood; regardless of if you’re a millennial or not.

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The Republic of Ireland is NOT Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland is Munster.

face palm

So, I moved to Cambridge in the UK from Ireland in early 2018. To clarify, I’m a born and bred Irish woah-man. I was raised between Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon and courageously fled further afield to Carlow for my studies, then to Co. Cork for work and to Co. Kilkenny, too (please note my sarcasm, this was not courageous, this is a thing boggers do to work. Note: boggers are people from the cionthrayyy!)

So anywho, wanting a change and more employment opportunities and to experience life outside of the Emerald Isle, I packed up and moved to the UK. My name is Aisling (or Dream, if you ask Google Translate). For the non-Irish folk, it’s pronounced “Ash-ling”. Lots of British people rightfully presumed it was Ace-ling. I don’t have a problem with this at all, because logically that’s what one would assume if they’re not familiar with the name. Like, if you asked a non-native English speaker to pronounce “photographer”, they might struggle too.

However, I did soon find myself becoming embarrassed by my name. I can’t quite explain why, or even pinpoint the exact moment it happened for me. But rather quickly, I started introducing myself as Ash to Brits (for Irish folk, you’ll know this is a common abbreviation, but still not my actual name).

I soon found myself repeating and explaining my name to British people. Without thinking, I would start defensively babbling “Oh, it’s an Irish name. It’s an Irish word. It means Dream.” It was like I was trying to sell my “foreign name” to the United Kingdom. It was almost apologetic, pathetic even… Please accept me! Please love me! Please take me as one of your own! 

It suddenly dawned on me that I too have been ignorant about foreign names back in Ireland. I used to work in a call centre (which was by far the best job I’ve ever had) and I used to grimace whenever I saw a non-national customer’s name on my screen. What should I call him? Maybe I should just stick to “Sir”?! And what if he can barely speak English?!

indian stereotype

Now, to be clear, I’m not by any stretch of the imagination comparing the life of an Irish person living in the UK to the life of an emigrant who has a completely different culture and has to learn the native tongue from scratch. I completely appreciate this is ten times more difficult for the Irish in the UK. I am simply stating that being different, being from a different nation, can be embarrassing. It can be uncomfortable, isolating even. In a sense, you’ll always be an outsider.

It is worth mentioning though that many British people have told me how much they love Ireland. They see the West of Ireland, in particular, as a leafy-green landscape of crystal-clear oceans and peaceful solitude. “It’s so beautiful!” they’ll exclaim, before (normally) telling me they have Irish descent.

However, I have also noticed an ignorance about Ireland from British people. After contemplating for a while, I understand it. I really do. If you think about it, Irish people are exposed to British media so much more than British people are exposed to Irish media.

And that comes to my next point, and the motivation really to write this blog… Southern. Ireland. is. not. a. country.

I’ve come to the realisation that many British people distinguish the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland by claiming one is the North and one is the South. Irish people don’t ever refer to the Republic as Southern Ireland, because quite frankly, it is not Southern Ireland. It is simply Ireland. It is its own independent country. It is its own independent culture, currency, economy and laws.

I’ve also come to the realisation that many British people do not see Northern Ireland as associated with them… when it is literally part of the United Kingdom!

So, for Northern Irish people (and I can only assume this), Irish people don’t see them as theirs, and nor do British people. Where does that leave them, culturally speaking?

In Ireland, Southern Ireland refers to Munster. The part of the island in the south of the Republic. I wonder if British people would be fond of Irish people referring to their land as Western Ireland? I’d assume they wouldn’t be too keen on that terminology.

I’ve also discovered that many British people are completely unaware of the fact they dominated and owned Ireland for so long. I’ve even spoken to British people who didn’t even know Irish was a language, and that we only speak English because of Britain’s control.

kayne

Don’t worry. I’m not one of those people who think a nation of people should feel guilty or responsible in some way for their ancestor’s actions. I just think that as there is such a strong link between Ireland and the UK, and there always has been, surely some knowledge of each other can only be a good thing?

Of course there are probably plenty of Irish people, too, who know next to nothing about the UK. This isn’t right either. Why don’t we settle our grudges, and learn from each other?

To my British buddies, is mise le meas!

 

 

 

 

Scary Movie is a sexist and racist mess

Earlier today, I found myself browsing through Netflix and stumbled across Scary Movie, the 2000 “comedy” parodying teenage slasher and horror flicks. I’d seen the movie years ago, but was too young to understand the jokes and horror references. Now, as a 23 year old, I was less than pleased.

scary-movie

The movie pokes fun at Scream and I know what you did last Summer, at the expense of young women and black people.

Marlon Wayans portrays Shorty Meeks, a black, stoner teenager who has a juvenile sense of humour and is stoned for most of the movie. Stereotype #1: black guy is a waster who contributes nothing to society.

scary-movie-1

Anna Faris portrays Cindy Campbell, a somewhat clueless teenage girl whose boyfriend keeps pressuring her to have sex. Stereotype #2: teenage girl holds virginity as “precious” and “valuable”.

Throughout the movie, her boyfriend (Jon Abrahams as Bobby Loomis) persistently pressures her, mainly to perform oral sex on him. While the group of teenagers are driving together, their mutual friend (Lochlyn Munro as Greg Cox) stands up from the back of the car outside the ceiling window. Meanwhile, Bobby takes his penis out in the driver seat and tries to convince Cindy to go near it. While Greg is hanging out of the car, he steps on Cindy and forces her head down on top of Bobby’s dick. Bobby eggs Cindy on while she is essentially forced into his lap. This – the lack of consent and objectification of women – is seen as a “joke”.

car-scene-scary-movie

Later on in the movie, Cindy finally “gives in” and has sex with Bobby. During foreplay, Bobby keeps pushing Cindy’s head down to his crotch, again trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.

sex-scene-scary-movie

On top of that, Greg frequently assaults Cindy throughout the movie. He beats her up out of anger, or to demonstrate a point.

So, what have we learned? That Scary Movie makes a satire out of sexual consent and domestic violence against women.

The white men remain characters in their own right, and are not stereotyped as a group in society.

I know, I know. It’s “comedy”, and “a satire”. But, at this expense? Satire is based on truth, on real life. Comedy that makes fun of sensitive issues such as these, in my opinion, is comedy in bad taste.

 

 

 

Maybe I Really Am Just A Girl

pretty_girl_blowing_a_kiss_0515-1001-2117-0217_SMU

As a young woman, it feels like I spend most of my time trying to prove myself. Professionally, socially and intellectually. There will always be the snigger at my frequent use of the word “like”, or jabs at my giggly personality.

No-one ever bought it; me being smart. The saddest part is that even I didn’t. I could bore you to tears with tales of being patronized and belittled by authority figures since childhood, but I would be here all day.

It’s a Friday morning. I’m very proud of myself because for the first time in possible six months, I have risen from my slumber in good time before work. I go to the bathroom, set my phone face down on the window sill, and play aloud the American tones of one of my favourite YouTube vloggers.

I look in the mirror, and feel embarrassment at what I see. It suddenly dawns on me how damaged and worn I look. The skin beneath one of my eyes appears to be sun bleached white. The patch beneath the opposite eye is dark and speckled. Blackheads cover my bulbous nose, and my chin and forehead are dotted with bulging acne. One set of eyelashes are also bleached almost entirely white.

Horrified, it dawns on me that I have been showing up at work looking exactly like this for the past nine months. Waking up with ten minutes to go, throwing on some jeans and runners, and giving a quick brush to my yellow and crooked teeth.

What must people think of me?! And how do I change? I can diet. Try and rid my excess fat to be taken more seriously. But, wait. Maybe then I’ll be just a girl. I cringe at the mere thought. Imagine that… being just a girl! Ditsy, devoid of any personality traits, there merely to be eye candy when the intelligent men get bored from all of their intelligent men things. I shudder at the thought.

I have to pick one… be physically ugly but be quirky and intelligent… or be physically attractive but be boring and superficial. Since I have always fallen into the former by default, I can’t imagine suddenly trying to change to the latter.

Still though, I think, as I stare desperately at the worn and plain woman staring back at me in the mirror, I can’t go on like this.

As my brain tries to think of a solution to this tough call, my hands take action. I grab a tube of beige goo from the window sill, unscrew the cap, and smear it all over my face. Next is sneezy powder, before black paint is applied to my eyelids and lashes. I draw on some new lips with a red crayon. Now, at least I’m slightly more presentable.

I’ve some time to kill before work this morning. For the first time in forever I try to wear something different. Something that takes the attention away from my round belly and thundering thighs. Leggings? A long top?

Work feels different today. I am a walking doll! Maybe this paint and goo works to be taken more seriously, after all. I’m even referred to as a doll. All day, in fact. “All dolled up” was the term used, I believe. Doors are held open for me, and remarks are made about a fictitious “hot date” I will be attending later on tonight.

“Fair play to you!” one smiles. Should I feel proud? Should I feel accomplished that I’ve finally done what I was supposed to do, and apply the goo and paint to be a proper girl?

Another greets me with an arm squeeze, which takes me aback. I don’t know this person very well, and personal contact with people I hardly know feels uncomfortable. I feel this, inside, but the crayon lips force a smile nonetheless.

All my life, I have been taught to ridicule and dislike fellow women. I’ve been taught to see them as inferior intellectually, yet as a threat in terms of male attention. Blonde pretty girls are mean and stupid. Don’t be friends with them. They won’t amount to anything, anyway. Probably just be a trophy wife to some businessman. Isn’t it great to use your body to get places?! At least have some self respect.

Or, do I? Now that I’ve sold myself out to the goo and paint, am I still me? Awkward, loud, opinionated me? She might have smothered, beneath that gunk. I’m too scared to use it again, in case I lose her forever.

 

My Weight and I

I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Literally, since junior infants I was chubby. I used to get bullied about it back then. As I got older, the bullying changed. It wasn’t direct insults, but it was shown in social exclusion and laughing/talking behind my back.
Santa

See that boy to the right wearing a tye dye tshirt and hideous… whatever those jackets are called?! That’s me, aged eight, perhaps.

A lot of my former friends poked fun at my weight, as I did too; a coping mechanism. Transitioning into teenage-hood I realised that teenage boys in particular liked to tease girls about their weight, especially quiet fat girls; and as I was one, this taunting from young men would continue into my young adulthood (17)…
Sometimes the “hoodies” would shout at me in the streets or call me names based on my weight. I never really got insults from women. I think a lot of young men see bigger women as a threat because they don’t initially feel power over them so they have to prove their superiority by being cruel (I am sure there’s better psychology behind it than that – but a psychologist I am not…)
I’m sure the fact that I am quiet in nature with strangers doesn’t help. I have never once stood up for myself against someone making fun of my weight.
I have online; but that’s different. You can hide behind a picture and feel safe defending yourself.
fat kid.jpg

Here I am trying to squash my small brother into nothingness it would seem. As you can imagine, I couldn’t get dresses in child sizes…

When I escaped the hell hole that was secondary school and teenage-hood, I thought the bullying would stop. But it didn’t. Even when I went to college other boys my age still poked fun at my weight. It even happens now, although less frequently.
As someone who suffers from depressive episodes, extreme stress and anxiety… I see bullying about my weight as essentially vocalizing my number one insecurity that I have always and will always have (even when I do succeed in losing weight)
my childhood

That’s me on the far left. Note to current day children: don’t tie your cardigan around your waist. It screams clueless pensioner. As does my ill looking face. How could a child who looks like that be anything other than miserable?! (It’s what’s on the inside that counts?!)

My fat child is a part of me and she would be even if I were now skinny. I indirectly learned at a young age that people didn’t like me because I was fat and weird. And so, my size, appearance and social awkwardness manifested into my worst enemies. Which translated into, of course, my worst enemy being myself.
I am not writing this post for sympathy. I am writing it to spread a message. And that is… people are normally fat for a reason.
In fact, of (almost) all of the overweight people I know, all have suffered with low self esteem, have been the victims of bullies, relationship abuse, manipulation, self harm, depression, anxiety…
Many (including myself at times) get extreme anxiety about eating in public (especially junk food) as it feels like everyone’s judging you. Look at their glare and you know what they’re thinking… “Fat bitch”. Then, if you’re on a diet and you’re eating healthy food, they’re thinking… “Who are you trying to kid, love?”
Thankfully, many strangers won’t vocalize their impression of you. But I guarantee you, they will think it. And they may let it known through a glance. How do I know they think it? Because I think it, too. I think it when I see another fat person. I judge them in one swift glance. Even though I am fat, too. We’re programmed to do this.
Fattie.jpg
We’re programmed to see fatties as lesser than skinnies. We’re programmed to see them as hopeless, lacking ambition, lacking any motivation or self control. We see them as ugly, unattractive, possibly even a danger. We judge them based on what they’re wearing. “She’s too big to be wearing that”…
If you’ve never been fat, it really is hard to understand. But I am writing this post to tell you that being fat isn’t necessarily down to being lazy and stupid. It can often be triggered by anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
A self harmer might binge eat instead of cut themselves. Does that make them “lazy” and “stupid”?
So I urge you… see fatties as human, not disgusting. I can guarantee you every fatty has a story behind why they got that way.

Reasons Parents Don’t Teach Their Kids About Being Gay… And Why They Should.

I doubt I’m the only 21 year old who had little if any exposure to homosexuality as a child. I doubt I’m the only one who only understood what gay was in my early teens, and even then I was lead to believe it was something abnormal.

We are doing a massive disservice to our children. I am not a parent, but I feel I can still make this statement. Because it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the problems we are causing our children. It doesn’t take a genius to take a step back and realise that we are still raising our children to be close minded, to live very narrow lifestyles and of course to live by their gender before they live by their hearts.

girl and boy

I have experienced shame-ridden statements regarding homosexuality throughout both my childhood and teen years. I have experienced this from family members, from other people’s family members, etc.

Here are just a few of the statements, and examples of illogical reasoning used by parents in NOT correctly informing their child about homosexuality:

My child is too young to know about gay people.

Yet your child is not too young to be exposed to heterosexual displays of affection, through mainstream U and PG rated television shows and movies? Many movies and TV shows targeted towards children feature straight married couples, boyfriends and girlfriends, tween crushes on the opposite gender, etc. On the likes of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, male and female characters between the ages of 10 and 13 are often shown going on their first dates, “crushing” on someone, having their first kiss, etc. ie iCarly, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Drake and Josh, Kenan and Kel, etc.

sam and freddy

Exposure to heterosexual displays of affection has not turned our children into sexual beings before their time. You’ll rarely see a thirteen year old choosing to behave provocatively, or showing enthusiasm to have sex with the opposite gender. It does happen of course, but it is rare.

This early exposure to mild displays of heterosexual affection has not damaged our children. It has just shown them the very basics of attraction, commitment, love and intimacy.

So, why would exposure to basic homosexual displays of affection be too much too soon for our children? If anything, it would teach our children from an early age to be tolerant, and understand that intimacy and attraction are not limited to boys and girls, men and women, but instead, could and can occur between two people of both and indeed any gender.

The fact that there are little if any gay couples featured in mainstream TV and films, targeted towards children, is a big reason as to why so many teenagers and young adults struggle to come out of the closet.

If it was presented as something normal to them as children, they would continue to believe it was something normal as they approached young adulthood.

The illogical statement that children are “too young” to know about gay people implies that being gay is something that is strictly adult and unsuitable for the innocent and impressionable minds of children. I am not for one second claiming that we should introduce homosexual or heterosexual displays of heavy petting, sexual activity etc into mainstream kids TV and films. Because yes, that would be unsuitable sexual content.

But would it really “harm” our children to be exposed to homosexual, subtle displays of affection?

boy and boy kissing

It hasn’t harmed them to be exposed to boy-and-girl affection. So why not the other way around for a change?

If I speak to my child about tolerance of gay people, it might turn them gay.

Yes… this explains why many childhood lovers of Disney and Nickelodeon, channels which solely feature teenage heterosexual characters, come out as gay later in life. Being exposed to vast amounts of heterosexuality as a child has not brainwashed all children and teenagers into being straight. So why would exposure to teenage homosexual characters result in all children later coming out as gay?

This very statement heavily implies that being gay is a product of nurture rather than nature. But think about it: in a heteronormative society, why would a child or teenager choose to be gay? No one chooses their sexuality. Unless they are bisexual, choose to not act upon their bisexuality, and instead choose to act solely on being with a person/people of the opposite gender. Otherwise, people are straight or they are gay. Allowing your son to play with Barbies or your daughter to play with army men will not cause either gender to later come out as gay. Because people are born gay. Just like they are born straight.

born gay

I don’t want to teach my young teenage child about gay sex education. I will only focus on straight sex education as I only wish them to know about sex for reproductive reasons. 

I’m not a parent, but I can’t help taking massive issue with this logic. How many times have you heard “the talk” begin with the words, “When a man and a woman love each other…”?

In not teaching your child about all forms of sexual activity, you are potentially causing your child to grow up intolerant and ignorant about sex. If you give your gay child “the talk”, and you refer only to the dynamics of straight sex, you are telling your child that he/she cannot have “proper sex” or “real sex” with whom they love when they get older.

Because from that moment on, you are letting your child know that penis-vagina sex is the only valid kind of sex. 

Therefore, you could potentially cause further issues to your gay child in later life, when he/she begins to think they are in fact unable to “lose their virginity” at all.

The worldwide, mainstream concept of sex and virginity is extremely narrow and damaging. Not just for gay people, but for straight people too. We are all taught that “losing our virginity” only occurs between a man and a woman, and only occurs when they “love each other”, and is strictly an act involving a penis being inserted into a vagina.

lose your virginity

So… if a person frequently engages in oral or anal sex, but has yet to engage in vaginal sex, are they still a virgin? Technically, by this narrow definition, yes. But they are clearly not virginal. This is the very issue.

Teaching your child sex education, solely from a reproductive stance, can also cause your child to feel additional guilt and shame about their bodies and about the sex they have. We can discourage our children and teenagers from having sex all we want, but many of them will still do it. 

If and when I become a parent, I would prefer to inform my child about all forms of sex, between both and all genders. Furthermore, I will feel it is my duty to teach my child how to protect him/herself, to understand that he/she can confide in me and come to me for help in a potential crisis situation involving sex.

By choosing only the reproductive standpoint in sex education, we are breeding more and more intolerance and close-mindedness within our children.

child sex

Here are just a few of the illogical statements used by parents in not informing their child about all forms of sexuality. It is greatly due to this narrow method of bringing up our children, that so many of them feel ashamed and uncomfortable in coming out as gay later in life.

I have a feeling we won’t be where we need to be in my lifetime. But I can only hope that things will improve. I am firmly of the belief that it is my duty to raise my potential future children to be open minded, tolerant and comfortable with all forms of sexuality. I will want my children to understand that their gender and sexual orientation does not and should not ever determine who they will become.

We are getting better as the years go by. The younger generation (early 20’s) are in general more clued in than the older generations, which can only mean more tolerance and open mindedness for the future generations. I can only hope… But I can’t teach tolerance and open mindedness on my own. We all have a duty to humanity…

Casual Homophobia

Try it. Go on, I dare you. Express your determination to achieve equal rights for the LGBT community. In a group. In a social setting or otherwise. A group of different kinds of people. Different backgrounds, genders and opinions. Try doing this in the Republic of Ireland. Speak about the topic of gay rights. Go on, do it. Bring it up in conversation.

As an opinionated person, I’ve done this many times. And after expressing my views, I have instantly wished I hadn’t straight afterwards. Because the reception I have been greeted with has been so harmful, dismissive and close-minded that I instantly saw the people around me differently.

It’s a sad day when you see kind, nice, normal people of all ages and backgrounds, reacting so dismissively and carelessly to an issue as vital as LGBT rights.

These same people make big claims like I’m not homophobic, but… *insert homophobic comment here*

In my time, I have genuinely felt a stab to the heart at some of the reactions to LGBT-fuelled conversations. The height of ignorance has truly both shocked and greatly upset me.

Here are just a few phrases I have heard…

1. I don’t have a problem with people being gay, but why do they have to talk about it all the time? I don’t talk about being straight all the time…

Facepalm. Straight people don’t need to talk about “being straight”. The world is already geared towards straight people. It is already the automatic assumption in society that people are straight. You don’t have to “come out” as straight. As a man, you don’t have to worry about your parents or friends rejecting or ridiculing you for simply having a female partner, and vice versa. Being straight is a breeze. Straight people aren’t oppressed, stereotyped, ridiculed, abused or disowned for simply being attracted to the opposite sex.

Therefore, if a straight person began protesting for heterosexual rights, everyone would roll their eyes or laugh (and rightly so!) Straight people are not deprived of rights or opportunities. Straight people do not have to deal with work discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Straight people don’t have to deal with social stereotyping, potential social exclusion etc as a result of being straight.

I really do find this comment to be extremely dismissive. Maybe the reason the LGBT community and straight LGBT allies speak about gay rights and equality is to spread awareness.

In case you haven’t noticed, gay people still do get discriminated against daily. In the Republic of Ireland, they still can’t get married. This is perhaps why the LGBT community speak about “being gay” more than you speak about “being straight”. Because there is absolutely no reason to speak about “being straight” to raise awareness and acceptance, whereas there is huge reason and validity in speaking about “being gay” to raise awareness and acceptance.

I find that straight people can often be very oblivious to the oppression of the LGBT community. Like when you’re in any position of privilege, you often fail to understand the position of the oppressed. Of course, straight people can be oppressed in numerous different ways (by being in a minority race, by being in a minority class, etc) but that’s a topic for another blog.

I find that in addition to the social and legal oppression faced by the LGBT community, there is also the added oppression of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland. The Church tells us that being gay is “unnatural” and “a sin”, and for a gay child to grow up in a school system dictated by the Catholic Church, as well as a traditional Irish culture further dictated by the Church, can be hugely problematic. The child is both directly and indirectly taught that there’s something “wrong with them” for being gay.

When have you, as a straight person, felt guilty for being attracted to someone of the opposite sex?

You most likely haven’t!

2. I don’t have a problem with people being gay, but marriage is for a man and a woman to have children… Why aren’t gay people happy with civil partnerships?

Sigh… Gay people “aren’t happy” with civil partnerships because of many reasons, the main ones being…

* Civil partnerships don’t always protect guardianship rights for both parents if the couple have children.
* If a member of a civil partnership couple is on their deathbed, some hospitals don’t recognize the civil partnership as a valid partnership and can deny or limit visitor access on the basis that “only family members” are allowed in.

Ultimately…

* Gay people want the celebration of their love to be referred to as the same act. And treated as the same thing both legally and socially. Why should they “have to be” in a civil partnership instead of a marriage?

3. Why do gay guys have to be so in your face about it? Can they not just act normal instead of turning into girls?

Probably the most offensive statement of all. It ties in with the whole notion of the gaydar. I’m not really a fan of people saying they have “a gaydar”… Because it plays into the notion that all gay men and all gay women look and behave a certain way.

Like with any stereotypes, there are only that… stereotypes. There’s also a stereotype that Irish people are drunk all the time, but we don’t constantly have a can of beer in our hands, yet this is one of the international perceptions of us.

Some gay men have flamboyant personalities. Some are camp, some aren’t. To make the claim they “all” possess these qualities is downright ignorance and close-mindedness.

And what, exactly, does it mean to say they are “in your face”? Is a flamboyant or camp personality something that bothers you? Would you rather anyone loud simply keep quiet and remain understated in social situations to avoid making you uncomfortable?

I think it goes back to the pressure we put on boys and men to behave manly… (whatever that means) Man up, boys don’t cry, be strong… When any man challenges these gender norms, regardless of whether he is straight, gay or bisexual, he is immediately prone to ridicule… Words like faggot, pussy, bitchIt is an outright disservice to our men that we still have such narrow expectations placed on them.

The same gender expectations exist for women. Women are expected to be behave feminine… (whatever that means) Girls don’t swear, don’t be bossy, act more ladylike… Equally, when women challenge these norms, they too are open to ridicule for behaving “masculine”… dyke, manly, butch…

These labels are downright offensive and the height of homophobia. But what I have found is that prejudice and/or intolerance towards a particular group often comes from a person or people who are completely in denial about their prejudice.

Have you ever heard of phrases like this?

I’m not homophobic but… why is everything so “gay” nowadays?

I’m not sexist but… women are too emotional to deal with political issues.

I’m not racist but… why are black people so rude and ignorant?

COMPLETE AND UTTER DENIAL ABOUT YOUR PREJUDICE!

I actually think it would be better if we as a human race could openly admit to our prejudices. I would respect someone an awful lot more for saying to me “Well, to be honest, I don’t understand gay people. But I’d be willing to learn more about them”.

If you live your life in denial about being prejudiced, how do you ever expect our civilization to move forward and progress?

Aisling Kelleher