An Irishwomen's Diary
of my best friends are lesbians.
to get that cliché out of the way first for the
benefit of all those minority groups who have to
stomach us well-meaning liberal media-types
waxing lyrical about them on an alarmingly
regular basis. You know the score - a few phone
calls to some "charming" gay men,
"inspiring" people with disabilities,
"fascinating" Travellers; we're experts
and the features page is full.
better for the old public/self-image than to come
over all Lady Bountiful on behalf of some
oppressed group or other.
liberals don't agree with charitable causes, it's
championing causes we prefer. Both tactics, with
their implicit levels of control, aimed at
keeping power where it has always been.
see? I'm at it again. There are literally
thousands of "charming, intriguing.
inspiring, fascinating" lesbians out there
(you know who you are!) who are more than capable
of stringing a few sentences together, but it is
I who have the access to the means of media
production, so at this point they must remain, as
they have always been required to be, silent,
disenfranchised and interpreted by an outsider.
But, methinks the natives are
getting restless. Who should I spy on the way
into town but a couple of happy, well-adjusted
looking lassies smiling down at me from a 20ft
billboard. "How should you feel if your
daughter's a lesbian?" asks the poster.
"The same way you'd feel if she
Bingo. Message received loud and
Better still, the group that
masterminded the billboard campaign, Lesbian
Education and Awareness (LEA), is sponsored by
the EU and the Department of Social, Community
and Family Affairs - nice one, Bertie.
They tried something similar in
the London Borough of Haringey in 1986 with their
"Positive Images"aign. Remember the
good old days when Jenny went to live with Eric
and Martin and Margaret Thatcher came steaming in
to take her into care lest she turn out to prefer
men like her two parents - I think Maggie missed
the point somehow.
Mega fuss over a children's
story-book that found its way into Haringey's
school libraries. A book that merely reflected
reality for the many children of that north
London borough who live in non-stereotypical
A sign then of our maturity then
that we in Ireland in 1999 can see in the
millennium by funding a campaign that lets those
women who love women hold their heads above the
parapet and demand our attention.
The lesbian community are taking
control of their own "positive images".
They don't need me or my adjectives to define
them. No Ma am.
In the LEA "Lesbian
Lives" information pack one parent says of
her daughter: "Her lesbianism is just part
of her life, just a part of the many cornplex
complex parts that go to make a person."
All true, and goddess knows I've
met some complex lesbians in my time.
"I didn't want to reject her
or her partner, I like her partner," says
another parent. "My attitude is that
everyone has to live their own life whether they
be gay or heterosexual."
Amen to that. Or a Awomen -
that's your business after all.
How refreshing (and what a relief
for us liberal friends of homosexuals who have
done nothing and said nothing of any import
during their long struggle) that Irish lesbians
should have wrested the initiative with their
pre-emptive poster strike. And how sad, with the
glue barely dry on the billboards of Dublin, to
see Stephen Gately of Boyzone forced to come out
and say he is gay to prevent some sleazy tabloid
announcing it first.
It will always matter who someone
sleeps with because we are all different and
diversity is to our credit. But let's start
behaving like consenting adults and stop using
that difference to spoil other people's lives .
After all, if everyone wanted to sleep with
..Winona Ryder, it would end in tears.