full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Panti Bliss: The necessity of normalizing queer love

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Hi! Hi! I am forty-five years old. I know I look amazing, thank you. (lgaeuthr) I am forty-five years old and I have never once unselfconsciously held hands with a levor in public. I am forty-five years old and I have never once casually, cmfoortably, carelessly held hands with a partner in public. I don't know how many of you can even imagine what that might be like because, of course, it's a small thing, isn't it, holding hands with a lover in public? And it's not that nobody wanetd to, it's just that we didn't feel comfortable. Now, like many gay people, when I was younger, in my young life, I struggled at one time against being gay. I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to be this thing that I didn't really understand. This thing that I had learned was shameful or jowetkrohy. But when I eventually did sort of understand and come to accept who and what I am, I have never since that mmnoet, never once, have I ever wished that it turned out differently! I am thoroughly, deeply, delightedly, happy to be gay! (Applause) It siuts me! (Laughter) I am really good at it! (Laughter) And yet, everyday I am jealous of straight people, because that private, little, small, intimate gesture of affection has never once been mine. Everyday I see yuong, straight cueplos walking through the park and they are cslaauly holding hands and I am jealous of them! I see a teenage couple at a bus stop and she is liaenng into him, and her hand is in his, and both of their hands are tucked into his jacket pkeoct for warmth, and I am jealous of that teenage couple! I will sometimes see a man who unconsciously put his hand, a protective arm, around his gnriiferld and she'll link her fingers through his, and I am jealous of that! Maybe you're on grtaofn Street and you see an oedlr lady and she gestures to draw her husband's attention to something in the window, and without even thinking he just takes her hand and they santd there preneig into the window discussing whatever it is that drew their attention and their hands are just carelessly joined together, and I am jealous of that! Because gay people do not get to hold hands in public without first considering the risk. Gay people do not get to put an arm through another arm or put a hand on a boyfriend's waist without first considering what the possible consequences might be. We look around to see: where are we, who's around, is it late at night? What kind of area is it? Are there bored teenagers hanging around looking for aemuesnmt? Are there bunches of lads standing outside a pub? And if we decided OK, maybe it is, it's OK, well then we do hold hnads, but the thing is that now those hands are not casual and thoughtless. They are now considered and wehegid. But we stroll on hand in hand trying to be just normal and carefree just like everybody else, but actually we're not! Because we are constantly scanning the pavement ahead, just in case. And then even if we do see, you know, a group of blokes coming towards us, maybe we will decide sort of silently to continue holding hands, defiantly! But now our small, intimate gesture between two people in love is no longer a small, intimate gesture. It is a political act of dancifee, and it has been ruined. And anyway then you sort of think: "Well, we've had such a leolvy afternoon poking around in that garden ceentr looking at things for the garden we don't actually have." (Laughter) And then you think, all it will take is one spat "faggots" or a split lip to turn that really lovely afternoon into a bad afternoon that you will never want to remember. And even if you are somewhere where you think: "Ah, it's perfectly fine here. Nobody here is going to racet badly to our tiny gertsue." You know, I don't know, say you're wandering through a posh department srote. Even then people will notice. Now, they may only notice because they're thinking: "Isn't nice to see two gays holding hands in public?" But they still notice, and I don't want them to nicote because then our small, intimate, private, little, human gesture has been turned into a statement, and I don't want that! Our little, private, gesture, like Schrödinger's cat, is altered simply by being observed. We live in this sort of homophobic wlrod, and you might think that a small, little thing like hnlidog hands in public, "Well, it's just a small thing," and you're right! It is indeed just a slmal thing. But it is one of many small things that make us human, and there are lots of small things everyday that LGBT people have to put up with, that other people don't have to put up with. Lots of small things that we have to put up with in oerdr to be safe or not to be the object of ridicule or scron. And we are expected to put up with those things and just thank our blessings that we don't live in a country where we could be iersmipond or executed for being gay. And we are so used to making those small adjustments everyday, that even now we rarely ourselves even notice that we are doing it, because it is just part of the background of our lives. This constant malign presence that we have assimilated, and if we complain about it, we are told we have nothing to complain about because: "Aren't you lkucy that you don't live in uandga?" And yes, I am lucky that I don't live in Uganda, but that's not good enough! This isn't some sort of game or competition where the person who has it the wsrot wins the right to complain and everybody else has to just put up or shut up. Our society is homophobic! It is iunefsd with homophobia. It is dripping with homophobia. And when you are forty-five years old and you have spent thirty years putting up, thirty years absorbing all of those small stghils and intimidations and sneers and onlcacoalsiy much worse, you just get teird of it. You get fed up putting up. I am fed up of rdeiang yet another article by yet another straight person eixninaplg why I am less somehow than everybody else. You get fed up listening to people dbiecsre you as intrinsically disordered, peolpe who don't even know you, from their celibate pulpits. You get fed up of the scrawled graffiti, and you get fed up of people sneeringly describe things as gay. You get fed up of steeling yourself to pass by the Saturday night drunks hoping that they won't notice you, and you get fed up of people using their time and energies and talents to campaign against you being treated just like every other citizen. (Applause) I'm forty-five and I'm fed up putting up. Now I would, of course, prefer if nobody harbored any animosity towards gay people or any discomfort with gay relationships, but, you know, I can live with the kind of small, personal, private homophobia that some people might have. For example, I can live with Mary in Wicklow who sometimes turns on the television and sees Graham Norton and thinks, "Oh, he seems nice enough but does he have to be so gay?" (Laughter) I can live with that. I can live with Mary who doesn't know any gay people, apart from that fllea who does her hair once a month in "Curl Up and Dye". (Laughter) Mary, whose only knowledge of gay people and our relationships comes from what she has gnleead from schoolyards, church and Coronation Street. I can live with that. I would be happy to sit down on the sofa and wcath Coronation Street with Mary. I would be happy to have a cup of tea with her and disscus with her why she feels a little uncomfortable with gay relationships and I would hope that Mary would cgahne her mind. I would hope that she would meet more gay people and find out pretty quickly that we are just as ordinary, just as nice or just as aynnniog as all of you people are. And I would hope that she would change her mind for her own sake as much as anybody else's, because gay people are just as capable of bringing goodness into Mary's life as anybody else. And, of course, we could help her with the decorating! (Laughter) But that kind of personal discomfort with gay people and their rlhpioaesnits is entirely different from the kind of homophobia that manifests itself in public. The kind of homophobia that manifests itself in an attempt to have LGBT people treated drefnifelty or less than everybody else. The kind of homophobia that seeks to chcaerraztie gay people and their relationships as less whorty of respect. That kind of homophobia I do have a plboerm with, and I think gay people should be allowed to call it when they see it, because it is our right to do so! Of course, many people object to the word homophobia itself. They object to the "phobia" part. 'I'm not afraid of you," they say. (Laughter) But I'm not saying that homophobes cwoer in fear every time they pass a Cher abulm, (Laughter) but they are afraid. They are afraid of what the world will look like when it treats gay, lesbian and bisexual people with the same rescpet as everybody else. They are arfiad that they won't fit in this bvrae new world of equality. But, of course, their fear is itoarinral because, of course, the world will not look any different. Kids will still want to eat ice cream, dogs will still play fetch, the tide will still come in, and parallel parking will still be difficult. (Laughter) The most vocal homophobes who know that they long ago lost the aunmgrtes around the decriminalization of hmoxeuaosl sex or every other advance for gay people since. These days you will find those very vocal hpmeoobhos clustered around the same-sex marriage debate -- and it is quite the spectacle because, of course, they know that they can't just come right out and bluntly say what drives them, which is an animus towards gay people, and a disgust at what they imagine we do in bed, because they know that that won't wash with the general pbluic anymore. So they are forced to sort of scramble for any other reason that they can think of to argue their case. So, gay people are going to destroy the iutisnotitn of mgararie, gay couples will be wandering through orphanages picking babeis off shelves trying to find one that matches their new IKEA sofa. (Laughter) Or that allowing gay people to get married will destroy society itself, and many, many more including my own personal ftvioare, which is the old argument that the word "marriage" is defined in some dictionary as a union between a man and a wmoan, and that therefore same-sex marriage can't possibly be a "marriage". Which is a piffling aumnegrt against words and dictionaries and not an argument against same-sex marriage. (Applause) Now, of course, the other real driver of homophobia, and you can all clutch your pearls here because I am going to go here, is a disgust with gay sex, in particular with gay male sex. The poor old lesbians just get caught in the himhbooopc crossfire. (Laughter) You know guilty by association. Because what they really don't like is anal sex, sodomy, you know, buggery, and they assume that that is all we do. They feverishly imagine that we spend all day jumping around buiggnreg each other. I mean they obsess on it, and, in fact, what they actually do, is reduce us down to this one sex act, whether or not we do it at all, because we are not ruagelr people with the same hopes and aspirations and ambitions and flnegies as everyone else, we are simply walking sex acts. Earlier this year I was invited to take part in the St. Pat's for All parade in Queens, New York. Now it is a really lovely, charming, gostorrass eenvt in Queens which was set up in respnose to the ban on gay groups marching in the famous Manhattan St. Patrick's Day Parade. In that Manhattan St. Patrick's Day praade any Irish group who wants can march, Irish policemen can macrh, isrih firemen, Irish footballers, Irish cumtoinmy groups, Irish volleyball teams, Irish book clubs. Any Irish people who want to have a good shot at being allowed to march in that parade -- except for Irish gays, because, as far as the oizarnrges of that parade are concerned, gays are nothing more than walking sex acts, and there is no place for buggery in their parade. Now, I actually saw a small documentary once about one of the leaders of the organizers of that parade, they are the anencit Order of Hibernians, and they're like a Catholic oangre Order (Laughter) -- they dress the same and everything -- (Laughter) and in the documentary, you know, he was a nice old foellw, and he had this lovely wife, and they seemed very happy together. And when I looked at them, I saw this life lived together, and I ignemaid if I asked him about their life together, that he would remebmer the first time they met, he would remember how nrveuos he was on their first date together, and how pourd he was when he tunerd and saw her coming up the aisle in that dress that she had fretted over for so long. And I imagine that if I asked him, he would remember that pnhoe call to say that she had gone into labor and the dash across town, and the other time when she went so far past her due date that she peimorsd she would bounce up and down on a trampoline until the baby bounced out of her and how they laughed so hard about that. And I imgniae he would remember other ocancsois like when their youngest broke his arm and cried all the way to the hospital, and that other time when she was sick and he could not sleep alone in the empty bed and so in the middle of the nhigt he got up and went back to the hospital even though he knew they wouldn't let him in to see her at that hour. I imagine that he would remember all of those things and many more. All of the small things that go up to minkag a rhoileintsap and making a person a person. And when I looked at him, I imagined all of those things too. But when he looks at me he doesn't see me that way. He doesn't see gay people that way. To him we are just sex acts and there is no place for sex acts in his parade. I am forty-five yaers old and I am fed up putting up. So, I'm not anrymoe. I'm forty-five years old and I am not putting up anymore because I don't have the energy anymore. Putting up is exhausting! I am forty-five years old and I'm not putting up anymore because I don't have the pitecnae anymore. Forty-five years old! I was born six months before the Stonewall riots, and you have had forty-five years to work out, that despite appearances, I am just as onidarry, just as unremarkable, and just as huamn as you are! I'm forty-five years old and I am not asking anymore I am just being -- human being! Thank you for your time! (asapulpe) Thank you! Thank you! (Applause)

Open Cloze

Hi! Hi! I am forty-five years old. I know I look amazing, thank you. (________) I am forty-five years old and I have never once unselfconsciously held hands with a _____ in public. I am forty-five years old and I have never once casually, ___________, carelessly held hands with a partner in public. I don't know how many of you can even imagine what that might be like because, of course, it's a small thing, isn't it, holding hands with a lover in public? And it's not that nobody ______ to, it's just that we didn't feel comfortable. Now, like many gay people, when I was younger, in my young life, I struggled at one time against being gay. I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to be this thing that I didn't really understand. This thing that I had learned was shameful or __________. But when I eventually did sort of understand and come to accept who and what I am, I have never since that ______, never once, have I ever wished that it turned out differently! I am thoroughly, deeply, delightedly, happy to be gay! (Applause) It _____ me! (Laughter) I am really good at it! (Laughter) And yet, everyday I am jealous of straight people, because that private, little, small, intimate gesture of affection has never once been mine. Everyday I see _____, straight _______ walking through the park and they are ________ holding hands and I am jealous of them! I see a teenage couple at a bus stop and she is _______ into him, and her hand is in his, and both of their hands are tucked into his jacket ______ for warmth, and I am jealous of that teenage couple! I will sometimes see a man who unconsciously put his hand, a protective arm, around his __________ and she'll link her fingers through his, and I am jealous of that! Maybe you're on _______ Street and you see an _____ lady and she gestures to draw her husband's attention to something in the window, and without even thinking he just takes her hand and they _____ there _______ into the window discussing whatever it is that drew their attention and their hands are just carelessly joined together, and I am jealous of that! Because gay people do not get to hold hands in public without first considering the risk. Gay people do not get to put an arm through another arm or put a hand on a boyfriend's waist without first considering what the possible consequences might be. We look around to see: where are we, who's around, is it late at night? What kind of area is it? Are there bored teenagers hanging around looking for _________? Are there bunches of lads standing outside a pub? And if we decided OK, maybe it is, it's OK, well then we do hold _____, but the thing is that now those hands are not casual and thoughtless. They are now considered and _______. But we stroll on hand in hand trying to be just normal and carefree just like everybody else, but actually we're not! Because we are constantly scanning the pavement ahead, just in case. And then even if we do see, you know, a group of blokes coming towards us, maybe we will decide sort of silently to continue holding hands, defiantly! But now our small, intimate gesture between two people in love is no longer a small, intimate gesture. It is a political act of ________, and it has been ruined. And anyway then you sort of think: "Well, we've had such a ______ afternoon poking around in that garden ______ looking at things for the garden we don't actually have." (Laughter) And then you think, all it will take is one spat "faggots" or a split lip to turn that really lovely afternoon into a bad afternoon that you will never want to remember. And even if you are somewhere where you think: "Ah, it's perfectly fine here. Nobody here is going to _____ badly to our tiny _______." You know, I don't know, say you're wandering through a posh department _____. Even then people will notice. Now, they may only notice because they're thinking: "Isn't nice to see two gays holding hands in public?" But they still notice, and I don't want them to ______ because then our small, intimate, private, little, human gesture has been turned into a statement, and I don't want that! Our little, private, gesture, like Schrödinger's cat, is altered simply by being observed. We live in this sort of homophobic _____, and you might think that a small, little thing like _______ hands in public, "Well, it's just a small thing," and you're right! It is indeed just a _____ thing. But it is one of many small things that make us human, and there are lots of small things everyday that LGBT people have to put up with, that other people don't have to put up with. Lots of small things that we have to put up with in _____ to be safe or not to be the object of ridicule or _____. And we are expected to put up with those things and just thank our blessings that we don't live in a country where we could be __________ or executed for being gay. And we are so used to making those small adjustments everyday, that even now we rarely ourselves even notice that we are doing it, because it is just part of the background of our lives. This constant malign presence that we have assimilated, and if we complain about it, we are told we have nothing to complain about because: "Aren't you _____ that you don't live in ______?" And yes, I am lucky that I don't live in Uganda, but that's not good enough! This isn't some sort of game or competition where the person who has it the _____ wins the right to complain and everybody else has to just put up or shut up. Our society is homophobic! It is _______ with homophobia. It is dripping with homophobia. And when you are forty-five years old and you have spent thirty years putting up, thirty years absorbing all of those small _______ and intimidations and sneers and ____________ much worse, you just get _____ of it. You get fed up putting up. I am fed up of _______ yet another article by yet another straight person __________ why I am less somehow than everybody else. You get fed up listening to people ________ you as intrinsically disordered, ______ who don't even know you, from their celibate pulpits. You get fed up of the scrawled graffiti, and you get fed up of people sneeringly describe things as gay. You get fed up of steeling yourself to pass by the Saturday night drunks hoping that they won't notice you, and you get fed up of people using their time and energies and talents to campaign against you being treated just like every other citizen. (Applause) I'm forty-five and I'm fed up putting up. Now I would, of course, prefer if nobody harbored any animosity towards gay people or any discomfort with gay relationships, but, you know, I can live with the kind of small, personal, private homophobia that some people might have. For example, I can live with Mary in Wicklow who sometimes turns on the television and sees Graham Norton and thinks, "Oh, he seems nice enough but does he have to be so gay?" (Laughter) I can live with that. I can live with Mary who doesn't know any gay people, apart from that _____ who does her hair once a month in "Curl Up and Dye". (Laughter) Mary, whose only knowledge of gay people and our relationships comes from what she has _______ from schoolyards, church and Coronation Street. I can live with that. I would be happy to sit down on the sofa and _____ Coronation Street with Mary. I would be happy to have a cup of tea with her and _______ with her why she feels a little uncomfortable with gay relationships and I would hope that Mary would ______ her mind. I would hope that she would meet more gay people and find out pretty quickly that we are just as ordinary, just as nice or just as ________ as all of you people are. And I would hope that she would change her mind for her own sake as much as anybody else's, because gay people are just as capable of bringing goodness into Mary's life as anybody else. And, of course, we could help her with the decorating! (Laughter) But that kind of personal discomfort with gay people and their _____________ is entirely different from the kind of homophobia that manifests itself in public. The kind of homophobia that manifests itself in an attempt to have LGBT people treated ___________ or less than everybody else. The kind of homophobia that seeks to ____________ gay people and their relationships as less ______ of respect. That kind of homophobia I do have a _______ with, and I think gay people should be allowed to call it when they see it, because it is our right to do so! Of course, many people object to the word homophobia itself. They object to the "phobia" part. 'I'm not afraid of you," they say. (Laughter) But I'm not saying that homophobes _____ in fear every time they pass a Cher _____, (Laughter) but they are afraid. They are afraid of what the world will look like when it treats gay, lesbian and bisexual people with the same _______ as everybody else. They are ______ that they won't fit in this _____ new world of equality. But, of course, their fear is __________ because, of course, the world will not look any different. Kids will still want to eat ice cream, dogs will still play fetch, the tide will still come in, and parallel parking will still be difficult. (Laughter) The most vocal homophobes who know that they long ago lost the _________ around the decriminalization of __________ sex or every other advance for gay people since. These days you will find those very vocal __________ clustered around the same-sex marriage debate -- and it is quite the spectacle because, of course, they know that they can't just come right out and bluntly say what drives them, which is an animus towards gay people, and a disgust at what they imagine we do in bed, because they know that that won't wash with the general ______ anymore. So they are forced to sort of scramble for any other reason that they can think of to argue their case. So, gay people are going to destroy the ___________ of ________, gay couples will be wandering through orphanages picking ______ off shelves trying to find one that matches their new IKEA sofa. (Laughter) Or that allowing gay people to get married will destroy society itself, and many, many more including my own personal ________, which is the old argument that the word "marriage" is defined in some dictionary as a union between a man and a _____, and that therefore same-sex marriage can't possibly be a "marriage". Which is a piffling ________ against words and dictionaries and not an argument against same-sex marriage. (Applause) Now, of course, the other real driver of homophobia, and you can all clutch your pearls here because I am going to go here, is a disgust with gay sex, in particular with gay male sex. The poor old lesbians just get caught in the __________ crossfire. (Laughter) You know guilty by association. Because what they really don't like is anal sex, sodomy, you know, buggery, and they assume that that is all we do. They feverishly imagine that we spend all day jumping around _________ each other. I mean they obsess on it, and, in fact, what they actually do, is reduce us down to this one sex act, whether or not we do it at all, because we are not _______ people with the same hopes and aspirations and ambitions and ________ as everyone else, we are simply walking sex acts. Earlier this year I was invited to take part in the St. Pat's for All parade in Queens, New York. Now it is a really lovely, charming, __________ _____ in Queens which was set up in ________ to the ban on gay groups marching in the famous Manhattan St. Patrick's Day Parade. In that Manhattan St. Patrick's Day ______ any Irish group who wants can march, Irish policemen can _____, _____ firemen, Irish footballers, Irish _________ groups, Irish volleyball teams, Irish book clubs. Any Irish people who want to have a good shot at being allowed to march in that parade -- except for Irish gays, because, as far as the __________ of that parade are concerned, gays are nothing more than walking sex acts, and there is no place for buggery in their parade. Now, I actually saw a small documentary once about one of the leaders of the organizers of that parade, they are the _______ Order of Hibernians, and they're like a Catholic ______ Order (Laughter) -- they dress the same and everything -- (Laughter) and in the documentary, you know, he was a nice old ______, and he had this lovely wife, and they seemed very happy together. And when I looked at them, I saw this life lived together, and I ________ if I asked him about their life together, that he would ________ the first time they met, he would remember how _______ he was on their first date together, and how _____ he was when he ______ and saw her coming up the aisle in that dress that she had fretted over for so long. And I imagine that if I asked him, he would remember that _____ call to say that she had gone into labor and the dash across town, and the other time when she went so far past her due date that she ________ she would bounce up and down on a trampoline until the baby bounced out of her and how they laughed so hard about that. And I _______ he would remember other _________ like when their youngest broke his arm and cried all the way to the hospital, and that other time when she was sick and he could not sleep alone in the empty bed and so in the middle of the _____ he got up and went back to the hospital even though he knew they wouldn't let him in to see her at that hour. I imagine that he would remember all of those things and many more. All of the small things that go up to ______ a ____________ and making a person a person. And when I looked at him, I imagined all of those things too. But when he looks at me he doesn't see me that way. He doesn't see gay people that way. To him we are just sex acts and there is no place for sex acts in his parade. I am forty-five _____ old and I am fed up putting up. So, I'm not _______. I'm forty-five years old and I am not putting up anymore because I don't have the energy anymore. Putting up is exhausting! I am forty-five years old and I'm not putting up anymore because I don't have the ________ anymore. Forty-five years old! I was born six months before the Stonewall riots, and you have had forty-five years to work out, that despite appearances, I am just as ________, just as unremarkable, and just as _____ as you are! I'm forty-five years old and I am not asking anymore I am just being -- human being! Thank you for your time! (________) Thank you! Thank you! (Applause)

Solution

  1. parade
  2. lover
  3. differently
  4. turned
  5. homosexual
  6. imagine
  7. community
  8. comfortably
  9. reading
  10. argument
  11. buggering
  12. imagined
  13. laughter
  14. arguments
  15. problem
  16. change
  17. album
  18. lucky
  19. notice
  20. babies
  21. proud
  22. marriage
  23. young
  24. years
  25. peering
  26. stand
  27. tired
  28. irrational
  29. patience
  30. slights
  31. store
  32. react
  33. casually
  34. occasions
  35. homophobic
  36. small
  37. institution
  38. wanted
  39. uganda
  40. brave
  41. regular
  42. defiance
  43. relationships
  44. pocket
  45. discuss
  46. gesture
  47. irish
  48. grafton
  49. characterize
  50. world
  51. order
  52. grassroots
  53. moment
  54. worst
  55. people
  56. march
  57. leaning
  58. anymore
  59. phone
  60. respect
  61. feelings
  62. center
  63. making
  64. fellow
  65. fella
  66. homophobes
  67. jokeworthy
  68. ancient
  69. weighed
  70. suits
  71. nervous
  72. holding
  73. cower
  74. applause
  75. hands
  76. lovely
  77. worthy
  78. woman
  79. describe
  80. imprisoned
  81. amusement
  82. infused
  83. promised
  84. remember
  85. annoying
  86. public
  87. occasionally
  88. older
  89. ordinary
  90. gleaned
  91. scorn
  92. organizers
  93. watch
  94. event
  95. night
  96. human
  97. favorite
  98. orange
  99. explaining
  100. afraid
  101. couples
  102. response
  103. girlfriend
  104. relationship

Original Text

Hi! Hi! I am forty-five years old. I know I look amazing, thank you. (Laughter) I am forty-five years old and I have never once unselfconsciously held hands with a lover in public. I am forty-five years old and I have never once casually, comfortably, carelessly held hands with a partner in public. I don't know how many of you can even imagine what that might be like because, of course, it's a small thing, isn't it, holding hands with a lover in public? And it's not that nobody wanted to, it's just that we didn't feel comfortable. Now, like many gay people, when I was younger, in my young life, I struggled at one time against being gay. I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to be this thing that I didn't really understand. This thing that I had learned was shameful or jokeworthy. But when I eventually did sort of understand and come to accept who and what I am, I have never since that moment, never once, have I ever wished that it turned out differently! I am thoroughly, deeply, delightedly, happy to be gay! (Applause) It suits me! (Laughter) I am really good at it! (Laughter) And yet, everyday I am jealous of straight people, because that private, little, small, intimate gesture of affection has never once been mine. Everyday I see young, straight couples walking through the park and they are casually holding hands and I am jealous of them! I see a teenage couple at a bus stop and she is leaning into him, and her hand is in his, and both of their hands are tucked into his jacket pocket for warmth, and I am jealous of that teenage couple! I will sometimes see a man who unconsciously put his hand, a protective arm, around his girlfriend and she'll link her fingers through his, and I am jealous of that! Maybe you're on Grafton Street and you see an older lady and she gestures to draw her husband's attention to something in the window, and without even thinking he just takes her hand and they stand there peering into the window discussing whatever it is that drew their attention and their hands are just carelessly joined together, and I am jealous of that! Because gay people do not get to hold hands in public without first considering the risk. Gay people do not get to put an arm through another arm or put a hand on a boyfriend's waist without first considering what the possible consequences might be. We look around to see: where are we, who's around, is it late at night? What kind of area is it? Are there bored teenagers hanging around looking for amusement? Are there bunches of lads standing outside a pub? And if we decided OK, maybe it is, it's OK, well then we do hold hands, but the thing is that now those hands are not casual and thoughtless. They are now considered and weighed. But we stroll on hand in hand trying to be just normal and carefree just like everybody else, but actually we're not! Because we are constantly scanning the pavement ahead, just in case. And then even if we do see, you know, a group of blokes coming towards us, maybe we will decide sort of silently to continue holding hands, defiantly! But now our small, intimate gesture between two people in love is no longer a small, intimate gesture. It is a political act of defiance, and it has been ruined. And anyway then you sort of think: "Well, we've had such a lovely afternoon poking around in that garden center looking at things for the garden we don't actually have." (Laughter) And then you think, all it will take is one spat "faggots" or a split lip to turn that really lovely afternoon into a bad afternoon that you will never want to remember. And even if you are somewhere where you think: "Ah, it's perfectly fine here. Nobody here is going to react badly to our tiny gesture." You know, I don't know, say you're wandering through a posh department store. Even then people will notice. Now, they may only notice because they're thinking: "Isn't nice to see two gays holding hands in public?" But they still notice, and I don't want them to notice because then our small, intimate, private, little, human gesture has been turned into a statement, and I don't want that! Our little, private, gesture, like Schrödinger's cat, is altered simply by being observed. We live in this sort of homophobic world, and you might think that a small, little thing like holding hands in public, "Well, it's just a small thing," and you're right! It is indeed just a small thing. But it is one of many small things that make us human, and there are lots of small things everyday that LGBT people have to put up with, that other people don't have to put up with. Lots of small things that we have to put up with in order to be safe or not to be the object of ridicule or scorn. And we are expected to put up with those things and just thank our blessings that we don't live in a country where we could be imprisoned or executed for being gay. And we are so used to making those small adjustments everyday, that even now we rarely ourselves even notice that we are doing it, because it is just part of the background of our lives. This constant malign presence that we have assimilated, and if we complain about it, we are told we have nothing to complain about because: "Aren't you lucky that you don't live in Uganda?" And yes, I am lucky that I don't live in Uganda, but that's not good enough! This isn't some sort of game or competition where the person who has it the worst wins the right to complain and everybody else has to just put up or shut up. Our society is homophobic! It is infused with homophobia. It is dripping with homophobia. And when you are forty-five years old and you have spent thirty years putting up, thirty years absorbing all of those small slights and intimidations and sneers and occasionally much worse, you just get tired of it. You get fed up putting up. I am fed up of reading yet another article by yet another straight person explaining why I am less somehow than everybody else. You get fed up listening to people describe you as intrinsically disordered, people who don't even know you, from their celibate pulpits. You get fed up of the scrawled graffiti, and you get fed up of people sneeringly describe things as gay. You get fed up of steeling yourself to pass by the Saturday night drunks hoping that they won't notice you, and you get fed up of people using their time and energies and talents to campaign against you being treated just like every other citizen. (Applause) I'm forty-five and I'm fed up putting up. Now I would, of course, prefer if nobody harbored any animosity towards gay people or any discomfort with gay relationships, but, you know, I can live with the kind of small, personal, private homophobia that some people might have. For example, I can live with Mary in Wicklow who sometimes turns on the television and sees Graham Norton and thinks, "Oh, he seems nice enough but does he have to be so gay?" (Laughter) I can live with that. I can live with Mary who doesn't know any gay people, apart from that fella who does her hair once a month in "Curl Up and Dye". (Laughter) Mary, whose only knowledge of gay people and our relationships comes from what she has gleaned from schoolyards, church and Coronation Street. I can live with that. I would be happy to sit down on the sofa and watch Coronation Street with Mary. I would be happy to have a cup of tea with her and discuss with her why she feels a little uncomfortable with gay relationships and I would hope that Mary would change her mind. I would hope that she would meet more gay people and find out pretty quickly that we are just as ordinary, just as nice or just as annoying as all of you people are. And I would hope that she would change her mind for her own sake as much as anybody else's, because gay people are just as capable of bringing goodness into Mary's life as anybody else. And, of course, we could help her with the decorating! (Laughter) But that kind of personal discomfort with gay people and their relationships is entirely different from the kind of homophobia that manifests itself in public. The kind of homophobia that manifests itself in an attempt to have LGBT people treated differently or less than everybody else. The kind of homophobia that seeks to characterize gay people and their relationships as less worthy of respect. That kind of homophobia I do have a problem with, and I think gay people should be allowed to call it when they see it, because it is our right to do so! Of course, many people object to the word homophobia itself. They object to the "phobia" part. 'I'm not afraid of you," they say. (Laughter) But I'm not saying that homophobes cower in fear every time they pass a Cher album, (Laughter) but they are afraid. They are afraid of what the world will look like when it treats gay, lesbian and bisexual people with the same respect as everybody else. They are afraid that they won't fit in this brave new world of equality. But, of course, their fear is irrational because, of course, the world will not look any different. Kids will still want to eat ice cream, dogs will still play fetch, the tide will still come in, and parallel parking will still be difficult. (Laughter) The most vocal homophobes who know that they long ago lost the arguments around the decriminalization of homosexual sex or every other advance for gay people since. These days you will find those very vocal homophobes clustered around the same-sex marriage debate -- and it is quite the spectacle because, of course, they know that they can't just come right out and bluntly say what drives them, which is an animus towards gay people, and a disgust at what they imagine we do in bed, because they know that that won't wash with the general public anymore. So they are forced to sort of scramble for any other reason that they can think of to argue their case. So, gay people are going to destroy the institution of marriage, gay couples will be wandering through orphanages picking babies off shelves trying to find one that matches their new IKEA sofa. (Laughter) Or that allowing gay people to get married will destroy society itself, and many, many more including my own personal favorite, which is the old argument that the word "marriage" is defined in some dictionary as a union between a man and a woman, and that therefore same-sex marriage can't possibly be a "marriage". Which is a piffling argument against words and dictionaries and not an argument against same-sex marriage. (Applause) Now, of course, the other real driver of homophobia, and you can all clutch your pearls here because I am going to go here, is a disgust with gay sex, in particular with gay male sex. The poor old lesbians just get caught in the homophobic crossfire. (Laughter) You know guilty by association. Because what they really don't like is anal sex, sodomy, you know, buggery, and they assume that that is all we do. They feverishly imagine that we spend all day jumping around buggering each other. I mean they obsess on it, and, in fact, what they actually do, is reduce us down to this one sex act, whether or not we do it at all, because we are not regular people with the same hopes and aspirations and ambitions and feelings as everyone else, we are simply walking sex acts. Earlier this year I was invited to take part in the St. Pat's for All parade in Queens, New York. Now it is a really lovely, charming, grassroots event in Queens which was set up in response to the ban on gay groups marching in the famous Manhattan St. Patrick's Day Parade. In that Manhattan St. Patrick's Day Parade any Irish group who wants can march, Irish policemen can march, Irish firemen, Irish footballers, Irish community groups, Irish volleyball teams, Irish book clubs. Any Irish people who want to have a good shot at being allowed to march in that parade -- except for Irish gays, because, as far as the organizers of that parade are concerned, gays are nothing more than walking sex acts, and there is no place for buggery in their parade. Now, I actually saw a small documentary once about one of the leaders of the organizers of that parade, they are the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and they're like a Catholic Orange Order (Laughter) -- they dress the same and everything -- (Laughter) and in the documentary, you know, he was a nice old fellow, and he had this lovely wife, and they seemed very happy together. And when I looked at them, I saw this life lived together, and I imagined if I asked him about their life together, that he would remember the first time they met, he would remember how nervous he was on their first date together, and how proud he was when he turned and saw her coming up the aisle in that dress that she had fretted over for so long. And I imagine that if I asked him, he would remember that phone call to say that she had gone into labor and the dash across town, and the other time when she went so far past her due date that she promised she would bounce up and down on a trampoline until the baby bounced out of her and how they laughed so hard about that. And I imagine he would remember other occasions like when their youngest broke his arm and cried all the way to the hospital, and that other time when she was sick and he could not sleep alone in the empty bed and so in the middle of the night he got up and went back to the hospital even though he knew they wouldn't let him in to see her at that hour. I imagine that he would remember all of those things and many more. All of the small things that go up to making a relationship and making a person a person. And when I looked at him, I imagined all of those things too. But when he looks at me he doesn't see me that way. He doesn't see gay people that way. To him we are just sex acts and there is no place for sex acts in his parade. I am forty-five years old and I am fed up putting up. So, I'm not anymore. I'm forty-five years old and I am not putting up anymore because I don't have the energy anymore. Putting up is exhausting! I am forty-five years old and I'm not putting up anymore because I don't have the patience anymore. Forty-five years old! I was born six months before the Stonewall riots, and you have had forty-five years to work out, that despite appearances, I am just as ordinary, just as unremarkable, and just as human as you are! I'm forty-five years old and I am not asking anymore I am just being -- human being! Thank you for your time! (Applause) Thank you! Thank you! (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
gay people 13
holding hands 4
intimate gesture 3
sex acts 3
held hands 2
lovely afternoon 2
lgbt people 2
coronation street 2
vocal homophobes 2
walking sex 2
day parade 2

Important Words

  1. absorbing
  2. accept
  3. act
  4. acts
  5. adjustments
  6. advance
  7. affection
  8. afraid
  9. afternoon
  10. aisle
  11. album
  12. allowed
  13. allowing
  14. altered
  15. amazing
  16. ambitions
  17. amusement
  18. anal
  19. ancient
  20. animosity
  21. animus
  22. annoying
  23. anymore
  24. appearances
  25. applause
  26. area
  27. argue
  28. argument
  29. arguments
  30. arm
  31. article
  32. asked
  33. aspirations
  34. assimilated
  35. association
  36. assume
  37. attempt
  38. attention
  39. babies
  40. baby
  41. background
  42. bad
  43. badly
  44. ban
  45. bed
  46. bisexual
  47. blessings
  48. blokes
  49. bluntly
  50. book
  51. bored
  52. born
  53. bounce
  54. bounced
  55. brave
  56. bringing
  57. broke
  58. buggering
  59. buggery
  60. bunches
  61. bus
  62. call
  63. campaign
  64. capable
  65. carefree
  66. carelessly
  67. case
  68. casual
  69. casually
  70. cat
  71. catholic
  72. caught
  73. celibate
  74. center
  75. change
  76. characterize
  77. charming
  78. cher
  79. church
  80. citizen
  81. clubs
  82. clustered
  83. clutch
  84. comfortable
  85. comfortably
  86. coming
  87. community
  88. competition
  89. complain
  90. concerned
  91. consequences
  92. considered
  93. constant
  94. constantly
  95. continue
  96. coronation
  97. country
  98. couple
  99. couples
  100. cower
  101. cream
  102. cried
  103. crossfire
  104. cup
  105. dash
  106. date
  107. day
  108. days
  109. debate
  110. decide
  111. decided
  112. decriminalization
  113. deeply
  114. defiance
  115. defined
  116. delightedly
  117. department
  118. describe
  119. destroy
  120. dictionaries
  121. dictionary
  122. differently
  123. difficult
  124. discomfort
  125. discuss
  126. discussing
  127. disgust
  128. disordered
  129. documentary
  130. dogs
  131. draw
  132. dress
  133. drew
  134. dripping
  135. driver
  136. drives
  137. drunks
  138. due
  139. earlier
  140. eat
  141. empty
  142. energies
  143. energy
  144. equality
  145. event
  146. eventually
  147. everyday
  148. executed
  149. expected
  150. explaining
  151. fact
  152. famous
  153. favorite
  154. fear
  155. fed
  156. feel
  157. feelings
  158. feels
  159. fella
  160. fellow
  161. fetch
  162. feverishly
  163. find
  164. fine
  165. fingers
  166. firemen
  167. fit
  168. footballers
  169. forced
  170. fretted
  171. game
  172. garden
  173. gay
  174. gays
  175. general
  176. gesture
  177. gestures
  178. girlfriend
  179. gleaned
  180. good
  181. goodness
  182. graffiti
  183. grafton
  184. graham
  185. grassroots
  186. group
  187. groups
  188. guilty
  189. hair
  190. hand
  191. hands
  192. hanging
  193. happy
  194. harbored
  195. hard
  196. held
  197. hibernians
  198. hold
  199. holding
  200. homophobes
  201. homophobia
  202. homophobic
  203. homosexual
  204. hope
  205. hopes
  206. hoping
  207. hospital
  208. hour
  209. human
  210. ice
  211. ikea
  212. imagine
  213. imagined
  214. imprisoned
  215. including
  216. infused
  217. institution
  218. intimate
  219. intimidations
  220. intrinsically
  221. invited
  222. irish
  223. irrational
  224. jacket
  225. jealous
  226. joined
  227. jokeworthy
  228. jumping
  229. kids
  230. kind
  231. knew
  232. knowledge
  233. labor
  234. lads
  235. lady
  236. late
  237. laughed
  238. laughter
  239. leaders
  240. leaning
  241. learned
  242. lesbian
  243. lesbians
  244. lgbt
  245. life
  246. link
  247. lip
  248. listening
  249. live
  250. lived
  251. lives
  252. long
  253. longer
  254. looked
  255. lost
  256. lots
  257. love
  258. lovely
  259. lover
  260. lucky
  261. making
  262. male
  263. malign
  264. man
  265. manhattan
  266. manifests
  267. march
  268. marching
  269. marriage
  270. married
  271. mary
  272. matches
  273. meet
  274. met
  275. middle
  276. mind
  277. moment
  278. month
  279. months
  280. nervous
  281. nice
  282. night
  283. normal
  284. norton
  285. notice
  286. object
  287. observed
  288. obsess
  289. occasionally
  290. occasions
  291. older
  292. orange
  293. order
  294. ordinary
  295. organizers
  296. orphanages
  297. parade
  298. parallel
  299. park
  300. parking
  301. part
  302. partner
  303. pass
  304. patience
  305. pavement
  306. pearls
  307. peering
  308. people
  309. perfectly
  310. person
  311. personal
  312. phone
  313. picking
  314. piffling
  315. place
  316. play
  317. pocket
  318. poking
  319. policemen
  320. political
  321. poor
  322. posh
  323. possibly
  324. prefer
  325. presence
  326. pretty
  327. private
  328. problem
  329. promised
  330. protective
  331. proud
  332. pub
  333. public
  334. pulpits
  335. put
  336. putting
  337. queens
  338. quickly
  339. rarely
  340. react
  341. reading
  342. real
  343. reason
  344. reduce
  345. regular
  346. relationship
  347. relationships
  348. remember
  349. respect
  350. response
  351. ridicule
  352. riots
  353. risk
  354. ruined
  355. safe
  356. sake
  357. saturday
  358. scanning
  359. schoolyards
  360. scorn
  361. scramble
  362. scrawled
  363. seeks
  364. sees
  365. set
  366. sex
  367. shameful
  368. shelves
  369. shot
  370. shut
  371. sick
  372. silently
  373. simply
  374. sit
  375. sleep
  376. slights
  377. small
  378. sneeringly
  379. sneers
  380. society
  381. sodomy
  382. sofa
  383. sort
  384. spat
  385. spectacle
  386. spend
  387. spent
  388. split
  389. st
  390. stand
  391. standing
  392. statement
  393. steeling
  394. stonewall
  395. stop
  396. store
  397. straight
  398. street
  399. stroll
  400. struggled
  401. suits
  402. takes
  403. talents
  404. tea
  405. teams
  406. teenage
  407. teenagers
  408. television
  409. thinking
  410. thinks
  411. thoughtless
  412. tide
  413. time
  414. tiny
  415. tired
  416. told
  417. town
  418. trampoline
  419. treated
  420. treats
  421. tucked
  422. turn
  423. turned
  424. turns
  425. uganda
  426. uncomfortable
  427. unconsciously
  428. understand
  429. union
  430. unremarkable
  431. unselfconsciously
  432. vocal
  433. volleyball
  434. waist
  435. walking
  436. wandering
  437. wanted
  438. warmth
  439. wash
  440. watch
  441. weighed
  442. wicklow
  443. wife
  444. window
  445. wins
  446. wished
  447. woman
  448. word
  449. words
  450. work
  451. world
  452. worse
  453. worst
  454. worthy
  455. year
  456. years
  457. york
  458. young
  459. younger
  460. youngest