Have you heard the news that Minister Leo Varadkar’s is gay? Are you thinking, "OK, was anybody asking?" or perhaps more pointedly, "Who gives a flying fuck?"? Then this blog post is for you!
First, I have two guesses about who you are:
You are not gay.
You have not dealt with scores of people assuming that you, a straight person, are gay.
How could I be so presumptuous? Actually, it's easy:
If you were gay, you would understand the importance of coming out.
If you were straight but people were constantly assuming that you were gay, you would understand the importance of coming out.
I'm being snarky, I know. It's just that I get frustrated when I hear people criticize public figures for making announcements about their sexuality with sentiments akin to "I didn't ask, and I don't care." There was a whole lot of this when the Rose of Tralee, Marie Walsh the first openly gay Rose to be selected by the Rose Committee came out after the Rose of Tralee festival.
To be fair, the media made a ridiculous spectacle out of this story. Even I got tired of hearing about whether she would get chosen by the committee if they knew she was gay, and what that might or might not reveal about Them, but that was the media's doing, not The Rose of Tralee committee.
Which brings me to the reason I get so frustrated with people who feel that Leo didn't need to make announcements about their sexuality. You see, there's this thing that happens to gay folks who don't fit the general stereotypes (i.e., the shaved-headed butch for women, and the dramatic, gesture-prone hairstylist or interior designer with a propensity for lilting Ss for men.) The thing that happens is that people assume your straight.
Which leads to my next question :how often do you think it would've happened to a guy like Leo ? I can tell you how often: all the time. And each time it happened, Leo would've had to make a split-second decision to either correct the inaccuracy or keep quiet. My friend who is a very feminine, Hilary Swank-looking lesbian, has to make this decision when her clients see the ring on her ring finger and assume that she has a husband at home. If she chooses to correct them, she might lose their business or face hostility, but if she chooses to keep quiet, things can get tricky. How tricky! You may ask?
Well if somone assumes your straight they will start asking questions. You are not straight, you live with your same sex partner. but you don't correct the person because, well, there are lots of people who don't look kindly on gays and besides, you had this same conversation yesterday with someone else, and you just don't feel like doing it today. The next thing you know, the person begins asking you questions about the partner you supposedly live with: Where did you meet? How do you like it? How long have you lived with them. Do you and your partner want to have kids? So do you get my drift?
So, while it may be true that you personally never asked whether Leo is gay, the odds are that most people who looked at him would've assumed he was straight, which means that his options were to either come out or to live with droves of people presuming his heterosexuality.
So to the people who say gay people ought to keep the details of their "personal life" to themselves. "Your sexuality is your business, nobody else's,"
In response, I asked when was the last time you casually mentioned your boyfriend/husband/wife/girlfriend in a conversation.? For example.
"Hubby and I went to the movies this weekend," or " the missus and I went to a play last night".. Did you realize that you were talking about "your sexuality" every time you mention a husband or a wife? Of course not, because you were merely talking about your life, which is a thing that people do, in case you hadn't noticed.
In a perfect world, we wouldn't need labels -- straight, gay, bi, queer, trans -- at all. Instead, people would just be people, but that's not reality. We live in a world where individuals size each other up and make assumptions. As long as this continues, coming out is going to remain a necessity, especially for public figures.
If you yearn for the time where people announce that they are gay and no media outlet is interested in running the story because, yawn, who cares, guess what: You're not alone. Plenty of gay people yearn for that time too. Leo Varadkar and Marie Walsh probably yearn for that time, but we aren't there yet.
(Adapted from a post on Huffpost)
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Literacy in Ireland
In the past literacy was considered to be the ability to read and write. Today the meaning of literacy has changed to reflect changes in society and the skills needed by individuals to participate fully in society. It involves listening, speaking, reading, writing, numeracy and using everyday technology to communicate and handle information.
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