Belfast Telegraph

Nuala McKeever: How people here will keep fighting for gay marriage

By Nuala McKeever

A friend of mine just came back from a place in America where everyone is gay. She said it was weird. She was the only straight person in the whole place and had to live with a gay family, where the kids were all gay and go out to bars where there were no other straight people like her around.

All the TV shows showed gay people, all the greetings cards featured same sex couples, all the cafes and restaurants advertised Valentine's Day meals, featuring two men or two women sharing a table over roses and wine, gazing lovingly into each other's eyes.

Everywhere she looked – magazines, books, TV, films, conversation, church, school and supermarket – all of them were made for and by gay people.

She said she felt like she had to hide the way she felt or at least apologise for it. At one point she even began to think maybe she ought to be gay too. Imagine!

Thankfully, she was able to leave and come back home and just be herself.

Of course, that's not a true story. I doubt there's any such place in America or anywhere else. But it gives a tiny insight into how it is for gay people living here.

This week our government ruled that people can't chose to marry someone they love if they're the same gender.

We've got over being Irish, black, female, disabled or mentally ill.

We've agreed, at least in theory, that not being a white, able-bodied, mentally well, English man, doesn't mean you're less of a human being. But still we're stuck on what goes on downstairs.

As Paul Newman said once: "There are so many qualities that make up a human being ... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant."

According to our Catholic bishops, it's a well-proven fact that children need a father and mother to do best in life. Where is this proved? Children need good parenting and love and respect.

This is available in all manner of ways and set ups. The gender and number of parents is not the issue.

Another smokescreen to cover up fear of people thinking for themselves.

What are we all so afraid of in this part of the world?

Why does someone having a different preference in clothes, or music, or flegs or other people, threaten us so much?

We're all so busy trying to control our world in order to feel safe, we miss the fact that the only way to feel safe is to accept there is no control and give up trying. Then things go our way.

But you have to risk giving up your certainties to find that out.

Legislating against two individuals being able to marry if they choose to, is just one more depressing example of how out of step we are here with the front ranks of human thinking and experience.

Well, some of us are. Thankfully there are some people here who refuse to be boxed in.

People who will keep breaking down the walls of any boxes that others try to put around them, like so many Victorian busy bodies, covering up the legs of tables in case it tempt a man to have rude thoughts.

Elections are coming. Do you really want another four years of fearful people running our society? Has it worked well so far? No. Time for change.

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