Yay Ireland!

"Panti Drag Queen" by Tbrambo - I took this photo at Pantibar in the presence of Panti.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panti_Drag_Queen.jpg#/media/File:Panti_Drag_Queen.jpg
“Panti Drag Queen” by Tbrambo – I took this photo at Pantibar in the presence of Panti.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panti_Drag_Queen.jpg#/media/File:Panti_Drag_Queen.jpg

This is the coolest thing to happen in a long time.  Not just what happened but how it happened is what makes it so perfect.

As you might remember, I’ve been a huge fan of Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss, the Irish drag queen who made that very passionate speech at the national theater of Ireland,  the Abbey, that went viral.  I wrote about that speech here in 2014.

My point at the time was that she seemed to have captured the hearts of both sides of the gay/same sex issues at a time when the Irish government was struggling.

She captured those hearts because she was eloquent, articulate, spoke from the heart, all while looking her prettiest. (Yes, appearance DOES matter.)

Legalization of same sex marriage became her mission and the end game played out via a referendum vote in Ireland on Friday May 22, 2015. It seemed she was making progress at the time but it wasn’t possible to know just how much progress she was making.

Oh sure, there are many heroes in Ireland right now as everyone celebrates but Ms Bliss ranks at the top of the list, in my opinion.

The Irish movement did it with charm.  With personality.  With poise.  By sincerely allowing everyone a peek into the heart and soul of nice people in an oppressive culture.

And they did it with humility and without demonizing those who didn’t understand.

When the referendum results were announced, it brought a tear to my eye to see Ireland join my country (and others) in acknowledging that love knows no gender.

Here’s Panti’s speech again:

America could learn from this.  Calling out the ‘other side’ as monsters, and trying to hide behind the same constitution so many are willing to trash just isn’t working, and y’all know it.

Charm often works better than muscle in changing societal perceptions.   It’s not about intelligence, university degrees, high priced lawyers or a heroic past life.

In my opinion, if I can get you to like  me, you’re very likely to support me.  And being liked by those who already support the cause is of little value in moving things forward.  Being perceived as likeable to those who don’t support is paramount to getting things done.  Keisling, Boylan, Beck, Jenner, et al. need to understand this.

Bravo Ireland!  As I’ve always said, first we change societal opinion; then we create the laws to protect those changes.  It just doesn’t work the other way.

Sir? Ma’am?

SeleenaK_8091sFBA recent comment from a friend got me thinking.  I know .. I shouldn’t do that.

She was bewildered about how she’s treated when visiting a particular city.  You know, the “sinful” city in the US desert southwest. I’ll paraphrase her comment.  “I get all dressed up, makeup, hair and they refer to me as “sir”.  Back home, I do much less appearance prep and am most often referred to as “ma’am”.

I’ll separate out the part of her comment that related to “dignity and respect” because I find that particularly troublesome, and will address it later.

But for now, I think most of you would agree that gender perception is a basic human function and doesn’t change when entering a particular city limits.  Yes, some people will “make” us and will address us as the ‘wrong’ gender to be insulting or to show disapproval but, for the most part, I don’t think people put that much effort into a casual, public encounter.

I wanted to tell her to just look in the mirror.  When moving outside our normal circle, it’s not uncommon that we do things differently.  Behavior and appearance often change to suit what we determine are the circumstances.   Look .. in .. the .. mirror.  It’s all there.

But what do I know?  I learn by observation and work hard to be addressed as the gender I appear but have no delusions that I’m fooling anyone, and am okay with being referred to by the wrong pronoun.  And frankly, being “ma’am’d” when I’m in guy mode would just never happen  to me.

And to her comment that being called “sir” failed to treat her with  “dignity and respect”, this attitude, in a nutshell, it’s why we continue to struggle for acceptance.  We need to “get real” if we expect others to take us seriously.

People are visual creatures but their abilities are not so well honed that they can see the gender we feel in our hearts.   For that, we need to provide some solid visual clues.  And accept responsibility when we fail to do that.