Tag Archives: panti bliss

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.

Time Magazine Cover Girl Laverne Cox

SeleenaK_2011-10-21-14.38.17They’re saying she “has emerged as the public leader of the trans movement”.  Others are saying that any publicity is good publicity.  But as you might expect, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

Laverne Cox, star of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black, is a sweetie and a wonderful actress but she’s just a girl who happens to be transgender.  Did she volunteer to become the “public leader” Time declares her to be?  Does she even want the role?  She has an acting career and a lifestyle that goes with it.

Her story is a story we’ve heard a million times .. always knew she was a girl, bullied and harassed as a child, yadda, yadda .. but it’s a story that much of the mainstream world will be hearing for the first time.  And you know what they  say about the importance of first impressions? They’re important!

Strategy.  Make no moves without a strategy.  This is a mantra that served me well in the corporate world as well as my personal life and I think it applies to our quest for acceptance.  And with Ms Cox’s appearance in Time, we’re making a move, but if a strategy exists, it’s coming from a journalist.

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. ~ author unverifiable

Her interview is nice but certainly not that of a leader … at least not in my opinion.  Here are some partial quotes that sound Obama-like and lack the leadership qualities necessary to win over the uninformed world:

“I think what they need to understand is …”

“That’s what people need to understand … “

“People need to be willing to let go of what they think they know…”

“… they need to get to know us as human beings…”

“… you need to look at yourself ..”

Notice the word she uses over and over again?  “Need“.   I hate to inform Laverne but people don’t need to do anything.  Their life and their world feels just fine to them without understanding and accepting us.   Meet people face-to-face for the first time and tell them they need to know us as human beings and see how many friends you make.

We need.  We need a spokesperson who comes at the world with a respectful attitude.  A kind, likeable, attractive person, both in appearance and in spirit, who can get into the hearts of all she connects with.  Logic doesn’t work.  Rhetoric doesn’t work.  Demanding rights doesn’t work.  Helping the masses to want to accept us is the way to make things happen for us.

Tell me I’m naive and I’ll tell you the proof is in the pudding.  The LGB’s have left us behind in a cloud of dust.

Once again, I long for a Panti Bliss type personality to move to the forefront and lead us into an accepting world.   I love Laverne Cox but I’m afraid she is not that person.

The Messenger is as Important as the Message

LGBT – there was a time when none of us were accepted or tolerated. And then, things began to change. Here’s my take on how it happened, why it happened and where things are or are not headed. And please forgive me if it appears I’m generalizing and using stereotypes.

The “T” part of LGBT is falling dreadfully behind in attaining the tolerance and understanding of the western world. And I believe there are several reasons for this. But to understand it, I think it’s wise to look at the “L”, the “G” and the “B” to get an idea how they’ve accomplished what they have.

I’ll start with gays. From my experience, part of the gay community is … ummm .. detectable. Mannerisms, speech, appearance, a feminine edge .. the stereotypical stuff. But the other part just looks like average hetero guys.  Very nondescript.

In the lesbian world, a similar split exists (with a touch of androgyny in there for good measure). Some ladies have a distinctively masculine edge in mannerisms, speech and appearance .. again the stereotypical stuff. But many present to the world the way society expects hetero women to appear.

I’ll mention bisexuals just for the sake of inclusion but, to me at least, they’re the most invisible portion of the LGBT population. And the hetero world seems to think that bi women are hot, and bi men are not. But no one sees a person walking down the street and thinks “there’s a bisexual!”.  So they benefit from recent legislative or social changes, or not .. based on their current situation.


It’s all about appearance

The vanilla world is comfortable with the status quo … those who look like them; those who act like them. And their queeziness is usually only triggered by those who don’t conform in appearance or mannerism. So because of this, half of the gay and lesbian world .. the invisible half .. gets a pass by default.

I remember some research done years ago regarding appearances. People of all ages were shown photos of people with varying degrees of “prettiness” or “handsomeness” and were asked to make assumptions based on what they saw. Were the people honest, trustworthy, intelligent, pleasant, miserable? And the result were uncanny. Those on both ends of the attractiveness scale didn’t rate too high but those on the attractive side of normal rated very highly. They were automatically considered more trustworthy, honest and intelligent than those on the other side of the median. Applying a slight amount of makeup changed the perception towards the positive.

Of course getting to know these people would probably change our opinions of them drastically but, if they climbed out of the photo and sat beside us silently, they would have a leg up on the others. The good feelings we had towards them were theirs to lose simply because they made us feel comfortable initially.

We’re built to size each other up quickly. Even if we’re presented with lots of evidence to the contrary, we’re attached to our initial impressions of people—which is why you should be aware of the impression you make on others. – Psychology Today

Now in the transgender world, the number of genetic males identifying as women (M2F) far exceeds the number of genetic women identifying as men (F2M, or trans men).

Trans men, for whatever the reason, on average seem to be more articulate in the way they present than t-girls (like me). And they rarely get a questioning look.

Trans girls, on the other hand, (and I’m generalizing again) rarely do a good job of presenting as an attractive, likeable person, and often appear (I’m being kind here) on the plain side of the median. And that presentation makes the uninformed around us very uncomfortable.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are the court of tolerance; the court of public opinion. As the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders lobby, discuss, educate and try to rally support for their respective causes, the lesbians stand before you looking like the woman next door or the somewhat tomboyish woman from down the street; the gays stand before you either looking like the guy next door or a really attractive guy from GQ magazine (giggle*) while the transgenders usually stand before you either looking like nothing you’ve ever seen before or like a scraggly, old chick from the hippie era. The “L” and “G”‘s, by appearance alone, have hit the ground running.

You hear their pleas, their “LG” points and counterpoints because your first impression is positive and their appearance didn’t distract you. But you didn’t hear a word the transgender said because it took you so long to adjust to the unfamiliar image in front of you.

The reason I bring all this up now is because of the lovely Panti Bliss. Panti (aka Rory O’Neill) is a gay drag queen in Ireland who is singlehandedly changing the way the Irish, their legislators and media think about gays and homophobia. Signs are appearing in shop windows proclaiming “we support Team Panti”. T-shirts are on the streets.  She’s pretty, well-spoken and sincere and a fabulous spokesperson for the gays in Ireland. And because of her likeable character, talking about how things make her feel is causing most people to want to help; to want to see the good side in people; to want to be less cruel.

Here’s Panti’s video that continues to draw so much attention. As you watch this, consider how different it’s impact would have if Rory was not in Panti-mode when it was done.

Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

As I prepare to head off to yet another conference where I’ll feel obligated to sit through boring keynote speeches by non-charismatic, non-Panti-like activists, I offer this:  To those of you who carry the torch for us, please know that, like it or not, your appearance, your physical presence, your charisma are important. Maybe more important than the legal or constitutional verbiage you quote.

Learn from Panti!

I know … most of you feel the world should accept us as we are. Absolutely! But until that time comes, let’s drop the “I gotta be me” and “dress for success”.

Or better still, lets find spokespeople who are a little more like Panti. Because the way we’re doing it just isn’t working regardless of the insignificant trivial tidbits our activists keep throwing at us as their successes.

Please note: I don’t believe that inherent attractiveness is a deciding factor in gaining acceptance. Large, small, tall, short, pretty, ugly, race, age … none of that is relevant. It’s all about the effort we put forward.  And on a personal note, if I didn’t try hard to appear presentable, you definitely would not be reading this nor visiting my website.  I could definitely be the queen of the scary ladies!  Trust me on this. 🙂