Rory O'Neill, 45, the Mayo born gay man better known by his drag queen alter ego Pandora Panti Bliss, found himself cautioned by RTE - Ireland's main national broadcast channel - this week after he noted how 'horrible and mean about gays' a group of well known Irish journalists and public figures were.
O'Neill, who owns the popular bar and nightspot Pantibar in Dublin, is one of the most beloved and well known figures on the Irish gay scene. But his week O'Neill was informed that the interview he gave last weekend on RTE One’s ‘Saturday Night Show’ to host Brendan O’Connor could be defamatory.
Asked about changing attitudes toward the LGBT community in Ireland O'Neill has said: 'The only place that you see it’s okay to be really horrible and mean about gays is you know on the internet in the comments and you know people who make a living writing opinion pieces for newspapers. You know there’s a couple of them that really cheese...'
Host O'Connor asked O'Neill to name the people he was talking about and O'Neill replied:
'Oh well the obvious ones. You know Breda O’Brien (the Irish Times Columnist) today, oh my God you know banging on about gay priests and all. The usual suspects, the John Waters (Well known Irish journalist) and all of those people, the Iona Institute (a conservative Catholic lobby group) crowd. I mean I just…you know just… Fe-k off! Get the hell out of my life. Get out of my life…'
For his comments O'Neill quickly received four attorneys letters from Breda O'Brien, David Quinn, Patricia Casey, and John Murray, all of the Iona Institute. Although the religiously inspired organization has a long history of taking anti-gay stances, the four members clearly objected to hearing their organization or themselves being described as homophobic.
But advocating against the granting of marriage or adoption rights to the LGBT community because you consider them a suspect class or you feel that they are unworthy of legal equality with heterosexuals is the essence of homophobia. How can it become controversial to say so?
On air host O'Connor disputed that journalist Waters was homophobic and after the show RTE reportedly removed O'Neill's segment from its online player after a legal complaint from the journalist. First RTE removed the entire program, then it restored it but cut short the interview with O'Neill.
It's a bit rich of Waters to attempt to silence mild criticism of himself when he offers startlingly anti-gay criticism of others. It says a lot actually. In advocating against marriage rights for gay people in 2012 Waters famously found himself reduced to the specious old YOUR doughnut is making ME fat argument in a discussion with the College Tribune, based in University College Dublin.
'This is really a kind of satire on marriage which is being conducted by the gay lobby,' Waters said. ‘It’s not that they want to get married; they want to destroy the institution of marriage because they’re envious of it;
‘This is really an attempt to discredit an institution, the nominative institution on which society and human civilization is founded. If you do that there will be consequences, and one of them is that marriage will become a nothing;
‘It is a deliberate sabotage of the culture and the relishing of the destruction as a result. Gay marriage is a satire…. But sometimes you have to allow things to happen for the consequences to become obvious...'
This is, how to put it, entitled specious nonsense. It posits the alarmist notion that the terminus for gay rights is not legal equality but the destruction of human civilization.
Gay people, Waters claims - without a shred of supporting evidence - are not seeking marriage rights to promote their own social and legal well being, they are instead simply envious of others social and legal well being. It's not a civil rights movement it's an international tantrum, he suggests.
That level of bloated nonsense isn't just garden variety homophobia; it's weapons grade. Waters is suggesting the gay rights movement is a malicious global phenomenon whose ultimate aim appears to be the destruction of humanity itself, rather than say a disparate but impassioned international attempt to live with dignity and not to be persecuted, beaten or killed, say - as is more commonly the case.
The definition of homophobia is the irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuals. I would have thought that the fear that gay people are plotting to destroy marriage by participating in it (a Trojan unicorn?) is an irrational fear.
But to say that gays are attempting to destabilize human society globally is unhinged. For Waters apparently the arc of history isn’t trending toward justice, in his view it seems to be trending toward Mordor.
That kind of toxic rhetoric is a 2014 version of the once widely popular claim that the Jewish people hoped to enslave the world through through its financial markets, of course. Remember that Irish gays want to live in dignity and legal equality, they are not building concentration camps outside Clontarf (recall also that gays were in fact themselves imprisoned, beaten, shot or worked to death in the holocaust by the tens of thousands).
So given all that I can't see why Waters was so irked to be called anti-gay last week. Perhaps he doesn't read himself.