Dublin: Panti Bliss and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, America’s largest Irish group, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising together in one room last night and both symbolized how far Ireland and Irish America have come.
Panti Bliss drag queen, AKA Rory O’Neill, showed up for the after party at the Little Museum off Stephen’s Green among a hundred or so Irish Americans who had earlier taken part in a welcome ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin attended by Minister Charlie Flanagan among others.
When Panti, who looked about 6 foot 3 in high heels, strutted into the Little Museum off Stephen's Green she was immediately the star of the show.
But she is about much more than just a drag queen. She had been a leading light in the marriage equality movement and was a key figure in helping get same sex marriage passed in 2015.
Since then she has gone from obscurity to fame, her latest feat is being nominated for the Time 100 most influential people. It was the gay proclamation for Irish LGBT's as much as the Easter Proclamation was the rebel’s calling card.
Her speech about homophobia and gay rights delivered from th stage of the Abbey Theater in 2014 was one of modern Ireland’s finest moments as a taboo topic was suddenly thrown open, As Joe.ie wrote.
"Accidental and occasional gay rights activist" Rory O'Neill AKA Panti Bliss over the weekend delivered an incredibly impassioned and powerful post-show oration at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, as she spoke about prejudice and homophobia in the aftermath of the RTÉ controversy surrounding her recent appearance on The Saturday Night Show.
More and more we have to recognize that right to same sex marriage vote on May 22nd 2015 was a watershed for Ireland, the moment when it pivoted towards the 21st century and left an oppressive past behind. 62 per cent of the people voted yes, an extraordinary occurrence given the conservative nature of the country for decades. No other country has passed equal marriage by universal referendum.
Panti became the symbol of that astonishing moment waving to the ecstatic crowds in Dublin Castle, and she has since been feted in New York, Australia and around the world,
And give thought in a different to the men and women of the AOH who have come from America in large numbers for this centenary including national president Brendan Moore.
Since its foundation in 1836 it has been steadfast in Ireland's cause down through the anti Catholic, Know-Nothing years and stood with the beleaguered Northern minority during the Troubles when it was neither popular or approved. They have endured when many other groups have faded and last night was a thank you to them also.
On Saturday night at the impressive function at the Department of Foreign Affairs for overseas pilgrims to the shrine of 1916, it was the AOH president Brendan Moore who injected the Irish American dimension, reading the proclamations from Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York among others relaying the pride that all Americans felt in the Easter 1916 Rising and how inspirational it had become to them.
So Panti and the AOH did it their way. I believe the men of 1916 dreamers, scholars, doers, revolutionaries, would have sided with both of them for creating a better and more inclusive Irish experience for everyone alive.
Dublin this weekend of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising is certainly interesting.