I am rarely proud of my country. I’ve nothing against Ireland, but it always seemed to me a weird thing to be, proud of something over which I had no control. I like Ireland, sure, but I’ve also had to grow up in it, deep in the countryside, where I experienced at first-hand the guilt and harshness and brutality and misogyny and block-headed thickness of the place.
But yesterday the people of Ireland were asked if any two adults could get fully and properly married, regardless of their gender, and they said: sure, why the fuck not? They said it loud and emphatically, bringing back a 62% vote in favour. A resounding YES, allowing any two people in love to tell the world.
I admit many tears as I watched the day unfold on twitter. The 50,000 plus who came home from living abroad just to cast their votes. The high YES counts coming in from the more broken-down and poor of our urban areas. Every constituency except one voting yes (I’m looking at you Roscommon-South Leitrim). And all those men and women standing on open streets and crying and hugging with happiness.
The NO side, led by Catholic groups, are of course not happy. Well you know what – tough. Ireland’s moved on and they’d better start moving on with it. Their long stance against homosexuality has always been kind of hilarious as the Catholic Church has more gay man in its employ than your average Broadway musical.
The scenes from Dublin last night were brilliant to watch. People thronging the streets in rainbow colours. Queues out the door and around the corner for The George, Dublin’s most famous gay pub since 1985, back when it was against the law to be gay in Ireland. Gerry Ryan of Sinn Féin (and previously the IRA) sharing a stage with the incredible Panti Bliss, Ireland’s top-notch drag queen. And just a general air of fucking niceness. I’m sure every pub owner around the centre of Dublin was crying tears of pure profit into the wee small hours of the morning.
So today, for the first time in a good long time, I can safely say that I’m proud to be Irish. We passed equal marriage, the first country to do so on a popular vote, thereby opening the door to a segment of our own population, a group long abused and persecuted for no reasons of their own, and we let them finally come inside.
And no pun intended. Unless it was.
(Correction: Gerry Adams was apparently never in the IRA. Although he knew of them.)