Dublin

Alive, Alive No.

I pulled a free copy of Alive, Ireland’s Catholic Monthly Newspaper from our letterbox yesterday evening. I threw the pile of mail onto the kitchen table and took off my coat. I proceeded to filter out the junk flyers and fire them into the recycling bin. In a lazy attempt of avoiding dinner preparation, I stopped when I reached Alive. I sat down and began to flick through the pages. I had a pre-conceived idea of what the topics literature would focus on. So it’s with utter disgust that I say it was far worse than my initial predictions. I got all the way to page 2 before encountering what was to be the first of 7 articles perfectly intertwined with modern day homophobia.

The initial article presented itself as a weak argument against marriage equality. In the opinion column, Derek Byrne writes that gay couples are not monogamous. He insists that the majority of gay couples don’t lead monogamous lifestyles. And well, since Mr. Byrne is himself a gay man, this sweeping, generic and fact-less statement must be true. Lies! The article is a pathetic attempt to smear the assumed stereotypical over-erotic or sensuous lifestyle that gay people, even gay couples lead. Well I’m sorry to disappoint the readers, but the lives of my friends and I are just as normal as yours. I lead an entirely monogamous lifestyle consisting of regular early nights and the occasional breakfast in bed. Not exactly exotic, or any different to the rest of Irish couples. Thank you though Derek, for feeding the readers an absolutely ridiculous lie and painting a truly flawed picture of genuine gay couples in Irish society. Two pages in and Alive have already managed to plant their ‘subtle-not-subtle’ seed of homophobia. A seed which steadily cultivates as one reads on.

Grudgingly turning to page 4, we encounter the first of Alive’s articles concerning Marriage Equality. Here we go. Author Gerard Murphy marvelously conveys a condescending and arrogant response to the Marriage Equality campaign underway in Ireland. The RTE Saturday night show had Minister Simon Coveney as a recent guest. On the show he spoke of how he is part of the campaign fighting for Irish law to introduce Marriage Equality. That’s it. Plain and simple. But Murphy just can’t fathom this. It’s an ‘odd notion’ as he calls it. Poor Gerry. Butter wouldn’t melt. He just can’t understand why Minister Coveney (and hundreds of thousands others might I add) are fighting for this equality. It is absolutely astonishing how he manages to write the article in such a subtle passive aggressive tone. It is equally if not more frightening, that some readers might not pick up on this, and simply take what Murphy says as Gospel (excuse the pun). Looking at it through my eyes, all I see is blatant pro-inequality rambling. But what do others see? This worry’s me. Finishing page 4 has turned my dinner preparation procrastination into a much more sinister affair.

On we go to page 7 where Alive have managed to pack two anti-marriage equality two onto the same page. How economical. First up, it’s Ashers Bakery in Belfast. This made headlines back in November when the bakery refused to bake a cake for Queer Space, a  volunteer organisation supporting LGBT people in Northern Ireland. Why did Ashers refuse to bake the cake? Well, in the words of their General Manager David McArthur,

“In the past, we’ve declined several orders which have contained pornographic images and offensive, foul language.”

Ok David, but what has that got to do with gay people? Am I missing something? Hang on… Oh. He’s grouping porn, foul language and gay people all together. As Irish Central author Cahir O’Doherty points out –

‘the ease with which McArthur compares all three says all you need to know about his – and his company’s [discrimination]’.

In this particular Alive article, it’s the editor McKevitt who has a few words to say. He thanks the bakery for their practice of discrimination (albeit not in those words), insists that the issue at hand is not actually about discrimination, and compares equality laws to the Sharia. Sharia! After a weak argument against secularization, McKevitt goes on to say that our society is now centred on “empty notions like ‘equality’, ‘tolerance’ and ‘rights’.” Since when are these empty notions? Not in any society that I want to live in. I’d also like to add that McKevitt put ‘Sharia’ in his article title, big and bold, yet he mentions it just once. In the second last paragraph. Shameful scare tactics there, continuing to water this seed of homophobia.

I don’t have to look far for the next article, as on the same page lies yet another concerning Minister Conveney and RTE’s Saturday Night show. One piece just wasn’t good enough for the Alive readers it seems. On it goes repeating itself, and introducing some new discriminatory views. Referencing the recent show with Minister McConveney as a guest, editor McKevitt calls RTE out for not allowing both sides of a debate to be heard. Well now, where have we heard that before? Ah yes, that small Pantigate affair. No one from Alive seemed to have a problem when only their side was being heard then did they? The editor then actually calls our equality striving government ‘thugs’ for this reason alone. I’m really hoping that people aren’t falling for this.

Let’s move on to page 10. Here we have an article shedding light on the health risks to gay men. Now I can’t imagine many gay men look to Alive when they want to get some helpful medical information. So what’s the point of this article in a Catholics newspaper? The only reason for this disgustingly written article is to ‘gay shame’.

“American government officials have reported that men with same-sex attraction, just 2% of the total male population, accounted for 63% of all new HIV/AIDS cases in the US in 2010.”

JUST 2%. Just 2%. In other words, we’re going to make it look like we genuinely care about the health of gay men, when in fact we’re actually just trying to portray them as a small and ‘infected’ minority. This is too much condescending to take. The article proceeds to highlight plenty more facts about how gay men are at risk despite knowing how to protect themselves. Why don’t they just use condoms? If they were in straight or monogamous relationships then this wouldn’t be happening to them. It’s all their fault etc. etc. Not a very original attack, but hey, anything to help water that seed.

My patience is certainly wearing thin. Finally, on page 14 the last article is basically a repeat of the praise given to Ashers Bakery for their act of discrimination. Huzzah Ashers Bakery! Two articles in Alive newspaper. Flippin’ famous. I threw the magazine in the bin and angrily began to make dinner. How in God’s name (pun entirely intended) is this the written word of modern Catholics? I am a Catholic. Yet when I read a newspaper for my own faith, there are 7 entire articles that criticize who I am.

The authors of this newspaper are undoubtedly model citizens. They’re probably dream neighbors. And it’s these exact people who cause the biggest threat to Marriage Equality in Ireland and worldwide. No one favours an extremist. Just look at the Westboro Baptist Church. They have successfully turned the entire world against them. Unfortunately this isn’t just because of their message, but rather because of their methods. People favour a more subtle approach when it comes to homophobia. You know, ‘Oh I’m not homophobic, I just think that marriage just be between a man and a woman’. Awh, you said it so sweetly I could almost agree. Wait, WHAT? You are against Marriage Equality. You are against EQUALITY. That is entirely homophobic. By all means, make up your own mind. But please, do not entertain the warped views of these authors. Alive, Alive No.

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Listen: Mid-Week Tune – Heathers ‘Forget Me Knots’

This week we’re keeping it local again with Ireland’s very own twin duo, Heathers. These Dublin girls wrote their first album whilst studying for their Leaving Cert. Most of us barely manage to tackle the exams alone. In this tune they also tackle a topic close to many people’s hearts. Have a listen to their upbeat and inspiring track ‘Forget Me Knots‘.

Depression has hit the news most recently due to the recent death of loved actor Robin Williams. And while this has been a devastating blow to many worldwide, the suffering which he endured is still an everyday struggle for countless numbers of people. When we hone in on LGBT mental health in Ireland, the stats are hard to ignore. A whopping 25% of girls, and 15% of boys have tried to end their own lives at least once*. Being a good friend to someone can be challenging at the best of times. In recent days, many people have felt the need to address the subject. I read something that hit home, ‘it’s the hardest thing in the world to be a friend of someone with depression. But it’s also the most rewarding.’ It is damn hard. But it should be harder to do nothing. Don’t do nothing.

You can’t walk away from this song and not have ‘it’s alright not to feel ok‘ swimming around in your head. Never a truer word spoken.

 

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(*supporting LGBT lives study)

For support or information on LGBT depression, please contact BeLonGTo

Listen: Mid-Week Tune – Chloe Jac, ‘Lost to You’

And look,  it’s Wednesday already. A bit of home grown talent for you this week. Dublin singer-songwriter Chloe Jac is currently gigging her way through London, and making some serious tunes while she’s at it. Go ahead and lose yourself to the her touching track, ‘Lost To You’.

Chloe takes her inspiration from many artists, including Laura Marling and Paolo Nutini. It’s an energy rollercoaster watching Chloe perform. You hear her eclectic personality in her music, so you get soft tunes and absolutely high enegry tunes in the same show. It’s wonderful. There’s a distinctive French flare to her music and personality too. This no doubt stems from her multi-cultural upbringing with a French father. As a result, artists like C2C and Brigitte have also made an impact on the singers’ style. I’ve known Chloe since early school days, so perhaps I’m a little bias when I say that she’s one of the best singer-songwriters around. Make your own judgement I guess. But I stand by what I said!

For more music and info on upcoming gigs, check out chloe.ie

Listen: Mid-Week Tune: Simian Mobile Disco ‘I Believe’

Half way gone, half way to go. Happy mid-week one and all! Looking back on previous posts, it seems we have a preference for electronic and rap tunes. We literally mixed them together once with Jay-Z and Passion Pit! So in continuation of our unintentional theme, this week we are giving you London electronic duo, Simian Mobile Disco. Have a little listen to their massive hit, ‘I Believe’. We’ll leave a link below to their SoundCloud, because trust us – you’re gonna want more.

Simian Mobile Disco are well highly respected for their own material, but they’ve also ventured out by remixing and producing for others. They’ve popped their own stamp on songs by artists such as Klaxons and Peaches. They’re known for intense live shows with all of the strobe lights. All of them. Years ago I saw them in Dublin, except I didn’t really see them. There was some divine light separating us. But hey, the tunes made up for it. The duo recently played another gig in Dublin’s Twisted Pepper. There’s no shortage of appreciative fans here it seems, so enjoy their SoundCloud and prepare yourself for their next gig!

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Mid-Week Tune: Kayne West ‘Bound 2’

Let’s keep it short and sweet this week, as most of us are still recovering from the Dublin Pride celebrations. Ever since I heard the grity, jaw-wired version of ‘Through the Wire’ over 10 years ago, I have loved the tunes from this man. And seeing as I’ll be at his gig tonight, it’s only right to blast you with some Mr. Kayne West. Enjoy this controversial and awkward as hell video for ‘Bound 2’.

Kayne west is no stranger to speaking his mind. No doubt you’ve already thought of his infamous stunt at the MTV awards, where he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to voice his own opinion that Beyoncé, ‘had one of the best videos of all time’. Ah to have a friend like that, right Bey? Wrong. Yoncé later came out on stage to accept her own award for Video of the Year, and invited Taylor to come and have her moment. A bit quick to react Kayne? If only you waited until all the Video categories were announced. Sure enough, the incident made headlines worldwide and added to Kayne’s interesting reputation in the media.

He’s a lover of fashion too. Kayne often makes an appearance at Paris fashion shows, and tries to look the part himself. Other rappers like 50 Cent have actually attempted to label West as ‘gay’ because of his colourful attire. I shit you not. So in response to the childish claims, West explained to MTV that “your dress don’t give away whether or not you like a man.” Smart man this one. “I mean how is that a gay thing? Colours? Having a lot of colours is gay?”  He then went one step further (no surprise there) and said “because stereotypically gay people got such good [style] … they were smart enough to take a fresh-ass logo like the rainbow and say that it’s gonna be theirs.” Hmmm… we do like our fresh ass rainbow.

Whatever your feelings on Kayne West, take solace in the fact that you don’t share the same pain in life – “My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”

Me 1 – Kayne 0

 

Listen: Pride Mid-Week Tune, Scissor Sisters ‘Let’s have a kiki’

Finally, it’s time for your Pride mid-week tune! And is there really any other choice but Scissor Sisters‘ absolute anthem, ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’? It’s doubtful. So fire up the smoke machine and put on your heels, ‘cause this is exactly what we need.

This American pop group were literally born out of New York’s gay scene. Their infectious and fabulous beats have been embraced as gay anthems in countries worldwide. The Scissor Sisters use language, themes and humour in their songs that are perfectly unique to the gay scene. Most famously, a ‘kiki’ is drag queen slang for a good time. There’s an entire gay culture which is hilarious, fabulous and enriching. It’s this culture that we try tap into with our products at Scene Designs, and it’s one of the best things about Pride. There ain’t no escaping it. (Unless of course you sit it out in favour of a Hollyoaks omnibus at home).

Making up roughly 8% of the population, the LGBT community is certainly a minority in Ireland. And most days, it’s not so easy to forget that. But surrounded by rainbow clad family and friends on Pride, we can almost feel like the majority. It’s about coming together, celebrating accomplishments and fighting for more. There’s something really special about seeing that rainbow flag displayed in pubs, shops and restaurants throughout the city at this time. Celebrities even come out and show their support. Cyndi Lauper led the celebrations at NY Pride when I visited in 2012. George Takei can’t be kept away from the parade! At Mother last year I was standing in the queue for the bathroom chatting away to the girl in front of me. After a while I said to her, ‘you know you look really like that girl Vogue?’ Yeah… it was that girl Vogue. Mortification aside, it was brilliant to have her and Brian out to celebrate with us.

So enjoy the tune and embrace the week. You’re fabulous. I wish you all a kiki this Pride!

 

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