“If you met me, you’d never know.”

So. I’m bisexual.

And if you met me, you’d never know. You’d have no reason to suspect. For one, I’m happily married to my wife and have a daughter that we made with the usual method. And secondly, I work in theatre (well known to be the most macho of all professions). I rarely bring it up because, to be honest, it’s never really struck me as being that big of a deal. If you asked me to list all the words that define me as a person in order of importance, “bisexual” would be far, far down the list after husband, father, son, brother, writer, Irishman, Catholic*, blogger, Disney fan and tireless crusader for the abolition of the Oxford comma.

Your day will come, you tumour on the English language,you.

Your day will come, you tumour on the English language,you.

It’s like that for the vast majority of bisexuals, I think. We’re by far the most numerous of the LGB…T…Q…+ (Christ, you know you’re inclusive when your acronym is longer than most regular words) crowd and, weirdly, the least visible (especially guys). Most bisexuals tend to end up with a person of the opposite gender. Partially because of the tyranny of heteronormative oppression but mostly because of the tyranny of basic mathematics. In any given population around 47% will be women who like dudes and only 3% will be dudes who like dudes so…yeah, if gender is not a deal breaker for you either way the odds are you’re going to end up with someone from the other team.

Usually. Not Always.

And so we come to the topic that brings us together, today.



Oh for the love of crumbcake…

Okay, I didn’t really want to write this post because I know it’s just going to open up a whole steaming mess but this article on Irish Central kinda forced my hand.

Before I get into this, I need to establish a few things:

I am completely in favour of gay marriage.

I intent to vote YES in the upcoming referendum and will be encouraging all my friends to register and do likewise.

I have mocked John Waters’ beard in a public forum and called him mean names.

Now that that’s clear, let’s get on to the matter at hand.


Asher’s Bakery in Belfast were recently commissioned to create a cake depicting Bert and Ernie and encouraging eaters of said cake to endorse gay marriage. The owners of Asher’s, being Christians of a certain stripe, refused this commission. Asher’s is now facing legal action from Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission and a rather hefty fine. I have a rather massive problem with this and here is why:

The article I linked to says the following: “Would people be so quick to defend Asher’s if they refused to serve Jews, Muslims or Hindus on the grounds that to do so would offend their religious beliefs?”

Alright, now that is a sloppy, poorly thought out, deliberately misleading and bullshit comparison for a number of reasons. Firstly, it implies that if the customer who ordered the cake had been straight, Asher’s would not have had an issue with, that is, that the orientation of the customer was the issue. Secondly, it refuses to acknowledge that there is a difference between serving all your customers equally in compliance with equality legislation and the norms of a just and fair society and engaging in a political act. And yes, baking a cake depicting a couple of ambiguously gendered muppets declaring support for marriage equality is a political act. And in no free and fair society can any citizen be compelled to engage in a political act against their own conscience. As I mentioned before, the above comparison is garbage. Here are some accurate ones.

A gay baker refusing to bake a cake supporting same sex marriage only.

A Jewish baker refusing to make a cake for the PLO.

A Palestinian baker refusing to bake a cake extolling the state of Israel.

A Unionist baker refusing to make a pro-Sinn Féin cake.

A Pakastani baker politely but firmly turning down an order to make pro-UKIP éclairs.



You might agree or disagree with the choices of the above batch of bakers. But they are their choices to make. Forcing someone to make a political statement against their own conscience is not simply wrong when you agree with the baker’s position. It’s wrong. Period. That is denying the right of someone to follow their own conscience even when it doesn’t impinge on the rights and freedoms on others (it doesn’t, there are scads of bakeries in Belfast who would be only too happy for the business) .

The article I linked to above states that the owners of Asher’s are free to follow their own conscience but “the may do this in a private religious capacity, not in a public business capacity.” Here’s the problem, people don’t just shut off their sense of right and wrong when they punch the clock. We are moral beings twenty-four seven. When politicians or cops or soldiers or bankers claim that they were just doing their jobs and it wasn’t their responsibility to question whether it was right or wrong we call bullshit. Every human being has a responsibility to their own conscience, even if that conscience is increasingly archaic, backward and out of step with the rest of the civilised world.

What good is our morality if it is not ours by choice but by compulsion? If we are right then time will prove us right. We cannot steamroll over those who disagree with us and use legal and financial threat to force them to support us because that is not what winning the argument looks like. It is at that point that we have crossed the line from protecting the rights of minorities to telling free, thinking individuals what they can and cannot think and do. It is at that point that we are, to quote one my favorite movies, that we are “in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right.”

So what is the correct response to a situation like this? You know, if turning a bunch of homophobic bigots into martyrs and reinforcing the narrative of all-powerful PC thought police targeting vulnerable Christians is not the correct response (and clearly that’s crazy talk)? Um, I dunno. Maybe doing the same thing you always do when a bakery gives you shitty service? Tell your friends, write a scathing Yelp! review and watch as the pro-gay bakers scoop up valuable custom in these economically challenging times? Guys, I’m as much a big-government liberal as anyone but I really think this is on where the Free Market has got this.

It is possible to do wrong in pursuit of a just cause. Homophobia is a huge problem in Northern Ireland but this suit by the equality commission is exactly the wrong way to combat that. I mean, can someone explain to me the endgame here? If you knew someone only baked you a cake because someone put a gun to their head…why would you eat that cake?

I'm...I'm not entirely sure that's chocolate.

I’m…I’m not entirely sure that’s chocolate.


I have a cunning plan…

So today we awoke to the news that John Waters is being paid €30,000 (aka, more than Mouse makes in a year) by RTÉ because someone on TV implied that writing and advocating against gay people being allowed to marry might qualify you as a homophobe. The other persons mentioned by Rory O’Neill have also been compensated for this dreadful trauma (that’s the trouble with gays, they can’t know just how hurtful some names can be) and according to the Irish Independent the total sum being paid to these guys amounts to €85,000 of taxpayers money. My last post on this matter was criticised by some as being overly conciliatory. I agree. The time for reasoned debate is over. My friends, I’m here to advocate for blind, unthinking revenge. It’s got a bad rep, but I do think that its moment has come. What we need in this situation is sheer, vindictive malevolence. A complete lack of mercy. My friends, we need a total and utter bastard.


Let me explain. In the fourth episode of Blackadder the Third, “Sense and Senility”, Blackadder has to put up with a pair of insufferable, stuck up actors. He learns that every time he says the word “Macbeth” the actors have to go through a long, complex and extremely painful ritual to banish bad luck. Blackadder, naturally, treats this like a big, shiny red button marked “press here to feel total joy”.

I believe that RTÉ, unwittingly, has now given everyone in this country such a button. What have we learned? That anytime someone calls John Waters or the Iona Institute a homophobe, RTÉ has to pay them my annual salary before tax. So, let’s push the button.

I hereby announce the commencement of Operation Blackadder. It goes like this. Anytime you are stopped on the street by an RTÉ newcaster looking for your opinion for one of those stupid Vox Pops, casually mention that John Waters and the Iona Institute are homophobes. Call into an RTÉ radio show and say that John Waters and the Iona Insitute are homophobes. If there’s an event where you can be sure RTÉ cameras are rolling, make sure to be there with your “John Waters and the Iona Insitute are Homophobes and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt” T-Shirt. Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth.  If done successfully, there will be two possible outcomes.

  • RTÉ goes bankrupt within a week. This will also mean that John Waters and the Iona Insitute will be obscenely wealthy so this is not ideal.
  • RTÉ realises very quickly that they backed the wrong fucking horse.

I am under no illusions that Operation Blackadder has any real chance of success, these things rarely do. The only way something like this could have a real chance is if people working in RTÉ, gay employees and straight allies who are livid at their employer for its craven surrender and enrichment of bigots decided that they wanted to send a message. I mean if, hypothetically, enough RTÉ employees decided that there was safety in numbers, enough casual on-air mentions could bring the entire organization to its knees in a matter of days.

Completely fanciful of course. If however, anyone working for RTÉ is reading this and is feeling rather pissed off right now? Do share, won’t you?

Don’t get your Pantis in a twist.

This is getting to be a habit so let me say this right off the bat; I don’t actually hate the Irish media. In fact I quite like it. 99% of the time it does a decent to good job of letting me know what’s going on in the world and whether this chicken sandwich is going to give me salmonella. Actually, I was originally going to write about the backlash to Macklemore winning the grammy (I even had an awesome name for it: Macklash!) but then this latest controversy reared its ugly head so I had to put that post on ice (short version, he’s a really decent guy who maybe didn’t deserve to beat Kendrick, not the second coming of Hitler and anyway it’s a grammy so who cares?). So yeah, I don’t want  to seem like I hate the Irish media even though whenever I bring them up on this blog I’m raking them across the coals. I’m sorry. It’s like the toilet, you only ever notice it when it stops working and you’re up to your oxters in fecal matter. But this time around I feel there’s an added urgency to put something in writing because this business is embarrassing to not only the state broadcaster RTÉ but also the national paper of record, The Irish Times. Which, amazingly, means that coverage of it in the national media has been slightly muted to say the least. So, as usual, it falls to a bunch of oddballs on the internet to spread the word. Alright, so let me set the scene.
Around a fortnight ago on RTÉs The Saturday Night Show host Brendan O’Connor was interviewing drag artist Rory O’Neill (aka Panti). And I will say this, if there is one positive thing to come out of this whole episode it is that it has finally justified my irrational fear and loathing of Brendan O’Connor. You can read his Wikipedia page here, I think it gives a good flavour of the man. Anyway, the topic of homophobia came up and O’Neill was asked who in the Irish media he felt were homophobic. O’Neill is obviously one of the those poor deluded fools who was raised to believe that when someone asks you a question you give an honest answer (“truthies” we used to call ‘em when I was growing up) and mentioned the Iona Institute and Irish journalist John Waters.
Who is John Waters?



That’s our boy.

John Waters is a conservative columnist and professional crankypants for the Irish Times known for his opposition to gay marriage particularly and the increasingly secularisation of Ireland more generally. He has also written such books as Hey you kids, get off my lawn!, This here is private property dagnabbit and of course I Know Your Parents!
And the Iona Institute?
The Iona Institute is a Conservative Catholic lobby group formed in 2007 to prevent the establishment of gay marriage in Ireland and promote hardline conservative Catholicism. This was as a response to the mass exodus of Irish people from the Catholic Church from the mid nineties and onward (I blame TV and rock and roll. Also the mass child rape and the vast conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and protect those responsible. But mostly the first two.)
So then what happened?
At first, nothing. The interview was broadcast in its entirety and then went up on RTÉs online player. But then it was taken down, and re-uplaoded with O’Neill’s comments about Waters and the Iona Institute excised. When asked why this was; RTÉ responded: “Last weekend’s The Saturday Night Show was removed from the Player due to potential legal issues and for reasons of sensitivity following the death of Tom O’Gorman as would be standard practice in such situations.”

Woah, back up. Who’s Tom O’Gorman?

Yeah, he just kinda flew outta nowhere there didn’t he? Tom O’Gorman was a researcher for the Iona Institute who earlier this month was murdered and partially eaten in his home by his Italian chess partner. Seriously. I’m not making a joke, that actually happened. This of course was a horrific and tragic crime which would certainly be grounds for editing O’Neill’s interview if he had mentioned Tom O’Gorman in any way.

Okay…so, that’s weird.

It gets weirder. Well…no, it doesn’t really get weirder than cannibalistic Italian chess players but it continues to be weird in different, less horrifying ways. As it turns out, this was an attempt by RTÉ to use  a horrific crime to give themselves cover for censoring the interview. The reason they did this pretty soon became apparent. John Waters and the Iona Institute had lawyered up. And they did not take kindly to being called homophobes. On a later episode of The Saturday Night Brendan O’Connor addressed the audience. Now, let me be clear, if O’Connor had just come out and said “RTE wishes to clarify that the views expressed on this show do not necessarily reflect the views of RTE blah blah boilerplate” that’s fine. Regardless of my personal stance on the issue, the national broadcaster must be seen to be impartial . That’s fine. That’s not what this was.

Now, on the Saturday night show two weeks ago comments were made by a guest suggesting the journalist and broadcaster John Waters, Breda O’Brien and some members of the Iona institute are homophobic. These are not the views of RTÉ and we would like to apologise for any upset or distress caused to the individuals named or identified. It is an important part of democratic debate that people must be able to hold dissenting views on controversial issues.

So…what you have here is the national broadcaster censoring itself and then apologising profusely under legal threat because a private citizen expressed a personal opinion that individuals who have devoted a considerable portion of their adult lives to ensuring that gay people do not achieve equal marriage rights could be considered homophobic…and then lecturing us on the importance of freedom of expression in a healthy democracy.

"And now, please rise for the two minutes hate. DEATH TO THE TRAITOR GOLDSTEIN!"

“And now, please rise for the two minutes hate. DEATH TO THE TRAITOR GOLDSTEIN!”

However, it was the news that RTÉ is actually paying a cash settlement to the Iona Institute (which, since RTÉ is state funded essentially amounts to a gift from the Irish taxpayer) that people have loudly declaring that Up With This We Will Not Put. Ironically, John Waters was until recently a member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, whose purpose is to actually protect liberty of expression in Irish broadcasting. To his credit, I suppose he’s not a hypocrite. It’s just a little disheartening that when faced with choosing between freedom of speech and media suppression he looked at the latter and said “Ooh that one!”

RTÉ’s behaviour in all this baffles me. See, I’ve spent time in RTÉ. I worked their briefly as an intern and I was interviewed once for an afternoon programme and let me tell you, the place is not exactly what you’d call gay unfriendly.

A Thursday morning in RTE.

A Thursday morning in RTÉ.

The obvious reason of course is cowardice. As in, RTÉ are cowards. Big wusses. Total pussbags. And if this was a simple case of a craven obeisance to power that would be something. That at least can indicate a rat-like survival instinct which is kind of admirable in a way. But, and I cannot emphasise this enough, NOBODY GIVES A FLYING FIDDLER’S FUCK ABOUT THE IONA INSTITUTE. Seriously, they’re a joke. Ireland’s gay marriage referendum is scheduled for 2015 and there’s every indication that it’s going to  be a walk for the YES side. I’ve seen polls putting support at upwards of seventy percent, the highest level of support for anything in Ireland since pollsters stopped asking “Beer good?” Given Iona’s complete lack of clout the only reason for RTE’s craven grovelling is that they think Iona and John Waters actually have a case.

So that’s the real question. Was O’Neill’s remark an objective fact or an unproven slander? Does opposing gay marriage in and of itself make you a homophobe? Now I know that thousands…hundreds? Okay, several readers are now screaming at the screen “Yes. Mouse. Yes.” But honestly, I think that kind of absolutist “with us or agin’ us” mentality is very harmful for the gay rights movement. Take somebody who supports civil unions for gay couples and abhors discrimination and anti-gay prejudice but draws the line at full marriage equality. He may be wrong, but he’s not Fred Phelps, and treating him like he is Fred Phelps is not going to win him over. In every great social struggle like this the side that is the more flexible, pragmatic, patient and willing to make messy compromises in the present for greater gains in the future always wins.

So if you were to tell me that you honestly and sincerely bear no ill will or prejudice towards gays but just believe that marriage should be between a man or a woman, I can’t read your soul. I can’t know if that’s true or not so I’m just going to have to take you at your word until I get my hands on a Klingon mind sifter.

It is extremely effective if...unpleasant.

It is extremely effective if…unpleasant.

Also, because I am an incurable optimist, I can’t help but see the bright side in this. If being labeled a homophobe is now so toxic in Irish society that even the friggin’ Iona institute feels the need to yank out the heavy legal artillery at the mere suggestion that they might be such, then the war is very nearly over and we are in the advanced stages of endgame.

However, I would like to close with a little bit of unsolicited career advice for the Iona Institute and Mr John Waters. If the idea of being labelled a homophobe is so abhorrent to you? If the mere notion that anyone could possibly consider you to be a homophobe is so awful that you would sue the national broadcaster and throw the very notion that we live in a country where freedom of expression is permitted into serious doubt?

If it is really as bad as all that?

Maybe you’re in the wrong line of work.

I hear Game of Thrones is looking for extras?

I hear Game of Thrones is looking for extras?