Today’s the day Ireland gets to decide on same-sex marriage. The past few weeks Dublin has slowly morphed into a beautiful bird of paradise, her plumage showing off all the colours of the rainbow.
Exciting new street art pieces appear on walls, shops show their support in creative displays and Dubliners wear colourful accessories and badges. Dublin you’re beautiful when you’re in love.
I’ve been wanting to document this moment in Irish History ever since I was met with ‘Vote No’ posters outside my place a few weeks ago. Their hateful messages made me sick to my stomach and I couldn’t comprehend that they were even allowed in a public space. From then on, I decided to focus on the incredible display of love and creativity shown all over Dublin.
It’s a weird thing moving to Ireland when you come from Belgium where abortion and gay marriage have been legalised for decades (respectively 1990 and 2003). But then it taught me so much and I think (hope) I’ve grown as a human. For the first time, I was faced with people who would openly say they’re against such rights. And these people weren’t the ones I had imagined. I would go as far to say that some of them were free-spirited women. I think it’s easy to think when you live in a country where the vast majority is in favour of these rights that those who are not are simply monsters. Like it’s easy to think that ‘no-ers’ are all bat-shit crazy when you look at the ‘Vote No’ posters.
Ireland taught me something different. It doesn’t take a cruel heart to be against someone else’s right but just a different experience, a different emotional connection (or sometimes an absence of it). That’s all it is.
As humans, we base our opinions on experiences and on the emotions they create. And in a country where abortion is illegal and where homosexuals can’t marry, these experiences and emotions and the way they are discussed and taught are, in essence, different.
I’m not sure I’m making sense or sounding horrendously patronising, I don’t mean to, but these are the thoughts that have been going round in my head since the Savita tragedy (and the failed attempt at changing the Irish law on abortion).
Recently, those thoughts have been somewhat crystallised by the episode of This American Life podcast called ‘The Incredible Rarity of Changing your Mind‘ where the Los Angeles LGBT lab research send volunteers to talk to voters who are against gay marriage. It was eye-opening to hear voters’ thought process evolve after they made a personal connection with the matter. I really recommend a listen, food for thought, for sure!
I obviously hope with all my heart that today is going to bring us a yes but whatever happens, I’m optimistic as the past few weeks have opened a conversation that can’t be swept under the carpet anymore as so many now feel invested.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you Una, and for you Ireland.