Love Me Or Leave Me

at

dalemcdermottDale McDermott on Saturday

Dale McDermott gave his end of term address as President of Young Fine Gael at the YFG conference in The Radisson Blu Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick at the weekend.

He closed his speech with a deeply personal plea.

The immediate challenge however for the next National Executive of Young Fine Gael is the Marriage Equality referendum. Young Fine Gael needs to play a significant role in this campaign.

Accepting my sexuality and being honest about me to family and friends was an agonisingly difficult and damaging journey. “Coming out” as it’s termed was the hardest thing I have had to do in my entire life.

For years, being gay consumed my mind – I hated it. I was depressed; I felt that I could never achieve my potential and that a limit would be placed on how far I could go. I thought I would face ridicule by those close to me, that I would be shunned by society and that the door to happiness would close for eternity.

I realised after years of mental agony that hiding who I really was would mean I would never be happy. I nervously took a leap of faith and told my family and close friends that I was a gay man. Since then I haven’t looked back.

I can say with absolute honesty that “coming out” has made me into the person I am now – happy, confident and even more determined to achieve whatever I aspire.

At the same time however, I know what it is like to be the teenager in the classroom, hiding under a thin veneer of “straightness” because of an institutionalised fear of what my peers would say and do if my veneer was scratched.

I know what it’s like to feel that the only way I can fix my problem is by pretending it simply doesn’t exist or even during my darkest days, by ending it all entirely. No one should have to go through that mental roller coaster especially during his or her teenage years. Sadly, for some, this is what being gay is like in our modern day republic.

Equality and freedom is the basis of any republic. While gay Irishmen and Irishwomen enjoy freedom, they are not equal.

They cannot marry the person they love and that means they cannot participate in our society in a full and complete manner. Inequality is instilled in our minds and if you were a gay teenager in a classroom at the moment, how would you feel knowing that in 21st century Ireland, you are not equal and you cannot marry the person you love?

The thought process would of course be negative and in my personal circumstance it added to my mental woes.

In May, Ireland will be given the opportunity to right what has been a wrong inflicted on the LGBT community in our country. Not only will a Yes vote bring forth a new dawn on the night that exists for many gay people throughout this country, it will also tell the teenager in the classroom who is struggling with their sexuality, like me only a few years ago, that it is okay to be who you are in modern day Ireland, that it is okay to feel strongly for someone, no matter their gender.

I don’t want to have to leave my country that I have grown up in for twenty-two years but I feel that if Ireland decides to keep the status quo and deny marriage equality, I will have to.

This is a great country. On May 22nd, Ireland will vote on Marriage Equality. On that same day, I will finish the final examination of my college degree. I hope that on May 23rd, I wake up an equal citizen in my country.

A country that welcomes and embraces diversity. One that grants equal rights to each and every one of its citizens, including the right to marry. The alternative is that I enter an Ireland that simply does not believe its gay citizens deserve the same rights as everyone else. A country disguised as an Orwellian Animal Farm that would proclaim I am equal; just some citizens are more equal than others.

I will therefore have to decide if that is a country that I want to live in and the answer at the moment is sadly no. I want the rest of my life to be exciting, fun, challenging but most of all; I want to share my life with someone who I love.

If Ireland rejects the referendum on marriage equality, I will be forced to leave my family and friends because my country will refuse me the right to share my life with the person I love.

Our forefathers believed in equality. From the very roots of ours nation’s beginnings, equality, liberty and fraternity were etched in their minds when dreaming of the much yearned for republic. The words of our proclamation:

“The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past”.

I speak not only to you in this room, but also to the country. Please don’t make me leave my country. Please support marriage equality.

Dale McDermott (Facebook)

YFG

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27 thoughts on “Love Me Or Leave Me

  1. Drogg

    I will gladly vote yes for marriage equality but fupp FG if they are going to take credit for it.

    1. All the good ones fly south for winter

      To the erroneous horde you’ll make today add missing the point.

  2. donkey_kong

    FG are chuffed , they have blinded the nation with the smokescreen of this referendum.
    It dominates everything media and social now while in the back ground the government are carrying on as normal with their nefarious deeds.
    I’m voting yes btw in case the good and great liberals rant at me.

  3. ollie

    marriage equality is important but I can’t help feeling that fg/labour are keeping the subject in the spotlight to avoid discussion on the other important items, for example home repossessions.

    1. Dubloony

      Well, generally there is a campaign run for referendums to highlight a particular stance.
      Once May 22 is over, am sure we can go back to arguing about housing, water,economy and the rest of it.

    2. brytothey

      To use your example, the home repossession problem is front page of the Irish Times today and most others. It’s very important that this ref gets enough coverage that it’s slam dunked home. You can’t have everything in the spotlight all the time.

  4. Lilly

    Self-absorbed pipsqueak. Spare a thought for those forced to leave the country just so they could pay the mortgage.

    1. Grouse

      I don’t get your point. Imagine—and given your personality apparent, I know that I’m reaching here—imagine you were in love with someone who loved you back, and you decided you wanted to get married and have a family, and the state said “No, you can’t, there’s a law against grumpy, unempathetic internet commenters getting married in this country.” Do you not think that being forbidden to get married would be a life-defining problem for you?

      People who have to leave the country for work have a problem. A totally different problem, which is not essentially greater or lesser in nature to this one.

      1. Lilly

        Ah yeah fair point. My antipathy towards FG will not stop me voting for marriage equality all the same.

    2. Dubloony

      I know a number of gay people who have left the country over the years. The poisonous whispering campaigns in small town Ireland can be devastating.
      They just wanted to get on with their lives and felt that they couldn’t do that from their home area.

  5. Joe the Lion

    fair play to him for speaking out – though all the usual caveats about YFG and slimy rats may apply.

  6. swoon

    “Our forefathers believed in equality. From the very roots of ours nation’s beginnings, equality, liberty and fraternity were etched in their minds when dreaming of the much yearned for republic. The words of our proclamation”

    I would have thought our forefathers were also probably prejudiced in many ways.Universal equality was probably not even possible in those days.Religion forming a lot of peoples attitudes towards their brothers and sisters.
    Evoking forefathers ain’t necessarily appropriate.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Agreed.

      He had me up to that point. And then I had a picture of the men (mostly) of that time who were as homophobic as the next in that era. My tuppence.

      Fair play for speaking out though, to this YFGer.

      1. The Old Boy

        I agree, but I’d say Roger Casement and (possibly) Patrick Pearse might have been secretly happy about it.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          Maybe so, but the fact that it was kept quiet at the time that Casement ‘may’ have been gay would be enough for me to believe that they never intended it to be read the way this young FGer read it.

    2. Lorcan Nagle

      You can stand up for a modern implementation of their ideals though. Many revolutionaries of the 20th century would indeed have been homophobic, but largely because homosexuality was largely underground and viewed as aberrant in a way that universal suffrage woudl have been in centuries prior. Instead of villifiing the founders of the Republic for their failings, I’d rather paraise them for their strengths, and so my bit to improve on what they fought for.

  7. Anomanomanom

    Just quick question to everybody, since everyone is always slamming the government. What party/parties would have done a better job. I wonder can anyone answer with out going on the normal rants and making no good points.

    1. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

      Done a better job at what?
      I would think that most people who will vote yes decided to do so based on personal experiences of friends and family rather than Enda Kenny telling them to do so.

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