Homophobia in Northern Ireland

johndodger

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Author Colin Bell has been talking about growing up gay in NI and the homophobia he encountered. He described how he was once asked at aged 8 "if he had AIDS yet?". Encouraged by his parents, he left NI at 17.

Inspired by Iris Robinson's now famous homophobic rant, he has written a new play about homophobia in NI.

Iris Robinson's homophobia 'inspires' play
Bell, 33, a gay man originally from Bangor, County Down, lives in Edinburgh with his long-term partner. "Iris Robinson may have been engaged in a homophobic rant, but my play isn't a rant against her," he said. "It is an examination of how other politicians in Northern Ireland are dealing with homosexuality. And it also explores how the Democratic Unionist party [DUP] have changed in the wake of Irisgate."
Growing up gay in NI is undoubtedly very difficult but is it harder in the catholic/nationalist/republican community or the protestant/unionist/loyalist community? Does anyone on this forum have any experiences they can share? Did you experience or witness much homophobia growing up?

Colin Bell interview on the John Murray Show

Click on "latest show". Interview starts around 50 minutes in (you can skip directly to this).
 
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Clanrickard

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Author Colin Bell has been talking about growing up gay in NI and the homophobia he encountered. He described how he was once asked at aged 8 "if he had AIDS yet?".
He was an openly practicing homosexual at 8? hmmmmmmmmmmm
 

eoghanacht

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He was an openly practicing homosexual at 8? hmmmmmmmmmmm
why not, i bet you had kissed a girl by the time you were 8, why can't this man have kissed a boy his own age?
 

fluffykontbiscuits

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Judging by the vast majority of posters on here both nationalist and unionist they dont give a flying f*** what orientation people are ! (I hope that doesnt come across as sounding smart its not meant to!!). They seem more interested in dealing with the political issues. There may be a bit more perhaps on the Unionist side with Unionism being a bit more geared towards traditional family values and being more religious. Again Im open to correction.
 
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Author Colin Bell has been talking about growing up gay in NI and the homophobia he encountered. He described how he was once asked at aged 8 "if he had AIDS yet?".
How can you be a homosexual at age 8? I had no sexual desire for girls yet at that age.

I had kissed a girl by age 8, but it was more because some of the other boys had girlfriends than any sexual desire for her.
 

meriwether

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Source or details of this incident ?

1985 was when Aids hysteria really hit the media - was he supposed to have been asked this by an adult ? or another child ? I doubt if many children at that age would have known a lot about either AIDS or homosexuality.
Source or details for what incident?
 

oboe

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No doubt homophobia is an issue in the North for some people.
I don't think attitudes here would differ much from opinion in the South or the UK. There are ignorant fools in all societies.
 

damon

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Homophobia is a term that really needs some explaining.
I think it's perfectly natural for there to be some clashing of cultures between say for example, a jockish pub culture in the countryside where people are into GAA and rugby and watching football with their mates - and the kind of gay clubbing scene that you get in the city.

And that when you get (for example) football fans from up in northern England spending some time before the game in London's Soho, it's perfectly understandable that they walk past the gay pubs with all the middle aged gay men with shaved heads and leather jackets to be a little comical. Gay and straight culture like that are just different enough for one to seem a bit strange if you are not used to seeing it.
 

johndodger

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He was an openly practicing homosexual at 8? hmmmmmmmmmmm
I doubt it. One does not have to be a practicing homosexual to suffer homophobia. He suffered homophobic abuse from that age, even before he knew he was gay.

Source or details of this incident ?
Radio interview this morning (on the The John Murray Show on Radio 1 I think - will try to get a link/podcast when available).


1985 was when Aids hysteria really hit the media - was he supposed to have been asked this by an adult ? or another child ? I doubt if many children at that age would have known a lot about either AIDS or homosexuality.
Was asked by an adult as far as I could tell.


No doubt homophobia is an issue in the North for some people.
I don't think attitudes here would differ much from opinion in the South or the UK. There are ignorant fools in all societies.
I don't recall, in recent times, any politicians in Ireland or in mainland UK coming out with such vile homophobic rants as Irish Robinson or Ian Paisley Jn though?
 

Just Jack

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How can you be a homosexual at age 8? I had no sexual desire for girls yet at that age.

I had kissed a girl by age 8, but it was more because some of the other boys had girlfriends than any sexual desire for her.
The same way you can realise your heterosexuality at a primary age. Your feelings towards the opposite gender do not necessarily have to be sexual.

From a young age, I always felt inclined towards females (in an attraction capacity) even though it was (ironically) more ‘gay’ or ‘sissy’ to hang around with them.
 

johndodger

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I'm looking for verification of a rather dubious claim in the OP .

One that is not mentioned in the Link.
Why is it dubious?

In any case, the link to the stream is below. Click on "latest show"

The John Murray Show

The interview starts around 50 minutes in (you can skip directly to this).


Homophobia is a term that really needs some explaining.
I think it's perfectly natural for there to be some clashing of cultures between say for example, a jockish pub culture in the countryside where people are into GAA and rugby and watching football with their mates - and the kind of gay clubbing scene that you get in the city.

And that when you get (for example) football fans from up in northern England spending some time before the game in London's Soho, it's perfectly understandable that they walk past the gay pubs with all the middle aged gay men with shaved heads and leather jackets to be a little comical. Gay and straight culture like that are just different enough for one to seem a bit strange if you are not used to seeing it.
Not all gay people have "shaved heads and leather jackets". Gay people are the same as straight people (i.e. they come in all shapes and sizes, colours, religions, races, styles etc.) except that they happen to be sexually attracted to people of the same sex rather than people of the opposite sex.

Many people may find gay people amusing but it's a differant matter to verbally or physically assault or threaten them just because of their sexuality.
 

Cruimh

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Radio interview this morning (on the The John Murray Show on Radio 1 I think - will try to get a link/podcast when available).

Was asked by an adult as far as I could tell.
Cheers. Sounds like a bit of self-publicity to me.

Was NI especially homophobic ?

There was talk about Jim Kilfedder for years and it didn't seem to do him any harm - and of course Jimmy Young's sexuality didn't do him any harm either.
 

former wesleyan

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Will the DUPers try to get NI twinned with New York ?
 

johndodger

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Cheers. Sounds like a bit of self-publicity to me.

Was NI especially homophobic ?

There was talk about Jim Kilfedder for years and it didn't seem to do him any harm - and of course Jimmy Young's sexuality didn't do him any harm either.
I don't know. Like most of the western workd I would imagine it's less so than before but is it still more homophobic than the rest of the UK and Ireland? Rants from religious leaders and the DUP don't help and possibly lead to an increase in homophobic discrimination, abuse and assault.
 

Ruaidhri

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not really much of a shock. In both communities religion and political allegience is more evident than anywhere in Ireland because its part of their identity. Both churches denounce homosexuality so I'm not suprised that there is a lot of anti-gay sentiment up North.
 

damon

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Not all gay people have "shaved heads and leather jackets". Gay people are the same as straight people (i.e. they come in all shapes and sizes, colours, religions, races, styles etc.) except that they happen to be sexually attracted to people of the same sex rather than people of the opposite sex.

Many people may find gay people amusing but it's a differant matter to verbally or physically assault or threaten them just because of their sexuality.
I've had my gay moments, so hopefully I won't come across as homophobic, but - just for example, being in San Francisco's Castro district in the 1980s (like I was several times) - there was a culture going on there that the hetro sports jocks would fail to understand I thought. It was gay, so therefore wasn't mainstream. It was counter culture - although by that time it was mainstream at the same time.
 


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