The vote is only days away, but the campaign for Irish marriage equality has for a long time been given a big boost by Hollywood superstar Colin Farrell.
Farrell recently penned an open letter celebrating his gay brother Eamonn and his husband Steven Mannion’s relationship and expressing how unfair it was that the pair had been forced to travel overseas to get married. “My brother Eamonn didn’t choose to be gay. Yes, he chose to wear eyeliner to school and that probably wasn’t the most pragmatic response to the daily torture he experienced at the hands of school bullies,” Colin wrote last November.
“The fact that my brother had to leave Ireland to have his dream of being married become real is insane. INSANE. It’s time to right the scales of justice here: to sign up and register to vote next year so that each individual’s voice can be heard.”
On the eve of the referendum, Attitude joined Colin’s brother Eamonn and his artist husband Steven at their home in Dublin to hear how they felt about having to get married away from their friends and family, how Colin has been a rock and why achieving this new legislation will have a massive impact on gay Irish youth.
Is it important for you and Steven to be seen as married in your own home country?
We were married in Canada but getting a civil partnership in Ireland wasn’t for me. That’s why we went away. I had always dreamed of getting married. I used to rob one of my sister’s doll houses and my two action men lived in it together... seriously! And when I proposed to Steven I asked him to someday marry me. Not to civil partner me, or register our relationship with theregistrar for deaths, births and marriages. I asked him very clearly to marry me, in Ireland someday, when we were able to. Unfortunately I couldn’t wait as long as it has taken so we went to Vancouver and got married there.
What difference do you think having marriage will make to the way gay men and women are viewed by general society?
I think in the next 50 years we will look back and our kids and grandkids will ask us if we remembered when it was not legal for same sex couples to get married. They will be shocked! We can look back ourselves to somewhere as close as 1967 and think that in certain parts of the United States a white person could not marry a black person. Now we are shocked that society could ever think that such blatant racism was okay. There will come a time when being gay will be as uninteresting as being a brunette, and that day can’t come quickly enough.
And what impact do you think it will have for Ireland’s younger gay people?
It will be huge. It will be a recognition of their relationships as equal and inclusive. The passing of the referendum is a yes for us all; it’s a yes to us being a fully recognised part of Irish society. We need to say yes and move forward with our lives as LGBT people. Saying no would be moving backwards to a time when it was very difficult to be part of an often marginalised minority group living in Ireland. I really do think that most people don’t want that. Most people want society, human rights and equality to develop and grow.
There’s been phenomenal support from Irish people of all ages. Has that surprised you?
Not at all. We have become a very inclusive society really, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve had to stick together very much through adversity, through recent mass immigration and through the recession. I think people now see that a question which relates to two people wanting their love to be recognised by their society is actually not a bad thing. We have a campaign running in Ireland called Call Your Grandparents and it’s available on YouTube. If you need to have a good cry – a happy cry into your glass of Chablis some night – have a look at it. It’s truly magical. It’s a series of videos of young LGBT people calling their grandparents and asking them how they will be voting in the referendum. It totally backs up the idea that people who have a gay person in their lives would never even dream of voting against equal marriage. It’s a total no-brainer. We also have Straight Up for Equality, which is straight people coming out in support of the referendum, changing their Facebook profile pictures to equals signs.
Read our full, four-page feature with the couple in the current Summer 2015 issue of Attitude, out now. You can grab the digital version of the mag from Pocketmags.com/Attitude, buy it in shops or subscribe from newsstand.co.uk/Attitude.