23 May 2012

Dignity

This is a re-post from a magazine I began writing for last year around this time. It coincides with my trip abroad.

I travelled over 3000 miles en route to Dublin this past July to go on a date with a guy I met on SCRUFF (an iPhone gay chat app) and we did the usual: movie, make out, and had sex.

We saw the critically acclaimed film "The Guard" starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. Set in the Emerald Isle, Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is an anything but orthodox Irish cop and Agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle) is an uptight US FBI agent in to investigate possible international drug smuggling by way of Ireland. The two make an unlikely pair with Everett's expertise in protocol and Boyle's expertise in life. Boyle's young, and straight-laced partner, Garda Aidan McBride (Rory Keenan), is murdered by the smugglers. It is later found out he is married to beautiful, non-Irish national Gabriela McBride (Catarina Cas).

While the movie's story-line involving Gleeson and Cheadle's on-screen chemistry was the craic (pronounced "crack" meaning "fucking good fun" in Irish), the tertiary plot that took place involving the McBrides' marriage was what sparked my interest. When Boyle made it his personal vow to find out what happened to his fallen partner in uniform, he interviewed McBride's wife who in total confidence revealed to Boyle that her husband was gay, but they did love each other. She married him for the VISA and he for the "dignity."

At that moment, my ears perked and my mind ran through a PowerPoint presentation of the relationship I have with the man sitting to my right who was holding my hand underneath a jacket, afraid someone might see. Vignettes of him looking around before stealing a kiss; pushing me away if I got to close in public; quickly straightening-up from lounging on the couch too closely when his roommate walked-in. For "dignity." The seeming culture of Irish men is to not express any emotion or any indication of problems that are essentially no one's business except their own - that is until they, because of their repression, develop an addiction to the pint, act on in abusive ways on others, or take their own life all for the sake of keeping their role as man and masculine.

In Ireland, up until 1993, it was illegal to be gay - so much for dignity. Finding this out from the Fodor's guidebook I purchased prior to my trek was one of the slides in that PowerPoint I was talking about. I remember reading it before I was boarding and thought it was an interesting point, but things made more sense as my time in Ireland with my beau for the next two weeks unfolded. Even though we went to the gay bars at night, it wasn't the same. The morning wasn't the same, in particular. My experiences range from The Castro, San Fran; to Chelsea, NYC; to Cedar Springs, Dallas. I wasn't used to not being affectionate in public with the guy I was fawning over. I'm not a big fan of PDA, but c'mon: does a tossle of someone's hair on the back of their head or a prolonged hug from a person of the same sex warrant stares, looks of disgust and fears of being bashed?

Our nation was built on the ideals of conservatism by the Puritans. So, I know the US isn't THE model country for equality and gay rights, but even still I take for granted the slow yet moving progression of LGBTQ rights here. I take for granted that in this area, or even this country, the LGBTQ community has made strides towards equality on the marriage front - congratulations, New York, by the way. Never will I feel pressured to marry a woman to fit in. Never will I have to play the pronoun game to hide my homosexuality. Never will I have to be ashamed.

Point of the conversation: I'm vowing to live as a proud, gay-American. You know, for "dignity."

- DeeCue

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