not a member? click here to sign up
Triple All-Ireland winning hurler, the openly gay Donal Og Cusack, gave a mighty address at the recent Derry Pride, drawing parallels between the gay-rights struggle and the fight against institutionalised sectarian discrimination in Norn Iron..
Eamonn McCann, 10 Sep 2012
Derry isn’t hurling country and Cork is at the other end of the earth. Not many locals will have known much of Cork hurling goalkeeper, All-Star and triple All-Ireland winner Donal Óg Cusack before he arrived to declare Derry Pride open. But he was the talk of the town afterwards.
His address sent a thrill eddying across a packed audience at the Void gallery. It has since attracted decent coverage in the mainstream media. But all of the commentary I’ve seen has focused on Donal Óg’s personal story, which is well worth the telling. There’s been next to nothing, though, on the political connections which he drew.
He spoke of the coincidence of the Stonewall riot with the onset of the North’s civil rights movement. “When the police came mobhanded… into the Bogside they sang: ‘Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees/ And we’re going to monkey around/ ’til we see your blood flowing/ All along the ground.’”
A few thousand miles away, he recalled, it was the protestors who were singing: “We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We wear no underwear/ We show our pubic hair.”
The link between the fight for gay liberation and the struggle against discrimination in the North might seem obvious to some. But it’s a connection people you wouldn’t believe tend to shy away from – seemingly fearing it might “sectarianise” the issue and harden loyalist opposition to gay rights.
Even mention of the fact that mass resistance to police violence was midwife at the birth of gay liberation isn’t always welcomed by those who revere the recent respectability of the cause.
“I know that the journey from 1969 to here has been different in this part of the world to practically anywhere else,” Donal Óg went on. “Buried beneath a hundred other prejudices and hatreds there must be a secret history of gay men and women living out their lives in the deepest shadows… We know of the heroism of Jeff Dudgeon who, having been questioned about his personal life by the RUC, brought his case against the United Kingdom to the European Court of Human Rights, and won – 15 years after male homosexual behaviour was decriminalised in England and Wales… It took another 11 years for the 26 counties to follow suit into the modern world...”