Here's a letter I'm circulating to my various global LGBT contacts, after the stunning victory over the past few days across the Republic of Ireland.
I'm calling b.s. and heaping shame on the Gray Lady, the New York Times, for ignoring and omitting the unquestionable and crucial role Panti Bliss, alias Rory O'Neill, a drag artiste of many talents, in legalizing gay marriage in Ireland.
Bliss kick-started the referendum a few years back, decrying anti-gay oppression and taking on the Catholic church and conservative leaders. She also operates a gay bar in Dublin, is openly HIV positive and was a dominant figure in mainstream and various social media platforms in Ireland and elsewhere. Pretty much everywhere except the Times. Here's my letter:
Dear Global Friends,
I join with you all celebrating the fantastic separation of church and state in Ireland this weekend, with the Irish electorate voting 62 percent yes for gay marriages. We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people were on the ballot and won, and we couldn't have done without many straight allies.
Powerful media outlets such as the New York Times must update their contact lists for global gay activists and groups. It shames me that the USA's most influential paper, and friend of the gays, couldn't find any LGBT activists beyond America's borders to comment on the importance of the Irish vote to folks abroad.
Sunday's Times coverage mentioned gay advocates around the world and their reaction, and the only group quoted was the Human Rights Campaign, an American organization known more for glitzy dinners and sucking up to the Democratic Party than anything to do with international LGBT issues.
No mention of Panti Bliss. Same goes for Monday's coverage which included a photo of her and Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams, enjoying the celebration at Dublin Castle on Saturday after the votes were counted.
The Times has given more space to Adams, a straight ally, and the HRC group, which is always hogging media attention that rightfully belongs to others who do actual and effective organizing, than to Panti Bliss. Some things never change.
As the world gives credit to where it is due, at the high-heeled feet of Panti Bliss, and all the LGBT and allied Irish voters for this major leap forward for social justice and so much more, I hold out hope that the New York Times will eventually profile Panti Bliss and her beautiful courage.