THE murders of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee in Sligo horrified the country last week and the tragedies were marked by a vigil at the Town Park on Monday night.
Councillor Donna McGettigan was one of those in attendance and she said her son Jamie, who is transgender, had been involved in organising it.
“There wasn’t a huge turnout, but there was a nice, small crowd there on a Bank Holiday Easter Monday, it needed to be marked.”
She said that it was very important that people show their revulsion at the killings.
“Of course it was important to mark it. We had been out for Ashling Murphy as well and it’s important to show that we stand with the LGBTI+ community against homophobia and transphobia, to show that this kind of behaviour can’t go on.
“On the night I said that children aren’t born to hate, they’re taught how to hate. As a community, as parents, as schools, we need to teach children to love everyone for who they are, it doesn’t matter where they’re coming from.”
As a parent of a young transgender man, she said she is aware of the everyday discrimination that occurs.
“My son, when he spoke, he said that there are words that are used to define him for who he is, without people even knowing him, terrible homophobic words, even to be called diseased, to be called unwanted and immoral, stuff like that.”
“He was on a bus in Dublin at one stage, where a parent actually covered a child’s eyes, because at the time he was living as a girl and was holding a girl’s hand.
“This is the kind of thing that they have to put up with, and there’s people getting threatened.
“Why should anyone have to put up with that? No matter who you are you shouldn’t have to live with threats.”
She said that Jamie had been reluctant to be open about himself because of the social stigma.
“He used the word invisible, that he made himself invisible and didn’t want to come out because of the reactions of others.
“Not because he thought his family wouldn’t support him, but the reaction of the wider community had him fearing coming out, and saying exactly who he is and what he is.
“How many people have gone through marriages not being true to themselves, not even afraid of being rejected, but afraid of the repercussions and violence towards them.”
She reiterated the importance of a public show of support to show people that people who are LGBTI+ are not unwanted.
“Even if its a small turnout more than one person turned up to show solidarity with Aidan and Michael, to show that this can’t go on, that there are people there to give support. There does need to be more support in services to bring this about. There does need to be more education in schools on this.”
She said that casual homophobia can have a very serious impact.
“I’ve heard people when they don’t like the colour of a dress, say ‘that’s so gay’.
“That’s so wrong, that kind of talk is not right. They are using it without realising the seriousness of it. There could be someone standing beside them, a friend of theirs who is gay and afraid to come out.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.