PantiBliss, Ireland's most famous drag queen and also a gay rights activist, gave a moving and powerful speech at the Abbey Theatre this week.
'Panti's Noble Call at the Abbey Theatre '
This speech followed a quick libel payment of €85,000 by RTÉ to journalists John Waters and Breda O'Brien and members of the Iona Institute when Rory O'Neill, AKA PantiBliss, referred to some people as homophobic in a TV interview on RTÉ's Saturday Night Show.
An apology was made by Brendan O'Connor regarding the interview made by RTÉ saying:
"Now, on the Saturday night show two weeks ago comments were made by a guest suggesting the journalist and broadcaster John Waters, Breda O’Brien and some members of the Iona Institute are homophobic. These are not the views of RTÉ and we would like to apologise for any upset or distress caused to the individuals named or identified. It is an important part of democratic debate that people must be able to hold dissenting views on controversial issues."
Since the apology, there have been thousands of complaints about the apology and following this, there has been a debate on the Saturday Night Show regarding the word 'homophobia' and when it should or could be used. Many politicians and journalists are also questioning the quick censorship by a national broadcaster and the ramifications that it will have in the debate on marriage equality for homosexual couples.
PantiBliss at the end of his speech tells us that "the word homophobia is no longer available to gay people, which is a spectacular and neat Orwelllian trick, because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia, homophobes are the victims of homophobia."
The popular performer has since received the support of Stephen Fry who tweeted the video to his 6.5 million followers saying "Panti's Noble Call at the Abbey Theatre Do watch: esp the way she exposes the evil that makes homophobe a hate word". Panti also received support from fellow Irishmen Graham Norton and Dara Ó'Briain.
The video on YouTube.com has already over 230,000 views and it is really only the beginning of a national debate on what will enfold over the next year.