TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER
an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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There was a hatching this weekend, finally, at the swan's nest by Nun's Island. The neighbourhood thronged the canal, counting all the grey-downed heads. Four, with another one to come. Isn't it lovely, said one old woman, Isn't it nice to see the new generation? On the walk to campus, I cackle at the huge NO sign posted outside St. Joseph's Church. It had been sponsored by the Iona Institute, a socially conservative Catholic think tank that promotes "the place of marriage and religion"; they had been regularly airing their vitriole, sorry, values for ages, ever since the referendum on gay marriage had been declared.
On Friday, the Irish electorate voted 'yes' to gay marriage, the first popular vote in the world to do so. I read one critique, posted on FB, which framed the referendum as the mobilisation of 'family' by the neoliberal state, to further privatise social welfare by gathering more subjects under that umbrella, via the guise of 'inclusivity'. Anne Mulhall offered an excellent response (or supplementary reading), framing it as Irish voters' resistance to homophobic rhetoric and Catholic Church ideology. It was a popular challenge to the history of theocracy in Ireland, the entwinement of Catholic Church and state. Mulhall also linked it to the good work of the anti-austerity movement and suggested that its result could be used to mobilise future anti-oppression movements in Ireland.
I myself have qualms of linking marriage to the state, even as a recently married person, maybe because I am a married person, and believe the status of my union before my friends and family should not be mediated by the State. But as voting day approached, I felt that it was not really about gay marriage. The campaign was a manifestation of the desire to undo the legacy of the Catholic Church, to win one after the long centuries of theocratic oppression of every "wayward" embodiment of desire, even dancing. Thus, the jubilation, the sheer relief on Saturday, the utter joy, when the people of Ireland cried, "yes I said yes I will Yes."