Fuck kale. Fuck Fitspo. Fuck falsehood. Fuck Snapchat glam-shots. Everything ‘outside’ is fake. Enjoy it, but don’t believe any of it for a second. Dip your toe in and out, go for a full-on swim, but don’t let yourself drown in it.
You’d think when my trip to Edinburgh finished up that I’d sit back and collapse in a heap after nearly three weeks of madness – oh you don’t know me at all! As I scrolled through my FB timeline while I waited to get the plane back home, I wasn’t too mad about the prospect of coming back to that pot of pasta & stir-in sauce I suddenly remembered sitting on the hob. I could only imagine what furry mouldy creature awaited me when I eventually removed that lid.
I may have been away for some time.
So on I scrolled listlessly through my timeline not really paying any attention, until I saw a post from the page “The Queen Of Ireland”, a documentary about the now world-famous drag artist and Grand Dame of Dublin, Panti Bliss, which had set up a GoFundMe campaign in order to raise the finances to extend the documentary up to and just beyond the result of the Marriage Referendum. I had offered my services to help with spreading the word about it in my little corner of the internet and in the Midwest in general, and had gotten to know lots of the crew and PR team involved. It seemed to be a real labour of love for everyone, and the fact that we’d gotten the result we’d all campaigned and worked so hard for in the Referendum (spoiler alert rock-dwellers; we smashed the bigots in the ballots!)
What a lady. Click on the pic to head to her official FB page…
By now I’m sure anyone with internet access in Ireland knows about #Pantigate, so I’m not going to go into all that – but it was the response of Panti to all the furore around it, in the form of The Noble Call, that captivated everyone. Here it is just in case you felt like upping your daily recommended dose of goosebumps.
The documentary team had been following Panti for the last 5 years or so, and when all the controversy kicked off, they were there to capture every second of its evolution, and the lead-up to the referendum, and the aftermath. Suffice it to say that it’ll be a hell of a Hollywood ending, even we DO know the outcome.
The documentary team were looking for anyone who would be around Dublin on the Wednesday after I got back, who would like to be in a studio audience for what would be the final day of shooting. Naturally, in the spirit of saying ‘Yes’ to as many things as possible in order to make life interesting, and because I had time on my hands, I emailed and secured myself a place in the audience. So I flew into Dublin, getting in rather late and thanking the stars for my awesome mate Katia who picked me up from the airport and saved me serious hassle. I stayed with her that night, and arose at half six in the morning (WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING) to get out the door and make my way to the National Film School at the IADT Dun Laoghaire where the last scenes were being filmed.
Waiting to be called for filming. I have no feckin’ idea how I’m smiling, having gotten up that early.
Tell you what, if you’re going to get busted putting your make-up on in public, it may as well be by a crew of a documentary of a drag queen. My only regret is that it wasn’t dramatic enough by any means. These gals have SURRIOUS contouring skills. I must have looked like a boring pleb with only one shade of foundation on my face. The transformations were worthy of CGI skills. Having met Rory that morning halfway through his metamorphosis into Panti, he was laughing and joking with the crew discussing the plans for the day’s shoot. I swear, if I looked a tenth as fresh and happy as he did if I were in his Jimmy Choos, I’d be doing well.
There wasn’t a huge number of us in for the audience, but there was enough to get some good crowd shots and for Panti to engage with and share her anecdotes. There was no mistaking Panti for Rory either. She was Panti, as if Rory had been merely acting as her personal assistant that morning, carrying her personality in a make-up and clothing bag until it was time for her to emerge, sacrificing his entire physical being to help her come alive. That’s the best kind of personal assistant a diva could ask for. She did it all, in form-fitting dazzlers of gowns and super-high heels. That takes some doing.
(I need an assistant. SHUT UP I TOTALLY NEED ONE.)
I’m sworn to secrecy about the content of the shooting and of showing pics of the sets, until the documentary is released (which is fair enough; besides, I fucking HATE people who post spoilers). Fortunately that won’t be too long, it looks like there’s a desire to really get this done as perfectly as possible and to not lose any of the fantastic momentum and spirit surrounding our little island’s victory for equality. So instead, here’s a clip of Panti’s triumphant return into Pantibar on the afternoon of the referendum result as it began to emerge that we were looking at a massive resounding Yes vote. Having been around Dublin city centre as the news was starting to spread, myself and my friend Emma were walking around getting teary-eyed one minute, hugging each other and grinning like stoned apes the next.
So basically I’m telling you I had a really interesting, long, tiring, awesome day watching some of the best drag queens in the country do their thing, and giving feck-all away. But sure who doesn’t love a story full of suspense? I guess the point is that just when I thought all the adventuring had stopped, up popped another opportunity to do something out of the ordinary – and get to be a part of something a wee bit historic. I’m a very grateful J-Ro to be able to do stuff like this on a whim, and every day I’m thankful that I can share my adventures with people who seem to enjoy it! You mad eejits…
Lord knows what’s lined up for me in the next few weeks, but in July…I GET MY VOICE BACK! So between now and then I’ll try not to dissolve in terror at my first surgery since childhood and post some word-vomit on here to distract myself from The Fear. Please don’t hate me…
Jen, I’ve been a bit down lately due to homophobic comments slipped into normal conversations with a friend. They pass them off as humorous, but it’s still quite uncomfortable to say the least. I only recently started coming out as gay but he makes me feel ashamed of my sexuality. Thoughts?
First things first; don’t EVER feel ashamed of your sexuality. Your friend is clearly the uncomfortable one, not you. As us Limerick women say about people like that, “He’d want to go away and have a chat with himself”.
You made a seriously courageous decision to come out as gay, and your friends need to have a bit of understanding in how difficult it must have been to take the leap and tell them. In groups of friends, there tends to be a lot of mental categorising of individuals; the funny one, the mad one, the Star Wars nerd etc…and nobody likes it when the balance is upset because it shakes up preconceived notions about who people are. The reality is you’re still you, and you’re still their mate whether straight or gay.
If it’s just the one guy responsible for the homophobic comments, then he’s got his own issues that are feck-all to do with you. Not that it hurts any less to know that. Maybe he’s an out and out homophobe, or maybe you’re his first gay friend and he’s all discombobulated (Been waiting to use that word!). Or maybe he’s not secure in his own sexuality. Either way, totally HIS problem.
Whatever the reasons are behind his obviously shite attempts to disguise his discomfort with ‘jokes’, it needs to be nipped in the bud ASAP. If for no other reason than to save him from losing a hell of a lot more friends down the line if he keeps it up.
Phase 1 would obviously be to talk to him one-on-one, not in an aggressive confrontational way. Tell him you find the jokes that he makes really hurtful, and as a friend he should be aware of what it took for you to come out, and hearing stuff like that won’t help ANYONE who’s thinking about doing the same. If he’s your true friend, chances are he’ll be thoroughly ashamed and won’t have realised he was hurting you. Then he’ll hopefully beg your forgiveness and find another source of ‘comedic’ material. If, however, he gets defensive and says things like “too sensitive” and “only a joke” etc, it means you’ve hit a nerve and he doesn’t like being called to his account for his behaviour. In which case you can move swiftly to Phase 2.
For Phase 2; I would suggest a subtle push of reverse peer-pressure. Have a chat with one or two other mutual mates in your group whom you consider to be loving, supportive friends to you. Let them know that what he’s saying is not funny to you, and is really hurting your feelings. If he’s saying these things in a group, and nobody is calling him out on it, they are complicit in his actions. So a simple request for others to call him out on his crappy homophobic comments – or, worse yet for him, not laugh or find it funny – could be the kick into the Personality Hole this fella needs. No harm for him to know what it’s like to feel real shame.
If he persists in being an insensitive gowl-bag after all that, feel free to tell him go fuck himself. There’s a whole world out there waiting for you to live a fantastic authentic life. Hop to it!