Letter: After same-sex marriage ruling, it is important for stories to be heard

Paul Pearson

I wrote this reflections email to my family and friends on the day Ireland supported overwhelmingly, same-sex marriage. The same people, who, during the centuries prior to 2000 were ruled by every word that came from the church leaders’ mouths, voted, young and old, rural and urban, for the right of every citizen to be treated equal.

On Friday I had the pleasure of holding Randy’s hand while we heard Justice Smellie give his ruling that every citizen of The Cayman Islands should be treated equally.

At last, in my adopted country I have the right to be treated equally. The adopted country that I have worked hard in every day for the last 18 years. This community I have supported even when I was the target of ‘slings and arrows’. That I have donated financially to, that I have stood on street corners and begged for money for charities for, that I have employed countless people in, the adopted country that I love.

Now, when I hear the Premier’s words of the appeal that the decision, I think it is more important than ever to have one’s story heard. The arc of the moral universe is long, as Dr. MLK, Jr. said, but it bends toward justice.

Reflections on today in Ireland from the Cayman Islands. – 24th May 2015

To my loved ones:

I have largely been very quiet on the vote for Equal Marriage Equality in Ireland today. As I sit here with Randy looking out onto the blue Caribbean Sea, I marvel at the life I have & the life I came from.

I guess, after all these years, after all the benefits I have enjoyed in life, I dared not get my hopes up too high and have them smashed once again from my home country. Many people I know felt this way. Many others, even though feeling this way, worked very hard these last few weeks to campaign for a yes vote. Many of those people were not gay, but they knew of the injustices that continued inequality would bring on this and future generations of Irish.

I awoke this morning thinking, “Dare I get up and watch if my prayers have been answered, what if it is a “no”, then what? Could I ever go back to the land I was born?”. Eventually I worked up the nerve to tell Randy I was scared.

It was such a strange day to be so far away yet so spiritually present at Dublin Castle. Emotions were all over the place. Every time a young Irish person told his or her story I cried. I spoke to people in Ireland & Cayman and cried. I was so amazed at the magnanimous attitude from each side of the debate. By lunchtime here, I was able to breath loudly. Since then, I cannot wipe the smile from my face.

Earlier today Mum called, “Congratulations, we are so happy for you.” As I got off the phone, wondering why she had said that, I realised that she, along with many other people, had made the effort, and voted because of me & Randy. For those of you who gave us some thought today, ¬”THANK YOU”

Growing up, to be the authentic person I was born as, was illegal in Ireland. I had to leave to find my voice. I left to my mother & father in tears three weeks after my eighteenth birthday. With the most amazing family & friends, I was given wings and a voice. Today, the rest of my nation declared that I am valid also. Please don’t anyone underestimate that.

It feels as though, even as I have you all, that 45 years of oppression in my life has been lifted. People talked about this on the TV all day. Many LGBT people will be stunned for a few weeks, maybe even months & years. We have been invited into the light, and it might take a while for people to get used to that. You will see young people in Ireland celebrating that they were born that way and are not a freak or an accident of nature, or one of God’s mistakes. Please be patient with them and smile. Smile and remember people of my age, and those before me who gave me their shoulders to stand on (James & Sean, Uncle Ned), who fought, sometimes very silently but very deliberately, for that right.

Thank you to my amazingly supportive parents, even when I was young and acting out, when I was trying to find my voice. When I found it and came home to tell you, through it all, I never doubted your love or support for me. To my Nana & Grandad (RIP), who always silently knew of my sexuality and never judged it, and my Grandmother, although injured, and at nearly 90, went out yesterday and voted. To all my family and dear friends who supported me, who made me feel a child of God, no less loved than the flowers of the field or the birds of the air, thank you.

With all you amazing people in my life and with all the support I had & have, I still grew up feeling deep fear, shame, of being ‘less than’, today my home country not only said YES, but also has said NO. No more inequality, it is a wonderful feeling.

Randy and I are now watching the sun go down, we will raise a glass to our young & old brothers & sisters in the LGBT community in Ireland and toast, that because of people like you all, they never have to feel unequal. – THANK YOU.

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