I went to an all boys secondary school of 750 pupils. Not one of them was gay. Obviously, this statistic is ludicrious, but it reflects the hostile environment that was presented to gay people growing up in Ireland in the late 90s and early 00s. I imagine that many gay boys in my school had to present a public face to protect themselves. I liked rock music, and had long hair, and at times it was tough for me. But I could at least be myself in public, I can only imagine what it must be like to lie completely every day for fear of reprisals. Jack O’Rourke, an up and coming Irish singer songwriter, has bravely shared ‘Silence’, a track that addresses the very issue of ‘passing’ as straight. The song is available now in aid of Amnesty International’s Let’s Make History – YES Campaign for Marriage Equality. All proceeds from the single will go towards this campaign.
On the 22nd of May, Ireland has the chance to show all the children growing up gay that things have changed, that they are normal, equal, and accepted. In relation to the track, Jack told Amnesty International, “Silence is about my own struggle to reach self-acceptance. To the boy that I was being free to live and love openly, felt like an impossible dream. Ireland has a chance to take a huge step forward on 22 May, and make it clear that we believe in equality, that we want to be a society where everyone is free to live and love in the open. So, I believe my song could resonate with so many people – gay, straight, whatever and particularly people on the fence about how to vote. I think people will understand that me getting married or many like me, won’t cause the sky to fall in. The fact that my country men and women will hopefully decide that I should be free to marry the person that I love is a huge deal – it would have seemed impossible to the boy in the song – the man can now dream.” I, for one, am proud that Jack is my countryman, and implore you to vote ‘Yes’ on May 22nd.