Happily Self-Segregated in my Rainbow-Coloured Safe Space


‘Irish American News’, September 2019



The world is confusing me – again.  Nothing new there; it seems that a week doesn’t go past lately that I don’t feel as if I’ve fallen ass-first down the rabbit hole.

I mean, didn’t Ireland fairly recently have a referendum on equality for the gay and lesbian community, with equal marriage rights and all that good stuff?

And didn’t the population overwhelmingly show that they’re not too bothered about interfering in other people’s sex lives?

There ye go, I thought to myself; we won’t have to listen to any more of this eye-watering stuff about a gay community and a straight community.  It’ll just be the Community, the way that it should be.

It turns out that would have been ‘way  too much to hope for.  Now that we’re all happily equal it turns out that the LGBT community (yes, we’re back to separate communities again) don’t actually want to be treated like everyone else after all.  From September the University of Limerick will be granting requests for student accomodation that will be available for those who are gay, lesbian or transgender.

Presumably there will also be accomodation for those who are pansexual, gender fluid or who ‘identify’ as dolphins; but let’s not go there:  as I say, I’m confused enough as it is.

Because this isn’t the ‘straight’ community that is imposing some sort of segregation; this is the LGBT themselves.  Oh yeah… and the scheme is called ‘rainbow housing’.  Well, of course it is.

Here’s Dr. Amanda Haynes to enlighten us.  She is the co-director of Limerick University’s Hate and Hostility Research Group (a First World job if ever there was one) and she says that “rainbow housing is not about self-segregation.  It’s about giving LGBT students access to a supportive base in which to launch themselves confidently, proudly, and assertively into campus life.”

(Sure.  By putting up a great big flag saying that they really WERE different all along.  Jesus wept, it doesn’t even make a bit of sense.)

“In addition, the University’s introduction of rainbow housing sends out a clear message to all students, whatever their identity, that this campus intends to be a safe and inclusive space for LGBT people.”

Oh well, I would have bet good money that nonsense terms like ‘safe space’ would come into it sooner or later – ‘triggered’ will be along in a minute — and of course anyone who throws those terms about simply never disappoints you.  I’m only surprised that the word ‘vegan’ hasn’t popped up somewhere; maybe they’re getting a different building.

Uncomfortably for me, I found myself agreeing with a Fianna Fáil politician who attempted (and it’s a risky subject to do this on) to talk a bit of common sense.

Mayor of Clare Cathal Crowe said:

“I’m big on inclusion and equality, but I think this idea from UL is a bit daft when almost all students are struggling to find affordable accomodation.  On top of that, it’s hugely segregationist.  Why put LGBT students into separate accommodation?”

But – again – they’re not being put in.  They are putting themselves in.  In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are the ones who are not interested in ‘inclusion and equality’.

In a Facebook post Mayor Crowe went on to say:

“It is 15 years since I graduated from UL and I considered it to be an open and tolerant campus.  This entire idea seems a bit OTT and retrograde.”

LGBT activist Richard Lynch wasn’t having any of that, though.  No common sense wanted here, thank you very much.  He hit back with:

“Everyone has an opinion about these things, and if you’re not an LGBT person, you probably do not understand the need for Rainbow Housing.  He [Crowe] is not a gay person, [but] he is entitled to his opinion…”

And is it just me or did those final words seem to be given a bit grudgingly?  I’m not so sure that Mr. Lynch really does think that the Mayor is entitled to his opinion, him not being gay and all.

A few minor points:  I’m fed up with everyone and their mother describing themselves as ‘activists’.  It just sounds utterly dopey after a while.  And what’s this with the gay community hijacking rainbows?  I’m quite partial to a nice rainbow, myself.  They’re very pretty and I’m always hoping that I’ll trip over a pot of gold at the end of one someday.  Why do only gay people get to access them?  Especially since ‘gay’ no longer means ‘gay’ but instead covers humourless and entitled.

Also, I’m sure I’ll get enough stick about this article as it is, so I better apologise in advance for using the alphabet jumble of LGBT.  I’ve just found out that it should properly be LGBT +.  I forgot the plus.  Heh.  I knew the pansexualists would get in there somewhere.

And talking about getting stick, some people didn’t seem too happy that I mentioned in my last column that I’m also getting a bit fed up with hearing about climate change.  It seems that to even dare suggest that you don’t spend every spare moment in thinking about that topic makes you an irresponsible monster who has just been caught interfering with his neighbour’s pet cat.

Yes, I know it’s serious; but there’s an awful lot of hypocrisy goes along with this territory.  Nor do I just mean courtesy of the rich like Creepy de Caprio and others who manage to fly around in their private jets whilst lecturing we poor mortals on the immorality of leaving behind any kind of carbon footprint.  Last week one of our local beauties, who never stops ringing her hands about the environment and letting you know what an activist she is, dumped her burger and chips on the ground before staggering into a taxi at three in the morning.  Classy. I hope it was a veggie burger.  I guess the environment isn’t quite so important when you’re off your face in the wee small hours and don’t think that anyone is watching.

Nor is she alone.  Check out Oranmore town on a Friday or Saturday morning and the litter and refuse would make you despair.  We’re not a species that deserves a second chance, in my opinion.

Oddly enough, I recently took a notion to reread some very early J.G. Ballard — one of my all-time favourite authors — and I had forgotten how focused those first novels were on environmental disasters.

His 1962 book ‘The Drowned World’ gives us a look at a world where the icecaps have melted and the water level is up all over the globe.  But it is ‘The Drought’ that will really pop your eyes, considering that it was published all of 55 years ago.  In this nightmare vision of the future humanity has poured so much radioactive gunk, plastic and rubbish into our oceans that a sort of skin has formed, leading to a world-wide drought and the collapse of what we laughingly call civilization.

I suppose that back then it was considered a bit on the fantastic side.  Now, as this astonishing planet prepares to teach us that we are going to reap what we have sowed, it doesn’t seem very far-fetched at all.