By Olivia Dawson
The impending marriage equality referendum is undoubtedly going to have massive consequences for LGBT people, regardless of the outcome. All around campus there are many LGBT students hoping and praying that it will pass. Seán Lynch, a committee member of Out in UL and advocate of LGBT rights told me his story as an openly gay student here in UL.
“The first time I ever even acknowledged it [my sexuality] to anyone would’ve been coming to Out In UL meetings.”
“But I guess the first family member would’ve been my mother, about November-December of my first semester in college. Which obviously was a big deal for me. But, you know, she was really accepting of it and then I gradually told more people.”
Coming to the end of his second year in college, I asked Seán how people have reacted when they realised he was gay.
“I haven’t had any problems with my course mates or lecturers. You know, I think UL is a really good place and has a really positive atmosphere for young LGBT people. The hostility isn’t really there, which is great.”
However, campaigning for an issue that is so close to your heart can be difficult at times, as Seán explains:
“It can be difficult to try and convince people, you know? If it’s just marriage equality or if it’s a general queer issue, it can be difficult to brush it off sometimes when it’s something to do with your life. You do end up kind of taking it personally.”
Having started canvassing around campus this week, it wasn’t the opposition to marriage equality that phased Seán; rather the complacency of the students.
“What I thought I would have a problem with would be people saying “I’m voting no”. But really what the problem was, was people saying “No I’m not going to vote; it’s going to pass”. And then you get really annoyed at that because if you look at the polls, they’re dropping.”
When a referendum as significant as this one comes along, that directly affects a person’s own life, it’s hard not to be as passionate as Seán and his fellow Out in UL members are.
“In general, it is a huge step forward for LGBT rights; for the rights of a minority that have been pushed down and down, time and time again. And to have seen so many people my age really get out and really push for it, I’ve been surprised.”
“People who are queer or straight, whatever you know, they’re really pushing for it and that’s meant a lot to me to actually see that.”