Dr. Amanda Haynes, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Limerick presents 'Glory is for the Vain, Fight is for the Brave' by Dr. Christian G. Moretti in occasion of Limerick Pride 2017 Launch. You can order your copy here: Order here
In the past few days I have had to travel to Southern Italy due to my father being very ill.
I had to return to my homeland, a place that I have left when I was 19, exactly 14 years ago.
The feeling of coming back to these places was very intense from different perspectives.
On the one hand, I felt the nostalgia of the young days, my childhood and my coming into the world as a human being.
On the other side, I realised how much travelling, living abroad, experiencing bigger and more open realities have formed me into the person I am today.
Old feelings coming back, of course but also old fears with a new understanding.
Leaving these places and facing loneliness, hardships, psychological development and maturity made me understand a lot about the social hierarchies that more isolated places are based upon.
And what we are talking about here is an isolated place indeed, with wild countryside on on side and the Adriatic Sea on the other. There is no chance to experience change here, at least naturally. The wind did not and will not bring some fresh air here.
Visibility is not an option in these places; visibility is not only scary, it is to condemn. If you are visible here, you are either strange or someone who found their fortune and now is coming back to the town to show off; either way, you are an outsider.
Visibility is considered a threat to a system which had established itself centuries ago and which is impossible to eradicate.
When we talk about LGBTQI rights we often think of those countries where whatever is not heterosexual is condemned and punished legally. We think of Chechnya, the UAE, Saudi Arabia etc... Of course, I am not intending to negate the atrocities that happen daily in those countries. However, my point is that discrimination, shame and repression is still present and strong in the very same realities where equality is a reality (partial or total). What I want to discuss is the fact that media, sometimes or always, feed us with positivity which is not representative of the whole society. Taking a city like Dublin or Milan as case studies is not representative of the whole Irish and Italian realities, for instance.
There is an ethical issue here as far as journalism is concerned; a question that we should be asking ourselves is: are we talking about journalism or are we talking about propaganda? Of course there is very little interest in reporting about smaller realities, they are isolated and, for this reason, are not capable of being influential on the economy, market and society in general. Yes, boosting positivity can indeed influence the economy of a state; it does not matter if that is true or not, partially or totally accurate, business is business and the 'gays' are a big and wealthy (stereotype alter here) of the society.
It is important, therefore, to consider to what extent equality is applied in our country. We should be inquiring if and to what extent the civil and human rights of other citizens in more isolated areas are respected. We have a responsibility towards our fellow citizens and we should not assume that the same rights that we enjoy are applied to other people in different geographical areas.
Walking the streets of my hometown filled my heart with a sense of oppression, shame and hate. I saw desperation in people's eyes, the same look of somebody who has never known freedom.
Being visible in smaller and rural areas is therefore an act of bravery which everyone should acknowledge and praise. That is the real essence of Pride, that is the spirit behind the fight for social justice. These people may feel defeated in their own localities, however it is our duty to let them know that what they are going through is indeed a victory; they challenged the social hierarchy that has always oppressed them and broke the silence.
I find myself writing this letter to you to tell you a few things that you should know.
Firstly, you have to know that you will have one of the best experiences that you will ever have in your life. You will meet a lot of people and you will be finding yourself supporting so many causes. You will be representing the LGBTQI community locally but this does not mean that you cannot push yourself even further. Soon you will realise that you have an amazing platform to vocalise your concerns, your worries and your ideas and that is absolutely fantastic. Just with your words you will support so many people who are struggling with many different issues and this feeling, believe me, is everything.
You will experience kindness, determination, joy and pride.
You will also experience discrimination, a lot of it. You will experience people talking about you, sharp and hurtful criticism, demeaning and belittling. You will question why you are doing it and you will feel a wave of pride and justice raging in you. You will have great moments but you will also have bad ones, really bad ones. But let me tell you, those are the moments that make your title worthy. The thought of being able to make a difference, that is what makes the effort worthy.
You will fight a battle and you will win, I have no doubt about it. You will be a visible person and you will be admired and condemned.
Your determination will generate praise and envy. You will see people supporting you and other people bringing you down, sometimes within our very same family.
But let me tell you, never give it up, always keep your head up, always keep going your way because, eventually, you will understand that this was all needed in order to achieve your goals.
I am personally proud of what I did, the experiences that I have had and the difference that I have made and I am sure you will do the same.
Finally, please do not forget that you have an entire family behind you.
After his experience as Mr Gay, Christian G. Moretti reveals what LGBTQI activism means to him. In this book, Christian discusses a wide range of issues concerning and affecting the LGBTQI community and not only. Thoughts-provoking, straightforward and politically incorrect, this book features a collection of critical and opinion pieces which challenge the social perception of the LGBTQI community in Ireland and the world. Click here to buy your copy
My name is Christian G. Moretti, I am a secondary school teacher, I am also a novelist, LGBTQI activist and current Mr. Gay Limerick 2016/2017.
I am writing this open letter because I want to express my shock and concern about Ireland not taking a firm position about what is being reported in Chechnya.
Hundreds of gay men have been arrested in the previous days, some of them have been murdered (the exact numbers are not known because, as you all may know, in these circumstances it is extremely difficult to obtain objective and accurate information). Chechen propaganda is repressing any sort of realistic information and declares its institutions as innocent.
The concerning part of their attack is the fact that they deny the existence of gay men in their territories. By so doing, they obliterate the very fundamental idea of homosexuality. Of course, as we all know in Europe, these men do exist and have been taken to what seem 'concentration camps' for homosexuals.
This is all we know. We do not know anything about their welfare, what sort of tortures they are suffering and, indeed, we do not know if they are alive.
As an activist, I am deeply concerned about this situation and I am appalled that the Irish Institutions have not, yet, taken a firm position.
I was born in Italy and moved to Ireland in 2011, I love this country and I consider it my home, my homeland now. I know how Ireland has changed in the last twenty years in order to guarantee equality and justice to all its citizens. I also know how dedicated and passionate Ireland is when it comes to humanitarian emergencies; the truth is, Irish people are well known all over the world for their generosity and kindness.
I, therefore, appeal to these values of generosity and kindness to ask you to act in this regard, to demand an international investigation, to play the role that we have towards other human beings. Ireland has freed itself from the chains of oppression and domination, thus, we all have a duty to safeguard the right of freedom inside and outside our borders.
Thanking in advance,
Dr. Christian G. Moretti, Mr. Gay Limerick 2016/2017