A lot has happened over the past week that has shaken the world to its core; as one nation declares love for all, by all, and with all, regardless of gender, a legal right and freedom protected by the constitution, another man came out in his truth to live his life as he’d always wanted to; as a woman named Caitlyn. It was a week that brought out the best and worst of humanity. Some felt children should grow up in a “traditional” family setting, others that man should not disrupt the intentions of religion, and so the arguments still wager on. Both sides adamant that their beliefs stand for the truth of mankind.
Last week Ireland threw down the gauntlet by becoming the first country in the world to legalise same sex marriage. This was a moment in history my generation will never forget. This is Ireland, a country polarised by the religion, a nation that became known as the annex for the catholic church and Rome following its separation from the UK, a country that legalised divorce only in 1995 by a 1% margin, until 1985 contraception was only available by prescription. This is bigger than anyone can imagine or understand.
The distance between the congregation and the Church has grown wider, even more so in the wake of the many sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the church in recent times. In legalising same sex marriage Ireland forces other countries around the world to fall in line, to acknowledge that everyone in love has the fundamental right to companionship bound by marriage should they choose to. It celebrates love in its simplest form across the board.
This vote made me curios of what might be said on Sunday morning in catholic churches across the country. I was particularly curious about what one of the reverend fathers in my church would say about it; he is as traditional as they come. Yet he surprised me in his sermon; he acknowledged that the vote in Ireland presents a challenge for the church and its induction into the modern times, and though the church has been slow to adapt to changes, it is an inevitable step. There are six clergymen in my church, five of whom are married. No female as yet, but he was open to the possibility of a woman being ordained and who knows, become Pope one day. The church has always been at odds with modernisation, shedding its cloak of tradition makes it open to scrutiny unlike ever before seen. Although he believes that family is “traditionally” man, woman and child, he respects the fact that people have different sexual orientations, something that cannot be held against them, but should be respected because as human beings, we are bound by love. And whilst you may not accept or understand the way a person choose to live their life, you damn sure will respect it. (the damn was me).
In the same way this week, we have been challenged with a new normal; Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner Olympic Champion, was presented to the world on the Cover of Vanity Fair Magazine, shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, of course. The cover is as fabulous as you would expect, Caitlyn dressed in a satin corset, mane of lovely flowing hair and impeccable make up. “Call Me Caitlyn” the cover read. It broke the internet in its entirety, my timeline was overwhelmed with support for Caitlyn, proof that I do follow all the right people. In a span of minutes, Caitlyn’s social media account grew exponentially, breaking the record once held by President Barack Obama, support came from all corners. There was the usual underbelly of society on there, showing themselves with their baseless opinions and typical scorn, but her debut was indeed one giant step.
Set aside the fact that she looks gorgeous, body, hair, makeup and all, or the fact that she has a new reality TV show to plug, etc. all that is floss. Let us now focus on what this means not only for the transgender community, but for society as a whole; Caitlyn Jenner, alongside others like Laverne Cox, continues the charge for men and women everywhere, dealing with a crisis of identity, fear of acceptance in the wider world, they continuously redefine the norm and challenge society to look a little deeper. To give them a face, a voice, and the strength to stand and live in their own truth in the face of a hostile world.
This here, is a brutally honest declaration before the world, an invitation on a personal journey of self discovery and bravery, it takes a lot of guts. Man it takes some serious guts.
I salute them always.