Posts Tagged ‘gay’

It’s Gay Pride Week in Dublin this week, so we thought we’d add our touch to the festivities and bring a bit of pride to Woodhaven.

Richie took this first. He thought the tree would frame the photo better. Isn’t he getting an eye for detail?



The week culminates in the Gay Pride Parade this coming saturday, which has a new route and destination in Merrion Square. Should be good day for all, as usual. For more info go to Dublin Pride



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You either love Glee or hate it but it’s of my belief that Glee has a very important role to play in our lives and society in general.

Last night was the penultimate episode of Season 3. Not only did some of the seniors move on, it closed off the story of Rachel Berry and came full circle for her. The show started with her singing a solo and ended with her doing the same. For me, Glee has mostly been about Rachel. I adored both her arrogant confidence in her talents (a lot of the time), but also her failings on the popularity stakes and attempting to fit in with the rest of the school. She’d continuously grind on me with quips about being the voice of the glee club. Anyway, however they did it, the writers made me love her and I don’t know why exactly.

Story lines were not always the greatest and for Season 3 it seemed songs were thrown in to fill up an episode. It stopped being a musical when a constant weekly assignment allowed cast members to sing a song in front of the rest of the glee club. Songs were no longer assisting with the story telling. Well, not entirely. They still contributed to the story and songs were chosen well but for the majority of the time, did they always have to be delivered in the Glee Club, or auditorium or by Rachel walking down the same hallway. Plus when someone sang the rest of cast knew they were singing. It would’ve been more commendable when someone sang, that the rest of cast interpret the singer as if they were speaking.

I couldn’t tolerate Mr Schu much, singing or dancing with the students. Yep, he can sing and dance but it felt contrived and as if he was living his dream through the kids rather than chasing his own dreams. But the writers did their best to rectify this and finally turned him into an inspiration for the kids.

Being Irish, I guess I have to touch on the Irish student, Rory. I just think he hasn’t been given a chance yet and is a bit wooden. If he makes it to Season 4, he might get his chance to shine.

I’m getting off track. Why is Glee important? Well, for me it comes down to the boundaries it pushes up against. I wouldn’t say it breaks them down fully but it does lean against them as a hungry cow would thrust against a garden fence attempting to get to the greener pastures. Glee is a celebration of diversity.

So what have we got?

A young lesbian couple, one of which (Britney) is unsure of her sexuality but is willing have the relationship, as she plainly loves the other (Santana). Thankfully Santana got developed and turned out more complex than she was, in Season 1. Writers explored her fragile interior to a strong confident exterior. But the main thing is that we have a highly visible lesbian couple, fully integrated and accepted by the people around them.

Mentioning a gay couple without referencing Kurt and Blaine would be a sin. Kurt is the original gay character. I’ve spoken to other people about him and some believes his portrayal is stereotypically gay and may not be a good for how the gay community is viewed by the rest of society. But I think they are wrong. All individuals in society are different and so are gay men within their community. Just because he fits a stereotype, doesn’t make him any less real. In fact, I think both he, Blaine and Karofsky, show the internal diversity within a minority. There’s nothing else to do but accept Kurt and the reality is that he was accepted quicker than the closeted gay jock character, Karofsky. Kurt’s visibility and courage made people move on and accept him. I can’t pass on mentioning Kurt’s dad. Now there’s a positive father figure. He just loves his son and that’s all that matters and that’s all that should matter.

And then we come to Unique. Glee gives us a Transvestite/drag artist and a very young one at that. This guy knows who and what he is and Glee shows his struggles but also his extreme strength. For me, this is a boundary, blown away.

So far, I’ve spoken about the sexually diverse characters but I’m moving on to the character of Becky. The character that happens to have Down Syndrome. I can hear you saying ‘it’s been done before, with Life Goes On’, and done again by Ryan Murphy on American Horror Story but Becky to me is different. She has an attitude and spunk and is truly integrated to the show. There are no awkward looks from other characters when interacting with Becky that you’d usually see in real life. You know that look on some peoples faces where they are treating someone like Becky the same as them but there’s a hint of known difference in their eye. That doesn’t exist on Glee. I loved her attempted seduction of Puck in recent episodes and her side kick role to Sue. I’m team Becky all the way.

Actually that brings me to Sue. I can’t write something about Glee and not mention Queen/Goddess/Supreme Being and overall Omnipotent Coach, Sue Sylvester. Maybe it’s the actor but I don’t think I have to say much. Her one liners are clever, provoking and a lot of the time mean. But we still get to see her soft side. Ryan Murphy made a villain I love to love.

After all of that, there is one other thing that Glee gives us. That’s music and song. Isn’t the world a better place when they are coupled together and knocking about, mischievously tickling our ear drums?

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I said that this site would also be for my thoughts and opinions. Home décor, etc seems to be taking over. So I’m going to use this opportunity to tell you about a special person in my life…..my Mum…..me Ma (as we’d say in Ireland). She passed away a few years ago from Colon Cancer. Let me tell you about this wondrous woman. I know, we all say that about our mothers.

‘Fine feathers make a fine bird’


‘If you join the army you have to soldier’

My Mum was born in inner city of Dublin to Mary and Billy Cullen. Mary was a street trader so she was also a very busy woman. This meant that some of the mothering duties fell to my Mum and the rest of the older members of the family. These obligations equipped my Mum with the skills she’d eventually need for her own family. Of course, that didn’t mean she was the perfect parent. She made mistakes too, but she learned from them. I can see these skills in my brothers and sisters that have their own children. She never molly coddled us and she knew when to step back and allow us to discover some things for ourselves.

Back when my Mum was a young woman, she was known to her pals as Rony, short for Veronica. With maturity and age that nickname became Vera. After she died, I asked one of her friends what she was like when she was younger. Out of her 66 years, I’d only known her for 28 years. I was surprised to learn that, in early adulthood she was quite like the rest of us at that age. She had told me of the dances she’d attend but never mentioned how sometimes she’d creep in late at night, quietly not to disturb the household or awaken her father.

It was at one of the dances that Vera met my Father (Paddy) and they settled down and had a large family just like the ones, they themselves were from. My Mum gave birth to 11 children over the years. That’s 8 ¼ years pregnant. She became a better mother with each child. She was supportive and encouraging. Maybe not with my older brothers and sisters entirely but by the time she got to me she understood who could and would accept the encouragement. She knew each of us was different, we were our own person, ready to live how we choose, make mistakes and decisions, and take advice, or not . I remember deciding whether I wanted to go to college or not. Her advice was simple, ‘Whatever makes you happy. You could be selling papers on a street corner and I’d be proud, once you were happy’. That was all the encouragement I needed.

My Mum’s skills were extensive and varied. She was a Manager, a Chef, a Nurse, and a Chief Financial Officer, to name a few. I’m beginning to think a Matriarch could be the choice of our next government. She was even a hairdresser, or so she told me when she’d chop my locks as a kid. My Mum was also very Loving, tender, sensitive, firm, a songbird and a lady. She did have a stubborn streak. One time my Dad and Mum had driven the five youngest kids to the beach. On the way home he and My Mum had a row over nothing. She told him to pull over and let her out. He drove off and we all cried and pleaded with him to go back for her. I laugh now but we even shouted our hatred at him for leaving her stranded. She eventually returned home late that evening. I was very young and was really concerned she’d be kidnapped or not come home at all. I was astonished that she knew her way, having to take two buses!!! I believe she even stopped over in the City Centre for some retail therapy.

‘Treat them as you’d want to be treated’.

A moral compass lay in my Mum’s heart. I don’t know what she did but she seems to have engrained that in all of her kids. Sometimes it comes under a strange field and stops working but most of the time it gets us back on the right course. My sister Karen told me of a story when some of her friends were talking badly of her. She told my Mum and her response was ‘Well if they’re talking about you love, they’re leaving someone else alone’. How cool is that?

My Mum must’ve gotten a lot of her morality from her mother, but also from her faith. She was a devote Catholic and though that religion states to love one another but sometimes doesn’t, my Mum definitely did love everyone and prayed for everyone that she felt needed it. Of course, she’d meet people she didn’t like and she didn’t quite hide that very well but she would still love them. Does that even make any sense? In my view it does. It’s difficult to explain but it’s true. I used the word Devote. I think that’s the best word to explain her conviction to her faith. We aren’t born with a religion. We learn it. And my mum learned her faith well. If others in the world considered their faiths as well as she, the human race would be better at taking care of each other and of the planet.

Her faith extended to her discipline of not using bad language. ‘Your father does enough of that for both us’, she’d say. I did hear her say ‘shit’ once. She dropped a roast chicken out of the oven. I nearly fell from my standing. She even sniggered. I used to think she didn’t have much of a sense of humour. What had I been seeing for so long? I wasn’t seeing her as a person, more as a Mother going about motherly functions. I felt I was no longer just her son after that. I was someone she could be herself around. I’d finally gotten to see her humour, where I’d never really seen it before.

‘Elephant Juice’

Of all her traits, her Love for her kids was her single most prominent one. My mum knew when to give us a hug. Her hugs were integrated in our family life as much as rows and fights were. She and my Dad knew when to tell you they loved you. (She’d Love you the most even when you hate her for saying no). ‘Elephant Juice’ was more my father’s thing. He’d mouth those words and we’d respond with ‘I Love you’ and he’d laugh and say, ‘No, Elephant Juice’. It became our fun way of saying I love you.
Don’t believe that our home was like some aspiring Brady Bunch repeat. Far from it! The Love that was spread around was distributed evenly and easily but at the right moments. There was no fear in using those 3 simple and very effective words ‘I Love You’. They weren’t used to convey one message. They weren’t just used for their literal meaning. They were used to impart support, reinforcement, strength, understanding and to apologize.

‘Children should be seen, not heard’

She’d say this but I really don’t think she believed it. She’d only use it when all of us were running ‘amuck’ in the house and screaming the place down. We were everything to my Mum. Not hearing us would’ve been worse for her.
She would do anything for us, heap loads of laundry, grilling sausages every morning for breakfast, or wrapping old duffle coats around your feet in bed after arriving back to a freezing house from a long weekend in Cork.

Road trips, excursions and mini vacations were a stable of my rearing. Both my mother and father ensured we got out of the house. It could’ve been a jaunt to Dollymount, a day trip on the DART or a holiday to Killarney. There were so many places to go and we’d been to them all. ‘You’ll see your own country first, before you see any other’, which was a nice way to say they couldn’t afford to bring us on a holiday abroad.

Another thing she’d do is bring us to Roches Stores Café, usually on the first Tuesday of the month. This didn’t happen every month mind you, and taking a child off school back then was simpler than it is nowadays. When the National Lottery launched in Ireland my Mum won over £1000 with matching 5 numbers. That was a lot of money back then (I’ve turned into Vera). On this occasion, she thought she’d treat the 3 youngest to something more special than just Ice-Cream and wafer in a small metal bowl. Instead it was time for a Pear William, the elite Roches Stores dessert, which was essentially two sliced pears from tin can, in a sundae glass with ice-cream and fresh cream. The very thought of this excited us but sadly it fell very short of the normal choice. I can recall the confused look on her face. It was precious and as young as I was I could see the glimmer of a smile emerge at the corner of her lips, secretly delighted that we wouldn’t be expecting what was considered the best dessert from the café, every time we visited. I have to admit, I did inherit her sweet tooth though. I’m quite partial to an aul coffee slice, unfortunately for my waistline. I have to couple that with being an early riser. I get up at the crack of dawn, just as she did. As soon as the sun is up.

‘I met a man today without a smile so I decided to give him mine’

Have you ever seen a parent cry before? I have but the first time was the most poignant. Close to her Sixties, my Mum started to lose her short term memory. Nothing major, just tiny lapses and small episodes. She was diagnosed with petit mal and given pills to take daily. I found it funny to think that a person with memory issues had to remember to take pills. Luckily she had my eldest sister Deirdre on hand to remind her. I’d never seen this as a particular problem until one day when she had misplaced her purse, one of many times. It was the first time I’d seen my mum weep like that before. It obviously frustrated her. Imagine what it would be like to forget where you put something but be fully aware that you had a memory loss condition. Watching the tears trickle down her cheeks was a strange sight. I’d been a fool for not seeing her self-annoyance and consoled her as best I could. After that incident I think my relationship with her grew even stronger. The generations of years between us shortened somehow.

‘Do you know who died?’

These words are uttered to almost every visiting son or daughter from an Irish mother that hasn’t seen them in a while. My Mum knew death and knew how to accept it. I might not be that accepting of it right now but I know that death is a part of life and it comes to us all. It’s was my Mum that explained that to me when her mother died. She forced me in to the open coffin to kiss my Granny on the cheek. I was afraid but she whispered in my ear, ‘This is death and you will know it. It comes to us all eventually’. I was really young but the words have stayed with me. Plus I remember understanding them. When it came to the end of her own life, I’d seen her fearlessness. She was prepared for death. I should’ve mentioned earlier that my brother Philip also died of Colon Cancer, a few years prior to my Mum. I’ve never seen her so heartbroken. Maybe she believed his death was worse than her own. I wasn’t in the hospital the day she passed away. I think I subconsciously decided not to be there. It’s conceivable that I wanted to remember her differently. From my point of view she wasn’t fighting her illness but I think that’s ok and it was her choice. It’s possible she might have been burnt out from taking care of everyone else that she was tired and she wanted to meet Death on her terms. Or she was the constant warrior and was suffering in silence. I may never know.

One of my regrets is not telling my Mum I’m gay. But she wasn’t stupid, she knew. She knew well enough, to allow me to come to terms with it, when I was ready. It was my own fear, of nothing, that stopped me from confiding in her. By the time she got sick, I didn’t tell her because I wanted her to concentrate on getting better. She definitely knows now. I’m sure she’s watching over me and I’ll never stop having a few quiet words with her before I sleep at night. I miss her more than anyone will ever know and my Love of her and for her will last forever. I walk in her shadow.

Some of the rest:

‘My Jingo!’

The fine words spoken for complete Astonishment

‘Sis she’

Absolute translation is ‘She Said’.

‘No one will play with you and you’re on your own? Well, you couldn’t have better company’

Since she was from a large family, and knowing all too well myself, it’s difficult to find ‘me’ time. My Mum must’ve known the peace of being on your own and enjoying your own company. I remember she used to take private moments with Deirdre. I’ve always wondered why she went in her room and what they discussed. Most likely to get away from the rest of us for a bit. ‘Ma’ was the most frequent word heard in our house.

‘I’m not Mandrake’

This one has to be my favourites. I had to explain the background of this recently to my sister Ann-Marie. Mandrake is a comic character, usually joined in publications with Flash Gordon. Mandrake was a magician, so now you get it right? 11 kids screaming for this and that. My Mum would announce this to us all. Essentially telling us she can’t conjure up everything thing we want.

‘This is not Woolworths café’

In other words, there isn’t a menu for dinner; you’ll get what you’re given.

‘The best cure for anger is delay’ or ‘Don’t let the sun go down on a fight.’

I’m still trying to put these to use.

‘You were well reared; you can stand with the best of them.’

I try to remember this every time that inferiority complex comes over me for particular people I meet. To be honest, I put it to good use. Another one my Mum’s brother told me was, ‘everyone has to wipe there own arses and lose all the dignity’, so we’re really all the same no matter our social stature or wealth.

‘Kill them with kindness’

I love this one. Best to use this on the rude cashier in your local supermarket. You know the one that hates his job. Don’t relish in this, it’s to be used to pass on the kindness or pass it back.

‘The devil makes use of idle hands’

I wonder if this is the reason why I’m starting to get more active with some of the projects on my site.

‘Nothing in here but a load of dirt’

Best used when you scour a full clothing store for something new to wear but find nothing.

‘It’s like Heuston Station.’

A busy train station in Dublin, quite like my family home when Christmas day arrives.


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