For the first time in ages I didn’t write a flash fiction for today. I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo, and trying to write a full novel, at least 50k words long, in thirty days has been taking up all my time.
Because I didn’t want to let this week go by without sharing some new words with you, I’ll share a snippet from the story I’m working on. The working title for this book is Equality and the story is set in Dublin during the months leading up to the marriage equality referendum earlier this year.
In the scene below Lorcan has been asked to represent the Yes-campaign during a meeting in his hometown, Mullingar. He is both reluctant and worried about having to get up in front of an audience, but does so anyway. We see his performance through the eyes of his boyfriend, Eric.
The scene below has not been proof-read or edited; I hope you’ll enjoy it regardless. J
After over an hour of listening to all the reasons people should vote no, Eric wanted to scream. They were the same arguments he heard on radio and television every day and they didn’t get any less ridiculous just because people kept on repeating them.
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen. You’ve now heard the arguments from those who oppose the suggestion made in the referendum. For the sake of objectivity we thought it only fair to also invite someone from the yes campaign to say a few words.” The man on stage nodded at Lorcan who appeared to stiffen even more, if such a thing were possible, before getting up and slowly approaching the speaking platform. Eric’s heart beat increased as he worried about the man he loved and he said a silent prayer to the God he didn’t believe in for the words to flow and the audience not to be too hostile. He held his breath as he waited for Lorcan to start.
“Thank you for allowing me to say a few words.”
Eric released the air he’d been holding as he stared at his boyfriend—if that was still true—and recognised the nervous tension on his face. Lorcan moved his head as if he wanted to memorize the faces of everybody in the hall for future reference.
“I know this isn’t an easy subject for most of you. Trust me, it isn’t easy for me either. It never was.” Lorcan paused, as if he didn’t know how to go on and for a moment Eric was convinced he was about to step away from the microphone and sit down again. Eric imagined he could hear Lorcan’s deep sigh before he continued. “You’re being asked to vote in favour of something you’ve always been told is wrong. Most of you are certain people like me are an abomination in the eyes of God.”
Eric saw several people nod their heads in agreement.
“But don’t you feel that thinking along those lines, amounts to accusing God of making countless mistakes? God, we’ve been told, is almighty. God, is infallible. If that is true than why are gay children being born every day? Because believe me when I say none of us woke up one morning and decided to be gay out of spite, or out of some deep rooted desire to be different. Far from it. When I first realised I was attracted to men I hated myself. I didn’t want to be the odd one out. All I desired was to be the same as everybody else—to fit in. And I don’t. I can’t begin to explain how much it hurts when you’re being treated as different, less than others, just because you were born a certain way. There is no switch in my head I can turn so that I’m suddenly heterosexual. If there were, most of us would probably have made that change.”
Lorcan paused again and Eric braced himself, certain someone in the crowd would start heckling any moment now, but silence reigned supreme. Eric didn’t think it would have been his approach, but maybe honest and vulnerable was the way to win the crowd over.
“We’re not asking for special treatment. All we want is to be treated the same way as you. This vote isn’t about whether or not you understand or approve of homosexuality. It has nothing to do with raising and adopting children. All a yes-vote would ensure is that we will be a little bit less separate from the rest of society. We don’t want special treatment. We just want to be equal. Nothing is going to change for you. Your marriages will still be as good or as bad as they are right now—your weddings still as lavish or as simple as you want them to be. Voting yes won’t cost you anything and will give so very much.”
Lorcan looked up and his gaze sought Eric’s before he bowed his head and took a small step backwards.
“But what about the children!” An angry voice shouted from somewhere in the back of the hall. Eric turned to see who had spoken but was too late. When he looked at Lorcan again the man had gone through a transformation. The hesitation was gone and no sign of shyness or awkwardness remained as Lorcan all but glared at the crowd.
“Yes! The children. Let’s talk about them. Like I said. This referendum isn’t about whether or not a gay couple can adopt a child together. Children are all ready being raised by same-sex couples and legislation to facilitate that is separate from the marriage issue. But, if you are so worried about the children and their feelings, how can you possibly stand by as people proclaim, day after day, that the only way a child should be raised is by a heterosexual couple? How do you think that makes children who are now growing up with gay parents, or are being brought up by single parents, feel? Do you seriously think it’s a good idea to tell all those children they’re just not good enough? Because that’s what you’re doing. Just as you’re telling every child who is questioning their sexuality right now, and trying to come to terms with the fact that they don’t fit what society has decided is the norm, that they’re inferior. Don’t tell me you’re worried about the children if you’re prepared to hurt so many of them just to win your argument. Because let me tell you—it’s a fucking devastating feeling.”
Hesitant clapping started on Eric’s right and within moments other’s joined in. Eric’s heart swelled in his chest as he watched Lorcan fully relax for the first time in four days. He’d no doubt Lorcan knew as well as he did that he wouldn’t have convinced everyone. But, by the sound of it, he’d managed to make at least a few people think.
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