Okay, I’m going to be honest, and make myself somewhat vulnerable in the process, this book, Equality, is very close to my heart.
Obviously, you’ll find some part of me in every book I’ve written and every story I’m yet to write. But Equality is different. The connection I feel to this book goes deeper.
I was present while the back story in Equality, the Irish marriage equality referendum, took place. I sat here, in the same chair I’m sitting in now, shouting at the radio when those who supported a no-vote got their five minutes of airtime.
And I cursed the fact that I had to work the day the count took place and the result would be announced. In the end the official announcement wasn’t made until after I was home again, but that didn’t stop me from having Twitter and several news websites open on my work computer all day.
Why was I so invested in the result,you ask?
It’s a good question.
I had nothing to win or lose that day. The outcome of that referendum wasn’t going to make a real change in my life one way or another. Except that the yes-majority we ended up with meant that my world had gotten a bit more equal than it had been only twenty-four hours earlier. Except that yet another barrier between people had been torn away.
In the book Lorcan, reluctantly, makes a speech in front of a potentially hostile audience, part of which I’ll share here.
“I realize this isn’t a comfortable subject for most of you. Trust me, it isn’t easy for me, either. It never was.” Lorcan paused, as if he wasn’t sure 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 favor 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 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, then why are gay children being born every day? Because believe me when I say that 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 realized 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.”
Lorcan paused again and Eric braced himself, convinced someone in the audience would start heckling any moment, but silence reigned supreme. Eric didn’t think it would have been his approach, but maybe honest and vulnerable was the way to win over the crowd.
“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 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.”
Many, if not all, of the arguments Lorcan uses in his speech have been spoken by me on more than one occasion during the run-up to the referendum and since.
Because all those arguments unfortunately still need to be heard. There are still far more countries without marriage equality than countries in which it has been established. In Chechnya gay men are being rounded up and transported to what can only be described as concentration camps. There’s the current situation in America where Republicans appear to be falling all over themselves to reverse equality laws, while they have a complete majority and a president who… Okay, I won’t go there right now. Just as I’ll refrain from diving head first into a diatribe against the constantly erupting shit-storms on social media, much as they break my heart and enrage me.
This book is close to my heart because I can’t believe in anything but ‘Equality’. I don’t want to be faced with a constant struggle of ‘them’ versus ‘us’. I want to live in a world where all of us only need one label: human. A world in which every person can be their own, individual, and unique self. A world in which ‘Equality’ encompasses all, without exception.
And that’s why both Equality and this post are far more personal than I’m strictly comfortable with.
About the book
Love is love. But what if the fight for equality gets in the way of building a relationship?
Lorcan Barrett has never considered himself relationship material. After his parents made it perfectly clear they’d never welcome a partner of his into their home, he learned to love his own company and now can’t imagine sharing his life with another. After a single passionate kiss with Eric Kavanagh—the night before he travels to Canada for three months—Lorcan’s no longer sure he wants to be on his own. The problem is, he has no idea what sharing his life with someone else might entail.
Eric Kavanagh grew up in a loving and supportive family and had always assumed he’d end up in a committed relationship. Sure that he’s found the one, Eric doesn’t worry about the fact that Lorcan has no experience when it comes to love and relationships. They are good together, so what could possibly go wrong?
When both men get involved in the marriage equality referendum in Ireland, it appears to bring them even closer together, until Lorcan’s insecurities get the upper hand and he shuts Eric out. Will the fight for a Yes vote cost them their relationship, or will they be able to find a balance between the love they share and the need for equality?
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis
Early Download Release: April 25, 2017
General Release: May 23, 2017
Buy Link: Pride Publishing