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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Queen of Ireland

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[music playing]

[indistinct chatter]

[crowd chanting] Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti!

Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti!

-[crowd cheering] -Thanks very much.

Thank you so much.

[cheers and applause]

[woman] Panti!

[crowd chanting] Equal! Equal! Equal! Equal!

[knock on door]

Panti, it's showtime.

[brassy music playing]

Panti, you look fucking amazing.

I know.

[crowd applauds]

The challenge with Panti is probably how laid-back she is.

Yeah.

I am very laid-back, aren't I?

-[laughs] Yes. -And occasionally I think Philip

would prefer someone who's more of a diva,

because I think he gets a sad sort of, I don't know,

submissive kick out of handling difficult people.

And I'm just not difficult.

[laughs]

Give us your bits. What's your headlines?

My headlines?

How are youse?

I look amazing.

Let's get into a bit of a manifesto.

Then let's get into Pantigate.

Ah. I'm going to tell a Madonna story.

Then let's get into the pressures of being Panti.

Then let's get into sex and the single drag queen.

Then let's get into giving out about soccer.

My job as a drag queen

is to sort of commentate from the fringes,

to stand on the outside looking in, shouting abuse.

I'm a clown, I'm a fool, I'm a court jester.

And like the court jester of old,

it is my job to sometimes say the unsayable.

And if you have a problem with that, fucking sue me.

Which is weird, because that actually happened.

[laughs]

So, what I'm trying to say to you is that

if you have come along here this evening

and you are easily offended,

then this is not your show.

On the other hand, you are the kind of person

who loves a joke that begins.

"A nun with Alzheimer's forgets to walk into a lesbian bar,"

then this is definitely your show, and welcome.

[crowd cheers]

Hey!

Looking good. You look gorgeous.

How are you? You good?

Good, good.

Hi, Happy Pride.

[laughs]

How are you?

You good?

-How are you? -I'm good.

You're a big celebrity, ain't you?

[laughs]

I feel like I'm beside Madonna.

[air horns blowing]

[crowd cheering]

[Panti] It's perfectly easy for,

you know, someone from the gay community

to listen to a drag queen make a serious point.

But, you know, to somebody looking in from the outside,

they have trouble with that,

because they just see a man dressed as a woman.

[Panti] Happy Pride, gays...

and innocent bystanders.

[Rory] If you want to separate the gay relationships

from the straight relationships by, "You can't have marriage,

you can have something that's equivalent,"

or even if it were exactly the same but had a different name,

I would still be against that.

Happy Pride, city hall.

For soon I intend to get married!

[Rory] Other people are labeling

our relationships from the outside.

You know, or judging it, or saying the quality of it--

And unless you're in a gay relationship, fuck off.

You have no idea what my relationship is like.

[Panti] I think sometimes when people look at me,

this giant cartoon woman,

they find it hard to imagine that I came from anywhere.

Of course, I am from somewhere.

I'm from a small town in County Mayo called Ballinrobe.

Ballinrobe is your typical Irish country market town.

It has a couple of streets, a town hall,

a cattle mart, and great excitement

when Tesco came to town.

And even though it now does have a Tesco,

and a traffic light,

it hasn't really changed much since I was growing up there,

a young boy called Rory in the 1970s.

[laughter]

[Finn] Well, I always think of Rory--

He dressed up in a tutu

belonging to one of the girls who was doing ballet,

but wearing Wellington boots underneath it,

and he's leaping around the sitting room in there.

You know, that kind of thing.

He was a lovely baby.

He won a Bonnie Baby competition.

In that respect, he was a very pleasant child.

But I remember when he was about two,

he hadn't walked.

And I remember bringing in the doctor.

And he laughed at me,

because Rory was sitting on the floor,

surrounded by about 18 other children--

our own five or six,

plus the neighbors had seven, somebody else had--

And he was completely surrounded.

And he had no need to walk, because everybody brought him

everything he wanted.

And then when he stood up, he stood up and walked.

On the very day, he never tottered or fell or anything.

When he was ready to walk, he walked.

And he did just what he wanted.

-[laughs] -I think he still does.

Exactly, yeah.

He's his own man, really, isn't he?

[Rory] I think until I was 11 or 12,

it was pretty idyllic.

We had a nice house with a big garden,

and we were at the edge of the town.

There was a river behind.

Lots of kids on our street.

But I guess around the age of 11 or 12,

I just started to feel different than the other boys.

I didn't really enjoy the same things that they did,

or in the same way.

And it made me feel a bit like a square peg

in a Ballinrobe-shaped hole.

I went to boarding school,

and all the other boys would be horribly homesick.

Lots of them would be crying themselves to sleep at night.

I never was homesick for a minute.

I was self-aware enough to know

that I needed to be somewhere that wasn't Ballinrobe.

[reporter] Ireland is the only sovereign EEC country

to still retain criminal sanctions in law

against homosexuality,

with penalties from ten years to life imprisonment.

David, are homosexuals sick people?

No, indeed they're not.

We're neither sick, ill,

pathological, neurotic or any of these emotive terms

that are occasionally used by people

who are not well-informed on the subject,

to conceal their own prejudices and to allege that we are ill.

I don't feel ill, I hope I don't look it,

and they've now reached a state in America

of regarding homophobe people,

people who have an irrational fear or dislike of homosexuals,

as those who are really ill.

[David Norris] Well, being the first person

to come out in Ireland

was a rather strange experience.

I mean, in the beginning,

nothing was said about homosexuality.

The word wasn't mentioned.

There was no such thing as gay or anything else.

There was a sort of a gay scene in Dublin.

But nobody was in a situation

where they could come out publicly.

So I was the only one.

But it also led to the Irish Times

describing me as the Irish homosexual,

which was rather funny,

you know, because there was a lot more than me.

But they were just invisible.

The law is clearly grossly unconstitutional.

The constitution of this country claims to cherish

all the children of the nation equally,

and I can tell you from my experience,

it did not cherish me as I was growing up.

I hope that we will be rectifying that.

[Tonie Walsh] Being an out gay man in the '80s

felt like being a sexual outlaw.

The same law that sent Oscar Wilde to prison,

the same law that was responsible

for countless thousands of lesbians and gay men

leaving the country throughout the 20th century

to find a life in more socially liberal

and accepting environments,

that same law had the effect of creating

such a level of offensive taboo around homosexuality.

And that in itself was enormously oppressive.

[reporter] In the early hours of September the 10th last

in Fairview Park in Dublin,

Declan Flynn was set upon by five men,

including a 15-year-old youth.

He was savagely beaten unconscious

and left mortally wounded,

adding a new sordid and vicious phrase

to our contemporary urban language:

queer-bashing.

[Tonie] What made Declan Flynn's murder so transformative

was the aftermath, where his five assailants

were let off with suspended manslaughter sentences.

And, of course, the public outrage that erupted in protest

at the judge effectively saying that a gay man's life

had no value.

[Rory] I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life,

but I did know I was interested in art.

I mean, I was always drawing and doodling.

So I thought, well, I'll go to art college.

And I thought, I'll find queers there.

I mean, that's where you find queers, right? Art college.

[Rory, Sr.] Because he was always so good at drawing and cartoons,

I kind of felt that somewhere in there

he'd be obviously something to do with the arts, or something.

He'd no inclination to be a veterinary surgeon, anyhow.

[laughs]

[Rory] Art college is where I met

my first proper gay, Niall Sweeney.

And I was lucky, I think,

because we've remained best friends ever since.

I thought that Niall had the whole gay thing, like, down, you know.

First of all, he had an older boyfriend.

His boyfriend managed a gay nightclub.

Niall was doing all the graphics and stuff

for this gay nightclub.

Niall was always, like, totally turned out with his purple hair

and, you know, whatever it was.

So Niall and I became friends in college.

And through Niall, I ended up going to things

like nightclubs and Andy Warhol obituary parties, and whatever.

I loved every second of it.

I was having sex for the first time,

and there was all that, you know,

great young nervous energy around all of that stuff.

It wasn't just, you know, casually underground.

It was properly underground.

These things were hidden,

and you sort of felt like you had entered this underworld,

this sort of parallel universe.

And while you're in there, you know,

dancing to whatever, the Pointer Sisters,

and then upstairs or on the pavement,

just feet away, there's, like, regular,

ordinary folk, going about their ordinary, everyday world,

having no idea that beneath their feet

there were these illegal homosexuals,

you know, drinking bloody Campari

and then going home and fellating each other.

You know, it just seemed so exciting to me.

Half of my life has been trying to recapture that excitement.

[music playing]

First time I really remember doing a proper drag performance

is in college.

I spent my last year in college designing a drag show.

I had been three years in art college when I realized,

God, I didn't want to be a graphic designer.

What was I doing there at all?

My last summer, I went to London,

and I sort of got involved in going out

and clubbing and drag queens and all that stuff.

And that just seemed like so much more fun to me

than being a graphic designer.

I had no thoughts about becoming a drag queen.

I mean, it's funny now you see all these young drag queens,

and they think that's a career choice.

It never entered my head

that anybody could make a living out of drag.

I mean, I didn't know that anybody could.

And if you'd said to me then

that I was still going to be dressing up as a woman,

I would've thought you were nuts.

[dance music playing]

[Panti] Gray, depressed 1980s Dublin

was a difficult place to be fabulous,

so I escaped to the bright lights of Tokyo.

[dance music playing]

What I remember most are the freaks and the drags,

the nuts, the gays, the noise,

the smoke in the clubs where I made my name.

[Rory] I had never had any intentions

of doing drag in Tokyo.

I mean, it just never really entered my mind, really.

And one of the first people I meet and become mates with,

you know, was also a drag queen.

Very quickly, we were partners in crime.

[Angelo] My drag name was Lurleen.

Rory had used the name Leticia,

both of which are impossible

for Japanese people to pronounce.

So we'd be running around in clubs dressed in drag,

and no one knew what the hell we were saying

when we said our names.

So we said, "Well, we need new names."

And then we came up with the idea

that we should have sort of a group name.

[Rory] The group name was CandiPanti.

But immediately they started calling us Candi and Panti,

like separate names,

So that just stuck.

[camera shutters click]

Let me tell you about my second husband.

He used to chew gum all the time.

So one evening we're sitting down watching TV,

and he's chewing gum,

and he's smacking and smacking that gum.

And it's driving me crazy.

So eventually I take the shotgun off the wall,

and I fire two warning shots...

into his head.

[dance music playing]

[Angelo] Literally,

when we went on stage

to the strains of some ABBA number,

they rushed the stage and screamed.

It was like a Beatles concert.

It was really like the Beatles at Shea Stadium.

It was hilarious.

You couldn't hear the songs to lip-sync

for the screaming of the crowd.

And then afterwards, there were all these cute

19-ish-year-old boys

lined up to kiss us for photos.

That was sort of a typical night out in Japan for us.

So we meet again.

[man] Yes.

Darling, did you enjoy the show?

[man] Oh, it was wonderful.

[Rory] I learned loads from Angelo

about how to pull off a drag look.

[Angelo] What I was really doing

was channeling my own influences

from the drag that I'd come up with in Atlanta.

The Lady Bunny and RuPaul,

which was really taking a very old-school,

kind of traditional glamour-puss drag

and sort of twisting it a bit and making it fun and fresh

and ironic.

And that was certainly something Rory took to

like a fish to water, I would say.

[Rory] I always think of my life

as these, like, two parts:

before that experience and after that experience.

That's when the Rory I am now started.

[camera shutter clicks]

[Niall] Rory is, as his mother said,

an exotic bird that landed on the town one day.

[photographer] Yeah, there.

And Tippi Hedren. Tippi Hedren.

Very good.

[Niall] I guess my understanding of Panti

is definitely like something

from old-school cinema.

A glamorous aunt is always a good description somehow,

mixed with a bit of Jessica Rabbit, I guess.

[laughs]

[camera shutter clicks]

you know, you created Panti visually as much as I did.

Even people who see Panti regularly,

when they close their eyes and think of Panti,

what they think of is the perfect one that Niall created,

rather than the flesh-and-blood sweating one

that they might see at a show.

[Panti] When I came back to Dublin in the mid-'90s,

I found a city bursting with energy and possibilities.

It was creative and fun.

Homosexuality had only just been decriminalized,

and the gays, full of a newfound confidence,

were at the forefront of all of this explosive energy.

And Niall and I became kind of ringleaders.

We started nightclubs without a thought

as to whether they were commercially viable or not.

But we weren't interested in consumers.

We were interested in participants.

This was nightclubbing as performance art.

[dance music playing]

I would never have thought, "Oh, let's do a fetish club,

-with rubber and"-- -[Niall laughs]

That's not where I was at the time.

But Niall, you know, was a more experienced homosexual, you know,

and so I think at the time, this was his--

"Yeah, we'll do it." And I was like, "Okay, then."

[Niall] We thought, "Well, we could insert 15 foot of pearls

up Panti's ass.

And I remember the first time--

Going to Flamingo's Display, trying to find--

"Would you have, like...?"

You know, and then checking that they wouldn't come apart.

That was-- I remember that, actually, being,

"What if the thread snaps,

and I just pull a thread out?"

And you're like a Pez dispenser?

[Panti] We're a traditional couple in many ways,

but in many ways a more modern couple,

And so we decided not just to exchange rings,

we decided to exchange pearls.

[host] Exchanged pearls, eh?

Exactly, so Mr. Sphincter gave me the pearls

before the ceremony, and I secreted them away

within my person, and he pulled them from me.

[host] In full view of the entire congregation?

[Panti] Yes, that's right, Gerry.

[host] Hmm. Right, well,

one has to admit,

it's a little different, isn't it?

[electronic music playing]

[Rory] The idea of Pantibar was that it would have elements

of a throwback to an old-school community gay bar.

Because I'm old enough to remember,

pre-decriminalization and all that,

when every gay bar had frosted windows

or windows with blinds and, you know,

a door down the side to get into.

What I liked about Pantibar, it's on a corner,

it has huge giant plate-glass windows, it's on full view.

It's a statement in the street,

and that's what a gay bar should be now.

[woman's voice] I don't think I can help you.

[lip-syncing dialogue] You can't help me?

I'm the one that's helping you.

You want me to wash my hands of the whole thing?

Call the sheriff? Is that what you want?

Well, all right, then.

[sound of engine starting]

[Chris] There's nothing like working with somebody

who's thinking faster than anyone else in the room

to learn how to do something well.

Because, you know, when you're on stage

with somebody like that, you have to--

You have to keep up.

[lip-syncing dialogue] You'll do as I tell you.

And if I tell you to lie, you'll do that, too.

I'm never going to suffer for you again.

Not ever.

Do you understand?

[Rory] Women are still seen as the weaker sex and all that,

and in some ways, a woman dressing as a man,

people somehow see that the woman has,

in a weird way, sort of empowered herself,

you know, by taking on this masculine form.

But, you know, a man dressed as a woman

is seen to have sort of weakened or demeaned himself.

[dance music playing]

[Mark] You know, when you're a gay boy

growing up in the countryside,

it was being called out as effeminate

that was frightening,

because we were always told that effeminacy was weakness.

I actually saw great drag queens and I saw Panti perform.

And, you know, I was-- I don't know what age I was.

But you see that what they do is they take all the fears

of effeminacy you have,

and they turn it back on you

in a performative sense as strength.

And you go,

"Yes!"

Yes, that is correct.

Effeminacy is not weakness, it's actually strength.

And it's the thing inside you that you have got to celebrate.

And so sissy power.

[laughs]

[applause]

[Panti laughs]

Wow!

Calm down.

In many ways, I would argue,

that the drag queen is the ultimate expression

of the theatrical arts.

She is the director, the scriptwriter,

the makeup artist, the costume designer,

the producer, and the actress in the leading role

of the production of her own life.

You know, when an actor steps off the stage,

well, he's just a waiter.

But a drag queen is never off the stage.

She carries the stage with her,

and it amplifies her every gesture.

I had worked as an actor for many years,

and I just started to write and direct for theater.

And I had made one show.

And I said, you know,

"Panti, will you make a show with me in the theater?"

And, you know, the abridged version of what she said

is, "Who the fuck are you?"

But there was something in that moment

where she thought, "I'll take a chance."

So in that first show, we played to 60 people a night

for five shows.

That was 2007.

And then over those years,

I think we made about four or five shows.

We've toured the shows to Australia,

we've been to the UK, America.

[Rory] Philly knows my voice better than anybody else.

In a way he's like an objective me.

I'm always worried that, you know,

he's going to write the world's greatest musical

or whatever it is, and he'll be gone for two years,

and I'll just be sitting here doing nothing.

[laughs]

In 1995, myself and Niall and our friend Trish Brennan

were approached by the Dublin AIDS Alliance

and asked if we would produce the Alternative Miss Ireland

as a fundraiser for HIV charities.

And we did, and we've been doing it ever since.

Yes.

Well, these are detachable cuffs and collars,

which I'm going to make a decision on

when I'm all painted up and all.

And this is for practical purposes.

[laughs]

I'll get to wear it afterwards,

because that actually comes with...

you know, a huge, flowing skirt...

for evening wear.

But sometimes for Alternative Miss Ireland,

I get these huge, big gowns, and I never get to wear them again,

because when do I ever get to wear these things?

Maybe at Pride or something.

This stupid gag makes me laugh every time.

"Falsies, for that glamour look."

[laughs]

So stupid.

It's the last one this year, for no big drama.

But 80 years is a long time to do anything, isn't it?

We laugh and say that, "Oh, she's all grown up.

She's a woman now."

Something feels right about finishing now.

It's good to finish isn't it, when it's still really strong

and everybody's loving it and everything.

I have the running order that you're all coming out in.

First person out is going to be Miss Madonna Lucia.

[cheers and applause]

Two is Alexandra Bhurka.

Three, Big Chief Random Willy-girl.

[crowd laughs]

Four, Mr. Donkey...

Hi, how are you?

[indistinct chatter]

[Rory] We jokingly call it gay Christmas,

but it does feel like that.

Lots of our gay family, you know,

comes to Dublin for it every year.

My biological family gathers at Christmas,

but my logical family gathers for gay Christmas.

There's going to be a lot of that tonight.

[cheers]

Hi!

How y'all doing?

[audience] Whoo!

Good evening, hello, and welcome to this evening

of glamour rooted in despair.

Willkommen to the HIV of beauty pageants.

The older gays got it years ago.

The drug addicts aren't really sure how they got it,

but they're pretty sure they had a good time.

The younger gays only stumbled across it recently

when they should've known better.

And the hemophiliacs are up on the balcony thinking,

"What the fuck are we doing here?"

[laughter]

But the thing that I am going to miss most

is every year working with this really incredible

bunch of people.

And so, I really want to say, on my behalf,

and on behalf of the whole Alternative Miss Ireland family,

to the rest of the Alternative Miss Ireland family,

thanks a fucking million.

It's been an honor and a privilege.

[cheering and applause]

Fuck.

I can't believe I haven't had a feeling in about 15 years,

and now I'm having one in fucking public.

And so the time has come to raise the roof

and raise the curtain on this,

the heel-clicking, snake-banishing,

roller-coaster, donkey-ride known as

the Alternative Miss Ireland 2012!

[techno music plays]

[Rory] The Alternative Miss Ireland has very much reflected

the growth of Ireland's gay community.

It started just after decriminalization,

and as the gay community and gay scene here grew,

it became more confident and more aboveground, so to speak.

It's sort of a mirror of the gay community in some ways.

And I think it's a mirror of all the good things

about the gay community.

It's actually something I'm really proud

to have been involved in.

When I got my HIV diagnosis,

it probably seems stupid, but it was a total shock.

I was not expecting it.

I was acutely aware of what it all meant,

because I'd been to AIDS funerals, I knew people.

I, you know, I was of the age where it was everywhere.

And I do remember going outside, you know,

and it was just a gorgeous, lovely day.

And everyone's wandering around,

and they're going to the shops, whatever it is they're doing,

like ordinary things.

And I was really...

I was fucking furious, is what I was.

I was furious that everyone was just like,

"It's an ordinary day."

And it fucking wasn't an ordinary day.

[Niall] I was actually with Rory

when he found out he was HIV-positive.

I mean, it feels now like it was just this other world,

because at that time, that was the end.

There was no point talking about it.

In some way, you just had to get on with that.

And I think that's kind of a Rory trait.

I mean, he will actually now say, you know, well,

"I made my AIDS-y bed, and now I have to lie in it."

[cheering]

[Panti] Good night! Thank you so much!

Being positive for HIV was worrying, you know.

But I had always faith that something would turn up.

And I have great faith.

And I just--

We've a Sacred Heart picture down there that somebody gave us

after we came into the house,

and it's down on the wall opposite, beside the bed.

And I just said, "I place all my trust in you.

It's over to you."

And thanks be to God, he's...

Oh, thank God that's over.

[laughs]

[camera shutter clicks]

We'd be nothing without you.

[both laugh]

[Niall] Rory's got two things going on.

He's got both the dressing up as a cartoon, pixilated lady,

and the HIV at the same time.

So, what do you say on that first date?

You know?

[Rory] If you say, "Hey, how about we go on a date next Friday.

Oh, and by the way, I'm HIV-positive."

The chances are

you won't be going out on a date next Friday.

It is literally the only thing, really,

that bothers me about it,

is that horrible thing about telling somebody.

And, yeah, it's been a nightmare for my love life.

[laughs]

Yeah, when do you tell them?

And then how are they going to react?

It's like a constant coming out, that's what it is.

You're coming out to people.

It has that same feeling of...

you have to tell them this big thing.

And, of course, there's a bit of that about the drag, too.

You know, if I meet a guy who doesn't know,

you know, who I am, what I do for a living,

sometimes there's just that feeling about that--

"Oh, God, I have to tell him I'm a drag queen."

There's a bit of that with the drag,

but, obviously, the HIV thing is so much bigger.

And it's just that you have that sort of that feeling

that you had long ago about coming out to somebody.

[Declan] I don't think that there's any gay person in Ireland

who hasn't experienced homophobia

in its most vague form.

It's there all the time, you know.

The fact that we can't even avail of equal marriage

is homophobic in its very essence,

because what it's saying is

gay people and straight people are different.

There are other shades of it.

There is violence.

I have been with Rory, walking down a street,

when I've been punched in the face.

I don't speak about it often because, to me,

I wasn't surprised.

I was surprised by the event.

I wasn't surprised I live in a society

where that happens to gay people,

because I've seen it before, and before, and before.

The idea of public intimacy has been robbed

from every homosexual, I think.

And what it comes down to in the end

is that you suddenly might make a decision, yes,

I'm going to hold my boyfriend's hand in public,

but I'm not doing it because of the intimacy of the moment.

I'm doing it because I feel like I'm going to not be afraid.

And it becomes a statement.

And actually it becomes the antithesis

of what you wanted it to be in the first place.

So that is homophobia.

[man] Tonight, we are delighted

to welcome to the stage

Ireland's most fabulous drag queen,

and famous activist, Panti.

[applause]

Have any of you ever been standing

at a pedestrian crossing

when a car goes by, and in it are a bunch of lads.

And they lean out the window as they go by and shout,

"Fag!"

And throw a milk carton at you.

Now, it doesn't really hurt.

I mean, after all, it's just a wet carton,

and in many ways, they're right.

I am a fag.

So it doesn't hurt.

But it feels oppressive.

And when it really does hurt, is afterwards.

Because it's afterwards that then I wonder and worry

and obsess over what was it about me?

I mean, what did they see in me?

What was it that gave me away?

And I hate myself for wondering that.

It feels oppressive.

And the next time that I am standing

at a pedestrian crossing,

I hate myself for it,

but I check myself to see what is it about me

that gives the gay away.

And I check myself to make sure that I'm not doing it this time.

[cheers and applause]

[big band music plays]

Every single person in this audience

has a cousin or a neighbor or the guy that you work with

who's a flaming queen.

I mean, you all know one.

And it's very hard to hold prejudices against people

when you actually know those people.

And Ireland, because it's such, you know,

small communities grouped together,

everybody knows the local gay.

And, you know, maybe 20 years ago, it was okay to,

you know, be really mean about him.

But nowadays it's just not okay to be really mean about him.

If you are going to argue that gay people need to be treated

in any way differently than everybody else,

or should be in any way less,

or their relationships are in any way less,

then I'm sorry.

After what I thought was a pretty innocuous appearance

on a television show,

all sorts of shit has hit the fan.

I am being threatened with legal action

by five different people,

and so is RTE.

[news anchor] RTE's managing director of television

has said the broadcaster paid a total of 85,000 euro

in a financial settlement

following a recent edition of the Saturday Night Show.

[reporter] Following threats of legal action,

RTE apologized and a financial settlement was made,

now known to have been 85,000 euro,

to journalist John Waters,

and to members of the conservative Christian group,

the Iona Institute.

The apology and settlement became the subject

of heated public debate.

2,000 people took part in a protest

in Dublin city centre...

[John Lyons] I thought, you know, I was living in a society

where this stuff isn't acceptable anymore.

But yet, when people challenge people on these issues--

And that's what Rory O'Neill did on the Saturday Night Show.

He called it what it is.

RTE got it wrong,

and everybody in the public knows they got it wrong,

and RTE need to come out and let us know

that they got it wrong.

Otherwise, there will not be confidence

in our national broadcaster

to mediate any debate with confidence,

particularly around issues that effect my life,

and the people who love me,

and love all the other people who aren't treated properly

in this society. Thank you.

We must not allow ourselves to be bullied and silenced,

because this is all it is.

This is bullying.

These are the people who are always complaining

about being silenced.

When have they ever been silenced?

-[crowd cheers] -I don't care

if Panti wears a tutu,

if he wears a ballet skirt.

He's a fantastically glamorous human being,

-who also... -[cheers and applause]

...also happens to be intellectually brilliant

and morally courageous.

[Rory] It turns out that all the rest of the mainstream media

are absolutely terrified to report on it,

because they are also terrified

of these stupid solicitor's letters.

I mean, it turns out that you can cower

the whole media industry in this country

by a simple solicitor's letter.

[Panti] And for the last three weeks,

I have been lectured by heterosexual people

about what homophobia is

and about who is allowed to identify it.

Straight people have lined up--

ministers, senators, barristers, journalists.

--have lined up to tell me what homophobia is

and to tell me what I am allowed to feel oppressed by.

People who have never experienced homophobia

in their lives,

people who have never checked themselves

at a pedestrian crossing,

have told me that unless I am being thrown into prison

or herded onto a cattle truck, then it is not homophobia.

And that feels oppressive.

I do, it is true, believe that almost all of you

are probably homophobes.

But I'm a homophobe.

I mean, it would be incredible if we weren't.

I mean, to grow up in a society

that is overwhelmingly and stiflingly homophobic

and to somehow escape unscathed would be miraculous.

So I don't hate you because you're homophobes.

I actually admire you.

I admire you, because most of you

are only a bit homophobic.

And to be honest, considering the circumstances,

that is pretty good going.

But I do sometimes hate myself.

I hate myself, because I fucking check myself

when standing at pedestrian crossings.

And sometimes I hate you for doing that to me.

But not right now.

Right now, I like you all very much

for giving me a few moments of your time.

And for that, I thank you.

[cheers and applause]

What the fuck just happened?

I mean, what the fuck just happened?

How did this happen?

It's nuts.

Nuts. Nuts.

The story was becoming bigger

and gathering its own steam anyway,

but I think from my personal point of view,

the speech just changed absolutely everything.

You know, and I don't want people to get the impression

that being gay means that, you know,

every day somebody's throwing stuff at you from a car,

or that you're constantly unhappy.

It's not that, it's just that there are these constant

small psychic nicks,

these little psychic cuts.

You know, I wish I could just not care.

But I can't not care,

because there's this tiny part of me--

And look at me, I'm dressed as a giant woman.

And yet, somehow, even I still harbor

these little shames about it.

And I don't want to.

We all feel that, all gay people feel that.

We're constantly forced to check ourselves,

and not be quite as gay as we might want to be

in order to feel safe.

[anchor] You're not a heterophobe, are you?

No. I love heterosexual people.

If there weren't heterosexual people,

I wouldn't have boys to fancy.

Okay, Panti Bliss, we'll leave it there. Thank you very much.

Thank you so much.

Hi.

-How are you? -I'm good. How are you?

Lovely to see you. Welcome back.

[Rory] One of the reasons I insisted

on doing this as Panti and not as Rory

was just to kind of draw a line under all of that.

I mean, it was only a bizarre incident

that caused trouble the last time.

So it's hardly ever going to happen again, is it?

[laughs]

He was on his own the last time,

so we want to be here for him.

[laughs] If it all goes belly-up again.

By the power of big hair.

Is there anything else you wanted from me?

Last time I was on here, I was a non-smoker.

And now I'm smoking again.

I have to consider what I say publicly

much more than I would've in the past.

And that's actually a little awkward

when you're a drag queen entertainer,

because part of what I do is being able to say things,

and sometimes in a lighthearted way or whatever.

[cheers and applause]

[big band music plays]

Hi, Panti.

Right.

-Hi, Brendan. -Hi, Panti.

-Hi, how are you? -I'm good.

It feels like it's only been five lawyers

-since I saw you last. -[laughs]

Yes.

When you and I get together, it can be a wild,

wild night, Panti, but let's keep it country tonight.

[indistinct chatter]

But I don't want to start over-considering

everything I say, or--

You know, because I am an entertainer,

and I am a drag queen, and that is part of what I do.

So, yeah, I've had to make a sort of conscious decision

not to think too hard about that or to worry too much about that.

If I upset a few people along the way,

well, that's going to happen.

Thanks, Brendan.

Thank you, Panti. Yeah, are you happy with that?

Yeah, absolutely, yeah, yeah, all good.

Yeah. Thank you very much.

Nicely handled, is what I would say.

[Panti] We're off to the People of the Year Awards,

which is why I'm dressed like a Disney villain.

[laughs]

When you even think of the idea

of the leader of the country going into a gay bar

for a pint with their LGBT wing or whatever,

that's a massive change.

Just a couple of years ago, there's absolutely no way

the leader of this country would've,

you know, gone into a gay bar and, you know, hung out with...

And if the new attitude is that a picture opportunity

in a gay bar is a way to court votes?

I'm all for it.

Like, people were complaining,

"He's just looking for the pink vote."

Thank God he's looking for the pink vote.

You know? There was a time when the only vote they wanted

was the bloody Church vote.

Oh, I see my sisters there.

How are you, lovely?

Good. Hi, hi.

It is, yes.

[indistinct chatter]

Oh, we clean up well.

[laughter]

My fourth daughter.

...gave me away...

[Rory] I know for my parents it was upsetting.

Especially in the early part.

But then I think after this Noble Call speech

and when it sort of turned around,

then it became something totally different,

and I think they became very proud about it.

They've been really good to me.

I haven't always brought easy things to them,

from gayness to HIV to whatever.

And...

yeah.

It was nice to bring something nice to them,

even though in the beginning it wasn't.

But it turned into something nice for them.

Fuck.

[applause]

For the simple yet beautiful thing of being herself,

and himself,

this award goes most deservedly to the wonderful Panti Bliss.

Do come up.

[applause]

Thank you.

Congratulations.

Congratulations. Mwah!

What does this award mean to you--?

Sorry, can I just say oh, my God, Stephen Fry!

[cheers and applause]

[Panti] I would like to remind you

that anybody can get married in this country.

Except you.

Any asshole can get married.

Any dumb-fuck soccer hooligan can get married.

Any gay-basher on George's St. at 4:00 a.m. can get married.

Any fascist, any murderer,

any sex offender can get married.

But you cannot.

[crowd boos]

Because, oh, my God,

let the gays get married, and the sky will fall down!

You should be angry about that.

Get angry about that, be angry about that.

Get your righteous anger up about that,

because it is a righteous anger,

and channel that anger to do something about it.

Get behind the campaign. Do your bit.

[crowd cheers]

[Una Mullally] The masses of people turned around and said,

"We want Panti."

We want Panti to go out and be an ambassador."

And that was just magical.

I mean, I think apart from anything else,

what that time did,

apart from start loads of conversations

with straight people about homophobia,

was that it gave the gays a confidence

that all of a sudden they could talk about these issues

at the dinner table with their parents,

and all of a sudden, one of their people, their Panti,

was on the front page of newspapers

and was a talking head on international news programs.

You know, that means a lot.

-[man] What do we want? -[crowd] Equal rights!

-[man] When do we want it? -[crowd] Now!

[Rory] The last step is full access

to equal marriage and parenting rights.

You know, those are the last steps,

and they are about to be tackled now.

We're going to be having a referendum on gay marriage.

So it's going to be unpleasant,

and this is sort of the final fight.

-[man] What do we want? -[crowd] Equal rights!

-[man] When do we want it? [crowd] Now!

[Una] May 2015.

Ireland voting on marriage equality

to basically insert into our constitution

a line that people can get married regardless of their sex.

Ireland could potentially become

the first country in the world

to pass marriage equality by a popular vote.

[crowd cheers]

[Tonie] People have a sense

that we are on the cusp of significant change

that goes way beyond just simply giving marriage rights

to gay people.

[man] Bring them all up again, guys!

[Una] This could be the domino effect

that the world has been waiting for

in terms of LGBT rights,

because if Ireland can, by a popular vote,

bring marriage equality into law,

then who the hell else can do it?

[man] It's time we ended tolerance

for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Ireland.

Because tolerance is what we've had for the last 20 years.

And tolerance is about saying,

"Go and play by yourselves, but don't bother the rest of us."

Tolerance is about saying that, yes,

you can be different,

but don't expect us to recognize that you are equal.

And, really, it is time, in fact, that we in fact ended

that tolerance and replaced it with something else,

which is citizenship.

[cheering, applause]

[Tonie] Symbolically, it's the closest the country will give us

to an apology for the hurt and suffering,

and the alienation and the marginalization

that forced people, friends of mine and others,

to live miserable, shitty lives.

[Rory] We are two weeks, roughly,

away from the marriage equality referendum.

It feels like it's been coming for a long time.

But it is sort of depressing,

whether it's hanging on a lamppost on a poster,

or whether it's on your radio or your TV,

there's just this constant stream of people

characterizing you in a particular way.

And when I say "you," I mean just all gay people.

[man] You've got no right to say to anyone else,

you can't do this, you can't do that.

Oh, well, thank you very much.

Good, thank you so much. Thank you.

Every day I hear from somebody,

"Oh, somebody called me a queer in the street yesterday."

And that wasn't every day before,

whereas now because it's in the ether, it's in the atmosphere,

there's this sort of, you know,

bitterness which I'm finding wearying and tiring.

And it is bizarre to think

you have to knock on strangers' doors,

and they come to the door,

and you have to essentially beg them

to allow you

the same respect and rights as everybody else.

We are expected to go around asking people to okay us.

Who else has had to do that?

And if you had any questions, or...

You're okay? Would you like a leaflet?

Thank you so much. Thank you.

If the referendum doesn't pass, it'll be crushing,

because the people will have spoken and they will have said,

"Actually, no.

"That there's a limit to our acceptance of you.

"There's a limit to our respect for you.

"And you've reached that limit,

"and, actually, we're not okay with you,

"and actually...

"yeah, we don't actually think you're the same as us,

and I don't think you should be a full and equal citizen."

People are going to take it that personally.

Because it is that personal.

[news anchor 1] After a month of campaigning

and 15 hours of voting yesterday,

the moment has arrived.

Ireland's made history by putting the issue

of marriage equality to a public vote...

[news anchor2] Ballot boxes are being opened

around now as counting of votes will soon begin...

[news anchor 3] We'll know in a matter of hours

whether or not Ireland's made history

to become the first country in the world

to vote for marriage equality...

[David] I agree with Daniel O'Connell,

the Great Liberator.

When some mean-minded people

within the Protestant Ascendancy

suggested that giving rights to Roman Catholics

would diminish their rights,

O'Connell made the point that human dignity and freedom

are not finite resources,

that the more you parcel them out, the less you have yourself.

In fact, the more you parcel them out,

the more enhanced your liberty and dignity are.

[indistinct chatter]

[man] It's decades of work you made possible.

I know, but I only wish I was 21, rather than 71.

[both laugh]

[news anchor 1] Ireland appears on course

to make history by becoming the first country

to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote...

[news anchor 2] But within minutes of boxes being opened

around the country at 9:00 this morning,

the tallies told one thing:

Ireland had given equal marriage a resounding yes.

-Congratulations. -Thank you.

Congratulations to you and all your hard work.

It's an amazing day for all of us.

Everyone's been ready for so long.

And, like, you caused the national debate last year

that didn't have to be had this year because of you.

Oh, that's not really true, but thank you.

It's totally true.

Oh, hi.

Well done.

Yes!

[laughs]

[man whistles]

[hoots]

Perfect day for... for a yes.

For a social revolution.

Oh!

Yay!

Thank God I look fucking amazing.

[both laugh]

[cheering, applause]

[whistling]

Thank you.

Thanks, everyone. Thank you so much.

[cheering, applause]

[crowd] Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti!

[Panti] I think the future for, like, young LGBT people

is incredible now in this country.

They'll be growing up in a country which absolutely,

on every level, treats its LGBT citizens

exactly the same as everybody else.

They'll be growing up on a level playing field,

and they've never had that before.

We've never had that before.

And this has actually not been

a three-month or four-month campaign.

It's been a 40-year campaign,

and is the absolute epitome of a grassroots campaign.

It started 30, 40 years ago

when a tiny number of really brave men and women

stood up and said they had nothing to be ashamed of.

-[crowd cheers] -And 40 years later,

the country agrees: we have nothing to be ashamed of.

We're the same as everybody else.

-What a day. -Congratulations.

[cheers and applause]

[crowd cheers]

Panti!

Whoo!

[crowd] Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti!

Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti!

Oh!

Thank you so much.

Not at all, thank you so much.

Thank you so-- Look at this. This is what I like to see.

More makeup than I'm wearing.

We've waited 39 years for this, my partner and I.

Congratulations. Enjoy your married life.

-Is this your partner? -Yeah.

How long have you been together?

39 years.

40 years next year.

40 years? You look amazing on it.

We saw a few things in our time.

-Yeah, I'm sure you did. -Thank you.

You lesbians and your good skin. It's all the hill-walking.

Hi. Ah, chickens--

Oh!

Look at you, making the effort today.

Oh, hi, Andrew.

How are you today?

Look at you. You look fabulous.

[laughs]

Aodhán, oh, my God, thank you so much.

You played a blinder.

And I met your lovely wife in Australia, somewhere.

I know, yeah, she told me. Well done.

-No, thank you. -Brilliant, okay?

Let's have a picture with Aodhán.

[laughs]

Get Joan in here.

Joan! Come on over, Joan!

[laughs]

-Hi! -Hi. Lovely to meet you, Joan.

Get in there.

At last I met someone taller than me.

How do you feel about the win?

-The victory? -What?

How do you feel about the victory for the Yes campaign?

It feels incredible today. It couldn't feel any better.

It's thrilling.

Have you ever felt happier?

I have, yeah, but-- Yeah, a few times.

[all laugh]

Will you be looking for a husband tonight?

-I found one. -[laughs]

But it's not the husband I'm looking for,

it's a lesbian lover.

[all laugh]

Because now we can go any way, you know?

It's all in the mix.

-Will you be partying all night? -Of course I will.

I think this is one day of the year where I'm allowed.

What's happening at Pantibar tonight?

We'll just be having a fun time and partying hard.

Look at this. John Lyons.

-Hey, Panti. -Oh!

What's your message to the people that voted No?

That I think-- I honestly believe that in time,

they'll understand that their fears were, you know, unfounded,

and that they'll look back eventually and think,

actually, yes, today is a good day.

And...yeah.

Do you forgive people for voting No?

I don't have to forgive them.

They voted No out of their own concerns,

out of their own honestly-held concerns.

But I think that those concerns were unfounded,

and I hope that, in time,

they'll come to agree with me on that.

[crowd cheering]

Can I just say,

before the official result comes out,

I'd like to say thank you to everybody for your hard work.

It's been amazing!

-[crowd cheers] -It's been amazing!

Thank you so much!

Thank you! Mwah!

[crowd] Panti! Panti! Panti! Panti!

[woman on TV] Votes in favor of the proposal: 1,201,607.

[cheers]

[woman on TV continues indistinctly]

Nice job.

[laughs]

Majority of votes in favor of the proposal:

467,370.

[cheers]

[somber music playing]

[Rory] The sky didn't fall in.

Everyone's okay.

And that was an amazing day.

[car horns honk]

If No had won,

there would have been no dancing in the streets.

There would have been no outpourings of joy and love

and hugging and tears and kissing and cheering.

You know, because nothing would have changed.

It would just have been exactly the same

as it had been the day before.

[siren blaring]

Because the No argument was an intellectual argument.

It wasn't about changing lives for the better or anything.

It was just all intellectual arguments

about what kind of society they wanted to see

reflected in the dry piece of paper of the constitution.

For us, it was about our lives.

And that's why we won.

Because people recognized that.

Lives trump dry, intellectual arguments every time.

[clock chiming]

You could easily have thought during the campaign

that this was all just about changing a law or whatever.

But, actually, the last few days,

it's four days after the result or something,

every time I walk through town,

I've seen gay couples holding hands

or, you know, canoodling outside a restaurant

just like everybody else would.

And I wasn't expecting that,

and I don't know how long it'll last.

But at the moment, there is this feeling

that it really has all changed.

And, you know, gay people now,

certainly in Dublin at the moment,

feel different.

And they are expressing that they feel different

by just acting like everybody else.

My relationship with Ballinrobe has always been complicated.

You know, that sense of not quite fitting in

became more pronounced over the years.

The distance became greater between me and the town.

[sighs]

Okay, I'm not going to stand up in the marquee in Ballinrobe

with Mrs. Feerick on a plastic chair in the front row,

and do stories about tranny-chasers

and the usual stuff.

I'm not.

[Philly] The show should, essentially, only be for your mother.

You're arriving in your mother's living room, essentially,

and doing a show for all of her friends.

To hit them with a million AIDS jokes is a bit..

I think, yeah.

Like, I just keep coming back to...

you know, you're just doing the show for your mother.

Okay. So my mother wouldn't want it to be all AIDS jokes.

[both laugh]

And also "Pressures of Being Panti"

goes into, like, anal fissures.

[laughs]

[chuckles]

I'm not telling that story.

No.

[Philly] I just feel like it's going to feel like a big house party.

-Yeah. -And they're going to want,

you know, the kind of entertainment that

rural Ireland is used to,

is people going around to the tables and talking.

I think that, like...

Well, you've got that. That's part of your thing.

-Yeah. -So...

[Rory] No, I'm not doing--

Yes, the show is going to be massaged

-for a local audience. -It's for 80-year-olds.

For 80-year-olds. [laughs]

I'm putting in a joke about "Cock" Jennings.

[all laugh]

And he's leaving town immediately afterwards.

I would think everybody is looking forward

to tonight's performance.

I've met, even, some this morning,

and they're all wishing us good luck,

and they'll be down, and all this kind of stuff.

And the people in the street especially,

they're very proud in Abbey Street,

and they're proud of Rory, I think.

[laughs]

They're looking forward to this, anyway.

We're all a bit nervous, and I think he is himself.

Look how old I am.

[Panti] I am sitting in my parents' old bedroom.

When I was a kid, this was my parents' room.

And my mother would get ready here.

And you'd see all the perfume, and she'd be sitting here,

and I'd be watching her.

And now, I'm sitting at this dressing table in this bedroom,

dressing up as a giant cartoon woman.

I am the gayest thing in the world.

I mean, I am the gayest thing in the world.

And the whole reason I felt uncomfortable,

even before I knew it was the reason,

but it was, because I was the gay kid.

And now, essentially, my gayness is being celebrated

in the town that I felt weird being the gay in.

Like, who could have imagined that?

That the very thing that made me feel weird

and uncomfortable

and like there wasn't a place for me here,

is the very thing that the whole town

is now about to celebrate in a fucking marquee

that they've put up in the car park

of the local tire business.

It's nuts.

Who'd have thought we'd all be sitting around the kitchen

in Ballinrobe, County Mayo,

two of us dressed like giant women?

Yeah, they're not used to kind of, uh...

queens in Ballinrobe.

[laughter]

Unless you have been that gay boy in a small town,

I don't think you can understand what it is.

[somber music playing]

[sighs]

[laughs]

It's kind of "awesome," isn't it?

There you are.

[Panti] At least we don't have far to go.

[all laugh]

[announcer] And now, please give it up

for your national treasure.

Here's Panti!

[cheering, applause]

[crowd cheers]

Oh, my God.

Oh!

[laughs]

Now, I'm going to be really honest with you

before we get started.

I'm crapping it.

[laughter]

[Rory] It's true to say that,

while I breathed life into Panti,

she breathed more life into me.

It was not a good week.

It was difficult and distressing and weird,

and upsetting...like sex with Michael Flatley.

[laughter]

I cannot believe I'm saying this stuff

to a crowd from Ballinrobe.

[crowd cheers]

[Rory] She's colored me.

She's made me a better person.

Sure, she's brought me some trouble

and a few heartaches along the way,

but all of that pales in comparison

to what she's given me.

Friends, opportunities, courage, adventures, fun.

And, boy, it's been fun.

And anyway, homophobe is not the worst thing

that you can call someone.

"Cock Jennings" is.

[laughter]

And I'd like to apologize to Cock.

For the first time in my life, I'd like to apologize to Cock.

[Rory] I've entertained in London, Paris, New York, Melbourne,

and I have horrified in Limerick, Norwich, and Hobart.

But I'm still here.

Making a show of myself.

Thank you all so much for coming.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

[cheers and applause]

Thank you so much.

Remember, this isn't a rehearsal, kids.

There is no support act.

You are the main event.

Thank you all so much. Thank you.

[Jennifer Holliday] ♪ You're the best man

I've ever known

There's no way I can ever ever go

No no no no way

No no no no way I'm living without you

Oh I'm not living Without you

Not living without you

I don't want to be free

I'm staying

I'm staying

And you and you And you

You're gonna love me

Oh hey

You're gonna love me

Yes you are

You will love me You will love me

Love me

Love me love me

Love me

You're gonna love

Me

[soft music playing]

The Description of Queen of Ireland