Clondalkin Independent Councillor for South Dublin County Council, Francis Timmons, is one of a number of well-known faces sharing their experience of discrimination in order to “send a clear message to the LGBT+ community that homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are not acceptable”, as part of the new Call It Out campaign.
A joint initiative of the Transgender Equality Network (TENI) and the Hate and Hostility Research Group of the University of Limerick, the campaign aims to highlight the continued harassment and abuse directed towards LGBT+ people, and encourage all members of the population to call out any and all instances of bigotry.
Timmons has experienced homophobia at his doorstep on a number of occasions. The abuse began with letters addressed to him and his husband but soon escalated into more vicious incidents.
“I think it was around 2017 when we got a letter in the post and it was addressed to Fran and Darren, ‘the shit pushers’ which is horrible.
“Inside the envelope were pamphlets about the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Pope Benedict and prayers about the family.”
Having received a number of these letters, the homophobia further escalated into more threatening behaviour.
“We had seen a video on YouTube in which a guy stood outside our house and said “you’s [sic] fuckin’ faggots” and “if you want to behave like women, you’re not women and you’ll never have babies”, it was horrible, horrible stuff.
“My husband got up one morning (a few days after the video was uploaded) at about 7:30 and our front window, our front door and the car was smashed.”
The stress caused by this was only intensified when the guards informed them there was little they could do.
“We didn’t feel safe in our own home. It’s our personal space. We went to the local guards and they said they couldn’t do very much. We gave them the link, we gave them the letters as well and they said they couldn’t do very much about it which was very upsetting. ”
Timmons says that even though he is now almost immune to these things happening it is still hurtful.
“Just last week we were putting up posters for the local elections and this group of young lads came over and they were talking and being so polite. Then when they were walking away they said “you queer bastard”. I’d nearly forgotten about that because you just kind of just have to ignore it as such.
“It is hurtful though, it’s not nice to hear.”
Francis says that he has received great support from his local community.
“I remember I was out campaigning for the marriage equality referendum just before (it happened).
“The majority of people when I was going around campaigning were very supportive of marriage equality and knew my partner and I. We’d be fairly well known around the village as I’m a local councillor. We didn’t think that homophobia was still going to exist so soon after marriage equality.
“We were just very happy that we had the chance to get married after such a long time and that we were accepted by our friends and family and by the wider community.
“It caused a lot of strain at the time, especially the windows being smashed. When it happened we felt kind of ‘oh here we go again you’re not really accepted’.”
LGBT+ people across Ireland deserve to live happy lives free from prejudice. For that to happen, we must all step up to help bring homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to an end.
If you see it, #CALLITOUT
— TENI (@TENI_Tweets) May 20, 2019
Although Timmons and his partner have been affected by homophobia right on their doorstep, he has used his role as a local councillor to try and highlight the issue.
“I think a lot of it is around education. Sometimes people just repeat what they’ve heard and they might not fully understand what it means or how upsetting it is for another human being.
“It affected us emotionally alright. As a Councillor, I brought several motions up at the council about different LGBT+ issues and I have spoken about it a lot more.
“It urged me to campaign to stop it because I was so horrified by what had happened. You feel violated but we used it to highlight some of the issues around that we need to tackle.
“While canvassing for marriage equality knocking on doors, educating and telling our story, that’s what changed Ireland but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
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