Actor Tadhg Hickey, who was dressed in drag to film scenes as Mairéad Corkery, a character from a viral online show, faced transphobic abuse this weekend in his Cork hometown.
While dressed as Mairéad, the unlucky-in-love Irish republican, the actor received abuse from transphobic people on the street of his home city of Cork. He reported that people who thought he was transgender called him a “faggot”.
Hickey explained that the abuse he received made him question whether he should continue to play the popular character. The Cork man has since reached out to the LGBT+ community to seek advice on whether or not it is appropriate for a straight man to play a female character, while dressed in drag.
“I would have thought, as a society, we had moved on. I was shocked,” the actor explained.
Hickey reported, “For about two or three hours, I was walking around my home city and I felt extremely uncomfortable. Grown men were rolling down the windows in their cars, giving me really aggressive, judgemental looks. A grown man under his breath called me a ‘faggot'”.
The actor has played female characters before, but he explained that Mairéad is different because Ciara Coleman-Geaney, the makeup artists working on the CCCahoots Productions show, aims to make the actor look like a woman rather than a man dressed as a woman.
“When I’ve done panto in drag in the past, and was doing photo shoots in town, you get lads honking their horns and they think it’s a bit of craic. But when you get closer to the actual thing and they think you are potentially a transgender person, you get some people putting down their windows and calling you a faggot.
“It really took me back, because I love Cork and I am really passionate about being from the city and I love giving a good impression of Cork around the country. It’s an interesting and progressive place, in loads of ways,” Hickey said.
“We have gay marriage now and are more progressive than ever, but there’s actually a minority of people that are becoming more entrenched and angry about these things.
“I realised I’d never known what it was like to walk around Cork as someone who is a little bit different.
“I don’t think that any of our citizens should be treated that way and it should be challenged. There’s the mentality of ignoring the bigots, but we should challenge it. It saddened and angered me that there are people in this city who find going out in public hard, because of who they are,” the actor explained.
This morning, the actor clapped back at a Facebook user’s comment which claimed that the incident never happened, writing, “I dressed as a woman, went in town and pretended someone called me a ‘faggot’, just to get a bit of attention. The numerous comments and messages we’ve received from LGBTQ people detailing the daily homophobia/transphobia they receive are all made up as well. We’re all just looking for attention and there’s nothing to see here.”
Hickey is now planning on producing a video with an LGBT+ group to create awareness and discussion about how queer people are treated in public.
The actor is now also seeking feedback via CCCahoots’ Facebook page about his portrayal of the character Mairéad.
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