Darren Kennedy, the Irish television presenter and entrepreneur, shared his own personal experience of homophobia to highlight the groundbreaking 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 (HHRG), 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.
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
Darren spoke of his own experience at a formative age: “Over the years, I hate to say it, but I have experienced homophobia in everyday life. One of the most horrible was when I was about 15 a group of friends called into me to go out. We walked about 200 metres down the road out of sight of all the houses and then they surrounded me and started to throw eggs at me and call me ‘fag’.”
Darren continued, “I felt absolute disbelief because what I originally thought ten minutes before was a group of friends calling in, turned out to be pretty horrendous… Needless to say it was a very dark experience.
Darren spoke about the impact the event made on him: “[I was left] feeling rejected, feeling isolated, feeling like I didn’t belong, that I had no identity, that I was worthless. It’s obviously not an experience that I would hope anyone else would have to endure… I took it very hard, I went to a very dark place. But I bounced back. And I didn’t change my behaviour.”
Whether you are affected by homophobia, biphobia or transphobia or not, letting it pass by signals to society that it’s acceptable.
It’s not okay. You don’t have to stand for it. #CALLITOUT
— BeLonG To Youth Services (@BeLonG_To) May 20, 2019
Darren encouraged others who may have experienced prejudice to try and look beyond it: “Understand when someone says something to you, it’s their issue and not yours. And be proud of who you are because ultimately it’s what is going to take you where you are going.”
“Looking back on it now, you realise it’s everything that they were trying to make me feel bad about is who I am and made me what I am today… [realise] that you are never going to please everyone, and that’s fine. You like me, brilliant, you don’t like me, fine, but I’m never going to alter or change who I am for anyone else.
Darren talked about the benefit of living your truth and not being ashamed of who you are: “There’s a real comfort because you never have to pretend, you never have to lie, you never have to be anyone else. And it’s accepting yourself. I think most people – good, honest, genuine people, value that in anybody.”
For more information visit Call It Out. Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are not acceptable – It’s Not Okay.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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