Mr Gay Limerick experienced homophobic abuse in broad daylight on Friday afternoon. He said he was at a bus stop on Henry Street in Limerick when the event took place. He had been attending an event to promote the Limerick Pride celebrations later this year.
Darren Maloney, 26, said a group of men drove by in a car and shouted “faggot” and “state of him”.
Adding further insult to injury, Maloney said that people at the bus stop “started laughing” and “found it amusing”.
I can marry my partner in the morning, but I can’t hold his hand walking down the street
He told the Limerick Leader, “To be honest, I am happy that it happened to me and not somebody else. I am able to take things like that. Other people can’t take things like that. Somebody could be having a bad day and it could be having a bad day that pushes them over the edge. But I felt tiny when it happened. It wasn’t a particularly nice experience, but I am able to handle myself,”
Darren, who works in recruitment and has done charity work, said that since the Marriage Referendum society “tends to have rose-tinted glasses” and that a large proportion of people voted “no” in the referendum.
“I can marry my partner in the morning, but I can’t hold his hand walking down the street,” he commented.
“You are getting abuse for just existing. It is like somebody abusing somebody for having brown eyes, something as silly as that. We put on a brave face and carry on. I prefer to be able to walk down the street and go to my car and go to work without having abuse hurled at me.”
He said that homophobic abuse can be an “upsetting” experience for younger people and that there is still more work to for LGBT+ equality.
“That is why we have Pride. We spoke about it today [Friday], and we brought up about people saying to me: ‘After the referendum, we don’t need Pride’. Pride is all about visibility and about encouraging allies within the gay community; bring in your straight friends and go on and have a good time, and normalising that they want to a gay bar and having fun. But there’s still a long way to go.”
Maloney’s sentiments echo those of his predecessor, Mr Gay Limerick 2016, who made a call for hate crime legislation during his reign.
Dr Christian Moretti told the Limerick Leader, “Perpetrators [of hate crime] do not kill someone physically but they kill someone’s identity, their well-being, their mental health, their self-esteem. Isn’t mental health as important as physical health?”
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.