Meet Panti Bliss

Ireland's most famous drag queen and LGBTQ activist

by Stranger’s Guide

Rory O’Neill a.k.a. Panti Bliss, is a popular drag performer and LGBTQ/HIV/AIDS activist. Panti’s forthright and powerful public speeches have garnered widespread attention throughout Ireland where, despite important gains for LGBTQ rights, the queer community still faces powerful discrimination. Here’s an excerpt from one of Panti’s most famous orations:

“Our society is homophobic. It is infused with homophobia. It is dripping with homophobia. And when you are 45 years old and you have spent 30 putting up, 30 absorbing all of those small slights and intimidations and sneers and occasionally much worse, you just get tired of it. … Of course, many people object to the word homophobia itself. They object to the “phobia” part.

“I’m not afraid of you,” they say. But I’m not saying that homophobes cower in fear every time they pass a Cher album, but they are afraid. They are afraid of what the world will look like when it treats gay, lesbian and bisexual people with the same respect as everybody else. They are afraid that they won’t fit in this brave new world of equality. But, of course, their fear is irrational because, of course, the world will not look any different. Kids will still want to eat ice cream, dogs will still play fetch, the tide will still come in and parallel parking will still be difficult. The most vocal homophobes who know that they long ago lost the arguments around the decriminalization of homosexual sex or every other advance for gay people since… they know that they can’t just come right out and bluntly say what drives them, which is an animus toward gay people.”

Panti Bliss regularly hosts the annual Dublin Pride celebrations, which take place in June each year. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be virtual parade on June 28.


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Photo credit: Felicity Rainnie


Don’t Yuck My Yum

“Don’t yuck my yum” has become a common refrain from parents teaching their children to respect food that others like that they might not. Turns out we could all learn that lesson. According to Julie Lesnik of the Department of Anthropology at Wayne State University in Michigan, when Europeans first arrived in America they were aghast that indigenous peoples ate insects. But Lesnik says billions of people on the planet today eat insects, and this just shows an “ability to exhibit dietary flexibility in order to make lives for ourselves in a wide range of environments.” Their way of life is actually far more sustainable than ours. “When I give talks and offer insect-based snacks,” she says, “it does not matter to me if people will not try them; however, I ask people to respect them.”