The Rocky Road to Equal Marriage is an overview of LGBT rights in Northern Ireland from the 1960’s to the recent introduction of same-sex marriage, shown through a compilation of archive news footage.
What it shows is how we have always lagged behind the rest of the UK when it comes to the rights of LGBTQA+ people, the legalisation of homosexuality and equal marriage. It revealed a personal history I wasn’t entirely aware of, the history of my own community within my own country. The people who suffered, the people who fought for our rights and the religious and political figures that fought against us.
Watching on screen the thoughts, feelings and actions of gay people, religious people and political parties made me put my own feelings and experience against a historical context. I know how I grew up and how I felt. Sometimes I have wondered why I was uncomfortable with my own sexuality for so long, that perhaps it was more my thinking that held me back rather than the attitudes I was surrounded with, but the film was a clear reminder as to why it was such a struggle to grow up and come to terms with my own sexuality surrounded by anti-homosexual views everywhere.
The screening was followed by a discussion in which it was generally agreed that the support we need is not over now just because equal marriage has finally passed. The LGBT community will continue to need support including the trans community and LGBT children.
I was moved by a father who mentioned wanting to be at the screening even though his trans daughter and gay son were not there. He wanted to be there for them, to understand and learn and share. It moved me because I knew that no-one in my family would have chosen to do this. It seemed that this was not uncommon, that the families of LGBT people were the quietest when they themselves should be our strongest allies in normalising our lives. Because they themselves do not speak openly about having queer sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, they perpetuate the problem of homosexuality being seen as taboo, as problematic, that their friends and neighbours would not approve. What ever would they think? The reality might surprise you if you’re open with them.