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On the anniversary of the Yes referendum we're taking a look back on the inspirational journey it took us to get there. There’s still lots more to be done for LGBT rights in Ireland and around the world, so let’s not just get nostalgic, but rather use this moment of reflection as inspiration for a brighter, better, more inclusive future for citizens all over the globe.
1) Panti’s speech at the Abbey Theatre in 2014
Social activist and ‘Queen of Ireland’ Panti Bliss, aka Rory O’Neill, made a noble call out to the people of Ireland from the stage of our National Theatre. A powerful post show oration, the speech, which candidly addressed topics of oppression and the LGBT community, made viral waves through Ireland and the rest of the world.
Watch it in full here
2) Spontaneous Street Art
In the weeks and months leading up to the day of the referendum various works of art appeared on the streets of Ireland in support of a YES vote. Probably the most prominent of these was a massive mural by Joe Caslin. The four-storey drawing of two young men embracing was a “poignant representation of same sex love in the city”. It was installed overnight, in the wind and rain, on the side of the Mercantile building at the junction of South Great George’s St and Dame St. It received widespread coverage and love in the media and online.
3) Mary McAleese’s call for YES
Former president Mary MacAleese, one of the most respected and beloved women in the country, spoke passionately in favour of YES vote and her hopes and fears for her own son Justin who is gay. “We who are parents, brothers and sisters, colleagues and friends of Ireland’s gay citizens know how they have suffered because of second-class citizenship. This referendum is about them and them alone,” she said. “The only children affected by this referendum will be Ireland’s gay children. It is their future which is at stake. It is in our hands. They are too few in number to win this referendum on their own.” Powerful stuff.
4) Ben & Jerry’s YEStivals
We partnered with YES Equality to create a YEStival which travelled the country inviting Ireland to pledge to vote YES! To rally our fans to get involved, we recruited some of Ireland’s favourite celebrities to show just how easy it is to say YES and created this video. And as the referendum grew closer, we took over three Luas stops for three days and scooped for change, discussing the issues and inviting people to vote YES.
5) People Power
Harder to distill into a single moment was the power of people getting involved in any and every way possible. From those who simply overlaid their Facebook profile pictures with a YES message, to the Love Choir that met under the Spire to sing love songs to passersby the evening before the referendum, to the canvassers who tirelessly went from door-to-door and took to the city streets to spread the good word - so many people played a part. Probably one of the most uplifting moments of the whole campaign were the stories shared by those emigrants and travellers who came #HomeToVote. Reading the messages and seeing the images of trains, planes and ferries full of young voters making such a huge effort to have their individual voices heard on a topic they cared so much about gave us hope for the future of Ireland.
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