‘Enlightenment does not produce tolerance; tolerance is the result of boredom,’ Quentin Crisp said in 1968, when asked about changing social attitudes towards homosexuals. ‘The facts have to be repeated over and over and over, and in the end people say: "All right, so you’re queer. Just talk about something else." And then the work is done.’ It seemed that the moment of peak boredom had come for gay people in Ireland in their fight for equal marriage rights. With a referendum timetabled for early 2015, and the government getting behind the ‘Yes’ campaign following strong recommendations from the Constitutional Convention, gay rights campaigners seem confident, if not complacent, about a change in the law. But they haven’t won yet. Catholic pressure groups are campaigning against gay marriage. The Irish Times commentator John Waters called it ‘a satire’. ‘It’s not that they want to get married,’ he wrote, ‘they want to destroy the institution of marriage because they’re envious of it.’ The drag performer Rory O’Neill said on the Saturday Night Show last month that attitudes such as Waters’s represent a ‘subtle homophobia’.
In words that the secretary of state for education has caused to be placed in every school in the land, ‘He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 23.1, King James Version). Like the rest of the good book, this instils a useful lesson for life: it never rains but it pours. You get kneed in the nuts behind the bike shed, only to learn you’re not going to heaven either.