Advice For People Who Love Someone Who Is Suffering From Depression

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It is one of most difficult experiences to go through seeing someone you love in pain. I have experienced seeing two people I love suffering from depression. Because neither of these people would like the fact they suffered from depression being known, for this reason I will not be using their names in this piece.

 

The thing you feel most is helpless. You want to do something to make them be happy and yet you know you can’t. Depression is a very difficult journey and watching from the outside, the best thing you can do is listen and understand how they feel from what they are telling you. The worse thing you can do is be judgmental and try to make out you understand how the person feels more than they do themselves.

 

Depression is a deep sadness but it is more than that. It includes insecurity and a sense of numbness. There is a lack of interest in the events going on in their life and a feeling often of “Why be productive because it doesn’t matter?” because a person already feels no matter what they do they aren’t worthwhile and their life and everything they do is meaningless. And instead of living, people who are depressed often feel they are surviving.

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There is too much of the idea that people who are depressed can “just snap out of it” or that they are “attention-seeking”. Depression in people is something that is a natural feeling and not something that someone can stop feeling like turning on and off a tap. Sometimes it’s caused by an event or events, sometimes not and sometimes a combination of the two. One of the people I knew suffered from depression all their lives, the other for a period of time. It was a daily severe sadness in both cases which affected their daily lives and made daily life a struggle. The person who struggled for years kept their depression back and was able for many years to function every day without people knowing that they felt depressed but then they had a bout of depression where they couldn’t get out of bed and where they were nervous going out in public in case they ran into people they knew. This person was actually a very outgoing person but in their worse bout of depression meeting those they knew and having to engage in conversation was difficult. It was partly because of their inner pain and partly because they were scared that the person talking to them would know they were depressed and know they had been in a psychiatric hospital. The other person had a bad bout of depression where they couldn’t function the way they usually did for the time they were depressed.

 

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Sometimes people who are depressed can get very anxious. They desperately want to be not depressed and sometimes can rush into things. The person who I knew who went into a psychiatric hospital would go in and would want to leave, go back in and want to leave again. They were looking for a quick fix and eventually they realised that wasn’t going to happen. Their diet went downhill as they began eating much junk and greasy food and they weren’t exercising enough. In the earlier stages of their depression they were incredibly healthy-living. The other person was phoning helplines, went to a counselling session and went to a psychiatric hospital but didn’t admit themself in the end. All of these things are not in themselves bad ways to help with a person’s depression but this person was hoping they would get a quick fix from these situations and things don’t quite work like that. It’s more gradual. And when the quick fix doesn’t come a person hoping for one can feel worse in themselves.

 

Depression makes people feel very nervous and unsure of themselves. Many people who are depressed have a lot of talents and gifts to offer the world and when many depressed people allow themselves to shine the world benefits but many people who are depressed often don’t allow themselves to. It can be a lot of pressure trying to cope with their depression and the added pressure of putting forward their talents can be sometimes too much especially in a world where not everyone is understanding of depression or compassionate enough to care. We live in a fast-paced world where profit is major and if someone needed time off work for their depression not every employer is understanding. While a lot of employers might not be alright with someone taking time off for any reason, there is even more of a problem for people who are depressed because many employers don’t see depression as a valid reason for time off as opposed to a physical illness. In addition many depressed people often don’t want to admit they are depressed to their employers with the stigma which often still surrounds mental illness.

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The two people I know/knew both didn’t want people to know they were depressed because of the stigma surrounding mental illness in society. They both felt that people would think they were “mad” or “dangerous”. And at one stage someone they knew in their presence called the psychiatric hospital “the madhouse” knowing too that one of them was depressed and had attended the psychiatric hospital in the past. They went back on it but it showed what they were thinking. And it is that kind of attitude which prevents many people from seeking help when they suffer from depression. They worry that people they know years will see them differently and feel very ashamed of being depressed. The ignorance/prejudice of others only serves to heighten that sense of shame.

 

While there is still a lot of prejudice in society, things have become better. There is much more open discussion about depression and many more people speaking about their experiences including both high-profile people and people not in high-profile positions. Their bravery in telling their stories despite the prejudice in society can not be underestimated. The two people I know/knew were helped from the visibility of people suffering from depression because it made them feel they weren’t alone. A lot of people who are depressed feel they are the only ones going through this and therefore think there is “something wrong” with them and seeing other people being so open is immensely helpful in raising their confidence in themselves that it’s a completely normal way of feeling.

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So if someone in your life is depressed the best you can do is show them that you love them and you are there for them. In the same way that you being not depressed is just an aspect of you, someone being depressed is just an aspect of them. Never get into that evil way of thinking that you not being depressed makes you better than them. Some people simply are and some people simply aren’t. I also firmly believe that anyone can become depressed at any stage in their life and the idea that some people are immune is ridiculous. To be honest we live in an often cruel world that to be depressed is a natural reaction to it. Be kind, be understanding and listen. You can’t get them out of the way they are feeling, that’s down to them and it’s a gradual, slow process. Sometimes peoples’ way of feeling does change and sometimes their way of feeling doesn’t but they may or may not become better able to cope with their depression and often people who are supported by those they love have a better chance of learning to cope better because they know they aren’t alone. But we need whatever the situation to just be there and be supportive. Don’t treat the person differently to how you would if they hadn’t depression. They are still the same person and you should never put them in the category of “the depressed one” and forget all the other qualities that make them who they are. Don’t treat them like a burden. They aren’t, just going through some stuff and if you love them you’ll be there for them. Don’t be ashamed of them. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. In short, be respectful.

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Being Cynical of The Freedom of Speech Campaign

 

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There’s a campaign that we often hear about in this modern world of the fight for freedom of speech. And to be quite honest as the title of this post suggests I’m cynical of it.

 

That isn’t to say I don’t believe in it. Because I strongly do. But I can’t help thinking that it’s a ploy to return the world to a place of prejudice at every corner towards people in minority groups. When exactly have any of the people campaigning for freedom of speech ever said for example, “If you believe people of the same race getting together is wrong you should have the right to say it” or “If you believe cis people are not their gender you should have the right to say it”. They seem to be campaigning from my perspective for negative things to be said about people in minority groups and in minority situations and never about majority groups and in majority situations. This is why I find it often very difficult to support the campaign because at heart, I don’t believe it is freedom of speech they are fighting for.

 

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I’m a kind of a person who believes that everyone in both minority and majority groups is valid but if somebody believed either way that that wasn’t the case I would completely fight for their freedom to say that. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t challenge them on those views. It doesn’t mean I have to like them for those views. I’m noticing a slight trend lately towards the “keep your mouth shut and be polite” even if someone is speaking about having prejudiced views or you know that they do. It can be very suffocating if you’re a person like me who is passionate about their views. Often you are on your own in being ok with bringing up the issue. There may be one or two people like you but often there isn’t. Why? Because a lot of people like to stay neutral in social situations. They see it as conflict and trouble.

 

A lot of us live in a democracy. If two people with opposing views can’t sit down and have a calm debate on issues they feel passionate about, then where does that leave humankind? What often results from a situation that could have been two people getting their point across and then having a cup of tea together after becomes carnage. If you dare even utter the sentence “I think you’re prejudiced” it turns into a mess of “you shouldn’t have said that”, “ah, they don’t mean it in a prejudiced way”, “you can’t call people that”. And maybe it’s just me but isn’t that an attempt to take away my freedom of speech? I don’t actually let out my views very often in social situations for that reason. I’ve seen a lot of people who have honest views even in a calm way be isolated for daring to speak their truth including by people in groups that they are actually standing up for which is incredibly ironic.

 

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There is also this idea that you are trying to change people when you disagree with their view. First of all, I have enough respect for the person I would be debating with to not think they would be weak-headed enough to change their views because of me. The people that say that clearly think they must be. Secondly I don’t exactly think I have that much influence over people! And lastly if I was out to change someone’s views I would go about it a lot more diplomatically than just being honest about what I think. People are more inclined after all to change views with a soft-softy approach than an honest approach. All I want in a situation like that is to put my own point across but it seems to be very hard for people to believe that’s all a person wants to do. Discourse is great. And uncensored discourse is brilliant. As long as both parties are calm, I don’t believe it’s right to tell people how they should speak in any discourse situation.

 

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But I’m cynical of the motives of those involved in campaigning for freedom of speech. If it was genuinely a movement for freedom of speech, all types of freedom of speech would be included not just the middle ground like my views which are positive about both minority and majority groups and the views of people who feel negative about minority groups but also those who feel negative about majority groups and those who feel negative about both. When they don’t say that I don’t believe them and I don’t believe their motives. If their tactics were different and they were sincere with those tactics my feelings would be completely different. The question for me is not between freedom of speech and the feelings of people in minority groups when faced with prejudices about who they are as is often the debate put across. For me, it’s more about not singling out minority groups to be spoken of freely in a negative way by people in majority groups but rather allowing both minority and majority groups to speak freely in a negative way about each other and campaigning for both minority and majority groups’ right to do so. Are majority groups that special that they can’t be spoken about negatively like everyone else?

 

 

Advice For Non-LGBTQ+ Parents When Their Offspring Come Out As Being Part Of The LGBTQ+ Community

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First and foremost all of this advice comes from a place of love and truth. It isn’t going to be like some of the cliche advice you might be used to hearing. In parts it may even come across quite harsh but at heart everything in this article is meant from a place of wanting you and your son, daughter or non-binary offspring to have a wonderful relationship of understanding, love and closeness.

 

  1.    Don’t Make Excuses For Any Ignorances Or Prejudices You Have

 

There is so much advice out there that says it’s alright for you to feel like this, that it’s natural but it’s probably one of the worse things you can do. There is no excuses for finding a problem where there is no problem. And it gets worse when you expect the other person to understand your feelings as if they were the most natural feelings in the world to have which they aren’t. By all means explain to the other person why you feel this way as an aid to help them understand why you do so that they know at least otherwise you may not have had these feelings but don’t make it an excuse. Expect them to understand why you are the way you are but don’t expect them to understand the way you are. Remember this whole issue is happening because you don’t understand an aspect of who they are so you can’t be expecting realistically for them to accept this aspect of who you are.

 

2.    Communicate

 

A lot of problems in this situation or in many situations occur through lack of communication. But there is a way to respectfully communicate what you’re thinking. Often people say that people who are LGBTQ+ are ‘defensive’ when asked questions in relation to the topic of whatever letter/s they are in the LGBTQ+ alphabet. Let’s take an example here to explain where someone would probably take offense. If someone comes out as bisexual and you ask, ‘I don’t know what that means. Could you explain it?’, I don’t think a person would be offended. That’s communication. On the other hand asking someone, ‘Bisexual. Isn’t that when people have multiple different partners?’ is not communication. Some people get upset when called out about a question like that and say ‘It’s ignorance, not prejudice’. It’s actually both. The first question on the other hand is ignorance but there is no prejudice attached to it. The second on the other hand comes from people who have preconceived and negative ideas about bisexuality in this instance and who haven’t the respect in that moment for that person to keep those ideas to themselves until they have educated themselves on the matter. You have to remember that this is a very personal thing to that other person and if you truly don’t want to hurt them you need to use a little of tact until you’ve actually looked into it. In any communication always treat a person the way you would want them to treat you. And taking another example if the shoe was on the other foot, would you rather they asked, ‘I don’t know what straight means. Could you explain it?’ or ‘Straight. Isn’t that a boring sexuality that’s no longer fashionable?’

 

 

3.         Educate Yourself

 

 

We live in a world nowadays where it is easier than ever to educate yourself on anything you wish to. The internet brings up practically anything you want to know about with the tapping of a few keys. There is also so much more openness than ever before in the media about LGBTQ+ issues and of course good old fashioned books to gain knowledge from. Educating yourself on something new to you may take a little time but it won’t take you as much time as some people make out especially if you are only looking up what your offspring is. Now if you were looking up the whole LGBTQ+ alphabet that might take quite a bit of time! It’s really not as confusing or daunting as some people like to proclaim to frighten people off getting the wonderful chance to educate themselves about people who are different to them in a very small way. So see it as an opportunity to explore something new, relax into it. Don’t be scared to find out about the varying feelings people have. You’ll find they are just like you but they just feel a little bit differently about certain things about themselves than you do. And from taking the time to educate yourself you’ll find your communications with that other person on the topic will improve and your relationship will improve.

 

 

4.     If Your Feelings Come From A Place Of Fear

 

Many peoples’ negativity when their offspring come out as being in the LGBTQ+ community comes from fear that their lives are going to be made more difficult. It’s a very valid fear as there is a lot of bigots in the world. There isn’t as many as there used to be though so that’s one plus of sorts. But it’s a very understandable fear and it comes from a place of love. But often people don’t communicate that very well and they end up making the person feel like they think there is something wrong with them as opposed to others they may encounter in the world. So communicate what you feel honestly and show that you are blaming society and the bad people in it, not the person. Just some food for thought: if you feel that someone will face more problems because they are part of the LGBTQ+ community, does that mean if your offspring wasn’t a part of the LGBTQ+ community that you’d fear they would be the ones who might possibly be causing the problems? There’s pros and cons whichever way you flip the coin so the most you can do is show your own support and love and not contribute to making things harder for those you love.

 

 

5.    If You Have Needed Time To Be Cool With Who They Are In This Regard/s (For Whatever Reason) …

 

It’s a human thing to make mistakes. But we should all be big enough to admit to them. That’s never an easy thing to do, is it? I think a lot of the reason people don’t do so in this situation is going back to section 1 of this article. If you feel it’s a natural thing to feel then you are more likely to feel you have nothing to acknowledge or apologise for. And that is probably only partly your fault that you feel that way because a lot of people are given that excuse and to make themselves feel less bad about what they are thinking they latch onto it. So in a way the people who give that advice are as much to blame as the person is. But if you have done wrong, if you have made a issue out of something that should never have been made an issue out of, acknowledge to that person that you were wrong, that you acted in a prejudice way in the situation or if it’s section 4 that it came from a place of love but it was still wrong. Then apologise, ensure them it won’t happen again and don’t let it happen again and move forward. Granted someone may possibly say that you don’t need to apologise but I have a feeling at the back of it they would appreciate it. It gives both of you closure.

Letting Go Of Prejudices & Becoming A Better Person

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Ignorance. Lately it seems to be the most overused excuse for getting out of bother. If I had a cent for every time someone said ‘it’s ignorance, not prejudice’, I wouldn’t have to do the Lotto. But the thing is that prejudice often comes from ignorance. The two are often a side of the one coin. And there is a very big difference between the ignorance of not knowing something which is ok and the ignorance of believing prejudiced myths. For example asking, ‘What is pansexuality?” does not mean the same as ‘Does that mean you are promiscuous?” I suppose in short, it’s common sense to only ask what you wouldn’t mind answering yourself the opposite way around.

 

Now that I’ve spoken about the terms, let me get to what I want to discuss in this post. I have in the past had a few prejudices of my own which I apologise for and regret. I used to judge what a person’s gender was from their presentation, what their pronouns were, assuming their gender from their pronouns or words like brother and sister and from their voices and though deep in heart I always knew that was wrong, I done it because I was very brainwashed by the society in which I lived. I also used to use the term ‘coloured’ to describe people of colour until I realised it was an offensive term. There was a mixture of brainwashing and ignorance leading to prejudice thinking and speaking in that one. The latter I stopped immediately. It wasn’t as deeply indented me as the first one but I eventually got rid of the two thankfully and apologised in my mind for them as thank god I never actually used any of these prejudices in front of anyone I could hurt. And I guess the point why I’m writing all this is that the reason I got out of them is because I admitted to myself that I was acting in a prejudiced manner and that’s the problem with a lot of people with prejudices, they don’t admit it to themselves and that makes their journey to making themselves better people longer and sometimes they don’t even get there. It is a hard thing to admit but when you do, while of course you feel bad about it, it starts you on your way to recovery.

 

The problem is that a lot of people get defensive and what that leads to is people making out the way they are thinking is ‘ignorant but a natural way of thinking’ and it is not a natural way of thinking. It all ties in with that ‘everyone is prejudiced’ get out of jail card. Not everyone is and a lot of people have never had any prejudices in their life so that is really used to make a person who has prejudices feel better about themselves. To get out of having prejudices you have to take responsibility. Whether something is the reason or not for you thinking that, that reason doesn’t excuse your prejudices. You need to take responsibility for your prejudices and stop the pity party, the whole victim party and the whole feeling sorry for yourself because someone was upset by what you said. Yes I believe most people in this situation hate upsetting people but I find they hate upsetting themselves more and that’s not a good place to start from.

 

In addition and I think this is the bit that annoys me the most, they blame people for taking offense to what they’ve said when the most natural feeling in the world when someone is prejudiced towards you or you see someone being prejudiced towards people is to be offended and not like it. People aren’t robots with no emotions and I think people in this situation often forget that or conveniently do depending on the person. They want people to understand them being prejudiced. There’s a massive irony in there. And actually it’s more important to understand that you shouldn’t be prejudiced than to understand prejudice and why people are acting and thinking in a prejudiced way. I’ve actually heard people say that people who get upset about prejudice, even prejudice about themselves, need to ‘grow and mature’. As I said there is much irony in the things people say. Because when you have prejudiced feelings there is an immaturity and a lack of growth in that aspect of who you are. There is also a repression of peoples’ natural emotions here. It’s getting a stage now that feels very unhealthy where people are almost being forced to not take things personally that they do feel personally. When they think people ‘grow and mature’, what people are often doing is adapting to the situation to avoid hassle and the guilt-tripping of ‘the terrible struggle I’m going through because I’m only ignorant and you should understand that.’ Well this is tough love, nobody has to understand you acting in a prejudice way, stop your goddamn moaning and educate yourself and be adult enough to admit to yourself that what you are doing is having prejudices and that it’s desperately wrong. Would you be so understanding if people said prejudiced things about something about you?

 

If you honestly want to change this aspect of yourself, taking responsibility for your feelings and educating yourself is how you do it. Running away from your prejudices isn’t going to help you. Face them head on. They are there whether you ignore them or not so be brave and when you have got to a point where you are out of the sickness of prejudice apologise to those you’ve hurt or offended and if that isn’t possible apologise in your own mind. Then leave it in the past and don’t fuck up again. Forgive yourself. You will still have regrets but forgive yourself. Face these things you’re scared of feeling head on. I promise you that you won’t regret it.

Why Shouldn’t There Be A Straight Pride Pin?

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I missed this story and I was reading it recently. It’s the story of the Straight Pride Pin sold by 1000 Flags and which was taken down from Amazon and the company’s website back in April of this year.

 

If I’m being honest I don’t know what the problem with it was. While I am the first person who will say a Straight or/and Cis Pride Festival would be a daft idea I genuinely do not see what the problem would be with a Straight Pride pin or flag or a Cis Pride pin or flag or a combination of both. The reason for LGBTQ+ Pride in it’s history was because of the oppression LGBTQ+ people faced. That’s the origins of it and straight cis people have never faced oppression and that’s why I think the festival and parade would be a stupid idea. However I think of pins, badges, flags and the like as something personal to a person because they are proud of who they are and I don’t think that pride of feeling is only reserved for people who have faced oppression. I’m proud of being pansexual but I’m not against any other sexuality. I’m proud of being cisgender but I have nothing against transgender people. I’m proud of being white but I have nothing against people of colour. I’m proud of being working-class but I have nothing against people of any other class. I’m proud of being female but I have nothing against any other gender. I guess in short what I’m trying to say is that everybody should be able to feel pride about all the various parts that make them them while respecting the various parts that make up somebody else. And to stop somebody from buying a Straight Pride pin is to stop a straight person from expressing pride about who they are which I believe they should be able to feel and express as much as anyone of any other sexuality.

 

Being pansexual I felt guilt when I read about it. What people forget is that to a straight person their sexuality is as personal and important to them as to anyone else and the prejudice I read in this case towards straight people was horrible. If a straight person wanted to buy a Straight Pride pin, I say let them buy the bloody pin in peace. All the things about it being Anti-LGBTQ+ was ridiculous. It has actually has nothing to do with LGBTQ+ people or issues and no one is being hurt by a straight person buying a Straight Pride pin. I personally believe everyone of every sexuality, everyone whether they are trans or cis, everyone of every gender, race, religion, lack of religion, nationality, class, etc … should be encouraged to be proud of who they are and express that in whatever way they want to and should be encouraged to speak about what it means to them. Whether we are in a majority group or a minority group in any situation it is an important part of who we are and to laugh about or be bored by someone expressing and talking about what it means to them is insulting.

 

Let’s not divide from each other. Let’s all express what we want to express in whatever way we want to and let’s respect each other as complete equals in every way.

The Supreme Court Ruling On Wedding Cake Brings Us Briefly Back To The 18th Century

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The Supreme Court have ruled in favour of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for the wedding of a gay couple in 2012. The ruling was 7-2 in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop argued that his religious beliefs as a Christian would be violated by making the cake for husbands-to-be David Mullins and Charlie Craig. The ruling which had originally ruled in favour of the couple was overturned by the Supreme Court.

I find it all very sad. I actually get sick to my teeth of that ole chestnut of using your religion to discriminate against people. It actually seems very in fashion nowadays and it actually makes no sense. I think we all know Christians who are very open-minded, kind people and I think the box these people like Phillips put them in is very wrong. And if not all Christians are like Phillips then it’s obvious that it’s something to do with people like this and not their religion as they claim.

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I don’t own a business but if I did I would be professional in my dealings. For instance if someone wanted a cake for a rally of narrow-minded persuasion I would bake the cake because it would be my job, not because I believed in the cause. It’s an open service to everyone and the old mantra is that the customer is always right. It’s the first thing anyone going into a business learns. What you believe is irrelevant to the needs of your customers. I find it massively strange this whole religious beliefs fight because people are asked to bake a cake, not attend the occasion.

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Everyone should be able to go into a place of business and be treated the same as everyone else and no exceptions in any way to that rule. If you’re going to be unprofessional in anything you do you might as well not be doing it. Your opinions are your own personal beliefs. They should never come into your work but apparently the Supreme Court in Colorado thinks they should. I do feel sorry for Mullins and Craig in this ruling. Essentially what’s being put forward is that people can openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in services and the law will back them up. But I admire them for bringing the case and highlighting this prejudice that still goes on in our society and I wish them both a very happy life together.

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Just one other thing I read about the case. Non-surprisingly the Trump Administration was all behind Phillips and Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the following,

“A custom wedding cake is not an ordinary baked good; its function is more communicative and artistic than utilitarian. Accordingly, the government may not enact content-based laws commanding a speaker to engage in protected expression: An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write.”

Now, I’m a writer and I would agree no one in a creative sphere should have to create something they don’t believe in. But it’s the creative sphere. It’s a solitary profession where you are creating something that people can either look at or ignore. There is a massive difference when you are running a business where customers are coming to you looking for the same service and you pick and choose who you serve what to. If Phillips wants to bring a social issues part into his work maybe he should have became a writer but if someone becomes a baker they can’t have their cake and eat it but essentially the Supreme Court said Phillips could do that.

Republic Of Ireland Vote Yes In Abortion Referendum

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Today is yet another historic day here in the Republic of Ireland.

 

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We have voted yes on the Abortion Referendum here. It is such a fantastic day for human rights and freedom for trans men, cis women, non-binary people, intersex people and basically for anyone who can give birth. Now we have choice after a resounding victory in favour of amending the constitution. Today we stand together and I thank all the people who couldn’t be affected by this decision for coming out and standing with us by voting yesterday in favour of our choices. Thank you so much.

 

It was a very proud moment for me voting yes yesterday. After the madness of the stigma put on people for having abortions for so many years where people who did would be made out to be “murderers” and people faced 14 years in prison for having an abortion, this day is liberating and historic. Today, like the day of the Marriage Referendum result in 2015, I feel emotional and immensely proud of my country. I was terrified about the result as it’s such a divisive issue and I’m so relieved and happy today.

 

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But today has much sadness in it too. I think of Savita Halappanavar who died in 2012 after been denied an abortion and hearing the crowd at Dublin Castle on the news chanting her name following the result, seeing people at the mural of her and seeing her father’s message was very emotional. Her husband and family are in my thoughts very much today.

 

Rest in peace Savita.