Drag queen's speech fuels Irish gay rights debate
DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland's top drag queen, Miss Panti Bliss, has captured the attention of his nation in a fashion never seen before — with a stiletto-heeled message that his homeland remains full of Catholic bigots who make him feel ashamed to be himself.
The proclamations of Panti, a.k.a. 45-year-old Rory O'Neill, have led to a social media storm in Ireland, where homosexuality itself was outlawed until 1993 but attitudes appear to be softening rapidly. Civil partnerships for gays were legalized in 2010; a national referendum to permit gay marriage looms next year.
O'Neill's impassioned oration this month to Ireland's national theater — delivered while dressed as Panti's Hollywood bombshell persona — has become a YouTube sensation in Ireland and increasingly worldwide, with subtitled translations in a dozen languages.