Gay PM Leo Varadkar Tells Mike Pence To Kiss His Irish Ass
Some seemingly simple acts are so overtly awesome we must recognize and applaud them in these dark times. Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar visited Vice President Mike Pence at his official residence Thursday. Varadkar is gay. Pence is infamously anti-gay. This is probably why they met for breakfast, which is scientifically the least gay meal. Brunch was definitely off the table. Mother definitely wouldn't approve of Belgian waffles with Irish gays.
Heads of state dining with a US vice president is perfectly normal. So are queer folk, but Pence has dedicated his life to denying them their normality. Varadkar also brought a plus-one, his partner, Matthew Barrett. The Second Lady, Karen Pence, wasn't present for the breakfast. Maybe she was busy not teaching and definitely not working with LGBTs. The three men wore green ties for Ireland. Pence wore the ugliest one, which should put to rest the silly rumors that he's a self-loathing closet case.
Back in 2015, Varadkar came out publicly on his 36th birthday. His father was born in India and immigrated to the United Kingdom to work as a doctor, which is where he met Varadkar's mother. Varadkar was raised in his mother's Catholic faith and later became a doctor. He's a wonderful example of how immigration and diversity generate positive results for a nation, which many in America fail to see.
He's also quite the contrast to the absurdly skewed view of the Irish our absurd president chose to share later in the day.
Yesterday, the Washington Post flat-out refused to call out Pence for the bigot we all know he is. This particular paragraph is a profile in journalistic cowardice.
Varadkar is one of only a handful of openly gay world leaders. Pence, on the other hand, is a socially conservative Christian who has long been criticized by LGBTQ advocates for pursuing policies that they say hurt the gay community while he was governor of Indiana.
Pence has always attempted to stuff his blatant homophobia in the walk-in closet of his pious faith. LGBTQ advocates don't just claim his policies are hurtful to the gay community. They objectively are. It shouldn't violate journalistic standards to say flat out that opposing the freedom of queer people to marry who they choose or even urinate in a public restroom is an assault against their basic dignity.
However, Varadkar took a moment yesterday to speak truth to power in the presence of someone who, despite all the smiling civility, still doesn't view him as fully human. After some standard -- if you're not Trump -- diplomatic patter, Varadkar suddenly went full Prime Minister Hugh Grant from Love Actually.
VARADKAR: I lived in a country where if I'd tried to be myself at the time, it would have ended up breaking laws. But today, that is all changed. I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs. And I don't believe that my country is the only one in the world where this is possible. It stands in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are, after all, all God's children. And that's true of the United States, as well. The land and home of the brave of the free. Where the promise of America inspires boys and girls all over the world to dream big dreams. And inspires others around the world to do the same.
Ireland legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 through a constitutional referendum. This was about a month before the Supreme Court legalized it the US. Our asses are behind on everything. Pence was reportedly "disappointed" over the ruling before presumably crying in Mother's lap about it. He's a jerk.
What Varadkar did was bold and important. He could've let Pence use him as a prop. One that all the gay haters in the GOP could point to and say, "Look how nice the Pences treated that one prominent individual gay person!" Instead, he eloquently demonstrated how so-called "outsiders" sometimes understand the supposed promise of America better than its actual leaders. We hope that changes in 2020.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).