With the countdown to Friday's marriage equality referendum well and truly hotting up, Sean Munsanje has taken to his Facebook page to post a lengthy and eloquent piece campaigning for a YES vote. Here are some excerpts from a must read...
"I, like a lot of gay people, feel a responsibility to tell my story as to why I am asking everyone I know to Vote YES in the marriage equality referendum and why it is so important.
My Dad is from Zambia and my Mother is from Dublin, where I was born. I grew up in Africa and England and we returned home to Ennis in Co Clare in 1993. The same year homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland.
I did not know any gay people in Ennis. They simply did not exist. In retrospect, there was obviously many, however, they were hiding a part of themselves they felt was not acceptable to others, being gay. As a teenager, this made me feel like an alien. Any time someone in school called me a queer, faggot, bender or any any homophobic slur, I would laugh nervously as if it were a hilarious joke. Internally the panic would happen.
School is tough for everyone but for some gay students imagining a life past school is harder. It’s tough enough to find the love of your life for anyone, but to know that if you do find them you can't marry them is crushing. To know that your relationship will be given a lower status is grossly unfair. To me that says you are a lesser being.
Everyone should know they are equal from birth no matter who they are. If Marriage Equality existed in the nineties, I would have felt better able to stand up for myself knowing that the law and the state sees me as equal. That my life would be what I make of it. That I had a chance at happiness and a love that’s recognised and respected as equal, which everyone deserves.
Things have changed, that was then and this is now. What is hugely important now are the gay children of Ireland. The children who are waiting to see what Ireland thinks of them in 2015. Are they good enough to be equal to everyone else? Can they stand up to the bullies knowing they are equal to them in the eyes of the Irish people and in the eyes of the law?
Ireland has been a leader in history not a follower. Hilary Clinton may be the first female president in the US., Mary Robinson was our first female president twenty five years ago. There are now over one hundred countries in the world with a smoking ban, we did it first in 2004. It always starts with one person, one country, one entity to be brave and do the right thing.
When you go to the polls on Friday, I am asking you to Vote YES for this and future generations in Ireland. So everyone, without exception can be confident and strong no matter who they are. So they can stand up for themselves, knowing this country supports every single one of them, in exactly the same way and with the same rights. And so that I and people like me can get married to the person we love and want to spend the rest of our lives with."
You can read Sean's message in full here.