Ireland’s most famous drag queen, also known as ‘The Queen of Ireland’, was the headliner at this year’s ILGA-Europe’s Equality Gala in Brussels. The gala was held last week in support of Europe’s LGBT movement.
Panti Bliss’ speech spoke of homophobia in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, which took the lives of 49 people at Pulse nightclub, Florida, last month.
She said that these have been a ‘difficult and tumultuous few weeks’ and that people at the time ‘failed to understand why the LGBTI community around the world took it so personally, why we were so shaken by it,’ going on to explain, ‘there is a shared, transnational experience of being LGBTI.’
She continued: ‘For many of us, the very first time that we ever felt totally and utterly free to be ourselves in every way was the first time that we went to a gay bar. For LGBTI people, bars are more than just bars… I have never been, in my life, to Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, but that doesn’t matter because I know it like the back of my hand.
‘I know the kind of people that were there, I know the fun that they were having, I know the freedom that they felt to be able to be themselves, totally… I have never been to Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and yet I have spent some of the best times of my life there.’
The poignant speech can be seen in full here: