Tag: Activists

Graham Norton pays tribute to activists who ‘fought for tolerance’ in Ireland

Graham Norton

Graham Norton on December 4, 2018 in London, England. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty)

Graham Norton has paid tribute to those who “fought for tolerance in Ireland” while admitting that he “took the easy way out” by moving to London.

The BBC presenter, 57, grew up in Bandon, County Cork in Ireland before moving to London to pursue an acting career.

Born in 1963, Norton grew up in an Ireland that was steeped in Catholicism and where LGBT+ people were not welcomed.

Homosexuality was finally decriminalised in the country in 1993, while same-sex marriage was introduced in 2015. These changes did not happen by themselves – they were the result of decades of activism from queer people who fought tirelessly for change.

In the acknowledgements for his new book Home Stretch, Norton paid tribute to “all the people who stayed in Ireland to fight for the modern tolerant place it has become”, and said he “took the easy way out” by moving to London.

Graham Norton left Ireland and ‘moved where the gays were’.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Norton said: “I moved where the gays were. I went to London. Where nobody knew me so there was none of that scariness and there were gay bars that were just on the street so I could walk in, and meet other gay people.”

He added: “And I don’t want to be glib about it, because those people who stayed, who went on the marches and did the petitions, are nameless and faceless and I’ll never get to actually thank them, but they did the hard work.

People should be proud of themselves. Ireland is transformed.

“I am aware that Ireland isn’t Nirvana – and I think if young people hear me talking they’ll think ‘what is wrong with him? It’s horrible here…’ Well, try being here in the late 70s!

“People should be proud of themselves. Ireland is transformed.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Norton said that he and his contemporaries, like Irish drag queen Panti Bliss, grew up in a society where being gay was not celebrated.

“You’re not going to go ‘yippee!’ You know it’s not a choice, you know it’s not something you did, but you feel like you’re less than.

“You feel like you failed. You don’t want to test people’s love, because you don’t love you.”

Poems, Protest, and Empowerment in New Picture Book About Young Activists

Poems, Protest, and Empowerment in New Picture Book About Young

A new picture book pairs the stories of youth activists with #OwnVoices poems from exceptional adult poets who were inspired by their work. Unsurprisingly, there are queer voices among them.

No Voice Too Small
“No voice is too small/to solve a problem/that’s big,” begins Lindsay H. Metcalf’s poem at the start of No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, edited by Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson and Jeanette Bradley, and illustrated by Jeanette Bradley (Charlesbridge). In its pages, we meet Samirah “DJ Annie Red” Horton, who shares anti-bullying messages through rap; Ziah Ahmed, who held face-to-face conversations with everyone in his high school as a way to forestall anti-Muslim hate; Levi Draheim, who became the youngest of 21 kids who sued the U.S. government for failing to act to stop climate change; Jasilyn Charger, who helped launch the Standing Rock Pipeline Resistance Movement, and more. Most are people of color.

Each person profiled gets a two-page spread drawn in Bradley’s digital pastels and charcoals on an earth-toned, textured background. The images feel warm and approachable. On the left page of each spread is a poem about the person’s impact; on the right is a prose paragraph with further details. The poems are by an array of well-known writers, including Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, which won an NAACP Image Award; Nikki Grimes, who won a Coretta Scott King Author Award for Bronx Masquerade and was given the Children’s Literature Legacy Award in 2017; and Guadalupe Garcia McCall, the Pura Belpré Award winner for her novel Under the Mesquite. Each poet shares at least one aspect of their identity with their young subject. Additionally, each poem uses a different poetic form, helpfully explained at the end of the book.

Also profiled is transgender activist Jazz Jennings, with a poem about her by author S. Bear Bergman, founder and publisher of queer micro-press Flamingo Rampant. We also meet Zach Wahls, whose speech about his two moms to an Iowa House committee went viral in 2011, and whose Scouts for Equality organization helped pressure the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay scouts. His poem is by Lesléa Newman, best known as author of Heather Has Two Mommies, but also an award-winning poet. (Side note: Wahls, now an Iowa state senator, pops up in a new book for the second time this week.) If all that wasn’t queerness enough, illustrator Bradley is herself a queer mom.

There are any number of queer-inclusive books about young activists, including Kid Activists, by Robin Stevenson (my review here), Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights, by Rob Sanders (my review here), and the very recent V Is for Voting, by Kate Farrell (my review here). No Voice Too Small is an outstanding addition to the genre, offering not just profiles of its subjects, but poems that further inspire and empower.

Watch a trailer for the book below:

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