LOVE FINALLY WON in Northern Ireland – And We Have The Song to Prove It

As an anarchist, there are a few unwritten rules, some of them are as follows:
  • Understand that the system exists only to protect itself
  • Never leave the house without your sunglasses
In this situation, I found that LOVE in fact has dominated the politics of Northern Ireland and it needed to be discussed.
This week, Northern Ireland finally legalized same sex marriage, thus being the last of the United Kingdom to do so. In celebration of this, two singers, Bronagh Gallagher and Susie Blue, “The Original Derry Girls”, collaborated to record “Love is Strange” from Dirty Dancing. We get to hear it here first with an Instinct exclusive.
Bronagh Gallagher was in Pulp Fiction, The Commitments, Star Wars The Phantom Menace, and many other films. She is like that older sister that you love, but will call you out on everything, just ’cause she loves you back. Susie Blue is a young lesbian singer, in the thick of the movement in Northern Ireland, and is that adorable little sister you just want to protect. Both were so full of the “Irish Charm” and wit, the conversation was just wonderful, there was so much joy for Susie, and so much “Bout FOOKIN TIME” from Bronagh, the contrast was very clear, and dammit, I love these artists.

Jeremy Hinks: So, congratulations on your national win for love. Can I ask, how did you come about doing this song, and on such short notice?
Susie Blue: Well, I wanted to do something, but never thought Bronagh would say yes, but I asked her finally in the excitement, then we panicked and got it organized and it came together. I came to Bronagh with the idea, it was one of moms favourite songs. I chose it because she passed away last year, and it just stood out as that wonderful, so, tribute to her, and the real love. It bounced between Bronagh and I as to how we would do it.
Bronagh Gallagher: We got into the studio, she took the lead, it made more sense like that, it sounded like me singing harmony over the melody, it turned out wonderful, for the whole thing we were overjoyed.
JH: So, a celebration song. I mean, we know it was a long fight.
BG: Yes it was, and that it all came through today, celebrating, coming through to the end of a dark period, and today two beautiful women were the first to marry.

Susie blue & Bronagh Gallagher cover the classic song “Love is Strange” from the iconic Dirty Dancing soundtrack to mark the passing of the Marriage Equality act in Northern Ireland. Video Credit Audrey Gillespie
JH: Yeah I remember the vote went to the people and was no longer in the hands of the government. It had to go that far as I understand, overriding the leadership.
BG: Once the free state got their referendum it was a massive sense of triumph and empowerment cause we started to realize we had the power. For so long we have been under horrendous military rule, church state maniacal rule, we actually took the streets and changed it. The marriage referendum and abortion, THEN we felt the support from over the border in the rest of the island. There was this massive sense of revolution. We had the power to do what was upmost a human right being given finally.
JH: So tell me the contrast for both of you ladies, Bronagh being a straight ally, and, well my age, and Susie being gay and involved from the inside.
Photo Credit Megan Doherty

BG: I’m older than Susie, she is at the heartbeat of it in the gay community, we love her work and honesty, I’m so honored to have grown up through seeing that growing in the ’80s, since I saw all the heartbreak, and young people, not being able to come out with support. So many of them went to take shelter in England, but had lonely lives. But now we realize growing up, for example that having a transgender baby, can bring people into groups we didn’t know existed. A lady who was playing in a movie with me, had twins, and explained one was a boy, and one identifies as a girl. That never would have existed when I was growing up. Now In Belfast, we hope people know they are supported, and though your body may be made of estrogen or testosterone, your make up is different, once we start to see that, we can come to understand people as THEY are not just how we would see them.

JH: I totally see that. I grew up in a religion where there are only two genders, and everyone is straight, and same sex attraction is just your own perversions and sin. Nothing outside that idea has been accepted in my religion, and the recent shifts in the understanding around it, has cause some serious turmoil, see, THE CHURCH NEVER WRONG.
BG: We went through so much of the same, all the abuse, from the Catholic church that I have grown up with in my lifetime and the history of abuse, and power, brainwashing, the Catholic church will never admit or accept responsibility. So many of those leaders have gone to the grave without a confession. Like the “Laundry girls” I had done a piece called “Sinners” by RTE (Irish television station) about the Magdalene laundries, the kids were sold, kids born out of wedlock were sold. It’s a horrible history we are NOW able to be free from.

JH: Wow, seems like this shift and win was not just over gay marriage, but really breaking free on a personal level for so many. Can I get your perspective on this Susie, being gay, coming out in the face of the tail end of all this?
SB: I knew something was up when I was 12, I was 14 I was dared to kiss my best friend, after that, I was like HOLY SHIT, that’s what it was meant to feel like, came out at 16, my family were scared for me, and also supportive. They were unsure how it would be accepted by others, or where the world was gonna take me, and I started singing, as an outlet for me, in my songs I was telling everyone I was gay in my music.
JH: Can I have an example?
SB: All my songs are openly, SUPER GAY, just me singing about women that I love, I would use a lot of gender neutral terms. When I was younger as to not catch on as much, sing cover songs, with “She” so I could say it, so no one knew. To come to the point to that it was the north to say “Lets go” marching in the streets. It became “Ours” to march about the cause had been blocked several times in our government, so they came back (The Northern Ireland Government kind of went on hiatus for a while). While they were gone, the British government passed these laws, first abortion, then same sex marriage, it all felt like it happened so slowly, but when it did happen it went really fast.
JH: For us in Utah, it went so fast. I got a text on a Friday afternoon that the 2nd highest court in the country over Utah ruled that the ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional, and that marriage was a right for all citizens. It went crazy, that weekend thousands of people went to get marriage licenses, and none of the people there were even aware of the ruling. It was beautiful chaos, for the country it was the turning point, I got to give my best friend away to the woman of her dreams. I met another couple that day, one had an oxygen tank, and they both knew they had fewer years ahead of them than behind them. Gees, I even remember their names, Andrea, and Carol. They had been in love, and together for 33 years. That was their day finally, in 2013. I call that “Citizens Day”. So, I guess today is “Citizens Day” for you too.
BG: A friend of mine was involved in something called “Belong To”.  It was about black couples in the American south in their 70s, for 40 years they were together, then were able to get married.
SB: I do feel like a “Citizen” now, I finally have my rights, as a woman, and as a gay woman. It was hard in the eyes of the homophobes, the Government was telling us we were different, keeping those rights from us. Now we, yeah, we have them all.
Bronah Gallagher Photo Credit, some friend at the pub.
JH: Tell me the reactions of those people, now that the day is here?
BG: FOOK EM!!! (I am so laughing right now)
SB: Yeah, who Cares, I’ve heard about it for years from those people, they no longer matter.
BG: There are plenty in the Irish media, unwell people, gotta scream for publicity, gonna get people unhinged. For these human rights issues the right wing, the sectarian maniacal misery they have caused. We need a generation of people to get past them. Susie’s generation does not care now, and they are taking the country away from it all. You always have people in the north, of political mind sets, and I’m feeling a comparison to the southern states in the ’60s. The beauty of the internet is that it took seconds where it took months to communicate before, things can move so much faster now. We were never taught sectarianism, we don’t care what your religion teaches, people have abused it. Hide behind a bible.
JH: Oh yeah, an American “Queercore” A punk band called “Pansy Division” made that point in a song “Blame it on the Bible”. So what’s next for you Susie?
SB: I’ve got a new EP I’m releasing a couple singles and videos, supporting Bronagh on March 14th, that’s actually the only gig planned.
JH: My final question, what would your message be to the young gay kid, impressionable, afraid to come out?
SB: Stay safe, some parts of the world, it is still a criminal offense, punishable by death, know there are people going through the same thing as you, everything will get better, it feels hopeless sometimes, find that group, the best thing is that you can make your own family. I am engaged to a beautiful artist, and can’t be happier.
BG: Reach out, every gay person, all have a story, when I was younger, some were supportive, some weren’t, often not accepted by their families, there always support out there, be safe. Confide in a teacher, if someone can help you. We tried to help as well, always groups, approach Susie or me to help. Both on twitter and Instagram.
JH: So ANYONE in that situation can ask you for help over Instagram?
BG: OF COURSE !!! Susie went through this, but the love never waned, like so many, it wasn’t easy for them to come out. I’ve helped them see what I grew up with. To me it was never something to blink at, lots of gay friends growing up, I have my parents to thank for that.

‘Love is Strange’ is dedicated to Lyra, who was an LGBTQ activist, killed last year, just after getting engaged. “To Lyra, WE WON!!” 
Artists’ Websites
Twitter:     @susiebluemusic
Should you find yourself in Ireland on Patty’s Day

Bronagh Gallagher
Live at the Sugar Club, Dublin
March 14th, 2020
W/Special Guest Susie Blue
as part of St Patrick’s Festival

Image from Twitter

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