Dan, we could use some solidarity.

I'm not sure if you're aware of the situation brewing in Ireland at present, so let me sum up quickly: next year, our government have committed to a referendum on gay marriage—the people get to decide whether we'll drag ourselves into modernity. Most of the country are delighted to have this opportunity and opinion polls show a sizable majority in favour. And this is scaring the right-wing religious.

In the past two weeks, a prominent (US-funded) Catholic organisation has threatened to sue a drag queen who called them out on their homophobia on national television here. Panti, a queen on the Dublin scene, was asked on a chat show for specific examples of those who are mean to gays and rightly pointed to the organisation, giving an eloquent and personal account of what homophobia means to her. The response was immediate litigation and the national broadcaster who screened the show paid damages (from Irish taxpayers' money!) to the organisation and pundits mentioned. Not because there was a successful defamation case against the broadcaster, but because they got scared by a bullying religious organisation who know how to effectively throw money and legal threats around.

Compounding the scandal, this same organisation has used a national platform in the press since, to tell us that the damages and apology they got were warranted because their particular definition of homophobia (as a vicious slur) is the correct one and any gay person who calls them out for their active campaign against marriage equality or their persistent message that gays are lesser - that person is the criminal. That person is engaging in hate speech by their use of the hate-term "homophobia".

This incredible doublespeak is to be marvelled at, were it not so alarming and so harmful to reasonable debate in Ireland. The religious right have recast themselves as the victims and the speaking out against their intolerance as the hatred. Homophobia as a word and concept is to be removed from discussion, on pain of litigious repercussion.

I'm gay. I was a young teenager in 1993 when Ireland decriminalised homosexuality. I've grown up with the legacy of oppressive catholic morality and the reality of homophobia, external and internal, and I know it from direct experience. I know it as much in the insidious message that I and my relationships are lesser and unworthy of equality, as I know it in being spat upon or seeing the bruises of my beaten gay friends. I know it and I know that catholic organizations who would seek to remind me of my "intrinsic disorder" don't know it and shouldn't get to define it or to censor it. The word homophobia exists to name that which oppresses and depresses us and it is ours to use when we name and fight it.

And we must fight it.

I'm lucky. I'm about to celebrate my anniversary with the man I love. Sometimes, like last night, he falls asleep before I do and I can lie awake for a while with his head on my chest and feel blissfully awash with love. Not lesser love. Not unworthy, second-class, intrinsically-disordered love. Just love.

I'd like to live in a society that didn't make me doubt the value and authenticity of that love, didn't raise me to question it and didn't shame me for feeling it. I'd like to be able to call attention to elements of that society who do, and name what they're doing for what it is. I'd like to continue to be in love, and to let people know my love is real and my right to express it in marriage is legitimate.

We need to have this discussion in Ireland, as it's been had elsewhere and hopefully will be had everywhere. We need to stand up against bullying, censorship and the false victimhood of moralising religious homophobia. I know you stand with us and I hope you can draw attention to what's happening here.

With very best wishes, and hopes for better,

Dónal