- 24 May 23
“We know that people are attacked or their property is damaged for reasons linked to hate, and it’s important that the law and the punishment recognises that.”
Irish fashion designer and TV presenter Brendan Courtney has shared his support with the teen attacked in Navan.
The TV personality, who was the first openly gay presenter in Ireland, took to Instagram to address the teenager who was recently attacked, reminding him that he is “loved and supported”, and urged him to channel his anger “for good and for tolerance”.
In a letter read aloud in a video posted to the social media platform, Courtney addresses the teen as a “hero”, stating that “things will get better”.
“They might,” he continues, “if you learn to hide in clear sight. If you learn to hide who you truly are, if you learn to conform and live under the veil of their hate.”
He explains that, “I don’t know your story. But after hearing what has happened to you I feel compelled to write this letter.”
Courtney continues in his video message, saying, “Sadly I understand your pain. I have been where you are. I had nowhere to hide.”
“I would have given anything to just fit in but you see, some of us just can't hide who we truly are.”
“It’s simply impossible. I was a camp, fey little kid who, until I was nine, was often mistaken for a girl which was sickeningly upsetting for one so young to feel so othered.”
He opens up about he ridicule he endured in his school years, “I used to refer to this as being bullied but it was more than that, it was a torture.”
“I was beaten and punched at school. I regularly had my head held down a toilet and flushed while onlookers jeered and laughed. I was humiliated daily.”
“I was riddled with shame and I was 14, the same age as you, and my heart breaks for you,” he continues.
He also details how an attack on him in 2014 on Georges Street in Dublin 2 filled him with rage as a, “a group of youths ran into the middle of our group and shouted ‘f*ggot’ and punched me hard in the face, knocking me to the ground. “But this time I wasn't humiliated. I didn't feel shame. I was f***ing angry.”
“I took that anger and channelled it into the 2015 referendum on marriage equality and along with all the other people who spoke their truths we won. Love won.”
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The assault, which took place last week, saw five boys arrested on May 19th and subsequently released without charge following questioning by specialist officers.
The attack was videoed and made international headlines as the disturbing footage shocked the nation and sparked political outrage.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, also spoke out about the attack in an interview with The Irish Times, stating, “We know that people are attacked or their property is damaged for reasons linked to hate, and it’s important that the law and the punishment recognises that.”
In the same interview, he also reinforced the importance of passing hate crime legislation as the LGBTQ+ community “continues to face challenges in terms of increased levels of hate speech online and attacks on members of the community across the country, with last week being a particularly vicious example of that"- referring to the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill.
If passed, the Bill will introduce aggravated versions of existing criminal offences where such crimes are motivated by prejudice against a victim’s “protected characteristics”.
Last month, the bill overwhelmingly passed through the Dáil and is now proceeding onto the Seanad. No exact date has yet been planned for the Seanad debate.
For help or support, LGBTQ+ Helpline can be reached by freephone on 1800 929 539.
- Film & TV
- 01 Jun 23