After a recent Dublin performance of The Risen People, a drama about the country's oppressed working poor in 1913, the audience got to hear about a very different kind of oppression–one the speaker accused them of acting out every day.

"I'm not going to compare myself to Dublin workers in 1913, but I do know what it feels like to be put in your place," explained drag performer Rory O'Neill, as alter-ego Panti Bliss, during a ten-minute speech after the show. O'Neill has been in the headlines in Ireland lately for accusing several prominent newspaper columnists of homophobia during a television appearance last month. (The columnists settled out of court for libel damages.)

"For the last three weeks, I have been lectured to by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and about who is allowed to identify it," explained O'Neill. "That feels oppressive." All the seemingly little things–calling someone a fag, televised debates among heterosexuals about whether non-straight people should get equal rights–those are oppressive.


"I hate myself because I fucking check myself when standing at pedestrian crossings," he passionately intones. "And sometimes I hate you for doing that to me."