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Geographies of LGBTQ+ Activisms: Ireland After Marriage Equality
2022, McCartan, Andrew, 0000-0001-8011-3061
The success of the 2015 marriage equality referendum made Ireland the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality by public vote. Debates surrounding marriage equality question whether this outcome is necessarily an assimilationist and anti-queer signifier of ‘progress’ and ‘final frontier’ of LGBTQ+ citizenship, or if it might offer other transformative potentials. This thesis investigates how LGBTQ+ activisms across Ireland were impacted by the process of gaining marriage rights through a referendum, producing the first study of Irish LGBTQ+ activisms post-marriage equality. Specifically, I examine how spatial strategies, goals and practices of activism surrounding and following marriage equality are recursively shaped by distinct geographical imaginings of Ireland through which activists make sense of their actions and possible outcomes. I also question how COVID-19 may have further shifted post-marriage equality activisms. This research is underpinned by a queer geographic relational framework that understands LGBTQ+ activisms as partial, multiple, shifting, and recursively constituted through space, place, and identity. The thesis presents a critical thematic analysis of qualitative data collected through 31 interviews with activists and participant observation at 14 in person and 15 online events in Ireland during 2019-2020. Its analysis reveals how the referendum result has reconfigured Irish LGBTQ+ activisms in complex and contradictory ways. Whereas the referendum saw national mobilization around a largely unifying goal, there is also evidence of the othering of certain queer identities. New challenges, possibilities and tensions have emerged post-marriage equality in relation to the strategic choices taken to win the referendum. I conceptualise the timescape of ‘Irish Queer Equality Time’ to explore how imaginings of a new, changed, and progressive Ireland post-marriage equality, and pre-COVID-19, are shaping the manifestation of ongoing activist campaigns. Data from activists in Dublin, Cork, Galway and other small urban areas in Ireland reveal how temporalities of activisms after marriage equality are not uniform and fixed but are contingent and sustained through the relations between activists in place. Overall, the thesis offers a spatial analysis that shows how geographical imaginations embed certain meanings in place that limit and/or support how LGBTQ+ movements continue after marriage equality. It finds that multiple meanings around marriage equality and Ireland circulate and interact to produce dynamic spatiotemporalities of LGBTQ+ activisms that exist outside of homonormative/queer binaries and form new complex meanings surrounding contemporary Irish identities at national, regional, and local scales.