It’s been over two years since I waved farewell to my good friend, Dean, as he embarked upon a great adventure. What was originally supposed to be a six-month cycle to India, turned into a two-year trek around the world that is continuing to this day. He is currently in Hobart, Australia, working to earn enough money to fund the next stage of his colossal journey.
[pullquote]There is nothing I want more than to be able to get married to the person I love when I get back home.[/pullquote]
A week before he left, Dean met my girlfriend and I at the Phoenix Park Tea Rooms for one last lunch before we said our goodbyes. It was on this day, that Dean came out and told us that he was gay. It had never occurred to me that he was a homosexual but, as soon as the words left his mouth, it felt like I had always known. It changed nothing as far as our friendship was concerned but it seemed like a massive weight had been lifted off of his shoulders and he was as happy as I had ever seen him. He was the same friend I had always known and yet, in some strange way, it felt like I was meeting the real Dean for the first time. One week later, he started the greatest adventure of his life, and he did it knowing that his friends and family loved him, the real him, for who he was.
Over the next two years, Dean cycled through most of mainland Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has slept in Buddhist temples, cycled the 3,000-kilometre-long Stuarts highway, visited countries ravaged by war and poverty, and even stayed in countries where he could be put to death for being a homosexual. In total, he has travelled over 27,500 kilometres, visited twenty-three countries spread across three continents, and is showing no signs of stopping.
Dean is a proud Irishman who lives in the moment and enjoys life to the fullest. However, with the Marriage Equality referendum taking place tomorrow, he is now looking towards the future and the life that he wants to share with whatever man is lucky enough to have him. That is why Dean posted the following open letter on Facebook, to the people of Ireland, encouraging them to vote yes in the Marriage Equality referendum:
Two years ago I left Ireland on a bicycle not sure where the road would take me. I’m still on that road and at the present moment that road is in Hobart, Australia where I have been working for the last six months to earn some cash to continue my travels. I have integrated myself into every culture I have come across and have been greeted with open arms and shown kindness and generosity by so many.
To date I have cycled through 23 countries on three continents and I’m blessed to have come this far with no major upset aside from the odd flat tire. But truth be told I have had to hide my true personality in the majority of these countries in fear of discrimination, incarceration and the possibility of death. In the 23 countries, 12 associate homosexuality as illegal and in a few this crime is punishable by death. When I say I’m blessed I mean that I’m blessed to come from a country that doesn’t criminalize homosexuality anymore. I’m also blessed to have supportive family and friends who opened their arms and hearts when I told them I was gay.I’m not here to say that all these countries I have been through are backwards and wrong. I have met impressive people in every one and have affectionate memories even in the most dangerous. This is the reality of life for me traveling and it’s one I completely accept.
I’m writing this article to tell you that even though I am blessed to be Irish and be so supported it still breaks my heart knowing that I don’t have the same rights as my brother and sister. We were all raised equally by two loving parents but because of who I am I don’t get the same right of marriage. I took me a long time to fully accept myself for who I truly was and coming out was the most difficult thing I have ever done.
I can completely understand why some people don’t understand it and for a long time I certainly didn’t but once I accepted myself life got better and I hope it gets better on May 22nd. There is nothing I want more than to be able to get married to the person I love when I get back home. I’m asking people to vote YES on May 22nd to help make history and I look forward to seeing you all again.
Dean is just like any other person here in Ireland. He is not defined by his sexuality, he is defined by his actions and the joy and kindness he spreads across the world. Who are we to deny him, or any other person, the right to marry the one they love and share a lifetime of happiness together? So, on behalf of Dean, myself, and everyone here at HeadStuff, please vote yes for marriage equality in tomorrow’s referendum.
You can follow Dean’s journey and learn all about the amazing countries he’s visited by checking out the following links: