“Nobody has a monopoly on suffering. The world breaks everybody.”
It’s not often you get to meet a legend.
Still rarer that legend contacts you in the first place.
But there I was, minding my own business (which just happens to be everyone else’s business) when I received an email.
My name is Bernárd Lynch…
I would be interested in sharing my journey to acceptance & inclusivity in the Irish community, as part of the LGBTQIA+ diaspora. I am a founding member & first co-chair of the London Irish LGBT Network. I was the first gay person invited onto the mayor of London’s Community Advisory Board for St. Patrick’s Day . . .
There was a website address attached, which I clicked on and suddenly became a little overawed.
Okay, more than just a little.
It was the proclamation that got me first. You see, the thing about it is – tell you what, you take a look while I gather myself. Just click below and scroll past the seal.
Yes, the seal.
It’s thanks not simply from one person, or a committee or even a local organisation. This is a man who gained the appreciation and gratitude of the whole gosh-darned City of New York.
That’s the kind of thing that happens to legends. Imagine. The bravery it took to not just set up an AIDS Mission but to do so as a Roman Catholic priest is not something that can be overestimated.
Nor should it be forgotten.
And strange as it may seem to those of us of a particular generation, there is a danger that it might. Bernárd Lynch is not a man given to hyperbole – his life has been too filled with extraordinary moments for exaggeration to be required – so when he voices the fear of a roll-back of liberal progression, not just in terms of reproductive choice but also on matters of sex and gender – we ought to pay attention.
Throughout this series I’ve been hearing again and again of a fear of social amnesia. Whether willing or unconscious, individual or collective, there’s a sense that our freedoms and liberties are shipped away while our backs are turned as we forget the struggles of people like Fr Bernárd J Lynch; of the families of the Dublin and Monaghan victims; of the agitators, advocates and activists who paved the way for Pride. Who made it possible to take the knee.
People who are far braver than me.
People who shouldn’t be forgotten
So to have one of them get in contact to share their story, frankly is a privilege. A daunting one, but a privilege nonetheless.
To share it with you is a blessing.
No daunt there.
So how did it go, taking to a legend? That’s what you want to know, isn’t it?
Well, to find out you’ll just have to listen in.
Listen. And remember.
Photo of Fr Bernárd Lynch (c) Nick Ballon