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We all deserve our chance at love and to express that love publicly

Firstly, let me introduce myself: my name is Aaron Cowming and I am a native of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, and currently living in Cork. I am also a gay man and a happy and proud one.

But I wasn’t always happy with being gay, because there was so many stigmas attached to it and, to be honest, it terrified me.

I remember being young and having all these feelings and not knowing what to do with them. It was torture walking around every day, knowing I was different and being afraid to come clean about who I am as a person. The older I got, the harder it got to repress my feelings and the bigger a toll it took on my life.

I came out at a relatively young age and, looking back, I was not prepared or equipped to deal with it, because I had no idea how to be gay or that I even wanted it to be a part of my life, but I was blessed with the friendships that I had and still have today. I was lucky, because I had such a massive support system in my family and with my friends and with the people that know me in Dungarvan, and that made my transition that bit easier, because, when times were tough, I had people I could turn to and talk to.

I am 37 years old and I can now say what it means to be gay and be proud. For one, being gay is not my talking point anymore, because it’s part of who I am and does not take over all that I am.

I was born gay. Some people still argue that we choose to be homosexual. Well, I can tell you, from firsthand experience, that I never chose to be gay, I never chose to be straight, either, I just wanted to be Aaron, without all the labels that go with it.

But I am gay and I love it and if I got to live my life over again, I would still want to be a gay man. I have only begun to accept many things about myself. It has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can say I am happy and content and being gay is one of those contentments.

I want to get married. I have always wanted to get married. Not to a woman, but to a man. That is where my heart lies, but the laws that govern our country have deemed it wrong for me to be able to enjoy equal rights. We now have a chance to change all that and show the country that we believe in equality and we believe that everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, has equal rights.

I live my life for myself and I live my life the way I want to. I pay tax, I work hard, I contribute to the community. I do all the things that you do, but what I want, more than anything, is to be able to one day know that I can marry my partner and know that we are recognised the same as every other married couple in this country.

So I ask you all to vote ‘yes’ on May 22. As far as I am concerned, I am an equal to everyone else, but we need it made into law. Let’s show our community (gay and straight) that we stand together. We are not all the same, but we are all human and we all deserve our chance at love and the chance to express that love publicly. It’s not a gay or a straight issue, it’s a human issue.

All I want is to know that every gay man and woman can commit to their chosen partners and have it recognised in our country. I want a clear message sent out to every young girl and boy who is keeping a secret, and going through pain because of it, that it is okay to be you, it is okay to be gay and, provided we get a yes vote, it will be okay to showcase that love and showcase it legally.

Aaron Patrick Cowming

Roman Street

Shandon

Cork


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