Someone said :
Leo has made no contribution to Irish lgbt life.
Perhaps you could count telling parliament that gay men and lesbians shouldn't be parents or perhaps you could count the massive swinging cuts to the mental health budget.
It is remarkable in many ways and quite positive for younger people and it does mean a changing Ireland. But it many other ways it is a step backwards to more of the conservative same. He spoke about bigotry in his victory speech yet at the same time his recent campaign against welfare "cheats" was little other than bigotry against Irelands poor. For young people in Social Welfare he hasn't reversed any of the nasty swinging cuts previously bought in. For women he laughs off their choices around pregnancies.
Varadkars sexual orientation was (mostly) not an issue in the process of his election. This is a very welcome development, after all thats what we have been working towards for decades, to be treated the same, nothing more and nothing less. Given that he will only be the 4th world leader openly out as gay it is another milestone in the LGBTQI world. In the long term that is the aim of the LGBTQI human rights movement, equality for ALL! Varadkars election in some way adds to that in others because of his harsh right wong politics doesn't.
In thinking about Varadkar we should not let Irish society build a myth that all LGBTQI are now fully equaly. There are still many journeys to get there. For many people who are LGBTQI in Ireland their daily life experience is a far cry from what we have witnessed with Leo Varadkar becoming leader of Fine Gael.
Yes, for many many people who are openly LGBTQI here in Ireland their experience of daily life is broadly positive, unremarkable and better than the past. For many many people in the wider communities being LGBTQI is not an issue and that is how it should be too.
But, it is also important to be aware that the reality for many LGBTQI people is not all good and positive. These people who depend on our helpline, our LGBTQI resource centres, peer support groups, LGBTQI youth organisations and so on to survive, to deal/cope with the homophobia, biphobia, transphobia the verbal and physical abuse, isolation and so on. All of this is a very real living life experience for many LGBTQI people in Ireland. Our journey to true equality as a country is far from over.
It is tempting for Ireland to pat ourselves on the back, sure arent we great, everything is grand now we are all equal, similar sentiments when homosexuality was decriminalised and when marriage equality was introduced. The reality is all the activism, all the volunteer work, all the support work is still needed.