Flying the PRIDE Flag for Everyone by Kitty Murphy

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Kitty Murphy

Kitty Murphy

I wear a Pride badge every time I go to a writing event, a rainbow pin of the Progress Pride Flag used since 2018 to celebrate all the letters of the LGBTQ+ alphabet, the whole queer family, and whether I’m speaking on a panel in London or at an author tea in Kilrush, every single time a young person has come up to me quietly afterwards and said they like my badge. Sometimes it’s with a quiet, sideways look to who is around them. Sometimes it’s said boldly with joy, or just a shrug. Either way, it makes my heart sing.

June is Pride month, a time of celebration, protest and truth, and that truth starts in us. Ireland has come a long way – it’s only thirty years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, here – but we have a long, looong way to go. The recent increase in brutal homophobic and transphobic attacks on our streets is terrifying but the lack of awareness in the politicians and law enforcement agencies is just as bad.

We as writers, as readers, as those who wrangle stories and story-makers, can help fight the fear and hate that fuel this bigotry with clear representation, showing up and speaking out – and most importantly, listening.

Writing events of all sorts are starting to champion more diverse voices. The world is made up of so many different people but if we only ever see one kind, one race, one gender, one type of author up on stage then there’s a little gremlin in our heads that might start to suggest maybe, that’s the only person who ‘should’ be there. It’s the same with main characters – that maybe, the gremlin hints, that is the only kind of main character we can be in life, too?

That gremlin is born from a lifetime of fake example, and it’s wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Pride

To only read the same stories by the same kinds of people is like never leaving one room; when we open our eyes and ears to the storytellers from underrepresented groups, our worlds grow and our understanding develops. In order to find those stories, for them to be published at all, first we have to live and to write our truth.

Be who we are.

Not that all our characters should be a perfect imprint of ourselves, but if we’re never there on the page then maybe we should ask, Why? Are we not worthy of love, of adventure, of causing mayhem in Mayo, or of fictionally killing off others in a small village in West Cork?? Should we not be celebrated, too?

Sensitivity readers are a marvellous support, I’ve used them repeatedly and will again, but that’s not the whole answer. We know that story telling doesn’t just start with publication, it starts with showing a child that their voice matters just as much as anyone’s, that they can be on any stage, that they are no less worthy of being heard – and we need to tell ourselves the same. Our voices matter. It takes guts for a young person to stand up and speak their truth but in order for them to do so, we have to listen, and to shape the world to make space for all of us.

Representation is essential.

There are brilliant books for young people now, with all kinds of diverse writers and stories and characters, and the same is slowly happening for adult fiction – **glares meaningfully at the publishers of non-fiction ** – but it’s not enough. We need more diversity in all walks of our lives, so we are all represented.

It can be really hard to stand up and say, Hey, here’s this short story I wrote about two non-binary folks falling in love. Or, here’s this adventure tale I wrote about a wheelchair user trying to get to Pride. Or, hey, I like your badge.

Pride

When booksellers and panels, reviewers, writing competitions and teachers – and most of all, readers – support diverse voices then hopefully publishers will come though. Businesses always follow the money so maybe we need to put our cold hard cash where our hearts lead? If a literary festival is only showing one kind of person, then pick another festival – follow the love. If every book you’ve read this year is by a white author, or a female author, or a hetero author, then maybe ask your librarian or bookseller for something new?

The door is open to LGBTQ+ voices, but only ajar. We can see in, we just can’t all squeeze through the gap, yet.

We have to wear bigger boots.

Be louder.

Quietly stepping away is not going to help. It’s time to stand up and be counted as a reader, as a writer, and as an ally.

It’s hard sometimes to remember how far we’ve come in Ireland, but love really does always win, in the end. Thirty years since the decriminalisation, and eight years since we voted for marriage equality; now we need to fight for equality in other aspects of our lives.

The stories we have to share as a big queer writing family have always been glorious, just as the stories from all diverse voices – this June, let’s fly the Pride flag with actual Pride.

(c) Kitty Murphy

About Death In Heels by Kitty Murphy:

Death In Heels by Kitty Murphy

When Fi went to support her best friend’s drag debut, she didn’t imagine a killer would be going to watch it too. And they’re waiting for their grand finale…

Fi McKinnery is full of nerves as the gorgeous Mae B (aka her best friend Robyn) takes to the stage for her debut at drag club TRASH, but Mae B is dazzling…that is until local queen Eve lampoons her performance and ruins the show. So when Eve turns up dead later that night, face down in the gutter of a rain-soaked Dublin street, the timing seems awfully suspicious…

The police are quick to rule Eve’s death an accident, but Fi is convinced it was foul play. When her ‘Hagatha Christie’ amateur sleuthing backfires, it drives a wedge between Fi and Robyn. But when another friend is targeted in a hit-and-run, she’s determined to get this twisted killer caught, no matter what the consequences.

Even as the rest of the gang start to distance themselves, Fi is certain that they’re all in terrible danger. Something dark is lurking beneath the feathers, glitter and sequins of Dublin’s drag scene. And it’s not just the sticky floor and cracked mirrors. Someone is targeting the queens. When another member of the group is gunned down, it’s clear the danger is coming ever closer. Can Fi stop the killer before any more of her friends are hurt?

Order your copy online here.

And see here to read Kitty on the writing of Death in Heels.

About the author

Kitty lives with her husband, Roger, on the very westerly edge of Co. Clare, Ireland. She adores drag in all its forms and crime fiction in all its chilling splendour. Kitty is bi/queer. From a well-spent youth divided equally between the library and the LGBTQ+ scene, it was only a matter of time until both worlds collided in a flurry of fictional sequins. Follow Kitty on Instagram @kitty_murphy_writes

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