Activists, The State and Inequality Part 3 Tara Flynn

Tara Flynn (photo credit Ruth Connolly)

In this issue I speak to the activist Tara Flynn (Pronouns: SHE/HER) who is best known as a being comedian, actor, writer and activist for the Repeal the 8th movement. She is currently hosting a podcast called ‘’Taranoia’’ where she examines Irish culture and Identity with many who represent modern Irish Society we live in. Tara talks about her activism in the Repeal movement, how she got through having to travel to have an abortion in 2006 and what activism means to her. 

“I see myself first and foremost as an entertainer, but part of that is storytelling and communication. I’m used to standing up and speaking publicly. I know how to use words to share something personal

So, as I had a story to tell on this issue – it happened to me, it could happen to anyone – I felt it important to contribute those skills and break the silence on this. I honestly thought that once some of us spoke about having to travel to have an abortion, many more would. I hoped it would help bust stigma enough for more honest conversations to happen in the public sphere. I do think some of them happened privately, and that’s often the most powerful. Plus, no one should feel obliged to share their medical history. And I do feel that if you’re only using your platform for self-advancement, it rings a bit hollow. If you can draw attention to something that can help other people, it might not be your duty, as such, but not doing so rings a bit hollow, to me. To show other people that they weren’t alone, that this is not an everyday decision but it happens every day, that there is no one ‘kind of person’ or pregnancy that needs abortion. From my own perspective, other people sharing their stories with me was a privilege from which I learned a lot, too. And, for our legislators or those who were antichoice, it was so important to show them that this was already happening and needed to be made safe. Silence allowed myth and stigma around crisis pregancies to grab hold and misinformation to be shared 

After I travelled to the Netherlands in 2006 to have an abortion what helped me get through the experience was that I had and still have a group of fantastic family and friends who listened and cared for me when I needed them. Talking about it when I moved to Britain later that year, in a climate that was more accepting, less judgemental. Reading and reading and reading – building on the research I did before I traveled -actively seeking out the information and education I hadn’t had myself before I found myself in a crisis pregnancy. Once I went public, support from pro-choice advocacy groups and individuals gave me so much strength. I’m immensely grateful to them. I don’t even know if I’ve fully earned the title of an activist. I know so many people, advocating tirelessly on such important issues. I feel that I stood up to be counted when being silent really would have amounted to a lie, at a moment when we needed to hear from people. I spoke out as an ally during the Marriage Equality referendum because those with large budgets were making misleading videos – with Diarmuid O’Brien, I made parodies of those videos for free. I used the tools I had to do what I could to counter them. There are so many different kinds of activism, but the most important one, I feel, is doing what you can from where you are with the skills you have. That could be wearing a badge. Or making a poster. Or having a chat with someone who trusts you about something dishonest they’ve heard. We’re all an activist, or can be. But I don’t think it’s something many people set out to do: I didn’t plan it, or decide to become an activist. Maybe I’m a reactivist? When I saw stuff that was dishonest or unfair, and it was safe(ish) for me and I was able, I took action. I can’t speak on every issue and it would be inauthentic to do so: I’m an actor and writer, not a politician. Not only would I burn out (and I did) but I need to make space for voices directly affected by certain issues, for those with lived experience. That doesn’t mean I won’t be at protests or rallies, or chatting to my TD, regarding certain issues, it just won’t be public-facing. I won’t be at the front. And I think that’s how it should be’’. 

I met Tara at the Stand4Truth solidarity rally and memorial for the victims of church abuse and to counter Pope Francis’s visit in August of 2018. I approached Tara and told her how I was a huge fan of her work as a comedian and activist and even before I finished speaking she said to me ‘’well you know what Conor you’re an inspiration to me’’ without even knowing me just because she is a just kind person. That’s the kind of person Tara is, she is a legend, an inspiration to my generation and someone who shines like a light even on the darkest days. When she told her story to the world she was telling people that youre not alone, that I know your pain and that I and many many others are there for you. 

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