Irish actor Colin Farrell has penned an open letter in support of gay rights, speaking about his brother Eamon (pictured with the actor above) who was harassed by homophobic bullies while growing up.
The 38-year-old actor, who now lives in Los Angeles, wrote the personal appeal published in the Sunday World urging his native country to vote in favour of gay marriage in a referendum in 2015.
"Eamon did not choose to be gay, no more than I chose to be straight. It’s all a trick, a sleight of nature," wrote the actor.
"Yes, he chose to wear eyeliner to school and that probably wasn’t the most pragmatic response to the daily torture he experienced at the hands of school bullies. But he was always proud of who he was."
"Even when others were casting him out with fists and ridicule and the laughter of pure loathsome derision, he maintained an integrity and dignity that flew in the face of the cruelty that befell him."
"I don’t know where those bullies are now, the ones who beat him regularly. Maybe some of them have found peace and would rather forget their own part of a painful past."
Farrell described brother Eamon and his husband Steve Mannion who had to marry in Canada in 2009 as "the healthiest and happiest couple I know".
"They had to travel a little farther than down the aisle to make their vows, though...That’s why this is personal to me. The fact that my brother had to leave Ireland to have his dream of being married become real is insane. INSANE."
"I can jump into my car now, drive four hours to Vegas from Los Angeles, get drunk and meet a woman and have Elvis marry us for $200."
"And this is why the forthcoming referendum is so personal to me. It’s about inclusion. It’s about fairness."
"It’s about giving our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers back a right that should never have been stolen from them in the first place. Speaking out in support of equality in all its forms is a moral necessity if we’re to have a society where peace, compassion and kindness become the ruling classes."
Currently only same-sex civil partnerships are allowed in Ireland. A referendum expected in 2015 will decide whether civil marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples will be introduced. In an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll last month, 67 per cent said they would vote in favour of the measure, however one-fifth of people would vote against it.
Speaking about the moment he realised his brother way gay, Farrell said: "I think I found out my brother wasn’t grovelling in heterosexual mud like most boys our age when I was around 12. I remember feeling surprised. Intrigued. Curious. Not bi curious before you start getting ideas.
"I was curious because it was different from anything I’d known or heard of and yet it didn’t seem unnatural to me. I had no reference for the existence of homosexuality. I had seen, by that age, no gay couples together. I just knew my brother liked men and, I repeat, it didn’t seem unnatural to me."
He concluded: "I’m not sure if I can vote online. As I write this in my bed at 2am I realise I’ll have to check that out. If I can’t, then these words stand as my testament to what my heart believes."