In Memory Of | Lyra McKee | TEDxStormontWomen


Translator: Ellen Maloney
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven There are people in the world
who if they’re telling you a story need to tell you 19 other stories first
before they can get to the point. I’m one of those people. I want to tell you a story about
a conversation I witnessed in a mosque, which changed my life. But to tell you that story,
I have to tell you another story first, and I’ve only got 12 minutes. And that story starts
in late night, early June, this year. I got the opportunity to go
on a trip to the United States with a delegation from around the UK –
I was the only one from Northern Ireland – and we were going there
to learn about ‘American values’. We were going to be travelling
across Washington, Florida, and Texas, meeting with everyone
from guns rights lobbyists to religious leaders and LGBT groups, people who spanned the spectrum
of American values. So the thing about these trips
is they offer you a number of perks. They offer you carrots
they can dangle in front of you whenever the going gets tough, when you are in the 100th
meeting of the day with someone whose views you find
absolutely reprehensible and you’re really struggling
to stay the course. In our case, they took us to Disneyland, which I can confirm is definitely
one of the happiest places on earth. I was in my element. Then they took us to NASA,
which, as a Star Wars nerd, I have to say, competed in my heart for
the title of ‘Happiest Place on Earth’. Someone very helpful pointed out to me – because I was posting
selfies of myself at that time, running around Florida in vest tops – and someone very helpfully pointed out that I seemed to have
more vests than Rab C. Nesbitt. (Laughter) I know the theme
of the conference is ‘bridges’: I felt like burning that one,
to be quite frank. Then we got to go to this beautiful
beachside resort called Cocoa Beach and sip cocktails on the beach;
it was absolutely wonderful. You’re probably thinking,
“Where do I sign up for this trip?” “This sounds amazing, it’s a free jolly!” That’s what I thought it was
when I looked at the itinerary. But I had to go through hell
to get these perks. I realise that Disneyland and NASA, that these were all carrots
they were dangling in front of us, whenever I found myself
less than 10 feet away from the chief orangutan
in the White House. (Laughter) El Trump. People ask me, “What’s the hardest thing about standing 10 feet away
from Donald Trump?” I think it was seeing how badly
his fake tan was applied. (Laughter) I did redeem my conscience
when I got to Florida, I should say, and we met these lovely protestors, who, in case you can’t see,
are holding a ‘Stop Trump’ sign. They were right up my alley;
I thought they were fantastic. Our next visit was to a place
called the National Rifle Association. It is all the guns rights lobbyists who
come out in wake of every mass shooting and defend the right
of Americans to bear arms. For a number of people in the group, this was the most
difficult part of the trip. They found it very difficult to sit there
and listen and exchange views, which was what the whole trip was about. For me though, the hardest part
of the trip was when we got to Orlando and they told us we were
going to be visiting a mosque. Now you ask yourself, Why would I find it hard
to visit a mosque? Well, for those of you
who don’t have Gaydar, I’m gay – don’t worry,
you can laugh, it’s okay. (Laughter) I hated myself for much of my life
because of what religion taught me about people like me. And when I stopped hating myself,
I started hating religion. But I was intrigued by this mosque
because it was in Orlando, and a year to the week
that we were in Orlando, 49 people were slaughtered
in a gay nightclub called Pulse. This mosque had led the response
to that tragedy and had condemned it. I was intrigued by that. This was at a time
when Christian churches in Orlando were refusing to bury some of the dead
because they were gay. To have a mosque come out
and condemn this was a big deal. One of the victims of Pulse
that always stuck with me was Brenda Marquez Mccool. She was a woman who was out
with her gay son that night in Pulse, supporting him. When the gunman unleashed his bullets,
she threw herself in front of her son. He survived but she didn’t. So I decided that I would go
into this mosque with an open mind. I did, and we met
with this lovely man called Bassem, who was one of the leaders in the mosque. We talked about everything, and eventually, Bassem and I
had a conversation about LGBT rights and what Muslims
think of gay people. Difficult, thorny subject,
but we had a really pleasant conversation, but neither of us knew
what was about to happen next. There was a young man on our trip
who I’ll call Mahmud, a young Muslim man. He was listening to the exchange
between Bassem and I, and when we were finished talking,
he spoke up and addressed Bassem. And he said, “My best friend was gay,
he was Muslim, and he comitted suicide.” And at this point,
Mahmud burst into tears. He said, “I did everything I could
to save him, but I couldn’t.” And he told us this story of how this young Muslim man couldn’t live
with being Muslim and being gay; he felt that the only option he had
was to die by suicide. We were all crying in the mosque,
I think, by that point. We were all mourning for this young
Muslim man that we had never met and now that we would never
get the chance to meet. You know, when I left
religious education at 16, I swore that I was done with religion
and I was never going back to it. I was never going to have another
conversation that I could not help with another person of faith again. When I was in that mosque that day and I was there to learn
about American values, I ended up getting schooled
on my own culture by a Muslim. Because I realised that I couldn’t
run away from religion anymore. Within the LGBT community,
we have a saying that we tell people. We tell them that ‘It Gets Better’. What I realised that day
was that it gets better for some of us; it gets better for those of us who live
long enough to see it get better. I realised that I couldn’t run away
from religion anymore, because religion shapes
how LGBT people are treated in the world. It shapes the laws
and how they treat LGBT people, which we can see from the lack
of equal marriage in this country. And it shapes how we, LGBT people,
feel about ourselves. The first lesson I learned
about being gay was that it was evil and that I was going to hell for it. I learned that from the Bible. There were times I would cry
in my bedroom as a teenager, bargaining with God,
asking him not to send me to hell, because I was so convinced
that I was going there. This text, this Bible, I know
for so many people it offers them hope, it offers them salvation, but for me
it offered a prison sentence. I think it’s the same for a lot
of other LGBT young people. LGBT suicide rates are through the roof. This is the percentage of trans youth
alone in the UK who have attempted suicide over the course of the last year. We see these numbers play out
in Northern Ireland locally, and we know this
from trans youth services, who say they see it play out
among their young people. What do we do about this? I feel the only answer
is to change religious teaching of homosexuality and LGBT issues. I don’t mean we berate
Christians and shout at them or berate Muslims and shout at them. We need to do the one thing that I didn’t
want to do when I left school at 16: we need to have conversations,
difficult conversations, and fight for the hearts and minds
of those who oppose us. I’ve studied this, and when you ask
people like Megan Phelps-Roper, who was a member of
the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group in America, when you ask people like this,
when you ask former neo-Nazis, the most extreme people, when you ask, “What changed your mind?
What made you abandon your views?” they’ll tell you the same thing:
It was a conversation. Someone who they were opposed to
struck up a conversation, and they learned that that person
was not who they thought they were, and they got to a point where they could
no longer hold those views. People tell me this isn’t going to happen; there’s no way the churches
will change their teachings or the mosques
will change their teachings. “You’re mad.” And I would have agreed with them. But six weeks ago,
I was out in a gay bar – not this one – with my friend Jordan. He’s from a Free Prebystarian
DUP-voting family, from “County LegenDerry.” I avoid that Londonderry-Derry thing, I hate that. We were out there with his mum, who is a Scottish Free-P
who goes to church every Sunday, and she was out in this bar,
supporting her gay son, just like Brenda Marquez McCool was out in Pulse that night
supporting her gay son. Don’t tell me there’s no hope because for too many LGBT young people, that is the only thing they have
that keeps them living. And by the way, that Free Presbytarian
mother went into work the next day and told everyone about this amazing thing
she’d been to called a ‘drag show’. (Laughter) Now if you had told me
that I’d be sitting in a gay bar with one of Ian Paisley’s disciples
drinking cocktails, watching a drag show, I’d have told you you were mad. (Laughter) What can you do? If you thought you were here
to passively listen to me rant on: No, I’ve got a job for you all. If any of you are uncomfortable
with the thought of someone like me, please come up to me
after this event and talk to me. I won’t bite your head off,
I won’t call you a homophobe. We’ll just have a conversation, and I’ll show you
that I’m human just like you. If you are comfortable
with the thought of someone like me, have a conversation
with someone who isn’t and try to change their mind. Because you could be saving a life. Finally, I’d like to send a message
to all LGBT young people that are currently struggling,
especially those from faith backgrounds. “For I know the plans
I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 This talk is in memory of the Pulse 49
and all LGBT people who died by suicide. Thank you very much, folks. (Applause) (Cheers)

100 thoughts on “In Memory Of | Lyra McKee | TEDxStormontWomen”

  1. 'It gets better for those of us who live long enough to see it get better'. Bittersweet words, now. Rest in Peace.

  2. So moving- if only I had heard a voice of positivity like Lyra''s when I was a teenager and for a decade later! But she is bang on – @ 49 and proudly and happily married to my wonderful wife IT DOES GET BETTER

  3. As if Lyra's senseless murder wasn't heartbreaking enough. I've just been reduced to tears watching this. Our loss is even bigger than I'd first thought. Rest In Peace Lyra. My heart aches for your loved ones.

  4. If only we could all have your decency and respect for all people. I pray you r work will continue. Rest in peace with a God who loves you.

  5. do I really need to say, She is now a part of the expansion team which is THE SECOND FOUNDATION… what you leave behind is always the truth… even that shell… They killed her. I took her to her new home.

  6. She understands now, 88 and that name whitehouse after she died and went ALL GASPY … 'YOU! You're that…'
    "Dr Bango perhaps? The Kic Alien? Maybe… The Archangel Michael? The spectrum called back so WE all don't die… The red dot you stood on, on your stairway to heaven… Take your pick. But get up, we've more to do."
    "I… I can never go …"
    "Back? Your shell getting left behind isn't enough? how do you thing they will feel if it is not LAUGHably deniable…"
    And up she got.

  7. What happened to her is cruel and sad. Her name should be honored for peace in Ireland. You'll never be forgotten Lyra. RIP 🙁

  8. She was covering the rioting there and standing near some police when a bullet, apparently intended for the police, struck her instead.
    had the bullet found it's intended target, how many of you would morn his/her passing?

  9. What a pity that Ms. McKee believed that not all lives are valuable and worthy of respect. Indeed, she believed that some lives are so meaningless and worthless that they can be killed at will by other, stronger, people.

  10. What was the need for her to be standing with the police in the midst of a petrol bomb attack? And why not tax religion punitively to compensate society for its destruction to us all

  11. Sounded like a very intelligent person , shame on them , this is what my Ireland's about , to come together and just be fking humble , were all human FFS , we have 1 chance

  12. Dear Lyra, I never knew you but heard about you through your friend Shaun. I am so sad to hear what happened to you. My wish is that your beautiful message will live on. Rest in peace Lyra. I hope your message of peace will continue on 🕊❤☮

  13. So sad to have only found out about this extraordinary human being after hearing of her death. May she Rest in Power.

  14. This person sounds like a communist. I`m saddened that she was murdered, but she does not speak for me or the majority of America.

  15. This is not fair torchbearers of Truth must feel safe. I'm filled with anger Right now. Look at her so happy and lively. Democracy is under threat.

  16. You would think they were "fantastic" waving the flag of Communism coming from privileged HUWHITE communities trashing capitalism all the while lavishing themselves in the luxuries and trappings that only capitalism can provide.

  17. This bright young lady sounds very passionist young women, who knew what she wanted. Lyra went into journalism to make her way in life, so tragically her life was cut short. May Lyra Rest in Peace. Hopefully her death will not be in vain.

  18. Hadn't met nor heard of Lyra before this tragic incident. Hadn't realised or thought about the gravity of this until the hearse passed my site on the way to the cathedral. The university closed our site for the duration of the funeral so I went down and listened to people talk about her. Then I watched this video. I hadn't realised the beautiful nature of this young woman or the incredible potential she possessed. She has moved me to consider things I hadn't really sat with. I see a hope for a shift towards a more positive society. I see an incredible legacy. Amazing. Well done x

  19. When I first saw the dreadful news, I thought "she looks familiar"…may your light shine on forever Lyra

  20. what a lovely woman, so sad about what happened to her. hopefully the people of NI will remember her and her heartfelt messages for years to come.

  21. Such a shame there are comments here from people almost as sick in the head as the people who fired the shot.

  22. I'm a American just found out about this. God awful. I've seen this Ted talk recently weird to think shes gone even of I didnt know her. RIP

  23. Well at least we won't be listening her drone on about lgbtv any more……….. more middle class do gooders need shooting.

  24. I watched the funeral here on YouTube earlier today. Like so many commenting here I had no knowledge of her and listening to her sister and others speaking so movingly and lovingly of her it very quickly became obvious what a beautiful soul this young lady is. To see the faces of of the political leaders attending the service I wondered what they were thinking, particularly the odious Arlene Foster leader of the repugnant DUP. Ms. McKee was worth 1000 of any of those politicians and the tragedy is that she can no longer continue her work, at least notin person. BUT her legend WILL live on and others will fight injustice in her name. Rest In Peace dearest lady.

  25. If a religion denounces your life style then reject it. Nobody can stop you and nobody is trying to. Everybody is free to do their own thing, it's 2019. So much unnecessary activism.

  26. One wonders if the person who pulled the trigger that fateful night and took the life of this truly remarkable human being has watched this video. They need to search deep within their conscience.

  27. The extortionate rates of suicides in 'trans' individuals is brought about by the very process of affirmation by others creating a schism in the psyche that leads to a disassociation in one's own identity. This is nothing short of child abuse if encouraged from a young age.

  28. RiP lyra .its heartbreaking when u became by media madness that one of our sisters in the LGBTQ has tragically and ur life was cruelly taken lyra ur a beautiful spirit and my love to Sara ur friends family colleague in journalism. As a writer as a lgbt activist .ur love for everyone before ur own never forgotten..our pride in 2019 will be the biggest ever in memory of a beautifully gifted women like u

  29. RIP Lyra. Everyone who is saying “Not in our name” need to understand Lyra was not meant to be shot and it was an accident, which in no way makes it okay. But Lyra was not killed in the name of anybody. We cannot have a repeat of the Troubles, but peace will only happen when there’s unity in a majority. Time for Peace.

  30. Love is god and god is love or whatever you believe in or don’t believe in the higher power of this world is within all of us and as I said love is god and god is love. And I love all of you watching this .

  31. What a horrendous tragic loss for humanity in general, we need more people with this type of compassion, optimism and intelligence.

  32. It's sad that she died and I wish it didn't happen but I find it very hard for her to agree with her on any of her views.

  33. I wonder if Gemma O'Doherty were to be murdered in the future, would we see this mass outpouring of grief from the media? probably not because, all because she has the "wrong" views; as if that was journalism should be about. They'd probably say she deserved it as karma, but if were to say Lyra McKee campaigned for pro-abortion and is now dead, that wouldn't be karma would it?

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