OOQ.03.08.FINAL - Sarah McDevitt
[00:00:00] Elena Joy: Welcome to Out of Queeriosity. Consider us your field guide for queer pride. You will hear from the best of the best in terms of queer business leaders, queer relationship experts, the activists working to protect us all, and everyday
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Welcome to Out of Queeriosity. I am your host, Elena Joy pronouns she, her, and this is the podcast provided by pride and joy foundation. We are your field guide to queer pride. And so excited to have you with us today as we chat with Sarah McDevitt. Thank you so much for being here with us, Sarah. Thank you for
[00:00:53] Sarah: having me.
[00:00:54] Elena Joy: this is going to be wonderful. I can't wait to introduce you all to Sarah. Sarah is the director of partner readiness with a massive company called HubSpot. I was honored to be able to speak at their inbound last September and Sarah was also there, but that's not how we met because they were like, I don't know, 11, 000 people at that conference.
So luckily we got to meet through mutual friends afterwards. And as we chatted, I heard. Absolutely incredible stories that I'd never heard before. And I realized, Oh, we've got to get this out to our audience and out of Queeriosity. So here we are as we begin, as always, we start with kind of our positionality.
What are the lenses that we are viewing our lives through lately? And what does that positionality kind of create? So as always, I'll kick it off. I identify and my perspective I'm bringing to the table today would be I'm a queer lesbian, cisgender woman. I'm a single mom of four kids. I am newly diagnosed as neurodivergent and learning more about my own brain.
Every single day, the more I get out of the way, the more productive and happy I am. As well as I would say, I am an executive director of a nonprofit as well as a consultant. And so I'm balancing those nonprofit for profit priorities there. So Sarah, please tell us about yourself and your positionality.
[00:02:19] Sarah: This is such a great question because I don't think I've ever been put in a position to, to talk about my position. So I am a lesbian, lesbian, cis woman as well. I am the mother of three children at the minute. I'm going to say three and a half as my wife is about 17 weeks away from having our fourth child.
I come from a place also actually where I am phonetically dyslexic, so I'm also neurodivergent as well. So, the combination of us both being that way, I'm hoping, is a very interesting combination. But I also come as a frazzled mother with a lot going on in life right now, trying to navigate all of that.
And that, that, uh, that brings its challenges some days, but, you know, we get through, we survive it.
[00:03:07] Elena Joy: Yes, we do. We survive and sometimes we even get to thrive. Yes. Thank you for that. I appreciate that. And let's get right into that because I think it's the elephant in the room. Yes. Sarah has the most amazing Irish accent ever because Sarah is from where Sarah?
[00:03:24] Sarah: Well, I have to say that I'm originally from a place called Sligo, which is in the northwest of Ireland, but I am based in Dublin since I took a wife in that part of the world and she won't leave.
[00:03:38] Elena Joy: It's amazing what we'll do for the women we love. That's awesome. Sligo. Excellent. So tell me, here you are a married woman, many kids with more on the way.
How did this begin? Because from what I know of you, you have kind of a central part of marriage equality in Ireland. So please tell us
[00:04:04] Sarah: that story. Well, I think everyone has a central story to marriage equality in Ireland, but we have to go back to go forward, if that makes sense. So I only came out when I was 33.
And when I say I only came out, obviously I, I, that was when I kind of revealed my true self to the world. At that point, I was a very late starter because I came from a very. traditional Catholic family. My father was, was from that background. And if you, you think as well, the context homosexuality was illegal in Ireland until 1993.
So I was 13 when it was legalized, which is kind of incredible to me as I learned more about queer history in Ireland. And so when it came out at 33. I remember I came out in the summer, that summer, you know, and I, and I said to a friend over a drink, I think I'm gay. And my friend immediately was like, let's go to a gay bar.
And that was her response. And then it was like the slow tsunami of relief of like just coming out and telling people, but I actually didn't come out to my mother until the following January. And she was incredibly supportive. She was just like, Oh, God, I thought you were sick or something, but so it doesn't matter.
And so she was completely fine with this. And then on Patrick's night, St. Patrick's day in March of 2014, I met my wife. And, you know, it was a time of really, I suppose, of a lot of, it was a lot of change happening in Ireland at the time. So when we first met, marriage wasn't legal. But we kind of knew instantly we wanted to be together.
And at the time it was kind of like civil partnership was what our option was at that point. And, you know, that had come in in 2006. It wasn't very welcomed, I'd say by some members of the community, because they really wanted like that full equality. So when the marriage referendum came along. It was mixed feelings as well, because a lot of people felt like, why are we asking our neighbors if we're allowed to get married?
Why do we have to go and beg everyone to allow us to get married? Okay. Wait, wait,
[00:06:17] Elena Joy: wait. So tell us what does that marriage referendum mean? Why were the neighbors involved? Like connect those dots
[00:06:23] Sarah: for us. Great question. So in Ireland, we generally take a, take an approach of constitutional adjustment rather than laws.
So we don't pass laws for the most part about really important things because the next government could come along and change the law. It's much more difficult to change your constitution. So every so often Ireland will have a constant, you know, a referendum on a constitutional matter. And the constitution, the question they were asking the Irish people was to change the definition of marriage in the constitution to a marriage between two people, regardless of their gender was basically the way that they reworded it.
So the reason we had to go and talk to our neighbors and our. Friends and our colleagues and our cousins and grandparents was because we were relying on all those people to vote, to allow us to get married. And that was the, that was the ask. And it was very difficult because in all of these things, as I'm sure in the context of the USA, you understand.
You get the very polarizing views about what it would mean. And you know, a lot of debates about your life. in very public forums. And that's, that's difficult. And I can't even imagine, at the time, I considered myself a very new lesbian because I was just out to the world. I'm thinking of meeting all these people who've been around and fighting for this for so, so long.
And they, you know, have had to deal with much worse than me. Personally, but then I became involved with the marriage equality referendum campaign. I was helping from a social media point of view. So I was working on advertising at the time. So we were providing some kind of creative services and kind of trying to like drive the true social media, which at that time was just as powerful.
I'm going to say maybe more for force for good back then, but very powerful at the time. And. That, that was kind of the contribution, but it was, there was lots of people who were knocking on doors, doing all of the, the different campaigning involved. And so that was difficult. And I remember how hard it was at the time to think, what if, what if they say no?
What if all of these people that we care about are a no? But the really great thing about it was, it drove a debate in Irish society that we would not have gotten had we just had a law. Had we just been, if we had been allowed to get married and it sounds crazy, but if we'd have been allowed to get married, we wouldn't have had the opportunity to drive the societal change in the way people viewed gay people.
Because the reason the referendum, you know, won essentially was because it was young people. They had a campaign called call your granny. So it was young people calling their grandparents and coming out to them. And you know, the grandparents being sure. I don't care. I love you. Like I, you know. I, I would never.
So there was a lot of those grassroots campaigns of like calling your grandparents, you know, and people realized, wow, I didn't think I knew a gay person that this impacted. But when we started to have those conversations and tell those stories, people were like. Well, why would I stop John getting married or why would I stop, you know, Mary being with someone that she loves and having the same protection as me or whoever else?
So it was, it was incredibly surprising. My, my, um, father-in-Law is, uh, he's 76 now, but, you know, he was, I'm gonna say he was in good him and say he was a slightly younger man back then, and I remember. My wife saying to me, like, don't be offended if he's in the pub and he doesn't introduce you as, you know, my girlfriend or whatever, you know, because he drinks with a lot of like old white men, essentially, from a very different era, like, you know, would have grown up in like Catholic Ireland.
And I remember we went to see him and we were sitting on a chair. And these women came by, and this was, sorry, this was after we got engaged, right, so I'll go back to that one. But when we got engaged and these women come by and they're like, have you found a suit for that wedding yet, Kevin? And he was like, oh, and the women turned around and they said, He has been wrecking our heads about what he's going to wear to this wedding.
And he immediately before they, he's like, this is Sarah. This is Gerard's fiance, you know? So he, so, and that changed my wife's perception. I think of her own dad, because he was like, wow, he's like proud of me. And I remember him telling me that some telephone researchers rang him and said, you know, we're looking for, you know, men in their sixties who will be against gay marriage.
And he was like. Uh, well that's not me . That is not me. And all of his friends, we go, anytime we go in there, they're like sitting around. They wanna buy us drinks, they wanna hear about the kids, they wanna hear about our lives. So I think it surprised people where the, you know, where the support was. And so we actually got engaged before the referendum and I, and, and we kind of got engaged really before.
There was even talk of the referendum, right? It all happened kind of pretty fast. So when we got engaged, we were going to get civil partnered, really. And then of course the referendum came along and then it became like, well, I mean, if we can, if we can have that, we want to get that. And the day of the referendum, a couple of things happened.
They, you know, in the news reports, they described it like the army coming over the hill and the Lord of the Rings, the elven army to like save the day. Because. The amount of Irish people who traveled home by ferry and by plane and any way they could get home to vote Yes was absolutely incredible the morning of the vote I got so many messages through Facebook and text messages from men that I knew Straight men who were saying, I'm voting for you and Geraldine, who's my wife, I'm voting for you and Geraldine, I wouldn't, you know, they said I don't know another gay person and that isn't the reason to vote.
I was trying to educate them. I was like, liberty for all. But, um, it was kind of inspiring that they voted for me. We had decided to go, well, I know a person that this impacts who is in my life and I'm going to make the extra special effort to get out there and vote. So I went wedding dress shopping the day of the count because I decided that was the best place for me to be was either way I was getting a wedding dress because we were going to get married in some shape or form.
And I remember saying to my best friend and my two sisters. Don't turn on the radio. And we left like really early in the morning. I was like, don't turn on the radio. I don't want to hear. We didn't sleep a wink that night because we were just like, what if people, you know, vote no. And then we wake up and it's a landslide.
Like the, the Irish nation has come out by a landslide and said, they want to give marriage equality to, you know, same sex couples. And that was incredible. It was just, it was, we went out the back and we cried, we poured champagne all over the place. And you know, then we went wedding dress shopping. I wasn't driving.
[00:13:34] Elena Joy: Oh my gosh, there's so much there to, from the. Knocking on the doors and having the conversations and the call your granny campaign that was news to me. And, oh my gosh, I love it because it very much mirrors what's happening here in the States and that our senior leaders and organizations and churches and nonprofits, the senior leaders are grandparent age.
And every day Gen Z is coming out to them and they are realizing, Oh, it's not other, it's not them. It's my babies, it's my family, it's us. And that is driving the societal change right now, frankly, is the grandparents going through this transition. So it's fascinating to hear that as well in Ireland, but I can only imagine those feelings of, okay, we basically have to beg our neighbors to give us rights.
[00:14:35] Sarah: that is intense. But that upsets so many people, like so many people when, you know, I was kind of saying to them, remember to get out to vote. So many of my friends and family were crying. And they said, I cannot believe that I'm the person who gets to decide if you endure. Can get married and be like, you know, in a committed relationship like anyone else.
And so many of them were upset by that. The idea, I think of having power over someone else's destiny is like, uh, it was, it was an incredible motivator as well. I think for a lot of people, they were like, this is, you know, I have to get out and vote because every single vote counts. And I do think that societal shift was really important because after that in Ireland, you know, you see.
gay people walking down the street in Dublin, they'll hold hands. Another, another interesting point though is that myself and my wife actually got married in the only county that voted no. So there is 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland and so they all vote by county, obviously. And the one place We had booked the wedding before this, by the way, so we booked the wedding and then we found out that it was the only place who voted no.
So we were actually the first couple to get married in the only place in Ireland that said no. So that's our kind of point in history. But what I think is brilliant is the venue we got married in and our register, the wedding register. The venue flew a pride flag there. It was like a castle, like amazing, like dream stuff.
It was a castle. They flew like pride flags out of like, you know, their flag areas and they could not have been more welcoming as like all of the people of Roscommon could not be more welcoming. The main reason it voted no is that Roscommon is a very older. Demographic, let's put it that way. So it would be one of the more, um, a lot of the young people probably would have voted in Dublin who are from Roscommon, so it's not a reflection of them.
And I remember our registrar, she said to us, she was amazing the whole way up to the whole thing. And she said, whatever's legal for me to do on the day that you're getting married, I will do it. And we got our marriage license. I think it was like six or seven days before our wedding, cause I was up to here.
I was like, I'm not missing this train and we got it. And I remember a registrar cried at the wedding. She was actually crying and she was like, this is just amazing. She was like, there's just so much love here. And the other interesting thing is I have two uncles who are Catholic priests and they both came.
They both came. Now, I don't know in their heads, were they kind of like, Oh, they're committing his best friends, you know, whatever. But I remember having a conversation with one of my uncles who has since passed away, but he was hemming and hawing about whether he'd come to the wedding. And one of my, uh, my dad has passed away.
14 years ago, not at the time, I mean, he was only, he was only passed away, maybe seven years at the time. And I remember my younger uncle ringing this uncle and going, what's, are you going or not? What's, what's happening? And he was, you know, hymning and honing. Then he rang me one day and he said, you know, I've got principals.
I've got principles, Sarah, you know, and I said, that's, it was like, I'm very much a kind of person that goes, if you don't want to be at the party, that's okay with me. Don't come. I don't want you at the party, but he said to me, I have principles, but my biggest principle is that I love you. Um, and I want to be there for you.
So he came along and the other really funny thing about the wedding actually was my mom, because in the part of Ireland I'm from, it's very much like your parents will invite a group of their friends because they've been at their children's weddings, you know? I kind of resisted as much as I could, but in the end I was like, you know what, it's not worth it.
So I said to my mum, yeah, invite your friends. That's fine. And she said, and I remember saying to her, I'll invoice them if they don't cover their cost. Or I can invoice you. I said, I'll invoice you. Cause you know, you're just, you know, they've no real interest in being there, but what, you know, and she said, Oh, they probably won't come to your gay wedding.
Every single one of them showed up. Every single one of them. And they all were incredibly generous with their presents. Oh. And I said to mom, it was obviously like a kind of like, we want you to know that we're not anti, you know. Yeah. But at the end of the night, three of the men came up. These men are in their 60s.
And they said, we're very disappointed. And I said, why? And they said, sure. That was like any other wedding that we were ever at. It was the same. There's no difference. And they said, well, there was one difference that we're happy about. And I said, what's that? They said there was none of this going between the church and the bar.
It was straight from the room to the bar. It was a two minute walk. Much better, much better. We approve. We approve of that. So I thought that was so, but they could not have been. You know, there was so much love in the room and all coming up and, you know, just being genuinely happy for us and understanding, I think, finally what this all meant, which is just two people who love each other coming together to, to commit if that's what they want to do, obviously, um, they want to, if marriage is their path, but yeah, so it was kind of a, kind of an interesting, an interesting ride.
[00:19:59] Elena Joy: mind is swimming because when we got equal marriage, we then had county clerks, probably your registrar throughout the United States saying it is against my religion to issue these marriage licenses. So I won't. They're just not going to be issued and that became a massive fight that had to be resolved that took literal years.
Right? So how did that not happen in Ireland where there is such a core cultural concept of spirituality of faith of devoutness of this is what God wants
[00:20:38] Sarah: for us to do. Yeah, I think in the, God came into the debate quite a bit about gay marriage and there was quite a few outspoken priests that said, like, what are we trying to stop here?
Are we trying to stop two people who love each other from being together? Like, is that what we're really trying to stop? But also I think Ireland, we're pretty compliant actually. Like Ireland is unbelievably compliant when there is. The rules and the law is a very, very small percent of the population.
And we saw this through COVID as well, right? You know, they told us we couldn't go more than two kilometers outside our house. They, we said, yeah, fine. They told us we had to wear masks. Everyone said, yeah, fine. You know, wash your groceries. Everyone's like, fine. You know, like Ireland is very compliant. And it almost is probably thanks to the Catholic church in some ways.
Like we're real followers. You know, so once the government passes something as a nation, I think we're like pretty compliant, right? You will always have like fringe groups that don't agree and will try and upset things. And we did experience that a bit with the getting rights, rights for the children, like with the birth certs.
A few years later, we did have problems with registers refuse or not, not refusing, but certainly making it difficult for same sex parents to update. birth certs to have both parents on it. So you did see some disruption and I'm sure there was disruption with the marriage licenses as well. But Ireland is a small island and it wouldn't be tolerated for too long.
Let's put it that way. People would get in line. They'd be like, Mary, these are the new rules now, Mary. You know, and people could obviously, I'd say, opt out. Through their conscience or whatever, but, and I'm sure it went on, but not for, well, we, we had to go down to Roscommon, which voted no, and they still managed to give us the license.
Um, and it was absolutely fine. We had no problems.
[00:22:39] Elena Joy: Okay. We are going to go back to that birth certificate issue, but before that, I feel like you touched on something so important that the way that it had to go down, it forced conversations, which meant that the attitude, the cultural attitude and perspective changed as the policy changed.
And I think that's a fundamental difference from American based companies, American government. We change a policy. And then just expect the perspective to change as well. But what we end up with is a changed policy and a whole lot of bigotry because the attitude and perspective adjustment, the conversations weren't had, that's basically what it comes down to the conversations weren't had.
And so we didn't experience a societal shift, really, we are. Experiencing a little bit through the visibility. And I think that's what the conversations were like to the nth degree is that visibility we're human, you're human. We're all human. Don't we all deserve human things? Right. But in our, it seems like in our world, visibility doesn't lead to conversation.
[00:23:50] Sarah: Yes, it's a very, I think that my, my observation of the States a little bit, Irish people love a debate. I think it's like, it's kind of in our, it's in, you could maybe call it, you know, generational DNA or generational trauma in some cases, but Irish people love a debate. So they're not afraid to meet each other and have that debate.
My observation of the States is that it's very much like you're on one side or the other. And you know, even when I view your, your, your government now, it's very polarized. Whereas in Ireland in general, our government's pretty vanilla. Like it's, there's not a, if you even think of currently today in government, there is three different parties and a large group of independent, you could call them independent.
What do you call them? House of Representatives. Right. So we have two parties. that are basically the same. The only difference is they kind of separated during the Irish Civil War, right? But they have kind of fundamentally the same ideas about things. One is maybe slightly more conservative. And then you have the Greens, which are the environmental party.
So they are, they've only. a small grouping, but they tend to be in there. And then you have a very powerful group of rural TDs, which are the House of Representatives. So these come from farming backgrounds, rural communities. And so they all pile together and they create a program for government, which is basically going, what is all the things that everyone wants?
What can we all live with doing for each other? And then that's the thing they make a commitment to stay together on for at least four years. And they then take off everyone's wish list where there's not any major red lines. And so. That's kind of the nature of even our political system is very, people are willing to talk and negotiate and one day they're fighting with each other and the next day they're in cahoots with each other.
So it just kind of depends, but Irish people tend to be like that as well. They're, they're not afraid to have a debate in a pub and kind of move on with their lives. And certainly like the background I was raised in, it wasn't a good family get together if there wasn't some kind of, you know, very, very.
He's a debate at two o'clock in the morning over red wine.
[00:26:12] Elena Joy: Okay. So you're using the word debate and my perspective of that is two sides. Either civilly or uncivilly sharing their perspective with each other and no one budges. So, in Ireland, do you debate and people actually change their mind, actually change their perspective?
Or do you just yell at
[00:26:33] Sarah: each other too? I would say that the, the, what's the saying? Strong views loosely held. Would be the way that I would put it. So it's entirely possible to change someone's point of view and stuff. And I think we saw that as well in the marriage equality referendum, because actually the no side was mostly funded by conservative US Christians.
So that's where all the money came from entirely. Say it again,
[00:27:00] Elena Joy: Sarah. Say it
[00:27:01] Sarah: again Sarah. So it's mostly funded by these Christian groups in the U. S. was the no side and there's some very, very, anytime there's a no side in Ireland, it's always funded by some Christian U. S. group. We saw the same on the abortion referendum.
Oh my God. Yeah, we do. We do. We say, we see that. So it's, it's far, it's, it's, this is generally like the, they will come in and find like a small local group that, you know, opposes and then they'll fund them. So we've seen that quite consistently in different debates. The problem is that Irish people are, there's one thing that Irish people find highly irritating.
It's like, here's what we're talking about. Right. So why are you talking about this other thing? Right. So we're having a debate about whether, you know, gay people should be allowed to get married. And then the no side are talking about every child deserves a mother. And they're like, how do we get there?
No, we're over here talking about this. Well, why are you talking about that? And I think that was the, you know, a lot of their leaf, you know, leaf drops and for two houses was like, uh, you know, a mother and a father and a baby. And it was like, you know, every child desire deserves a mother. And then me and my wife would be like, they can have two.
If we get married, they can have two. It
[00:28:24] Elena Joy: is amazing how those groups forget that lesbians exist.
[00:28:27] Sarah: It is shocking. It was all like these terrible gay men who God knows what they're going to do to a child, stealing babies. So, so that was, I think that kind of distracted from the, you know, any kind of like, validity of their campaign was they kept talking about other stuff and, and everyone was like, we're talking about this.
We're still talking about this. And that was, but, but public debate and all of that was encouraged and happened. And honestly, I think it made people realize, Oh, I don't want to be with these people. You know, this is, this is visceral. Like, this is just not kind. This is unneeded. And in the end, my, my mother, like loves going, she sees, I remember telling her after she saw two American women in the pub, damn so where she's from, and she said, I thought maybe they were together, but they were sitting separately because they thought they were in a rural pub.
You know? So my mother's a bit, she's a bit nosy. So she got in there and she's like, where are you from? Do you have your husband's with you? And she eventually got it out of them. And she says, Oh, my wife, or sorry, my daughter's just about to get married, you know? So she has, you know, she, she was doing Airbnb as well.
And she had her wedding picture front and center. But she wanted everyone to know this was a safe place for LGBT travelers, you know? So she, people like her, like they take it to a whole new level. But now it's like, everyone is quite, you know. Comfortable with it. I've never, I've never really had any, my dad's side of the family, to be fair to them, and I think this is like really important.
They were on a journey, but I came out, they knew me as a person for years and years and years, and then I came out and I was in their eyes, someone. Different. And I remember my aunt saying to me, you know, we're, you know, we're, we're getting there. They, they came, they all came to the wedding, but over the years they have become more and more accepting.
And I think that's like a really important thing for me has been not demanding acceptance, but going on that from day one, but going on that journey sometimes with people where it's not about accepting you necessarily. It's about. You know, connecting with the new reality of who you are in your life. And so, like, that was a really important part, I think, of the long term acceptance was the family having the time and space.
I mean, my mum's side of the family were like, You're getting married! That's great! And ever since, they're like, kids, more kids, send us pictures of the kids! Like, but my grandmother was a very liberal person. She was a, she was a district nurse. She saw Everything there was to see in, in world, you know, she had seen the good and bad of humanity.
So she, I think, and my mom is also a nurse. So I think they have seen people at their best and their worst. And they just don't think these things are that important. Whatever. There is worse things in life. Like that is not the worst thing. And honestly, I think my mother prefers my wife to me at this point.
Like she just, because I probably married my mother. So they probably have like so much in common, but my mother is like.
[00:31:39] Elena Joy: Oh, you said something so interesting. It wasn't about accepting me. It was about connecting with me and I, wow, that really resonates with me because it, it does feel that way. I, I remember my girlfriend's favorite aunt responded to her coming out with, well, this will take some time.
And, That hurt her so much that it caused this further disconnect. And without that connection, there was no like movement, right? There was no journey because that it was disconnected and there was no connection there to have the journey. So I feel like that's something that a lot of our, a lot of our LGBTQ plus.
Friends are dealing with whether they're coming out later in life or younger in life, they have someone in their life that they truly value. That's responding with like, I'm not ready. This is going to take time. I'm not ready. And in that vulnerable moment that can pierce in such an intense way. Yet if we can somehow stay focused on.
No one will be ready until we have connection. I guess it goes back to that conversation piece, right? That, that connection, the journey is predicated on it. We're not going to be able to change minds without it. And yet, how do you stay connected when you feel so hurt?
[00:33:11] Sarah: Yeah, it's, it's, it is a hard, and I'll tell you my, my own personal perspective was that I'm a very honest person.
I've always been very direct and people didn't understand that that's because when you're keeping the biggest lie of your life, you don't have energy for the small lies. So you are just very direct. I had no energy for any other BS. I was like, I'm trying to keep the biggest secret about me. And my mum commented after I came out.
She was like, you're an ass. You know, the word, you know, the Irish word crack, which is not crack. But she said it's, it's an Irish word for crack. I'll just kill basically means like fun and crack. It's on a direct translation, but Irish people use the word. Crack. C R A I C. Um, in everyday language. And my mother said, you know, you're not as much crack as you used to be.
And I realized because I was spending so much of my life Deflecting people's questions about me that I was causing distraction, being fun and doing all those things. But the biggest thing people were surprised about is why would you not like, you're so direct in every other aspect of your life. Why would you not have felt that you could come out?
And I was like, well, it was loads of things. I'm no different to anyone else. Like it was fear. Then it was almost like you got into deep. You're like 33. Now you've told people that you're this person and now they're all going to think you're a liar because you've been lying to them and all that kind of stuff.
But I actually found, so I, when I met, when I, I guess like for a lot of people, it's a matter of survival, right? I got to a point where I was like, I am so unhappy, so desperately unhappy. That the only way, and it was like one night I was lying in bed and I just broke down. I think I must've cried for a week because I was like, if I don't tell people who I really am, I am just going to go further and further down.
Just like, I just kind of, it was this, it was this kind of like, I'm going to die alone if I don't come out and I don't want that for myself. So I had to muster the courage to do it because That's, I wanted to save my own life basically, which is I think what a lot of people would feel. Yes. And then when it did come out, I felt so much happier that it basically made me not care about.
And then when I met Ger, it went like off the chart. I was like, I don't care who you are. I love my life. I don't care if every friend I have goes away because this is the person who I love. And like, obviously that's like very intense at the start, you know, when you find that. But so that actually gave me the strength to go, here's who I am.
I'm cool if you're not totally okay with who I am right now. I know, but I, you know, but I'm, I want to keep connecting with you. And actually I did have to make some effort to, you know, keep connecting with people. And some people wouldn't do that. They're like, no, you're out of my life. You can't accept me.
You're gone. But I don't agree with that because actually the people that I took the time to connect with on my own terms and not, and we're not talking about them saying hurtful things or causing me harm, but they then became the greatest ambassadors of re learning and retraining themselves about what they thought about gay people.
And then you become the reference point. Uh, this kind of strange, it's perfectly normal. Like my aunt to be like, it's perfectly normal. And I remember recently we were down in the summer at a barbecue and my, and my aunt who was this aunt who, you know, I love her dearly. She has been, uh, she's had a hard life herself.
She's been on this journey. And I remember her kind of taking me and Ger together before we left. And she said like, those kids are such a credit to you. You are doing a fantastic job. And that like. I mean, to me, that's the ultimate acceptance is she thinks that they're in a safe place where they're good kids and we're raising them right.
And to me, that was like the final stamp of acceptance. It wasn't, it wasn't about us as a couple necessarily. And you know, kids aren't for everyone either, but I'm just saying for me, that was her way of going. I accept who you are as a couple. I accept who you are as a family. And that was huge for me, but that took connecting.
And I also know her and another aunt of mine have become wonderful ambassadors for, I'm not saying overtly, but in quiet conversations. And I think the quiet conversations is what wins hearts and minds over one conversation at a time. And that's, You know, that's what we need.
[00:37:48] Elena Joy: Absolutely. When I go and speak, I know I'm not the most effective agent for change, right?
Like, uh, the most I can do is open a door. The most I can do is empower someone to reach out. To that needed connection, right? Like it takes that one on one actual connection with a person that you're invested in, not this random person on the stage with a microphone, you know, that's what creates change.
But I do feel like our country is at a point where it takes someone on the stage of the microphone to open that door to. Give them the language to use, to reach out for that connection. I think you said something really important that I want to touch on really quickly. You know, you said you during your story of I got to a point where I had to come out and I think you are absolutely correct.
So many of us go to that point. I think it's so interesting when a common response is you are so brave. It doesn't feel like I'm brave. It's feel like I'm trying to stay alive. Right. And you, you made a comment, I felt like I was going to die alone and I want to clarify something for any of our allies that are listening.
Like when we feel that way, it's not just like, I might not, I'm never going to be able to find the love of my life because I can't come out. Right? Like there's that. But there's also, when you spend decade after decade after decade, hiding who you are from the people you love the most, like your parents, your grandparents, your cousins, you have to withdraw because it becomes harder and harder to keep that lie up.
It's exhausting. And that's the dialogue with the lack of those
[00:39:29] Sarah: connections. You can, yeah, I totally agree. There's, there's parts of yourself that you're like, you know, totally hiding. And one of actually my greatest, the greatest group of allies I had actually, when I came out, who I suspect already knew I was gay.
So I, I'm like, I used to gather all of these single men. Not in that way, but I basically would feel sorry for them. So I lived with a guy from, from the time I was 18, we were best friends. We still are today. He's the godfather of one of the children we live together. And we had this other guy who lived with us.
And then we had a guy who, you know, broken up and he moved in with us for two weeks and didn't leave for four years. You know, it was that kind of thing. And I, you know, I have other male friends from college. And I remember we have like, we had at the time we used to have a Sunday roast and I came out.
And I actually came out by email to my best friend because I just couldn't bring myself to tell him and he was like, that's totally fine. And then a few days later, the boys text me and they were like, you know, so we're doing the roast on Sunday. We're going to have chicken. Are you a breast or leg woman yourself, Sarah?
And that was their ultimate, like, kind of, we've said it. We're going to kind of like rip it out of her for a while. And then it was really funny, I remember like one of the first girls I brought home, Enda, who's the guy I've known since I was 18. He's like sitting on the couch going, what are your intentions towards my friend?
Oh my gosh. He's like so full on. Protected us. So there was immediate acceptance there, if not understanding in that group, there was acceptance, but you know, it took them years of many kind of like few pints, kind of, you know, asking questions that sometimes I had to tell them were not appropriate, but they went to their own learning through that as well, but they, they were kind of the tribe of acceptance and they made me feel safe until other people caught up with that acceptance, if that makes sense.
So I kind of never. I'll never forget that for them being that kind of foundational acceptance. While I, you know, other people got there. Ooh,
[00:41:41] Elena Joy: you just really tweaked my brain because I often teach the concentric circles of safety. So we have to be safe within ourselves to come out to ourselves. And then it, you know, our closest people, our work, people, our community, right, these, where are we safe to be who we are and.
To think about like a foundational circle of allyship of the people who can, can be there and be the allies quickly that you need as your other people are on their journey and are seeking that connection. Ooh, that that's informing some stuff for me. Thank you. I don't want to miss out chatting about what was the issue with the birth certificates and why was that a challenge and when did that come up and how was it resolved?
[00:42:30] Sarah: Yeah, so we, we had our first child in 2017, Lachlan. And before we, before the marriage equality referendum, they actually signed a bill.
So it was a family relationships bill, and it was supposed to allow same sex couples to have, you know, get on the birth certs. And I remember before the marriage equality referendum, us saying, well, listen, at least if the marriage equality referendum doesn't pass, at least this law has passed so we can at least have children together and enjoy the same legal protection as straight couples.
But of course, that was back, that was signed back in like 2014, 2017, I'm pregnant with Lachlan, three years later, nothing has happened. It hasn't been enacted. So then I kind of like was like a deranged pregnant lady writing every day to all of our TDs, which is our House of Representatives of people in Ireland, badgering our health minister, learning that I think it was like 179 individual pieces of legislation had to change at the same time to allow for passports and social welfare.
The names on search changing from mother and father to parent and parent. And the thing that's most frustrating in Ireland is that when you go to register the birth of your child, if you were seeing a mother and you just found a guy on the street with a passport and you said, do you want to come in here and get the birth search?
Fine. He's of the male gender. He's got ID. He's on the birth cert. There's no questions asked. There's no DNA test. It's, you know, it's, it's a, it's actually a stain on, on Ireland's history. The amount of people on birth certs that are not actually the biological parents. But anyway, that was very frustrating because as soon as you walk in the door, it's the same sex.
lesbian couple, you immediately, it's like, there's two of you. So there's a mother and a father in the birth cert. There's no other option. So we had to go, like, it was war for a good two years, like protesting, doing interviews. Like, I really felt the most exposed during that time because I was on radio. I was on television.
I was, you know, doing full page spreads in newspapers. I was doing everything I could. to raise awareness about the issue. And, you know, I did get to meet some of the ministers involved and, you know, have talks. And then we, we actually set up a charity at that time, um, called Equality for Children and drove and drove and drove to like drive the change.
And eventually. In the midst of the pandemic, after our second son was born, so Grayson, and he was, I didn't go on his birth cert, and of course the problem was, when Lachlan was about 13 months old, and Ger was pregnant with Grayson, he got very sick, and he was in the hospital. And she could not make any medical decisions for him.
I was a single mother. I remember asking them because in Ireland we have single mothers allowance, which is for mothers who are single mothers. They get a payment from the government. And I remember going to them, I'm a single mother according to you, give me my allowance. And they were like, Oh yeah. But you're married.
And I was like, but you won't give my wife rights over her child. So give me the single. And they were like, no, no, you're married, blah, blah, blah. So we had this, we had this over and back and like every kind of like mess and going on. But eventually anyway, after all of the hard work of many, many individuals, we, you know, LGBT Ireland.
Like loads of different charities were involved, gay dads. Like there was a whole grouping of charities that came together to make it happen. Eventually over a video call on zoom, they slotted three days in the Dublin district court just to give same sex parents the right to their children. So three days where the judge just did.
You know, birth, uh, recognition of the, the, uh, intended parent, as they call it. And we get in the zoom and we're like reading out our affidavits and we've done all our work and we didn't think it meant that much to us, but we started like balling crime because it was just. You know, when the, when the judge said at the end, I don't see any reason why I can't declare you, the parents of your children , you know, and, and allow you to change your birther, the, the birther of your child issue, a new one reflecting your family setup.
It was just so powerful. Like it was just, we were blubbering and we said to the judge, we're so sorry, and the judge said, do you know how rare it is? He said that I get to spread joy in family courts, he goes, every single parent has just been crying with joy. And some of these people were literally waiting 17 years for this to happen.
They had teenagers who were just about to become adults. They had been fighting for this for so long and had had like the humiliation, I will say, of like not being able to make decisions for their child, not to be able to bring them for. Their first, you know, vaccinations or the school going, like, you need to sign a special things.
They can collect it. It was this constant fear of like, if something was to happen to me, how would that, because we'd seen cases of, you know, same sex couples having kids. And you know, the birth parent dying and then the child being taken away by the grandparents, because maybe they weren't in favor of the relationship.
So even though our parents were like Geri's parents as well, her mom and dad are incredibly supportive and they would never have let anything like that happen. I a hundred percent know that. And my mom was the same. It was just so much joy. And it was everyone texting each other going like, have you gone through yet?
Like, yeah, and everyone was kind of getting the same day. So, like, it was just an incredible moment. And then, as I said to you before, people down the country had a slightly different experience. But the great thing about the community is we have, um, We have a Facebook page for LGBT parents in Ireland and everyone was able to come on there.
We had a couple of lawyers. We have to give legal advice and give like people, like the right information basically to solve their problem. So now it's, now it's actually funny. They have a special. They have a special section for same sex couples because unlike everyone else who can just go in and, you know, go, here's the father, whatever we do have to get, we, we, we have to get pregnant in a fertility clinic in Ireland.
It has to be a known donor, not known to us, can't be known to us, but it has to be known to the child in the rating. So it's very restrictive. You have to like follow the rules for T and if you do all those things and the fertility clinic fills out all this paperwork to say, like, these are the intending parents and they use the right donor and they did it the right way.
If you do all of that and then you sign an affidavit. Then they will give you a birth cert, but they did, I think like a real point of progress was they changed the birth certs to parent. You can either go mother, father, mother, parent, or parent, parent. So like they've given more options on the birth cert.
So thankfully on our third child, Willow, it was during the pandemic and everyone else was like waiting months to get their child registered. And we got our child registered like within five weeks. And all my friends were like. Cause we were all having babies and they're like, how did you manage that?
We're trying to get a passport, you know, to get out of here when the pandemic is over, or we're trying to get like the child benefit doesn't kick in if you don't have your child registered. And I said, they have a special gay section and it's much faster. And you just get it much faster. So there you go.
A few benefits of it.
[00:50:07] Elena Joy: There's always a queer superpower,
[00:50:10] Sarah: always. And now this, this fourth child that's on the way, my wife is like 22 weeks pregnant. Like we won't have any of the same concerns because, you know, we, that, that will fly through as well. We won't have, you know, have to have to go through that.
But at the time, it was very traumatic, that fear, which so many parents around the world have that are in, you know, same sex relationships. So many parents have the same issue where. They're just every day are waking up going, I don't have rights over this child. In fact, they had to change the law in Ireland because one of the very interesting things is, it was like some quirk.
If you're a woman who is married to a man and you're not divorced and you have moved on, you're separated, but you're not quite divorced. You move on and you and your female, new female partner decides to have a child. Your husband will be the father of the child because you're still married to him. So the marriage assumes that, that the husband is the father.
So there was a whole host of very strange legal things that have to be overcome because of us. So there you go. Okay. I
[00:51:18] Elena Joy: have to ask, cause I know our American listeners are thinking to go through a fertility clinic and go through that process and jump through all those hoops. 2550 grand
[00:51:29] Sarah: easy.
[00:51:31] Elena Joy: Y'all are going on number four.
Are you under those same financial obligations?
[00:51:36] Sarah: So it wouldn't be as expensive in Ireland. I would tell you that first of all, most couples will go through IUI. Which is a much more affordable option and that can be done in a clinic as well. And IUI is about, maybe like 1800 euro, something like that a go, so it's cheap.
And you'll get an IVF cycle for 10, 000 euro. And from that you'll get like all of your embryos if you're that lucky. So. Yeah, not Ireland is, and actually the government has, well, that's a whole other thing. The government has just brought out that they're going to support fertility treatment, one go for couples, but they're excluding gay couples, which is now being fought at the minute, because they refer to us in Ireland as socially.
infertile. Which I always think is kind of funny. Yeah. Yeah. We're socially infertile because we basically, they don't know there's anything wrong with us, except we're missing one of the ingredients.
[00:52:38] Elena Joy: Okay. Then what if you have a trans couple? Like that's a couple who could conceive, but they're not. They're still the same gender.
[00:52:51] Sarah: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know how. Well, in fairness, actually, I, you know, like some trans people I know are on the birth side as the father if they're, if they're trans male. But yeah, I haven't come across a case like that. So I couldn't, I couldn't answer that one for you definitively.
[00:53:11] Elena Joy: That's wild. So like everything, there's a ton of nuance to it, right?
Like the, the country went on their journey and the policy change happened and a significant perspective shift happened. And yet we still find these sticking points because there's always going to be sticking points. There's always, there's never going to be a situation with humans that is a hundred percent.
Anything bad or good or successful or failure, right? Oh, fascinating.
[00:53:41] Sarah: Thank you. Well, it's a bit like, I'll tell you this one. It's a bit, it's a little bit like the last time I was in the hospital, we were leaving on Willow and the midwife came in to give us the talk about contraception. No, and she said to me, now, has anyone talked to you about contraception?
My wife is standing right beside me, hold the baby. And I said, no, do you think we need to talk about contraception? And she was, you know, and she's like, absolutely. One of the signs you might get pregnant. And here she was very important to talk about, she just walked out the door. And then she comes back and she's like, I am mortified.
Because she just went on her rant and then I was like, but do we, do we as two women need to worry about that? But she, you know, she came back in and she apologized and it was all very funny, but I kind of said to her, at least you were, you know, you're blind to that, I guess. Well, thank you for that one.
[00:54:43] Elena Joy: I don't see gender. I guess I don't see whatever. Oh, my goodness. That's hysterical. Oh, well, this has been amazing. Sarah. I love to wrap up with 1 last question. If we can often in our community. We don't dream kind of into the future. We don't really look at, I realized this when I was asking people, what, who are you going to be in five years?
And a lot of people in our community really didn't have the ability to go there and think into that far into the future. And so we've started doing that on this podcast. Where do you see yourself in, let's say 20 years, who will Sarah McDevitt be in 20 years?
[00:55:28] Sarah: It's a great question. I think like my hope for the future started the day I came out, right?
Because I started to see a curtain come back in my life. I was in a particular industry and a particular job and I was like going along and then I met my wife and she made everything possible. She was the foundation of every success I had in my career because she was the person going. You can do this.
You go for it. And to this day, she's still that person. And even, you know, we were laughing at the weekend cause we're like, the kids are just so intense and it's just so much going on right now. And she says, it won't always be like this. And that's what we say to each other all the time. It won't, it won't always be like this.
And we're like at a very intense point. But I also think my person mantra is, and it sounds egotistical, but it's not supposed to be right. But every morning I wake up now. Knowing what could have been, and I say to myself, literally a million people would wish to have the life I have. A million people they're in countries where it's illegal to be gay.
They're being murdered because they're gay. They are too afraid to come out to their family and their friends. They're not able to be open. Right? Every day. I realized that I have so much privilege being an Irish white woman, basically, and a gay one because in Ireland. It's one of the safest countries in the world to be gay.
You have some of the best rights in the world. So I know literally millions of people would wish they had my life. I've got three kids, amazing wife. We're married. 20 years from now, I think my wife will continue as I do with her. We support each other every single day in our careers. We make sure it's, uh, people ask me this all the time and I'm like, well, We put the clothes in the washer and then when you come back, the clothes are gone at the washer and they've moved to either the clothes line or the dryer.
And then, and then we're like, then what happens? And I'm like, well, then you come back and you know, the next person folds them and then maybe make it as far as inside and the next person puts them away. So we have a very like. In flow dynamic with each other and we don't have, you know, any kind of gender roles.
People always ask us that we don't have gender roles. We just have a supportive environment where sometimes her career takes precedence and sometimes my career takes precedence. But the number 1 dream I had. From that very sad time when I was thinking I'm going to die alone, right? I have one very simple dream and it's not about my career because no one cares about your resume.
The day you're dying, let's face it. I had one very simple dream and that was that I would be sitting at a dining table. Surrounded by my kids, their partners and hopefully all of my grandchildren and we would be laughing. We would be having fun and I'd be an old decrepit lady, hopefully with my lovely wife still beside me.
And to me, that's the measure of my success in my life. It's never going to be about money. It's never going to be about accumulating power or wealth or anything like that. To me, it's the accumulation of like family and happiness. And also us feeling like the foundations of that family as a couple, we are the people who started that family.
And that to me is, you know, I'm not saying that's where I'm going to be in 20 years. Hopefully I won't be, well, 20 years, I'll probably be that old, but not quite. I won't even be retired. I'm going to have to work forever. Let's face it. But if you, if you told me like as a 93 year old woman, that was my vision.
That's what I go to bed at night thinking about is that vision. And it won't matter. That table, I don't care if it's a cardboard box, won't matter about the money. It'll only matter about. Who's around us and the love that's around us. And, and that's really, you know, careers come and go and you grow. And I love what I do for a living.
Don't get me wrong. I love the company. I mean, talk about bubbles, like HubSpot is a utopian place that people don't realize how safe it is. They don't know. They think, I think sometimes people think like, Oh, companies are like this. They definitely are not. It's a very unique company. And I love, love, love working there.
But my personal success is based on. The outcome of my happiness and the happiness of my family in the future. It's not based on anything else.
[00:59:44] Elena Joy: Absolutely. As you spoke about your wife and how she's your person, that has been the catalyst for all of your success. And I invite our listeners to go check out the Sarah's LinkedIn page. The success is huge. And the wife is behind that. Apparently the catalyst for all of that. And to think. When, if we actually find that person and the impact that that can have on the rest of the world, because we found our person that can inspire us and sustain us to make that kind of impact, right?
That's why we need marriage equality. We need everyone to be able to find that person so that they can create the impact in the world. They're meant to create.
[01:00:29] Sarah: Well, you can be kind. If you have someone being kind and showing you love, I just personally. You know, the, the, the way I flourished with my wife's love and her, I would say so now she calls me up my bullshit as well.
Don't get me wrong. She definitely, she definitely will call me up my bullshit, but she has been the absolute booster. To my rocket. And I hope she said the same about me, but you know, during the pandemic, we loved being together at home working because we were coaching each other. We given each other feedback and how to deal with situations.
Like we grew through that period because we were working together and seeing each other in a professional setting for the first time. This is the thing you don't realize is you learn an awful lot when you're hearing them on the phone and you're, you're, you're, you're seeing that. But also it's like that, that, you know, the comfort of when you're having a bad day or whatever.
She just is, is, she's a hundred percent the, my person. She always has been of, since the day I met her, she just has been that, as I said, the booster to my rocket for sure.
[01:01:32] Elena Joy: Oh, I'm so glad you found each other. Me too. Yeah. And you hung on to her and got through all of that marriage and birth certificate and wildness.
That is amazing. Well, thank you, Sarah, so much. I appreciate you. Appreciate you sharing your story with us. And I appreciate the connection. This has been wonderful.
[01:01:55] Sarah: Well, thank you for having me. I, uh. I think the work you're doing is so important and I just wish you continued strength to keep going and, uh, keep sharing stories because it's so important.
Many young people say to me that they look up to us as a married couple with kids and go, I can have that. That is possible. And I think if that's the small imprint of the world is showing other people who come after you, the things are possible. That's the best legacy to have with the community. A hundred percent,
[01:02:26] Elena Joy: a hundred percent.
Thank you. Well, thank you audience. And we will see you next time on out of Queeriosity.