Friday 15 December 2017

Anna Nolan: Caitlyn's cover is a long way from men in granny skirts with dodgy wigs

Caitlyn Jenner
Caitlyn Jenner
Niall Horan
Oscar Pistorius
Ryan Tubridy
Jennifer Maguire

I met my first cross-dresser back in 1992. I was in The Parliament Bar and it was my first visit to a gay pub.

I was nervous as I made my way with two pals to an upstairs room that was an average-sized room with not so average people. After I gulped back my drink I began to relax and notice a colourful collection of people.

There were some guys dressed in leather and a group of girls with Sinead O'Connor style shaven heads. All the groups seemed to come straight out of central casting. And then my eyes were drawn to a corner in the bar, where a group of cross dressers were chatting.

What shocked me the most about the room was not the fact that there were men in skirts. It was the type of skirt. Ugly heavy brown A-line granny skirts, matched with flouncy bouncy blouses and shoes that your prim and proper school mistress would have worn.

The make-up was heavy handed with garish colours. And the wigs? Oh Lord, the wigs. Thick, curly, lopsided. I think some were even on backwards. But I got speaking to these cross-dressers and they were a bit shy, a bit of a laugh. But mainly, they were happy.

Fast forward two decades and witness the huge reaction to Bruce Jenner transitioning from male to female.

Last week the reality show star revealed to the world, in a reality show kinda way (via a Diane Sawyer interview, a Keeping Up With The Kardashians special two-parter and a front page on Vanity Fair) that Bruce was now Caitlyn.

I found the reactions fascinating. Initially there was support, with Caitlyn getting close to two and a half million followers on Twitter. The celebs all posted praise and admiration and the world loved Caitlyn's new look.

Then people got the hump. Army vets in the States hated that Caitlyn was being called brave and posted photos of soldiers who had lost limbs who they thoughts were truly 'brave'.

People were incensed that a new reality show about Caitlyn's transition was to be aired on E! How dare the reality star do another reality show? And many felt that Bruce was a cynical old money-making female, ready to turn her story into a few million bucks.

As for me, I got totally caught up in the euphoria of this transgender story and how it was shining a light on a struggle that many people in Ireland face.

And with the Gender Recognition Bill before the Cabinet last week, those who feel they were born the wrong sex are finally being fully acknowledged and understood.

There might be a backlash to Caitlyn Jenner's story but thinking back to that group of cross-dressers in The Parliament Bar over 20 years ago (and I know that cross-gender and transitioning is not exactly the same thing), it is wonderful that they now have someone who has shown the world that transitioning into a woman, or a man, is not freakish or bad.

It's just, as Caitlyn would say herself, a "new normal".


There's no silly hats, solo career or stupid dating - that's why we love Niall

Niall Horan

Niall Horan

Who'd have imagined that the blond-haired singer who auditioned for The X Factor as a kid would some years later have tabloids writing stories about Ariana Grande leaving his house early in the morning after a party there?

There is something about this guy that everyone loves and I get it.

Recently Niall was a guest on the ITV sports quiz show Play To The Whistle. Guests on these panel shows can often be left looking total idiots, as they try to compete with the more seasoned contributors or even worse, try to be funnier.

But Niall has a laid-back confidence about him. He doesn't mind others ribbing him. He's happy to chip in. And when someone else is funny he bursts out laughing. He's just one of the lads.


He's not as self conscious as the other One Directioners. You wont see him wearing a stupid hat like Harry, or dating an oul one, like Harry. There's no comb-over like Louis, and he won't have be having any Twitter spats like Liam. And he won't be taking any time out soon for a solo career - Niall Horan knows he has a good thing going on.

He is living his life and loving every second.

Even when he's out caddying for Rory McIlroy he's not too cool for school. The poor fella falls over in front of the camera, picks himself up and laughs with all the others who are laughing at him.

Well actually, they're laughing with him.

So even though some were surprised that the gorgeous American superstar Ariana Grande was papped after a night with Niall, I could totally see her having the best fun. He probably made her laugh. He probably laughed at himself.

The craic would have been mighty.

He might not be the best looking guy in One Direction, he might not have the best voice, but Niall is getting all the girls and I can see why.


Pistorius parole  is a real disgrace

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

We live in a very strange world. Having shot his girlfriend Oscar Pistorius is due to be released from prison on parole in August, after serving 10 months behind bars. His sentence was five years and he won't even do one.

Whether it was murder or homicide, one would imagine that even for the sake of the family of Reeva Steenkamp - who, along with their daughter, are the true victims in this - the law would ensure that he was locked away for a decent amount of time.

And 10 months is simply not enough time, given the crime that was committed. It's baffling to me. And it's an absolute disgrace.


Radio froth brings a smile to my face

As summer brings a sort of listless vacuum to television, radio seems to be getting into a giddier, lighter mode. That's what it felt like as I listened to Breakfast Republic and Ryan Tubridy last Monday morning.

Jennifer Maguire

Jennifer Maguire

The Republic trio of Jennifer Maguire , Bernard O'Shea and Keith Walsh had me chuckling away - in particular Jen's story about some presenter who avoided her recently. She slagged the bejaysus out of him. Then Ryan had the sweetest chat with a young girl who told him how she liked to do walks with her dad and read books. In the two shows you could feel that summer is just about to come along. They put a smile on my face for the whole car journey. 

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