Today, on St. Patrick’s Day, Flagrant salutes LGBTQ luminary Panti Bliss, the Irish marriage equality activist, author and celebrity drag queen.
The Dublin darling was a longtime fixture of the local drag scene, until the Irish gay marriage referendum campaign in 2015 skyrocketed Panti into the frontlines of the globally watched election. Panti Bliss’ powerful and profound speech about homophobia in 2014 became a viral sensation and a rallying milestone in the Irish gay equality movement. Bliss’ ability to connect to people with stirring, witty, poised and touching eloquence was viewed by many as a vital factor in successfully convincing Irish citizens to be the first country to vote in favor of LGBT equality.
Rory O’Neill, as Panti is known out of drag, landed another big win with the 2015 release of her story on the campaign trail, The Queen of Ireland, which had the highest ever grossing opening weekend for an Irish documentary. The Irish Times praised the doc as, “ a super movie, replete with tragedy, comedy, a plucky unlikely heroine and a sweeping dramatic arc.”
Panti may soon grace the small screen with her own series. Sky TV, and UK production company Playground Entertainment acquired the rights to the icon’s memoir ‘Panti; A Woman in the Making’ earlier this year.
Currently titled PantiBar, after Panti Bliss’ internationally recognized queer Dublin destination, the series is being described as a cross between “Queer as Folk” and “Cheers.” Playground’s head of drama, Sophie Gardiner, teased the British Press Guild about the show, revealing that, “It’s a really interesting and transgressive show about what drag means and what happens when you’re in a place where everyone feels liberated.”
Between running her pub and co-writing the series, Panti has also become an HIV activist, appearing in Gilead’s “MY HIV, MY Rules, MY Journey,” awareness campaign, and touring the world with her one-woman ‘gender-discombobulating’ show High Heels in Low Places.
The Irish LGBT legend is certain to hit the big league on the small screen, and Playground’s Gardiner is feeling the love, declaring that Panti’s show, “will bring her provocative perspective to a mainstream audience,” because “She’s the most wonderful drag queen.”