Curve's 20th Anniversary Retrospective: Sinéad O’Connor
Ten years after she came out to Curve, we're re-printing the classic Sinéad O'Connor interview in the wake of the songstress' headline making protests of Pope.
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You’ve said a number of times that you’re inspired by and drawn to Rastafarianism. And you’ve been inspired by Buddhism—Hinduism, especially. But you returned to Catholicism.
Well that’s to do with my identity as an Irish woman. I’m also a Christian and I do believe in Christianity but I believe in all religions and I don’t shut out any of them; they all have something beautiful about them and we mustn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. But my identity as a Catholic priest has to do with my being Irish. If I were in another country, I would be a priest of that country. It’s about reclaiming a place for women and for Irish women.
You’ve been ordained a priest by a splinter group of the Catholic Church but at the same time, The Vatican, of course, has reaffirmed that women cannot and will not ever become priests or even deacons.
Although they have put out only one statement about my own priesthood, which was that they are happy to see that someone wants to live a spiritual life. Which, I think, is wonderful of them. It shows a great tolerance.
Cardinal Piolaghi has said that women can never become priests because Christ was a man. Do you think that’s the real reason the Church has continued to put the brakes on women moving up in the hierarchy?
No, I don’t believe that’s the real reason at all. … There’s no reason why Jesus should not exist in all people. And there is no reason why God should not call any person to be a priest. If a woman is called by God to be a priest, then she has to obey that, despite what any man—including the Pope—has to say about it. I mean, to me, that’s just absolute horseshit; I think they expect people to swallow horseshit.
In the past, you’ve expressed concerns that Catholicism is cut off from the waist down. Is sexuality less important to you now than it was a decade ago?
No, it’s extremely important to me! I’m not a celibate priest, although celibacy would be a question and perhaps a calling for me — although not really, but I believe it should be voluntary. But sexuality is hugely important to me. I would be a highly sexual person; I think most creative people are.
Of course, you’ve been a huge icon to lesbian women for over a decade now.
That’s been a great honor.
Why do you think lesbians are so drawn to you and to your music?
Um, I think they see themselves in me.
Because you’re outspoken? Non-traditional in your appearance?
Yeah, and because I’m — what’s the right way to put it? [Pauses.] I think I’m very like them. I would say that I’m a lesbian. Although I haven’t been very open about that and throughout most of my life I’ve gone out with blokes because I haven’t necessarily been terribly comfortable about being a lesbian. But I actually am a lesbian.
You are a lesbian?
Yeah. So the thing is, I think that’s probably why they would see themselves in me, because they could see something in me that perhaps I hadn’t actually necessarily acknowledged in myself.
And is this something that you want to reconcile now?
It’s something I reconciled with a long time ago, really. But I think they can see themselves in me and had a representative in me.
But, I think for a long time women have probably wanted to hear you name it. And of course, when they hear about your husband or your boyfriends they just assume that you’re Well, yeah, well, see, I was Irish, I am Irish, so I was brought up in a culture where it wasn’t a good thing to be gay and so I was quite uncomfortable with it for a long time. And I didn’t really want people to know about it and a lot of my friends don’t know about it, you know. And I wasn’t necessarily comfortable about the whole world knowing about it because I hadn’t come to terms with it myself. Or understood myself. But actually there’s fucking nothing wrong with it and in fact it’s a beautiful thing.
So you feel comfortable with it now? You’re at peace with it?
Yeah, I’m much more at peace and much happier being myself.
Have you encountered homophobia in your career?
A lot of people around me don’t know that I’m a lesbian because I’ve never sort of flashed it around them. I’ve kept myself very private, so people like my manager and my friends—they wouldn’t know that about me. Only very few of my close friends would know. But, what was the question?
Well, I was wondering if you’ve encountered homophobia in your career? Because I think even people who aren’t gay encounter homophobia—
The thing is, I’ve been very private and secretive about it, but I may now encounter, in the future I may encounter, homophobia. It’s interesting, though. As a priest, I was afraid that my bishop, for example, would be upset or that my Order would be upset when they found out. But they were amazing, and I was really honored by that … they called, each one of them called and said, you know, they really gave me their blessing and said that they were totally cool with it. And my family, obviously, is totally cool with it.