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For other uses, see Panti (disambiguation).
Born Rory O'Neill
1968 (age 47–48)
Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland
Occupation drag queen

Rory O'Neill, also known by his stage name as Panti or Panti Bliss is a drag queen and gay rights activist from Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

O'Neill grew up in Ballinrobe, County Mayo and went to art college in Dún Laoghaire.[4] Although raised a Roman Catholic, O'Neill is an atheist.[5] O'Neill talked to Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin about being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1995 on the RTÉ Radio 1 series Aoibhinn and Company.[6]


Panti is considered to be Ireland's foremost drag queen.[4][7] From 1996 to 2012, Panti has been the hostess of the annual Alternative Miss Ireland pageant.[8]

In 1990, he appeared as "Seán The Transvestite Farmer" in the skit for RTE's Nighthawks TV show.[9]

Panti regularly hosts the annual Dublin Pride celebrations.

For a number of years Panti hosted a weekly karaoke show, The Casting Couch, at The Front Lounge pub, Dublin. Panti occasionally appears at Shirley Temple Bar's weekly drag queen Bingo show in the Dublin gay bar, The George.

On 30 November 2007, he opened the self-titled 'Pantibar' in Dublin.[3]

'Panti' is short for 'Pandora Panti Bliss'.[4] Panti danced on stage in Japan with Cyndi Lauper during her 1994 Twelve Deadly Cyns Tour.[4]

O'Neill and his alter ego Panti are the subject of a documentary about his early life, the events surrounding comments O'Neill made about homophobia and Panti's role during Ireland’s successful campaign for Marriage Equality. Filmed over a number of years, the documentary was directed by Conor Horgan.[10] The Queen of Ireland premiered on 21 October 2015, followed by its planned nationwide release in Ireland from 23 October 2015.[11]

Comments about homophobia on RTÉ[edit]

On 11 January 2014, O'Neill appeared on RTÉ's The Saturday Night Show with Brendan O'Connor where they discussed homophobia and O'Neill alleged that some individuals involved in Irish journalism were homophobic.

Those mentioned threatened RTÉ and O'Neill with legal action.[7] RTÉ subsequently removed that section of the interview from their online archive.[12] On 25 January episode of the Saturday Night Show, O'Connor issued a public apology on behalf of RTÉ to those mentioned by O'Neill in the interview held two weeks previously.[13] RTÉ paid monies to those named by O'Neill.[14]

The payouts were later discussed by members of Oireachtas.[15][16] The incident was also discussed in the European Parliament.[17] with Irish MEP Paul Murphy, calling the payout "a real attack on the freedom of speech" and stating “When John Waters says that gay marriage is ‘a kind of satire’, that is homophobia. When Breda O’Brien says ‘equality must take second place to the common good’, that is homophobia. When the Iona Institute campaign against gay marriage because it is gay marriage, that is homophobia."[1][18][19][20] RTÉ's head of television defended the €85,000 payout stating that it saved RTÉ "an absolute multiple" in the long term.[21]

On 1 February 2014, O'Neill (as Panti) gave a Noble Call speech at the Abbey Theatre in response to the events surrounding the RTÉ controversy,[22][23] which garnered over 200,000 views in two days.[24] As of March 2014 the video has over 600,000 views.[25] The speech was described as "the most eloquent Irish speech" in almost 200 years by Fintan O'Toole[26] and garnered the support of Dan Savage[26][27] Ru Paul,[28] Graham Norton, Stephen Fry, Madonna, and others.[29] T-shirts with "I'm on Team Panti" have been sold as a fundraiser for BeLonG To Youth Services,[30] raising over €10,000.[28] In March 2014, English electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys released the speech, backed with their music, as "Oppressive (The Best Gay Possible)," they followed up with a "slow mix" of the track, and accompanying video with a "montage of homophobia-related clips."[31]


  • 2005 Spurt! Sister! Spurt! as Madame[32]
  • 2007 In These Shoes?, Written and performed by Panti[33]
  • 2007 All Dolled Up, Written and performed by Panti[34]
  • 2009 A Woman In Progress, Written and performed by Panti[35][36]
  • 2014 High Heels in Low Places, Written and performed by Panti.[37]





  • 2011 Ireland's Karaoke Klassics, 2FM, Co-presenter as Panti with Arveene
  • 2014 Sunday Breakfast With Dee Reddy, Phantom FM as guest contributor[38]
  • 2016 Pantisocracy a RTÉ Radio 1 four part interview series hosted by Panti[39]


  • 2014 "Oppression" by Out!rage Featuring Panti Bliss released in aid of BeLonG To
  • 2014 "The Best Gay Possible - Oppressive Dance Mix" by Pet Shop Boys incorporates Panti's speech at the Abbey Theatre[28]


  • Woman in the Making: A memoir, Rory O'Neill, 2014, Hachette Books Ireland.[40]


  • Winner of 'Business Person of the Year' – Gay and Lesbian Awards 2009[41]
  • Winner of 'Best Blog Post' – Irish Blog Awards 2010[42]
  • Attitude's Editor's Special Award - Attitude Magagzine Awards 2014[43]
  • Award for contribution to Irish society - People of the Year Awards 2014[44]
  • James Joyce Award - Presented by Literary and Historical society of University College Dublin[45]
  • Trinity College Dublin, Honorary Degree - O'Neill was awarded honorary degree from Trinity College Dublin for his contribution to LGBT rights and marriage equality[46]


  1. ^ a b The Irish Independent
  2. ^ "Welcome to the Gaybourhood". The Dubliner. 19 November 2007. Archived from the original on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Barry Egan (6 September 2009). "Glamour queen is not amused". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d Una Mullally (15 July 2013). "Panti Unstitched". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Aoibhinn and Company with Rory O'Neill - 14 July 2014
  7. ^ a b Cahir O'Doherty (19 January 2014). "Columnist John Waters in a Panti twist over anti-gay claims". Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "'Gay Christmas' is cancelled. So long, Alternative Miss Ireland". The Irish Times. 15 October 2011. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Seán The Transvestite Farmer". Nighthawks. 9 October 1990. RTE. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Brian Byrne (16 January 2014). "RTE cuts part of show after legal complaint from Waters". Irish Independent. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  13. ^ The Journal retrieved 26 January 2014
  14. ^ "RTÉ paid out €85,000 in 'homophobe' row". Irish Independent. 2 February 2014. 
  15. ^ The Journal retrieved 30 January 2014
  16. ^ Clare Daly TD retrieved 31 January 2014
  17. ^ [1] European Parliament retrieved 4 February 2014.
  18. ^ Suzanne Lynch (5 February 2014). "MEPs call on EU to implement road map to combat homophobia - Social Affairs & News from Ireland & Abroad". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  19. ^ The Journal
  20. ^ The Advocate
  21. ^ "Taoiseach dismisses call to make RTÉ answerable to the Dáil". The Irish Times. 5 February 2014. 
  22. ^ [2] MSNBC retrieved 4 February 2014.
  23. ^ [3] Huffington Post retrieved 4 February 2014.
  24. ^ Buckley, Dan (February 6, 2014). "Maybe we are not as tolerant as we think". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  25. ^ Panti's Noble Call at the Abbey Theatre - WITH SUBTITLES
  26. ^ a b Peter McGuire (11 Feb 2014). "What Makes a Homophobe? Ireland's Debate Goes Global". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  27. ^ Savage, Dan. "Stupid Irish Homophobes and Their Big Homophobic Fail". The Stranger. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  28. ^ a b c Clare Cullen (17 February 2014). "'Team Panti' tshirts sales raise €10,000 for LGBT youth services -". Irish Independent. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  29. ^ Fegan, Joyce (February 10, 2014). "Panti, Madge is on your side". Irish Independent. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  30. ^ Brian O'Reilly (12 February 2014). "'Team Panti' supporters infiltrate Prime Time audience". Irish Independent. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  31. ^ Pet Shop Boys Release 'Slow Mix' and Video of Panti Bliss Dance Track
  32. ^ "Irish Theatre Magazine" retrieved 6 March 2009
  33. ^ "Dublin Gay Theatre Festival" retrieved 6 March 2009
  34. ^ "Irish Theatre Magazine" Retrieved 17 October 2007
  35. ^ "Irish Theatre Magazine" Retrieved 27 September 2009
  36. ^ 'A Woman in Progress' in Fintan Walsh, ed., Queer Notions: New Plays and Performances from Ireland (Cork: Cork University Press, 2009).
  37. ^
  38. ^ Sunday Breakfast with Dee Reddy |
  39. ^ RTÉ Radio 1
  40. ^
  41. ^ "The GALAs
  42. ^ "Irish Blog Awards"
  43. ^ [4] "Attitude Magagzine Awards"
  44. ^ "People of the Year Awards"
  45. ^ "James Joyce Award"
  46. ^ "TCD Award"

External links[edit]