Background of Kelly Michaels

(I’m leaving Kelly’s gender open so I’m going to be using the pronoun “they”).

Kelly Michaels grew up in a middle class family in East Belfast.  Their parents are stuanch unionists but Kelly, who belongs to a generation born towards the end of the Troubles, is much more neutral.  However their “religion doesn’t matter” attitude is often problematic and makes them overlook the real concerns of both sects and their perception of each other.  Kelly has a tendency toward blind naivete, which made them unpopular in school.  There was one incident in which Kelly expressed an interest in hurling- this was met with disdain from both his family and schoolmates who didn’t want Kelly to engage in a Gaelic (and, by association, Catholic sport) and the few Catholics they knew who didn’t want a Protestant in a Catholic space.  Kelly didn’t go to University in England like their aprents had wanted, and so after a few years roughing in a calmer, post-Troubles North Belfast, they met and fell in love with Mara, a Catholic-raised community organizer who supports crossborder communication.  Kelly (slowly) picked up on the sensibilities and sensitivities of the Unionist and Nationalist populations through Mara’s patient explanation.  It’s not that Kelly is slow, it’s just that their parent’s oversimplification of life in Belfast caused him to have an oversimplified “can’t we all just get along” philosophy.

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