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Contents P.3

Chairperson’s Welcome Clive Davis

P.98

P.5

A Letter From The Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn

P.102

Gay Games - Shared Goals

P.7

Meet The Committee

P.112

Going to Score? Know your Score! Konrad Im

P.9

Give your Mental Health a Boost this Summer - HSE

P.105

Playing the Field

P.108

I is for Intersex

P.112

Cork Queens

P.116

The Remaining Challenges

P.120

Bi-niversity Challenge

P.122

UCC LGBT Society

P.123

UCC LGBT Staff Network

P.127

CIT LGBT* Society

P.10 -17

Events Listings

P.18

Becoming Me

P.22

Life In The Drag Lane Paul Ryder

P.26

Diversity in Voxpro Saoirse Mackin

P.30

Coming Out at Work Cathal Kerrigan

P.34

Being ‘Out’ and LGBT at School

P.30

Ban on Conversion Therapies Senator Fintan Warfield

P.42

Bending the Bars of the Gilded Cage S.J

P.46

Reeling in the Queers Helen Slattery & Arthur Leahy

P.50

HIV at A Crossroads Gilead

P.56

Sexual Health Martin Davoren

P.59

Sexual Health Centre Phil Corcoran

P.62

Pride Guide

P.66

Sharing Is Not Caring Austin Kelly

P.70

Map

P.75

Equality in Death Paul O’Shea

P.78

ChemSex Paul Madden

P.82

The Laramie Project

P.86

The Dark Side of Me Giles Reid

P.90

Rape Crisis Network Ireland Dr Clíona Saidléar

P.94

Sydney Queer Irish Loretta Cosgrove

Broden Giambrone

LGBT Abroad Eoin McCarthy

Jack Fitzgerlad & Dr Tanya Ni Mhuithile

Padraig Rice

Donna Alexander & Ellen Desmond Hannah O’Connor

Big Thank You To: Lord Mayor Mick Finn Eilis O Carroll, our Grand Marshall Peter O Toole for our Cork LGBT Pride Festival logo Joe Mulrennan for all the work on the Cork Pride magazine over the years Emma Fleury for designing this years Cork Pride magazine Mark Kenny for this years Cork Pride magazine cover and branding Niall Daly and all at An Garda Siochana Anglesea Street Sinead Dunphy and the cast of the Laramie Project Justin Cronin and the team at Coolgrey David Quirke at Red Penguin Rev Sarah Marry at St. Annes, Shandon Rev Mike O Sullivan at the Unitarian Church Ger O Mahoney at Mother Jones Festival Paul Casey and Mary Dorsey at O Bheal Padraig Rice at the Cork Gay Project Hayley Fox-Roberts at East Cork/West Waterford LGBT+ Network Joe Stockdale at Triangle Productions Rose-Anne Kidney at Goldiefish Events Eleanor Moore at the HSE Tony Power at Cork City Council Claire Looney O Sullivan at Cork County Council Karen O Donoghue at The Irish Examiner Stephen Ryan at Red FM Dan and Linda Kiely at Voxpro Stephen Corrigan and Dan Murphy at Gilead Micheal Barry at Apple Lorna Begley at Diageo Margot Slattery and Tom Stack at Sodexo Pat Ryan, John Horgan and Aoife O Neill at Abtran Sarah O Donnell and Claire O Regan at VMware Colin Kenneally at Boston Scientific

A huge thank you to all our advertisers, supporters and volunteers, who give selflessly of their time, skills, and resources to make the Cork Pride Festival bigger and better each year!

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Cork Pride Festival

Chairman’s Welcome Welcome! Firstly, I would like to extend you all the warmest of welcomes to this year’s fabulous Cork LGBT Pride Festival! The City and County of Cork continues to celebrate the diversity and inclusion of our community in the real capital during a comprehensive week long programme promoting and fostering an awareness of all things LGBT for our 13th Cork LGBT Pride Festival! This year’s festival theme is “This Is Me”, which focuses on celebrating us as people, and embracing who we are. Each and every one of us are unique, and it is this individuality that makes up our eclectic and diverse community – a community who are carving out our place in a new and more accepting Ireland. In this new Ireland, we have made enormous progress and witnessed huge changes in the past quarter century, not only in the law, but also of hearts and minds, that some would have thought impossible in their lifetime. We saw the decriminalisation of homosexuality; we saw protections being afforded to our community through antidiscrimination laws in the Equal Status Act; we saw Civil Partnerships being legislated for - which was quickly followed by full Marriage Equality; we saw equality in the workplace protections being effected through the Employment Equality Act; we saw the Gender Recognition Bill enacted; we saw the Children and Family Relationships Bill being legislated for, which will afford protections to our LGBT families when it is enacted, and we saw our first gay Taoiseach, who last month issued a formal apology on behalf of the State to those gay men who were criminalised, and suffered under draconian laws in a very different Ireland. This acknowledgment for wrongs in the past, signals a brighter future, a future that the next generation of our LGBT community will enjoy as a result of the efforts of the trailblazers, activists

and lobbyists who never took no for an answer, and to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

Project. The Cork LGBT Pride Festival Committee and myself wish you every success in the future.

Whilst we have accomplished much as a community, there is still much work to do. Sometimes, people ask me why there is still a need for Pride when we have achieved so many of the rights we fought for, for so long. The answer is twofold; Pride has now become a celebration of the huge milestones that have been achieved – but Pride also highlights the fact that our LGBT family in various parts of the world is still being persecuted; people are being abused, beaten, and murdered – simply for being who they are, and loving who they love. This is happening, right now, in Russia, in the Middle East, and even closer to home in Trumps America, the so-called Land of the Free. Pride is a beacon of hope, and we stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters, in Pride.

I would like to sincerely thank our sponsors and supporters, friends and advocates, both old and new; this generous support is hugely appreciated. Without your help, the Cork Pride Festival simply wouldn’t be possible – this assistance has enabled Cork Pride to develop into the largest regional Pride festival in Ireland over the past few years. To our festival goers and community: please make a note of our sponsors and friends, and reciprocate this support wherever and whenever possible – they are not just supporting Cork Pride, they are supporting you!

A month before last year’s Cork LGBT Pride Festival, we unexpectedly lost our beloved friend and colleague, Dave Roche. Over the past year, our community has mourned his loss, but remembered and celebrated his life and work. Dave worked tirelessly for our community, and was someone who effectively used his legendary wit and humour to break down barriers, realising early on that a frown will yield a frown, but that a smile will yield a smile. He was a friend to many, an advisor whose opinion was highly respected by others - and to a few, he became the family member they wished they had. Dave’s legacy will live on, and he will be embedded in Cork’s LGBT architecture for many years. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to Padraig Rice, Dave’s successor, and the new Co-ordinator of the Cork Gay

Lastly I’d like to thank the Cork LGBT Pride Festival committee members and the subcommittee members. This year’s Cork Pride has been in the planning since January of this year – it doesn’t simply happen! Without their hard work and commitment to the festival, there simply wouldn’t be a Cork LGBT Pride festival, so if you see them around during the festival, give them a hug! I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all the committee members and volunteers from previous years, you’ve all had a significant role in making the Cork LGBT Pride Festival the success it has become! Be proud!

Enjoy a happy and safe Pride!

Clive Davis Chairperson Cork LGBT Pride Festival 2018

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To the Participants at Cork Pride Failte go Corcaigh and I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you all to the week-long Cork LGBT+ Pride Festival. Cork Pride has an important public relations role in promoting positive images of the LGBT+ community which encourages integration, inclusion and acceptance. Cork City Council and the Social Inclusion Unit will continue their commitment to LGBT+ community. It is especially important that our LGBT+ young people know they are loved and respected. Recently the state marked the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland. Pride continues to be a remembrance of the trailblazers who strove for equality and a reminder that there is further progress to be made. It takes the collaboration of many to ensure a festival of the magnitude of Cork Pride to be successful. I compliment the volunteers, supporters and sponsors who make Cork Pride possible. I would also like to acknowledge the work and dedication of the organising committee. I look forward to opening the Cork LGBT+ Pride Festival at the Cork Pride Family Fun Day in Fitzgerald Park on Sunday 29th July, and to taking part in the Cork Pride Parade on Sunday August 5th. Wishing you all great fun, enjoyment and a successful Pride. Yours sincerely, Cllr Mick Finn Lord Mayor of Cork

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8


Meet the Committee

Konrad Im

Role on committee: Volunteer Coordinator Occupation: Community Development Student Hobbies/interests: I absolutely love being able to volunteer with different LGBT+ organizations. It’s something I’m really passionate about and consider a hobby. Interesting fact: I have 7 brothers and a baby sister. I love my family (biological and chosen LGBT family). #thisisme

#thisisme Role on committee: Parade Organizer/Co-coordinator Occupation: Self Employed Hobbies/interests: I enjoy playing Rugby and hanging out with my friends #thisisme

Denise Boyle

Role on committee: PR & Treasurer Occupation: Customer Service Team Manager Hobbies/interests: I’m a huge Eurovision fan and I’m also quite into my sports (watching not playing) Interesting fact: I was born with the caul #thisisme

JP McCarthy

Joanne Hegener

Noelle Cambridge Role on committee: Marketing Occupation: Marketing Student & Marketing Intern in a Market Research Tech Firm Hobbies/interests: Not only do I get to express my creative side through my job but I also express myself through makeup. Interesting fact: I attempted to go Vegan and I literally lasted 1 day but I am still trying #thisisme

Role on Committee: Chairperson Occupation: Regional Director of Youth Work Ireland Hobbies/Interests: International travel and food Interesting Fact: Wants to own a farm with lots of animals #thisisme

Clive Davis

Role on committee: Marketing & Design Occupation: Graphic Designer Hobbies/interests: I enjoy watching Horror Movies, Travelling and Photography Interesting fact: I’m obsessed with 80’s cartoons #thisisme

Giles Reid

Sinead Dunphy

Magazine Designer: Emma Fleury Features Editor: Paul O’Shea Accounts Administrator: Mary Flanagan

Role on committee: Events Manager Occupation: Manufacturing Associate Hobbies/interests: Organizing events!!! I’m the Chairwoman of Cork Women’s Fun Weekend. I love getting groups of my friends together for random events, be it for skydives, holidays or gigs Interesting fact: I was on series 1 of First Dates Ireland #thisisme

Role on Committee: Sponsorships and Fundraising Co-ordinator Occupation: Business Development Manager Hobbies/Interests: Historic properties and antiques Interesting Fact: Rollercoaster and theme park addict #thisisme

Kery Mullaly Role on committee: Arts Programmer Occupation: Festival Director of Guinness Cork Jazz Festival Hobbies/interests: Music, laughing, a good pint of the black stuff, traveling and hanging out with good company! Interesting fact: I’m double jointed, I have to relocate my hips and shoulders when they click out #thisisme

Events Sub-Committee Jack Fitzgerald Padraig Rice Noelle Cambridge Jude Pender Aisling Maguire Ben Fitzgerald Sinead Dunphy Giles Reid Stephanie Doherty Konrad Im Joanne Hegener

Role on committee: Festival Manager Occupation: Part-Time Festival Manager Hobbies/interests: Orienteering, Cycling, and hill walking Interesting fact: Played Camogie and Ladies football for Cork #thisisme

Fiona O’Driscoll

Marketing Sub-Committee Giles Reid Aisling Maguire Juan de La Cruz Louise Maher Joanne Hegener Kery Mullaly JP McCarthy

Parade and After Party Sub-Committee Denise Boyle John Horgan Clive Davis Dee Delaney Konrad Im

#thisisme


PROBLEMS FEEL SMALLER WHEN YOU SHARE THEM Talking about your problems is proven to have a positive impact on how you feel.

Celebrating Pride 2018

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Little things can make a big difference

15/06/2018 10:12


Give your Mental Health a Boost this Summer In the midst of the carnival of colour and celebration that is Cork Pride it’s easy to forget the need to protect our own mental health and wellbeing, and support the people we care about. However, it’s more important than ever to bear them in mind and remember that we don’t have to experience a dip in our mental health alone or in silence. Little Things is a positive mental health campaign created by the HSE’s Mental Health and Communications Divisions and over 32 partner organisations and support groups to raise awareness about mental health and to provide information, advice and support for you and your loved ones. Life is full of ups and downs, it’s one of the only certainties that we have. While we might not feel great all of the time there are real, simple and effective things we can all do to improve the state of our mental health. Little Things like: taking regular exercise, eating and sleeping well, talking about our problems, looking out for others and lending a listening ear, taking part in group activities, staying in touch with friends and family and drinking less alcohol - all of these actions are proven to improve mental health. Most people at some point or other feel worried, stressed or even down about things that are going on in their lives. For some, coming out can be a challenging time. It is common for LGBTQ+ people to be afraid that family and friends might reject them when they find out they are LGBTQ+ and this can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. For others, coming out can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience which can impact positively on your mental health. Either way, it is a good idea to prepare before coming out to a family member, friend or colleague. You may want to consider some of the following:

when you are going to come out. If you are fearful of a negative reaction, choose a location where you feel safe. • Time to digest - people will react in different ways to you coming out. Give them some time to take in the news and let them ask you questions or think about it for a while. Whoever you are or whatever your circumstances, coming out can be a challenging time and it’s at this time that talking to others and staying in touch with family and friends, some of the Little Things, really prove their worth.

Your gender identity and sexual orientation are part of what makes you, who you are.

Embrace it, be proud of it. It’s a big thing. For more information on ways you can protect your own mental health and support those you care about visit yourmentalhealth.ie. If you’re feeling down call the Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie (available 24/7)

Boosting your mood

Hopefully, the sun will continue to light up the sky for the rest of the summer but sunshine doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness for everyone, particularly if you spend a lot of your time on social media scrolling through image after image of the amazing lives all your friends are supposedly leading. To boost your own mood and mental health, look up from your phone and get out and about – there’s so much to see and do, such as: • • •

• Think about who you want to come out to. It should be someone that you trust and that you have a good reason for sharing with them.

• •

• Think about the location and timing of where and

Attending festivals, music or otherwise Trying something new like a new activity or hobby, with a friend or on your own Hooking up with people who share the same interests as you Making yoga part of your daily routine Getting to know the history of your neighbour hood or local area on foot or Visiting some wonderful local wildlife


EVENTS Sunday 29th July Cork Pride Family Fun Day Fitzgerald Park 12-6pm Join us as we launch this year’s Cork LGBT Pride Festival with a fabulous afternoon of Family Fun, rainbow festivities, doggy devilry and activities to delight the young, the old, the tame and the bold! Kick off your afternoon with a Zumba Class... (break out those leg warmers and slouch socks!) Sensational live music from “Nightshift” and a kiddie’s disco courtesy of the Red FM DJs. Enjoy a plethora of kiddie’s entertainment from Stilt walkers, giant Jenga, plate spinning, balloon tricks, colourful face painting, our annual “Scruffy Doo” fun dog show and a Pride Market serving only the best of carnival food to give you the courage to face a round of Air archery, Aqua-drop and other inflatable activities! Did we mention there may be some water activities... ... what better way to cool down right?? So why not join us and soak up that summer sun as we celebrate all things PRIDE!

Mr. Gay Cork 2018 Chambers 8:30pm – 11pm Who will be crowned this year’s Mr. Gay Cork and Mr. Gay Chambers 2018? Come along and support our contestants as they dazzle you in our formal wear round, seduce you in our casual wear round and inspire you in our interview round. Once again, we will be raising much needed funds for Irish LGBT charities but also have a lot of fun along the way. Hosted by our host with the most, Giles Reid and his beautiful sidekick, Letycha Le’Synn. To enter now email jules@chambersbar.ie.

Monday 30th July Cork Pride Wellness Evening Cork Gay Project 6:30pm – 10pm Join us for an inspiring evening that celebrates and tackles all things LGBT Wellbeing! With a line-up of guest speakers broaching topics as diverse as we are! Talks about mental & physical wellbeing within the LGBT community, to sexual health and what is happening on the Cork scene at the minute and Rapid HIV testing available on site, a fantastic Laughing Yoga Class to get you warmed up for an evening of brave debate where we will shine a light on hot topics that are currently facing our community.

Rainbow Science Tyndall National Institute, Dyke Parade - 6:30-8pm Tyndall MakerDoJo/UCC Student Chapter in association with the Cork Pride Festival presents “Rainbow Science” at the Tyndall National Institute. Are you interested to find out how rainbows are made? This interactive workshop will give you the opportunity to get physical, hands on, and up close and personal with light! There will be a range of interesting demonstrations combining UCC Tyndall MakerDoJo and Irish Photonics Integration Centre experiments. MakerDojo is a club encouraging the general public to explore science and technology in hands-on “hacker” style workshops inspired by the growing Maker movement, a worldwide community of hobbyists, students and enthusiasts who take a creative, DIY approach to technology, science and engineering. The Tyndall / UCC Student Chapter are a group of students, at all levels, engaged with photonics (light and lasers that go pew pew) and outreach. Suitable for all ages, but adults especially - just because you are legally responsible doesn’t mean you can’t play!

An Evening with Mary Dorcey Upstairs at the Long Valley Bar, Winthrop Street @ 8:30pm Mary Dorcey is a critically acclaimed Irish poet, short story writer and novelist, and is a lifelong activist for gay and women’s rights. Founder member of ‘Irish Women United,’ ‘The Sexual Liberation Movement,’ and ‘Women for Radical Change.’ She is a member of Aosdána, the Irish Academy of Writers and Artists and is a Research Associate at Trinity College where for many years she led seminars at the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies.


EVENTS Tuesday 31st July LGBT Online Safety Cork Gay Project, 4 South Terrace. 6:30pm – 7:30pm From Facebook to Grindr and Snapchat the Internet has revolutionised how we live. We now have instant access to information and are able to connect with people from right around the world. With these new opportunities come risks. This interactive workshop will explore ways we can all enhance our online safety as well as providing practical tips on what to do if it all goes wrong. This workshop is for everyone from the community but may be of particular benefit to young LGBT people and their parents.

Cork Pride GAZE Cinema Night St. Peters 6:30pm – 10pm GAZE LGBT Film Festival, in association with the Cork LGBT Pride Festival present an evening of LGBT Irish shorts that reflect the lives, experiences and circumstances of what it is to be LGBT in modern Ireland. Followed by a screening of our LGBT feature film, ‘Just Charlie.’ An evening to immerse yourself in the magic of film and celebrate our diversity!

Cork Pride By The Sea The Front Strand (by the prom) – 2pm – 6pm Come and join us for some family fun in Youghal, Co Cork for our ‘Pride by the Sea’ event, which is brought to you by the Cork Pride Festival, sponsored by Cork County Council and hosted by the East Cork/West Waterford LGBT+ Network. There promises to be something for everybody including live music from Sparkle, a BBQ, sand castle competition, food stalls and kids entertainment – everybody is welcome! Bring your buckets and spades and come out to play!

Wednesday 1st August The Laramie Project Unitarian Church, Princess St - 8:00pm The Laramie Project, by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, was created in response to the murder of 21-year-old, gay student, Matthew Shepard, in the town of Laramie, Wyoming; a hate crime that captured the nation’s attention. Now, twenty years later, ‘LittleShoes Productions’, in association with Cork Pride Festival, unearths this incredibly honest and thought-provoking piece!

Cork Pride Welcome to the Community Night Starbucks, Opera Lane (Upstairs) 7:30pm – 9:30pm A casual evening where we welcome new members to our community, share our stories and give insight and advice to those struggling with coming out or having difficulties adjusting to their sexuality. An open evening of acceptance where we help you feel comfortable in your own skin and give you the power to be proud of who you are!

Sinners Pride Edition Chambers, Washington Street - 11pm till late DJ Dave Daly who has held residencies in both Instinct and Sinners, returns for a special Sinners Pride Edition.

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EVENTS Thursday 2nd August The Laramie Project Unitarian Church, Princess St - 8:00pm The Laramie Project, by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, was created in response to the murder of twenty-one year old, gay student, Matthew Shepard, in the town of Laramie, Wyoming; a hate crime that captured the nation’s attention. Now, twenty years later, ‘LittleShoes Productions’, in association with Cork Pride Festival, unearths this incredibly honest and thought-provoking piece.

Make Up for Men & Drag Workshops Cork Gay Project, 4 South Terrace 6pm – 7pm Men’s Make Up Tutorial with Lawrence Keating from MAC. Have you always felt uncomfortable about applying men’s make up? Not sure how much is too much for you? Let Lawrence show you the way and help ease your worries!

Drag Make Up Workshop 7pm – 9:30pm Drag Make Up Workshop with Ms. Draghens Den Winner, Mia Gold. Mia’s here to teach you all you need to know about ‘beating’ your face with her make up tips and more. Come join us and let’s get ready together and paint Cork City pink on this Pride Thursday!

Cork Pride Remembrance Service St. Anne’s, Shandon – 7pm An opportunity to gather and reflect on the milestones that have been achieved for our community, and to remember the brave souls who came before us and dedicated their lives to furthering our cause through tirelessly advocating for our rights and equality. This annual Service of Remembrance commemorates those who gave us the courage and freedom to be proud of who we are.

Cork Pride Treasure Hunt Meeting outside LINC, White St. @ 7pm A new and exciting addition to our PRIDE events this year, come join us for our LGBT+ History Treasure Hunt. You and your team will have to scour the city in search of our mysterious clues while also stopping by a few of Cork LGBT historical locations. Which team will be the first to return? It could be you! We have fantastic prize packages for the winning teams and small bonus prizes to be picked up along the way. Let the hunt begin!


EVENTS Thursday 2nd August DJ Phonic - Chambers Chambers, Washington St - 10pm till late Ireland’s most handsome & hottest upcoming DJ plays his pride set from 10pm ‘til late!

Zoo Night - BDSM Zoo Night – BDSM, North Main St – 10pm till late The legendary annual ZOO night at BDSM opens its doors for another wild and fun night! Release your inner beast with this year’s fabulous foray into the sexy and subversive – dress up, dress down, or don’t dress at all, for a dark and delicious night of daring raucousness!

Friday 3rd August The Laramie Project Unitarian Church, Princess St - 8:00pm The Laramie Project, by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, was created in response to the murder of twenty-one year old, gay student, Matthew Shepard, in the town of Laramie, Wyoming; a hate crime that captured the nation’s attention. Now, twenty years later, ‘LittleShoes Productions’, in association with Cork Pride Festival, unearths this incredibly honest and thought-provoking piece.

Cork Pride Summer Sizzler Barbeque In association with Voxpro @ Voxpro Campus 1, Mahon – 5:00 -9:00pm Celebrate the start of your PRIDE weekend in style with our fabulous Summer Sizzler Barbeque! This year for the first time, we’re bringing the Cork Pride Barbeque out to our friends and sponsors at Voxpro, who are kindly hosting the event at their amazing venue where we will eat, drink, dance and party in the company of friends both old and new! As usual, this is a BYO event, with Voxpro kindly providing a welcome drink of beer or bubbly on arrival! We’ll have fabulous entertainment for the evening with DJ’s, games, food, drinks, and fun! Let’s celebrate who we are and come together to revel in our diversity! This is a free but ticketed over 18s event – Tickets available on www.EventBrite.ie

90’s Neon Night - Chambers Chambers, Washington Street - 8pm Pride Karaoke followed by 90’s neon party and DJ till late.

Chambers 80’s Night Rubys in AMP, Hanover St - 11pm DJ Jules spins us right round back to the 80’s ‘til late!!

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EVENTS Saturday 4th August The Cork Pride Village Bishop Lucey Park. 12pm – 6pm Make your PRIDE Saturday shine and join us for a sizzling afternoon of community Pride fun and entertainment, with live music from “Sparkle” as well as “The Midnight Sons”. Not forgetting those smooth summer tunes by Red FM and an open invitation to the Cork artistic and performance art community to exhibit or perform their work on the day. Step up and let’s see if Cork has talent with the Red FM Karaoke set. Get your face painted or test your country skills in a race to ‘Milk the Cow’ and other random off the wall activities. Grab a bite to eat at our food stalls or check out our stall where PRIDE merchandise will be on sale to ensure that you are the loudest, brightest and most fashionable at this year’s annual PRIDE Parade.

Cork Pride Trans Coffee Morning Scrypt Café,Triskel - 11am Grab a coffee and get your Saturday off to a great start at the Cork Pride coffee morning for transgender, non-binary, intersex, family and friends. Come along and meet our wonderful community and see what we have to offer!

PRIDE (2014) - Mother Jones Festival Firkin Theatre, Shandon at 5pm PRIDE (2014) - Mother Jones Festival, in association with the Quay Co-op and the Cork Pride Festival present a screening of Pride at the Firkin Theatre, Shandon at 5pm, introduced by Arthur Leahy. Based on a true story, Pride tells the story of how a group of gay and lesbian activists raised money to support the families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984. This unlikely alliance was unlike anything seen before, but was hugely successful. The film “Pride” has won many awards, such as the Queer Palm Award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and has been nominated for many more, including a Golden Globe, and a three BAFTA’s

Chambers Presents Retro Rubys Rubys in AMP, Hanover St - 11pm DJ Dermo first resident DJ of instinct brings us “Retro Rubys” with all camp classics in the amp venue

WERK @ Chambers Chambers, Washington St - 10pm till late Paul Ryder of Ireland’s Got Talent joins the girls of WERK, Letycha Le’Synn, Mia Gold, Liam Bee and Dakota Mode to put on an incredible show for our Pride celebrations, followed by our very own national treasure, DJ Jules, spinning camp classics till late.

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PRIDE

Village

live music from SPARKLE & THE MIDNIGHT SONS, red fm DJ’S & Karaoke set, FUN GAMES, ART IN THE PARK, PRIDE MERCHANDISE & LOTS MORE

12 - 6pm, Sat 4th August, Bishop Lucey Park www.corkpride.com 17


In association with

East Cork / West Waterford LGBT+ Network

Family

FUN DAY

BY THE SEA PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY

live music with NIGHTSHIFT RED FM DJ'S THE GAY OLYMPICS ZUMBA CLASS dog show Stilt walkers balloon tricks face painting Air archery FUN GAMES magical Disney & Marvel Characters & OUR PRIDE MARKET

CORK COUNTY COUNCIL

12 - 6PM, SUNDAY 29TH JULY Fitzgerald’s Park Live music from Sparkle, BBQ, sand castle competition, food stalls and kid’s entertainment.

S

T E K C KET TI E TIC ONE N O

IR

U

C

C

Tuesday 31st July, 2 -6pm, The Front Strand, Youghal

www.corkpride.com

www.corkpride.com

CORK LGBT+ PR

IDE

G N I E B L L WE G · · EVENIN

& testing Y o g a , ta l k s

Join us for an inspiring evening that tackles all things LGBT+ Wellbeing 6:30PM-10PM, MONDAY 30TH JULY CORK GAY PROJECT, 4 SOUTH TERRACE

www.corkpride.com

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Welcome TO THE

Community An open evening of acceptance where we talk about coming out and give advice, guidance & assistance 7:30 - 10:00pm, Wed 1st Aug. Starbucks, Opera Lane www.corkpride.com


EVENTS Sunday 5th August Pride Breakfast Morning Cork Gay Project, 4 South Terrace. 11am – 1pm Get ready, have some breakfast with us in the Cork Gay Project and let’s head to the Parade together! We’ll be open from 11am for people of the community to pop along and prepare for what’s going to be an amazing Cork Pride Parade & After Party! We will have music playing, breakfast in abundance, free face painting for the kiddie’s and plenty of coffee!

Pride Parade Grand Parade - Parade assembling from 1pm for a 2pm start Get your Pride on, and join us for the amazing Cork LGBT Pride Parade! March with us through the streets of Cork amidst a sea of magical floats, music and mayhem, sequined drag queens, glitter-covered guys and girls, families, friends and allies! Come as you are, or wear what you dare! Be loud, be proud, but most importantly, be you – after all, our theme this year is, ‘This Is Me!’

The Cork Pride After Party Grand Parade – 3pm – 6pm Where the Parade ends, the After Party begins – literally! Join us after the fabulous Cork Pride Parade on Grand Parade for the biggest annual street party in Cork! Join us at the Main Stage for a 3-hour party hosted by the fabulous Paul Ryder, Stevie G and Red FM’s DJ will keep us dancing in the street. Live music will be provided by The Guilty Judges, whilst Paul Ryder and a glittering array of Cork’s sassiest drag queens including Letchya Le’Synn, Mia Gold, Liam Bee and Dakota Mode will keep the party going into the evening!

Pride Closing Party - Chambers Chambers, Washington St - 3pm till late Pride closing Party kicks off at 3pm with Sparkle, followed by the sensational Cassettes at 6pm. At 9pm American Idol contestant, Les Greene brings his energetic show and soulful voice to the stage, followed by DJ Ruth vs DJ Jules until late.

Chambers Presents Miz Cracker from Rupauls Drag Race Rubys in AMP, Hanover St - 7:30pm Chamber’s main event sees notorious New Yorker “Miz Cracker” of Ru Paul’s Drag Race season 10 in Ruby’s on Sunday, August 5th. Tickets available through www.ticketweb.ie

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Becoming

Me.

Diary of Broden’s Journey

In April, I turned 36 years old. I have now lived almost half my life as my true self. Each birthday feels like not just something to celebrate, but an accomplishment. My mom had always wanted a daughter. When I came around, 5 years after my brother, I fulfilled this wish. Assigned female at birth, I was raised in a progressive Toronto household in the 1980s. I played with Lego, went fossil hunting and loved baseball. People always want to know about the childhood of trans people; did you always know? And the answer is ‘no’, I did not. Some do, some people know from a very early age that their assigned gender does not align with their identity, but I did not. I did not have the words and because I had the freedom to be the kind of kid I wanted to be, it was not an issue. For me the sense of disconnect and discord began in early adolescence. As my body was flooded with hormones, I grew deeply uncomfortable with its

changing dimensions. This discomfort gradually morphed into self-loathing and acute gender dysphoria. My mother had always taught us that women could do anything. And even in my early teens I was (and am) an avowed feminist. However, I knew in the deepest corners of my being that I was not a girl. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be, I just wasn’t. At that time there were so few visible trans people and even fewer trans men. I could not imagine another alternative which left me desolate. This desolation manifested in self-harm and drinking in excess. By 15 I had entered a depression that would last most of my early 20s. Life is complicated. I can’t say that I would not have been depressed anyway, mental health is complex and multifaceted. What I do know is that my trans identity exacerbated my depression because I felt so isolated and afraid. I did not think anyone would accept me. I was afraid that I would be killed (like Brandon Teena) or take my own life, like so many trans people have and do. There were very few role models and I could not imagine a future. I never believed I would live past 25. I went to university in the early 2000s in Montreal and this changed my trajectory. My friends and family rallied around me and offered me unconditional support. By this point I was binding (compressing my chest) and I was using a new name that felt like relief. I began to learn a language to describe who I was. As this was before the ubiquity of the internet, I found myself in the LGBT section of the university library. It was one bottom shelf but there were books by Leslie Feinberg, Kate Bornstein and Jamison Green. In those pages, I read about others like me and with each word I could build

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my own narrative, I could construct a future tense. It gave me hope and a budding sense of pride, but it also planted a seed that would fuel my future activismbecause I was getting angry, too. Trans people were largely invisible and relegated to the fringes of society. When we were visible, we were targets for ridicule, discrimination and violence. This was especially true for trans women of colour and gender non-confirming folks who regularly experience heightening levels of violence. I felt it in the deepest part of my bones that this needed to change. Becoming myself was more about finding my voice then changing my body. I did medically transition, I changed my body to better align with my identity. There is no doubt that this was life-saving for me. I don’t think I would be here today if I had not medically transitioned However, there is a cultural obsession with trans people’s transitions that needs to end. Not all trans people can, will or want to medically transition and this does not make them any less trans. For each person who does medically transition this is deeply personal and unique. I did not become a man the day I took a shot of testosterone or when I had surgery. I was a man already, this process only allowed me to feel right and to feel safer in my body. Getting involved in trans activism was very important to me because it provided an outlet for my deep sense of injustice. I believed, and still do, that we have a responsibility to try to change the world for the better – to be a more open, accepting and safe place for everyone. I have been involved in trans activism in Toronto, Montreal and Ireland, and now I work at the International Trans Fund, and

this has been incredibly rewarding work. I have had the privilege of working with truly inspiring people and meeting trans groups organising in all corners of the globe. What have I learned along the way? Trans people need support and understanding. We need this from our families, friends and society. We need people to recognise that there are many different trans experiences and to respect our diverse gender identities and expressions. We also need rights, we need to be able to change our official documents to reflect our identities, we need access to appropriate healthcare, we need an affirming education system and we need a safe place to work. We need our allies to stand up for us and stand with us. Everyone needs to fight transphobia and transmisogyny together, just like we must unite to combat sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia,and other oppressions that exclude and marginalise. Our struggles are connected. People have asked me if I could wake up tomorrow as a cisgender (non-trans) man, would I choose that? The answer is, ‘no’. There were many challenges and many dark days, but I have had an incredible journey. I believe I have a unique experience hat has given me empathy and a strong sense of solidarity with other social justice movements.I have a full life, a great job, deep friendships and a fantastic partner. I hope for many more birthdays to come. These days I rarely think about being trans, it is just a part of me. Broden Giambrone is the Director of the International Trans Fund (www.transfund.org). Before that he was the Chief Executive of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) (www.teni.ie) for 6 years. 21


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PAUL RYDER Life in the Drag Lane ‘Thank you for opening up a conversation that drag doesn’t have to be what we see on the television. That drag can be whatever form of art and expression it wants to be. A handful of my second year students talked about you like it was the most normal thing in the world, that you had been robbed of your final place. Thank you for making this the new normal.’ This is a message I woke up to the day after I competed in the live semi-finals of ‘Ireland’s Got Talent’ 2018 on TV3. The message was sent by a secondary school teacher who had opened the discussion with his class. As I read the message, tears began to flow. Similar messages flowed in throughout the course of the d a y, f r o m k i d s , p a r e n t s , t e a c h e r s a n d friends. I never set out to achieve this but, by GOD it felt so good! I finally felt for the first time that my drag was somewhat vindicated by the public, my peers, and most importantly, my community. However, this was not always the way…. Drag for me was never a goal! I sort of fell into it. As a child, dancing was always my passion. I loved being on stage and performing for audiences. From a young age, I would put on performances for my parents in the kitchen when they had friends over and that lead to them enrolling me in stage schools, and the likes, to pursue this hobby; a hobby I never thought would become my career. When I was 18, I started to choreograph for a well known Irish drag queen. It was a total new world for me that showed me a new sense of community, and provided a safe space for people like myself. I loved being apart of it! Every week I would be rehearsing for a new number and getting to perform to audiences who seemed to adore these queens. I was so happy to be apart of this world, but I always wanted more. 24


‘Oh, be careful of that gay scene, you won’t be taken serious as a performer for ‘real jobs’. This was the advice of a dancer friend, when she found out that I was working on the ‘scene’ as a dancer. The comment knocked me a bit at first, but the more I thought about it the more I realised that I was getting a chance to perform to crowds every week, while she was still working in retail with no prospect of a performance job on the horizon. So, despite her advice, I kept at it. One night I was dancing as part of an icon weekly night in The George and a performer dropped out last minute. The host at the time said, ‘… sure, he can sing… throw him a number.’ That night, I performed, and that was THAT. I fell in love with being the front and center, and not the boy behind. I knew I had to adjust my act to suit and I came up with concepts and ideas. I always said if I cant beat them, I’ll join them, slightly. ‘The Ringmaster’ show was born. My drag performing career was working. The gigs were coming in and I was getting to perform to people nearly every week. Throughout all this time, though, I wasn’t taken seriously by those who I considered my peers. ‘Why doesn’t he wear a wig?’ ‘He’s not wearing any make up?’ ‘How can he call himself a drag queen?’ These are some of the comments I was hearing over the years. Although the comments knocked me, I never stopped. I never quit! I never held back in showing my passion for performance and my love for showtime. Now, I have just performed to close to a million people for ‘Ireland’s Got Talent’ and, unbelievably, my difference and uniqueness is celebrated. Drag isn’t just one style, or one aesthetic. Drag is whatever you choose it to be. Whatever form

of that art you put forward for yourself, take it and OWN it! Don’t let anyone tear you down, or tell you what you’re doing doesn’t conform to their expectations. Once you are making it your own and embodying it, then its YOUR’S!! Ireland can be an awful place for shooting each other down, especially when it comes to somebody doing well, and ESPECIALLY within the LGBT community. I urge you, however, to live a life of putting forward the good vibes and instead of beating someone down when you don’t know the truth, just say, ‘good for them!’. We are all queens in this little land of Ireland, and it is time to put our best heel forward and show support for each other in whatever we want to do. Being a drag performer in Ireland isn’t always easy and it isn’t as glamorous as people think from what they see on the outside. Drag involves long nights, sore feet, weird sleep patterns, fake people, sometimes hangovers, and lots of keyboard warriors and opinionated punters, but do you know what? Drag has given me some of the most amazing opportunities, some of the best friends, some wickedly fun nights and an amazing career. A career, that my parents, my friends, my family are damn proud of me for pursuing and that to me shows that what I am doing is right. Although it was difficult in places and still is, it is a path worth taking. I wouldn’t change it for the world. l will leave you with a phrase I have lived by my whole life and it has stood to me until this very day:

‘Get in; get out. Say please, and say, thank you.’ 

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Diversity in the workplace at Voxpro – powered by TELUS International by Saoirse Mackin, CX Specialist at Voxpro

Diversity in the workplace is coming to the forefront much more now, than ever. As the numbers of LGBT+ people ‘coming out’ are increasing, many companies are now looking at how to best support all employees in the workplace.

I joined Voxpro in November 2017, on a new contract. Before I had joined the team at Voxpro I had heard about Voxpro in media and by word of mouth. I came across an article in a national newspaper which described how Voxpro pulled a multi-million dollar deal from North Carolina due to their controversial ‘’bathroom ban’’. North Carolina introduced a law which stated that transgender people would have to use the bathrooms matching their biological gender on their birth certificate. ‘‘We just scratched North Carolina off our list. We didn’t even visit the site.’’ said Voxpro CEO, Dan Kiely. “The law runs completely contrary to our core values. I am proud to work alongside trans and gay people. The diversity of our workforce is what makes us who we are. Our investment instead went to Athens, Georgia, where we hope to reach 500 jobs within the next 12 months.” 28

You hear a lot about CEO’s of large multinational companies, and how very often you can be just a number. At Voxpro, you feel like you belong here. What I noticed when I first walked into Voxpro is the diversity of the workforce here. Colleagues who come from all over the world, different cultures and different languages. Members of the LGBT+ community, and just being able to express yourself in whateverway makes you comfortable. A short time after starting here, when opening a door I bumped into Dan Kiely, who was carrying paperwork and quite obviously seemed to be on a mission. No matter how busy he is, Dan will always take time out of his day to meet and chat with his teammates. Or, at the very least, say ‘’Hello’’ to you if you pass him on the staircase. Voxpro’s idea of recognising and rewarding hard work is what drives employees to want to work harder. I have won an ‘Above and Beyond’ award, I have been invited to a pizza party for helping to settle in new hires and I received constant feedback from my manager regarding progress and how well I am performing which is fantastic as this shows


our strong points, and areas for improvement. Voxpro are all about ‘BEX’ - Beautiful Employee Experience - and I have been asked to join the BEX team which is a fantastic opportunity to be able to contribute towards how we work and at a time where Voxpro is scaling rapidly this is a great way to implement ways of ensuring that new hires feel comfortable coming into the business and that it is an easy transition for them. Voxpro also want to ensure that employees feel included in decision making which is why they introduced the ‘Innovation Awards’ for employees who can come up with great ideas for the business, and any time Voxpro launch a new internal system, ‘‘Champs’’ will be selected from a pool of applicants to be among the first to use these new systems and provide feedback on their functionality and features. An example of these include a new online learning system and a new internal communications system. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work at Voxpro, and I would happily recommend Voxpro as a place to work to anyone seeking employment.

You Belong at Voxpro.

#youbelongatVoxpro Sean Cotter – Senior Account Manager, Partner Success “Having worked at Voxpro for 4.5 years, I’ve always felt as though I belonged. It was evident from day 1, that Voxpro fosters a culture of openness, tolerance and inclusivity! People can be who they want to be here, there is no judgment, only acceptance.” Robert Hynes – Social Media Team Manager “I am proud to be part of Voxpro’s inclusive work environment. As a gay man, I enjoy working in an environment as diverse in LGBT identities as it is in culture. I have always felt secure and comfortable in my role in the company and know that I can grow a career here free from fear of discrimination or prejudice.” Laura Breen – Group Manager “Since I began in Voxpro over 3 and a half years ago I always felt comfortable working here. In my ten years of working life I have found that Voxpro has been the most diverse and non-judgemental place to work. I have never felt the need to hide the fact that I am bisexual because, let’s be honest, I know my workplace would not allow me to be judged or victimised. I feel so proud to work in an environment that does not judge you on who you are or who you love. Voxpro accepts you for you. As a company we are very unique in that standing.”


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COMING OUT AT WORK

a personal story & view by C at h a l Ke rr i ga n

I first came out at work in 1975. I was 20 years of age and working as a temporary clerical officer with the Southern Health Board. I had a tough time dealing with being gay, but a new confident era began when I discovered in 1974 that the Irish Gay Rights Movement [IGRM] was founded in Dublin. It transformed things and I became an enthusiastic member helping to found the Cork branch in 1975. I decided that living a life of shame and deceit was not for me and that I would be completely out – so I told my family and then my workmates. My work colleagues were bemused but kind: this I found reassuring and empowering. I even brought in a couple of issues of Gay News (a fortnightly newspaper published in London) to show them what being gay was about. It was an older female senior colleague who set the tone for reaction by declaring that she had met many different kinds of people in her career, and homosexuals were just part of the forest flora! My next major experience of ‘coming out’ at work took place a decade later. I was working as Group Librarian for AIB in their headquarters in Ballsbridge. It was a workplace with a conservative atmosphere but also a diverse workforce; some were known to be Knights of St. Columbanus, while others were known to socialise on Leeson St. I had started the job in 1984 and after a couple of years began letting selected colleagues – who I had sussed out to share my liberal, political views – that I was gay. Once again the reaction was supportive; however, they suggested I not broadcast it widely given that prominent senior managers were known for their conservative Catholic and Presbyterian beliefs. So, for a few years I was half-in/half-out of the proverbial ‘closet’. At the time, I was involved in Gay & Lesbian Equality Network [GLEN], and in 1989 we managed to get the Late Late Show to hold a debate on gay law reform. I agreed to participate as an audience member and was on screen for a few minutes making a point in favour. The following Monday I was nervous and anxious as I headed into Bank centre. Back then, half of Ireland watched the Late Late and the other half heard about it – so I knew, they knew! 32


When I walked into the library, my immediate colleagues gathered around me and gave positive support. Those I was close to went out of their way to ensure one of them was with me at all times – acting as a sort of praetorian guard, as they feared I might be subject to some negative reaction. Negative reaction did come as I sat with some of my colleagues at lunch. Two senior managers approached our table as they left and addressed me; they said they saw me on the Late Late and, while they totally disagreed with everything I stood for, they wanted me to know they respected me for my courage. There were no other negative reactions. Later, my senior line manager asked me to call into his office and told me that the bank was happy with my work and what I did outside of the workplace was my own affair. In 1992, I moved to Amsterdam where I worked in an international call centre and there was no need to ‘come out’. A quarter or more of the call centre staff were lesbians or gay men who, like me, had moved to the Netherlands to find refuge. A moment of insight came early on in my stay when my Dutch teacher had me bring in the ‘seeking accommodation’ notice I wrote in Dutch. She looked at it and asked why do you say ‘homo’? I explained that it was because it is the Dutch for gay, and I did not want any hassle from homophobic housemates. Then, she said: “Cathal, this is Amsterdam… if someone has a problem with you being gay, THEY have a problem, not you. Cross out, ‘homo’!

deal for me. From then on, I mentioned things about my sexuality just in passing and colleagues felt comfortable bringing things up in conversation. When I moved back to Cork in 2003 and began working in UCC I did not feel the need to ‘come out’, but I ended up doing so when the Equality Officer proposed creating a staff LGBT network. I became one of the founding co-chairs with Joan McCarthy. When the then President Michael Murphy launched the UCC LGBT Staff Network, I ‘came out’ to the whole university. From what I have experienced and observed over four decades, being in the ‘closet’ is a huge waste of energy and precious life. The ‘closet’ is pernicious! With the triumphant passage of the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015, I believe that the people of Ireland have thrown open the door of the closet and invited their LGBT fellow citizens to step out and into the light. When are you going to do it? What is your excuse? How much precious time and how much valuable energy are you going to waste? Come out!

COME OUT NOW!!

It was like a breath of fresh air and hearing these words lifted me up and through my seven years in Amsterdam. In 1999, I returned to Ireland and got a job with Galway Public Libraries. I was working with three colleagues in the new Oranmore branch library and I experienced ‘coming out’ fatigue. I guessed they already knew I was gay. One day, at coffee break, they started discussing the ‘gay kiss’ that occurred the previous night on Ros na Rún and made very pro-gay remarks, clearly expecting me to ‘come out’ to them. By then, however, I decided I was fed up with the idea of ‘coming out’ as my ‘task’. So, I said nothing! Nowadays, I believe in ‘coming out’ organically – by which, I mean not saying, ‘I have something to tell you!’, but instead just incorporating one’s (gay) self into ordinary conversations. However, Galway Public Libraries were very progressive and each month a copy of Gay Community News [GCN] arrived in each branch and was displayed with all the other journals – a very simple but effective way to ensure visibility and access to information. As it happened, our copy of that month’s GCN had not arrived so the following week I arrived in with a copy and said, “I just picked it up when I was out in the gay bar over the weekend.” And, that was that – I felt I had ‘come out’ on my terms and conveyed that it was not a big 33


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Being LGBT+

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Out at School

‘School can be a scary place when you’re LGBT.’ These are the words from one of the young people who regularly visits BeLonG To Youth Services for support and advice. They described a time at school as the ‘darkest period of their life’, as they faced harassment and abuse daily. The intervention of one supportive teacher, however, changed their experience at school, and this student went from fearing walking through the school gate to feeling like they belonged. STAND UP AWARENESS WEEK Finding supportive allies through classmates, teachers, and guidance counsellors can transform a young person’s experience at school. This is why, eight years ago BeLonG To created “‘Stand Up’ Awareness Week”, which is now Ireland’s largest anti-LGBTI+ bullying campaign in second level schools. The week-long campaign takes place in Novembereach year and it is a time for schools to take a stand against 36

the anti-LGBTI+ bullying, harassment, and namecalling that continues to isolate many students. An amazing 43% of schools across Ireland participated in ‘Stand Up’ last year, meaning over 151,000 students were told that their school is a safe place for LGBTI+ students. Across Ireland, from Cork to Donegal, teachers, parents, and young people celebrated being LGBTI+ at school. Some schools went full rainbow – raising the Pride flag, hosting LGBTI+ history classes and inviting local members of the LGBTI+ community to visit their schools and speak to students about their experiences of growing up as LGBT. Other schools simply hung one of the ‘Stand Up’ posters on the wall, letting students who are LGBTI+, and those who are not sure, know that supportis available in their school. BE AN ALLY Students can be good allies by standing up for their LGBTI+ friends when they experience homophobic, transphobic or biphobic bullying.


According to t he LGBTIreland Report, 67% of students have witnessed bullying of other LGBT students in their schools and 50% of LGBTI students experienced bullying. Being an ally is not e xclus ive to b e i ng heterosexual; LGBTI+ people can be allies for one another, too. There are always opportunities to change the hearts and minds of society. There are many ways you can be an LGBTI+ ally; for example, listening and being respectful of someone’s individual experience, educating yourself around sexual orientation and gender identity, and not assuming that everyone is heterosexual. Being visible in your support of the LGBTI+ community can be the difference between someone being able to stay in school, or dropping out. TEACHER TRAINING Teachers, principals, members of the board of management,and parents can ensure that their school creates a safe and positive culture of inclusion by participating in “‘Stand Up’ Awareness Week” and letting their LGBTI+ students know they are welcome and accepted. As part of this campaign, BeLonG To runs training sessions at the start of the school term for those in the education sector. Participants learn terminology to ease conversations around the topic, how to support an LGBTI+ person who comes out, how LGBTI+ bullying can impact the mental health of students, and how to signpost a young person to support services. Educating schools on transgender issues helps to raise awareness within the school environment. Over the last number of years, we have seen a huge increase in the level of contact from schools looking for support in working with trans young people. Last year, we piloted a trans specific training programme for teachers, co-developed by two young members of ‘IndividiualiTy’, our group for young people who are trans, non-binary or questioning their gender. As part of this training, the students created a list of suggestions to make schools more trans-inclusive (see sidebar). LACK OF ACCEPTANCE Research that BeLonG To conducted with GCN Magazine last year shows that 70% of LGBTI+ young

people feel unsafe at s c h o o l . Ac c o r d i n g to t he 2016 LGBT Ireland Report, one i n fou r m i s s e d or skipped school to avoid negat ive t re at ment due to being LGBTI+. One in four considered leaving school early, and approximately one in twenty quit school. Growing up LGBTI+ can have harrowing effects on the mental health of young people when they are not accepted. According to 2016 research, LGBTI+ young people are three times more likely to attempt suicide, and two times more likely to self-harm than their nonLGBT+ friends. Protecting our young people from bullying, isolation and fear of rejection should not be optional. The impact this can have on mental health can be devastating. That’s why we are asking everyone to ‘be a good ally’, and make sure your local school participates in “‘Stand Up’ Awareness Week”. Let’s make schools safe and supportive for all of our young people. BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation for LGBTI+ young people in Ireland offering free support services, counselling, LGBTI+ training, and supporting LGBTI+ youth groups nationwide. For more information, visit www.belongto.org CREATING TRANS-INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS

Young people in BeLonG To helped to develop these suggestions for how schools can become more welcoming for trans and non-binary students: • Be attentive and respectful around using the name and pronoun a young person chooses. • Offer flexibility around school uniforms (e.g. skirts or trousers) and hair length, jewellery, etc. • Ask the young person what is needed for toilets and changing rooms — it is great to have a choice between male, female and gender-neutral options (but, avoid using disability toilets, if possible). • Be flexible about gender inclusion in school sports and PE class. • Develop school policies that include trans and non-binary students. • Please do not ask about or

comment (good or bad) on body changes. • Engage all students in learning about trans issues. • Show the BeLonG To trans awareness videos to promote understanding and conversation (available on YouTube). • Respect a student’s confidentiality on being trans. • If they ask for it, please support young trans people in talking to their parents. • Invest in staff training on Trans and LGB issues, especially for school counsellors. • Challenge transphobic bullying and fully implement school’s anti-bullying policy.

37


The Gay Project Cork provides information, resources, support and social opportunities to the LGBT+ community. Are you looking to meet new people? Want to find out more about our social and support groups? What to chat with someone about your sexuality or gender identity? You can contact us on:

Email: padraig@gayprojectcork.com Phone: 021 4300430 Facebook & Twitter: @gayprojectcork


IT IS TIME FOR IRELAND TO BAN CONVERSION THERAPIES. We live in a society where many same sex couples won’t hold hands on the street, where ‘gay’ is still a term of abuse in the playground and where mental distress is much, much higher amongst LGBTQI people. The LGBT Ireland study was launched by former President McAleese in March 2016. The report studied over one thousand LGBTI young people between the ages of 14 and 25. When compared to a study conducted by UCD and Headstrong of youth mental health in Ireland, LGBTI young people experienced twice the level of self-harm, three times the level of attempted suicide and four times the level of severe stress, anxiety and depression. From my experience, the primary mental health issues faced by our community can be adequately explained by the stigma faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people.

LGBT Experiences in Mental Health Services. Addressing the legacy of criminalisation and its impact on our culture is vital. Homosexuality was in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders until 1973. When we reflect on LGBT experiences within mental health services, Edward McCann and Danika Sharek from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College, and University College Dublin were published in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing 2014.

Their survey notes “Negative experiences of mental health services”. An assumption that I was heterosexual: 66% A negative reaction when I disclosed my LGBT identity: 29% Comments that my LGBT identity was just a phase: 21% Advice that my orientation could be changed to a heterosexual one: 13% These are negative experiences that our community had within mental health services in Ireland. This survey shows that the lingering damage of what was longstanding policy, still, at times, reverberates through the system.

Coming Out. There is a thread that runs through many of the stories of people who have endured so called ‘conversion therapy’. It is one whereby the individual, who has come out to their family, having given that moment years of consideration, agrees to see someone on the request of a family member. I can only presume that their willingness to do so, is grounded in a love for their mother, father, brother, or sister and a deep desire for their acceptance. Our ‘coming out’ stories often feature selfishness amongst others. Like “how is your coming out affecting me?” Such a response may sometimes be selfish worry, but sometimes it can be as serious as blatant bigotry.


I believe that by prohibiting conversion therapy in Ireland, we will help to affirm the identities of those who are struggling with their sexuality, and that it will also deter others who seek to make interventions based on their fear or prejudice.

We are dehumanised and treated like objects. We have to show everyone that we exist and that the future is ours.”

The Irish Context. Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018. The Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill will ban conversion therapy, as a deceptive and harmful act or practice against a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. In the legislation, I define conversion therapy as meaning any practice or treatment by any person that seeks to change, suppress and, or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The Bill,if enacted, would make it unlawful for any person to perform, offer to perform, advertise, or remove someone from the State for the p u r p o s e s o f c o n v e r s i o n t h e r a p y. I f enacted without being heavily amended by Government, this would be the most comprehensive ban on conversion therapy in the world.

International. I listen and I share the concerns that people have about the acceleration of turmoil and hate, in and amongst a fractured world. Sinn Féin are motivated to ensure that Ireland responds to that fractured world. A response aggressively focused on building a model, progressive, rights-based republic, as a beacon of hope for people everywhere. In banning this practice, we would join Brazil, Malta, Ecuador, ten US states and two Canadian provinces. Incidentally, last September a Brazilian judge actually approved gay conversion therapy, thus overturning a decision in 1999 that forbid treatments that claimed to cure gay people. According to 2017 data from the Department of Justice, more Brazilians than any other nationality outside the EU come to study in Ireland. Their influence has been felt and welcomed amongst our LGBTQI community. Speaking from the streets of Sao Paulo at a protest last year, Carlos Daniel – an activist and organiser said; “We have to help people understand that this decision wasn’t something small. These types of thoughts are what get us killed here in Brazil every day.

These are the realities that often bring people to our home, to this island. What we must absolutely ensure is that anyone who comes to Ireland is respected and that their contribution to the diversity of our home is valued. That is why it broke my heart to hear a Brazilian, the same age as I, in a Facebook video, recorded at a Pentecostal church in Dublin, speak about the process through which he has rejected homosexuality only to be applauded and encouraged by the congregation as he was brought through his story by the pastor on the altar. So called Conversion Therapy is happening in Ireland, although the Irish Council for Psychotherapy has stated that efforts to change, manipulate, or reverse sexual orientation and/or gender identity through psychological therapies are unethical in accordance with their guidelines. Investigative journalism by Hot Press magazine, Gay Community News and comments by former President Mary McAleese on RTÉ Radio One in March, all shed a light on this harmful and deceptive practice.

Faith. It is essential that we recognise the importance of faith in this conversation. And that some religious people experience psychological distress because they see their sexual orientation and faith as irreconcilable. I know many, many people who are both religious and LGBT. And I know that positive exploration can address both the reality of sexual orientation, and the possibilities of a spiritually and religiously meaningful life. They can be reconciled. And I have no doubt that there are huge numbers of religious people who would find the concept of conversion therapy as abhorrent as I. What this bill ultimately intends to do, is to ensure that people who are distressed about their identity, are only offered interventions that accept and support that person for who they are.

By Senator Fintan Warfield, Sinn Féin spokesperson for youth affairs


Growing up LGBTI+ isn’t all rainbows. BeLonG To Youth Services is here to support young people.

We run youth groups nationwide, offer support, information, and free counselling for LGBTI+ young people between 14 and 23 years. You don’t have to be alone. Find out more at www.belongto.org or call 01 670 6223


Bending the Bars of the Gilded Cage by S.J.

‫انا يذه‬

I am a woman. I am a Muslim. I am an Arab. I am a Muslim, Lesbian Arabic woman. “Hathi ana” ‫( انا يذه‬This is me).

This is my identity. Disclaimer By putting words in ink on paper, I am taking a risk. The words I write are liberating but confining because I am not safe. Words are binding and they can be used against me as shackles to incarcerate me. In my country, where I come from, being homosexual is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment. Therefore, to ensure my security, I wish to remain anonymous. In saying that, however, I want to share my story with you.

It all started during my teenage years, when I first realised I was attracted to women. During this period in my life, it goes without saying, I was not happy. I was in a dark place. I was terrified. I was not only a woman living in a male-dominated society, but also a lesbian living in heteronormative, homophobic world.

Life as an Arabic woman is not easy. Arabic women bear the responsibility for their family name. Any negative manner or behavior deemed inappropriate by our culture and society can affect one’s family name. Therefore, Arabic women are placed under the cultural lens of a patriarchal microscope.

Women are observed, but they are never the observers. Every detail of how women appear, behave and speak are scrutinized. Women must save their virginity for marriage and, in doing so, they preserve their dignity. Women are expected to be ‘demure,’ or what we say in Arabic, “Raezina” (‫)ةنيزر‬.


An Arabic woman must appear shy, withdrawn, and above all she must be ready to serve. Women are thought to accept the ideology that being a woman means putting their work and allegiances under the control of someone else; for example, before marriage with parents, and after marriage with husband. To be the perfect daughter, and later a perfect wife, an Arabic woman must sacrifice her own interests to the interest of the family.

Now, imagine what it is like to be a lesbian woman living in this world? Being lesbian means breaking all these r ules, destroying all socio-cultural expectations and going against religious beliefs. Now don’t get me wrong; I love my country! I am proud to be Muslim. From my daily prayers to fasting Ramadan, I enjoy practicing my faith. My homosexuality does not make me any less of a believer. I can believe in God and still believe in me; believe in who I am. Religion and sexuality does not have to be mutually exclusive. Why should I have to struggle with my sexuality and believe that I am a sinner while, in my eyes, I am the creation of God? Love is not a sin. What good are all the luxuries my country provides, if I cannot share them with who I love? This is my ‘Gilded Cage’! One of the hardest moments i n my l i f e wa s l o s i n g l ove.

Before I came to Ireland, I was in a relationship with an Arabic woman for 8 years. We lived in constant fear of getting caught. Our relationship was always under disguise. I had to live a double life. I could not express my love instinctively without being anxious about being ‘outed’. I was worried that one of us would get married; as arranged marriage is an expectation in our culture. The external pressures affecting us were too intense to maintain a healthy relationship. We broke-up! I was full of anger and agony. I str ug gled to know who to blame: myself, or my society? A year after my break up, I received an offer to move to Cork to study. Living abroad was my lifelong dream. Leaving home was an opportunity to be ‘me’ for the first time in my life. Without the pressure of my society and culture, I did not have to comply with what was expected of me, as an Arabic woman. At first, this freedom frightened me because I was insecure about my sexuality. I was afraid that if I started acting upon my feelings, I would not be able to suppress them anymore. What would I do when I returned home? Would I be able to keep my secret hidden, again? Once you taste freedom, it is not easy to let it go. I begun discovering answers to these questions when I attended the ‘Coming Out’ event hosted by Cork Pride in 2016. Although I was very nervous going to the event, and I hesitated until the last minute, it was the best decision I ever made. I met many wonderful people like me with similar stories who made me feel understood and accepted like never before. This event gave me a sense of belonging in a foreign community and country. I will never forget the wise words of the late Dave Roche who was a speaker at the event in the Imperial Hotel that night. He said to me, ‘you are a strong, young

woman. You will find your way. You, and your generation, are the beginning of the future of LGBT rights in your country.” I didn’t believe Dave at first. I didn’t think he understood my plight, but now I realise he was right. He had faith in me that I didn’t have in myself. Through the support and encouragement of my friends and the LGBTQ+ communities in Cork, I found my courage to conquer my fears. I started my journey of self-acceptance. I came ‘out’ to my family and relatives, one by one. Although I have ‘come out,’ my journey doesn’t end here; instead, it is just the beginning. Change takes time! My society needs time to understand and learn that homosexuality is ‘normal’. It is not a ‘sin’. It is not a ‘crime’. It is not a ‘curse’. It is a gift! We are all unique. Diversity should be embraced and not punished. A few years ago, I could never have imagined I would be where I am today. I have come a long way from the girl who once saw no hope and no future, to now being a confident young, Arabic woman who just happens to be lesbian. As my time here in Ireland comes to an end, I must face returning home. I might be going back to my old life, but I am bringing back with me a new ‘self ’. I have bent the bars of my gilded cage. I will fly free, again! I w ould like to extend m y sincerest gratitude to the LGBTQ+ communities in Cork for their continuous support and help. To my dearest friends, who were always there for me during my trials and tribulations. I love you, guys! To Cork, my second home; I will be back!

45


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ew

hy

Int erv i

Q ueer s

with

ea

R

ling in th e e e

L ur Helen Slatter y & Arth

By Paul O’Shea

Q: Could you introduce yourself and tell our readers a little about who you are, please? Helen: I moved to Cork city in 1983 and have been involved in lesbian feminist activities since then. I helped start the Lesbian line in ’84. I was also involved in the beginnings of the Cork Women’s weekend, a festival of workshops, sport, dancing, and music, which also started in 1984. I was also involved in ‘Defend the Clinics’ campaign, which was instrumental in getting the first referendum on the right to choose and in giving out information about abortion clinics. We also organised numerous ‘Reclaim the Night’ marches that were used to highlight the issue of violence against women, which unfortunately is still an issue, except we seem to have forgotten the art of protesting. Arthur: I’m a socialist. I’m a feminist… these are all things that one aspires to be. They are things that I have to continually work at. On the other side, I am also homophobic, misogynistic, and racist as a result of the society I grew up in. We must continue to challenge these things, be able to admit it and be able to do something about it.

Helen Slattery

Arthur Leahy

Arthur: Younger people are under huge pressures today that I didn’t have growing up. They experience very different pressures and very different challenges to the ones I experienced. I don’t know if it is fair to say if it is ‘easier’ for them now. From an equality perspective, I don’t think it is easier now. Yes, I do think it is important to understand our history, to understand where we have come from, and how we got here, but while moving forwards and relating these lessons to the challenges coming down the road. It is important for everybody of all ages to be aware of our history and the culture we have evolved from. Q: Do you feel as ‘connected’ to the LGBT community today, as you did during the early years of queer activism?

Q: Many older LGBT people express how they find it difficult or challenging to relate to the “younger generation” today who are largely unaware of “the struggles” they faced. What is your opinion on that?

Arthur: When you say the word ‘disconnect,’ I can relate it to my generation. We lost a huge amount, a countless number of gay people to HIV. There is a huge disconnect in the community, as a result. There is a generation lost to deaths from AIDS and suicide, which applied somewhat to a lesser extent to the lesbian community. Emigration has taken away some of those people. Large numbers of people with energy and vibrancy are gone. I think there would be less of a disconnect, and a stronger and more vibrant dynamic in the community if they were still around.

Helen: Unfortunately, some young people still face difficulties at the ‘coming out’ stage, but at least the word ‘gay’ is now out there as an option for this generation. Even though the word ‘gay’ is still used by teenagers as a derogatory term; so it’s not all plain sailing. Yes, the younger generation have more freedom, but I think there is less sense of community now, as we are supposed to be more integrated now.

Helen: I feel a real disconnect from our gay community at present. It doesn’t help that the only gay pub was also closed so there is no gay place to go. I feel we still need that “gay” place in the community to connect with each other on a weekly basis. The younger generation have a better connection with online and also meet in mixed groups in straight pubs. I don’t think they feel the disconnect that an older person would.


Q: When discretion was not a choice but a necessity, and when living a double-life evoked a sense of fear and excitement, many older LGBT people feel something about ‘queer life’ has been lost. Do you agree? Helen: Yes, I believe we have lost something; a sense of community, a close-knit group, a ‘part of the gang’ mentality that isn’t felt by this generation, as they are more integrated into the larger society. I feel a nostalgia for the secret clubs we frequented and started. I felt a closeness with the group of people at that time that isn’t there now. There was a sense that we were fighting for something more; to change an injustice to make our lives better. We were also trying something new that hadn’t been done before so there was a sense of pioneering spirit about everything. I loved the feeling of not living a ‘normal’ life. I didn’t want to live a normal life and now it seems we are all so normal now, especially after the marriage equality referendum. Arthur: I don’t have any sense of regrets. People often talk to me about the ‘Other Place’ and say about how wonderful it was but, in my opinion, it is a nostalgic notion of their own youth rather than the reality of what was actually there. There have been remarkable people that have put huge work in trying to change things. The work Orla Egan is doing with the Cork LGBT archive helps keep that history alive. Q: The legalisation of same-sex marriage has played a significant role in changing how LGBT people feel in terms of social inclusion, recognition and belonging, but it also plays a role in changing the gay community. Do you think community ties are less often sought and less easily achieved? Arthur: When you interpret marriage for two men that presents an entirely new range of challenges. Men grew up in a certain type of tradition. There will be difficulties in gay relationships, and how we get through them is a huge challenge for us, which are quite different to heterosexual difficulties. These challenges, however, are invigorating. We must look beyond ourselves. We must look to Europe and what is happening there. We must take the gains we have made in Ireland and apply them there.

Helen: Don’t get me wrong, I am delighted the referendum on marriage equality was passed as it was a huge milestone on the journey for gay people in Ireland. We as citizens are now treated equally to everyone else. But it’s not a lifestyle I would have chosen, or will ever choose. I liked not living a normal life. Everybody seems to want to get married now, something that would never have crossed their minds 20 years ago. Q: This year marks the 25th anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland. I have heard from older LGBT people—such as, my late lamented partner, Dave Roche— queer folk created opportunities for sex, love and companionship in the face of hostility, homophobia and potential criminalisation. Could you share with us some of the colour and vigour of what ‘queer life’ was like before decriminalisation? Helen: Well, I felt it was a very exciting time in my life. I ‘came out’ in the early 80’s so being gay was unusual. There weren’t too many of us around so to find like-minded people I moved to Cork city. I didn’t know any gay people in Cork either, but I did know a few in Dublin so I would visit there. I got more information there on where to find lesbians in Cork. It was scary, but very exciting time. It was like the road less travelled. Everything was new and different and I don’t think it was just because I was younger. I was having a secret life and I really enjoyed that. It was different for women, as we were not threatened by the illegality of our sexuality, we were somewhat dismissed, our choice of sexuality was dismissed by men, including some gay men. Arthur: There was great humour in the gay community. There were periods in my time, while working in London, I shared a squat with four drag queens from South America. There was a huge sense of joy between us but, to be honest, there was a sense of manic about it, too. This manic sort of humour was driven out of oppression. You cannot separate them. The whole emergence of the then contemporary music scene and Arts was a celebration of gay culture. Look at the gay disco world; it changed the whole dance culture that was out there during my time. It was a hugely positive energy, but like with everything, though, there are positives and negatives. I don’t think we should ever deny that. The quality of our survival is more significant because of the extent of the oppressiveness from which it emerged.


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HIV AT A CROSSROADS THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF HIV In 2016 an estimated 6,200 people were living with HIV in Ireland and 4,800 were accessing care. 1 Due to substantial advances in HIV treatment and care, more people are now living longer with this once terminal condition. Across Europe 33% of adults living with HIV in 2012 were aged 50 and over. 2 These successes have resulted in new challenges. Many of those who live with HIV face increasingly complex health needs.

6,200

people are living with HIV in Ireland 1

Ageing can result in the development of co-morbidities. HIV can make individuals more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, bone fractures 3 and kidney failure, 4 as well as increased risk of cancer 3 and mental health conditions. 5 Co-morbidities will be a key feature of HIV care in the future. To address these challenges in HIV we must work together to ensure that patients receive high quality treatment and care.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FUTURE • Ensure that quality of life for people living with HIV is recognised as a key outcome of high quality treatment and care • Increase the early diagnosis of HIV and reduce the number of people undiagnosed, by making HIV a public health priority • Educate patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regularly monitor health risks associated with HIV, particularly as patients approach older age • Encourage investment in prevention through treatment, education and awareness • Develop a national HIV registry, that records data on outcomes and patient experience for people living with HIV • Prioritise the availability of high quality treatment, starting all patients on appropriate, effective and easily manageable treatment that delivers the best possible health Date of preparation: June 2018

Job Number: 001/UK/17-02/CI/1070d


PAST 1,100 1

NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV 1 ANNUAL NUMBER OF DEATHS AMONG PEOPLE WITH HIV 6

HIV MILESTONES

12 6

1988

1987

1985

World AIDS Day

Dublin AIDS Alliance

First Irish case

is established

is established

of HIV diagnosed 7

8

7

37 6

2,200 1

1992 1995 The first combination of drug therapies for HIV are introduced 8

2,500 1

A new class of HIV drugs are made available, paving the way for effective treatment in the future 8

18 6

1997

1996

Deaths among people living with HIV fall dramatically 8

1998

2006

Average pill burden reaches 12 per day 9

6,200 1

New drug combinations are shown to halt the progression of AIDS, heralding the beginning of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (which will become known as ART)

First one pill, once a day treatment 10

5,500 1

96

2016

10 6

2007 National Stamp out Stigma campaign launched by Irish government 7

53


PRESENT Across Europe

33%

In 2016 there were 508 new diagnoses of HIV across Ireland, a 5% increase on 2015. 11

2015

2016

5%

of adults living with HIV were aged 50 and over 2

Older people are the fastest-growing group – with one in three people living with HIV across Europe being aged 50 years or older. 2 A Dutch study modelled ageing in the HIV-infected population, and predicted that 84% of patients will have at least one age-related health issue by 2030, up from 29% in 2010. 12 Of these patients, 78% will have some form of cardiovascular disease, 17% will have diabetes and 17% will have some form of cancer. 12

15%

of people living with HIV are unaware of their infection 1

LONG-TERM HEALTH CHALLENGES People living with HIV face the following long-term health risks: Heart disease: Risk is 1.5-2 times higher in people living with HIV. 13 Mental health: People living with HIV can experience sleeplessness and fatigue and are susceptible to suffering mental health conditions such as depression. 15

Kidney failure: People living with HIV experience significantly higher prevalence of kidney failure in all age groups. 14 Osteoporosis: Osteporosis is significantly more common in people living with HIV. 16 There is also a higher prevalence of bone fractures amongst people living with HIV. 14 According to a US study, standard tests, used to estimate the risk of major osteoporotic and hip fracture, underestimate fracture rates more in 50 to 70 year old men living with HIV than those who do not live with HIV. 17

People living with HIV are more likely to be diagnosed with some forms of cancer and will be much younger when diagnosed: Lung cancer: 52 yrs compared to 69 yrs for general population. 18

54

Liver cancer: 41 yrs compared to 65 yrs for general population. 18

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: 42 yrs compared to 66 yrs for general population. 18


FUTURE With the development of effective HIV treatment, the outlook for people living with HIV is bright. However, the challenges of an ageing population and continuing new infections will put increasing pressure on health services and require well-coordinated services to address broader health needs. THE FUTURE OF HIV TREATMENT AND CARE COULD TAKE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ROUTES: High quality care at the start of a patient’s

With continued investment in treatment

journey can make a critical difference in

and care there could be:

their long-term health outcomes. Without this there is a risk there could be: • Potential for reduced economic and

• High quality treatment and care that better protects health for the long-term and protects the Health Service

social contribution of patients where

Executive against the cost of cumulative

HIV and its long-term health impact

health issues

can add to the complexity of living with co-morbidities of ageing • A higher financial burden on the Health Service Executive from increasing long-term health issues, as well as from continuing new HIV infections • Potential for an increased gap in the quality of care between Ireland and

• Widespread testing to prevent onward transmission and ensure people are treated early enough to deliver best health outcomes • A reduction in stigma, including through more education of health and social care professionals

comparative countries

REFERENCES: 1 UNAIDS, Country factsheets: Ireland, 2016, accessed June 2018 2 UNAIDS, HIV and ageing, 2013 3 AVERT, HIV, Ageing and Comorbidities, accessed January 2015 4 Terrence Higgins Trust, Kidney problems and HIV, accessed February 2017 5 AIDS.gov, Mental Health, accessed February 2017 6 Our World in Data, Deaths from HIV/AIDS by age group, Ireland, accessed June 2018 7 Dublin Aids Alliance, 25 Years Addressing HIV/AIDS, 2012 8 HIV Aware, Timeline of HIV, accessed August 2014 9 Krentz, H.B. et al. Antiviral Therapy 2012; 17:833-840 10 U.S. Food & Drug Administration, HIV/AIDS Historical Time Line 2000 – 2010, accessed February 2018 11 HSE, Health Protection Surveillance Centre, HIV in Ireland, 2016 12 Smit, M. et al. Lancet Infect Dis 2015; 15:810-818 13 Grinspoon S. CROI 2015. Seattle, WA. Oral #O134 14 Guaraldi, G. et al. Clin Infect Dis 2011; 53(11):1120–6 15 AIDS Map, Mental Health, accessed May 2015 16 Kooij, K.W. et al. J Infect Dis 2015; 211:539-548 17 Yin, M. et al. CROI 2015 18 Nguyen, M.L. et al. 18th IAC, 2010. Vienna, Austria. Abstract WEAB0105.

55


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Sexual Health

In A Modern Ireland by Martin Davoren

Sexual health is a fundamental human right, an aspect of daily living and a part of everyone’s life. Traditionally, sexual health was primarily concerned with reproductive health and its fundamental contribution to society. However, since 1974 a global shift broadened societies view of sexual health requirements to encompass a more holistic approach. This idea was supported by the World Health Organisation when they first published and acknowledged sexual health in terms of pleasure, the right to information and the enrichment of personal relationships. In fact, sexual health and well-being encompass physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. People who are happy with their sexual health tend to be happier people. However, sexual health needs to be cared for and supported by the society in which we live. Recently, while perusing through my twitter feed I noted one individual stating that men who have sex with men will continue to experience inequality until levels of STI acquisition, mental health, marginalisation and stigma rates become comparable to our general population counterparts.

HIV/STI transmissions and contributing factors Unfortunately, Ireland has witnessed a surge in sexually transmitted diseases. The latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre data confirmed that rates of all major STIs have dramatically increased from 2012 to 2016. Traditionally, some of the highest levels of STI transmission are noted among men who have sex with men (MSM). In 2016, MSM accounted for 100% of LGV cases, 88% of early infectious syphilis cases, and 63% of gonorrhoea cases. MSM accounted for just over half of diagnoses in 2016 and are the group most affected by HIV in Ireland. Taking care of your sexual health has never been more important, especially for men who have sex with men. It is a cornerstone of minding your physical health and wellbeing. Regular testing relieves anxiety and stress, taking away ‘the fear of the unknown’. Free sexual health testing services are available across the country with further information being detailed on the HSE website. Consistent use of condoms during oral and anal sex can greatly reduce your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or HIV. Free condoms are distributed nationally and can be collected from the Sexual Health Centre, the Cork Gay Project, the Youth Health Service and others. If you’ve engaged in high-risk sexual activity – either recently or not so recently – we would encourage you to access local services who can answer your queries and support you throughout the process. Getting tested has never been easier. In relation to HIV, we offer free Rapid HIV testing with results in one minute. All it takes is a simple finger prick and you get your result in 5 minutes. Testing is regularly offered in Chambers as well as the Sexual Health Centre and the Cork Gay Project. People concerned about possible infections should get checked as soon as possible and should cease all sexual activity until they are tested. You might have nothing to worry about, so your mind will be put at ease. But remember too that early detection is the key to more effective treatment and the avoidance of potentially serious long-term health consequences. 58


Education Educating young, old and everyone in between about their sexual health is a key component to supporting care. Sexual development and exploration are important developmental tasks of adolescence and emerging adulthood. Supporting this development requires the implementation of a comprehensive sex education programme. Comprehensive sexual health education acknowledges that many young people will become sexually active. In fact, the majority of young people report sexual activity in advance of 18 years of age. An updated sex education curriculum requires a partnership approach across education, charity and community organisations that equips young people with the information, skills and opportunity to understand their values and access services so that they can have safe, fulfilling and enjoyable relationships. Schools are the primary setting for sexual health education, outside of the home. Clearly there is a need for mandatory, streamlined sexual health programmes so that interventions are effective. Incomplete or incorrect interventions hinder the impact of comprehensive sex education. The Department of Education recently commenced a review of sexual health education in Ireland, a welcome announcement for us all. This review will support the National Sexual Health Strategy which signals the State’s recognition of its responsibility to ensure that children and adolescents receive relationship and sexuality education that is comprehensive in order to help them attain the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and skills required for healthy sexual expression.

Stigma Education can aid in reducing the well documented stigma which surrounds our sexual and reproductive health. This stigma is greater in relation to HIV. There are approximately 8000 people living with HIV in Ireland. Many of these people do not receive adequate support and care. A study which was carried out by HIV Ireland unveiled the lack of knowledge which the Irish population has in relation to HIV. Many people who took part in the study believed HIV could be transmitted through coughing and sneezing, as well as kissing. This lack of knowledge supports stigma around HIV, and sequentially is having a negative impact on people who are affected by HIV. Stigma can be seen online, on dating apps and in conversations across society. We’re more worried about knowing a ‘status’ than getting to know a person. This was evident when Conchita Wurst was forced to declare their HIV status following blackmail. This blackmail, discrimination and stigma needs to stop. The U=U campaign was launched in 2016. U=U stands for Undetectable = Untransmittable and means that HIV positive people with a sustained undetectable viral load (less than 40 copies in a millileter of blood) are not infectious to their sexual partners. Evidence supporting U=U has been accumulating since the early 2000s. U=U has been very important in challenging the stigma faced by HIV positive people. You can play your part in reducing stigma by spreading the word about U=U in conversations with friends, online and by supporting campaigns.

However, it’s not all gloom. Sexual health support, intervention, education and information services exist across Cork city. Free condoms and lube are available. Society is more open to discussing sexual health. Each of us must be the change we want to see in our society. We need to talk openly, without judgement and without stigma. We must be active in our approach to advocating for sexual health and well-being in Ireland. We must have our voices heard and our needs met through support services. I’m excited to advocate for improved sexual health for all in a modern Ireland. As the Sexual Health Centre advocates, be sexy, stay healthy. A happy, healthy and safe pride to all.

, y x e S Be hy. lt

a Stay He

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“Our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.� MFK Fisher The Gastronomical Me (1943)


Sexual Health Centre In over 30 years of service delivery the Sexual Health Centre has responded in innovative ways to people’s sexual health needs in an ever changing landscape. The Sexual Health Centre was originally established as Cork AIDS Alliance in 1987. At this time the centre provided support for people living with HIV and for their friends and family. In the early days of the centre a diagnosis of HIV sometimes meant that a person did not have very long to live. Thankfully, treatments have improved greatly since the inception of the Sexual Health Centre, meaning that people living with HIV can expect to live healthy lives for as long as anybody else. However, there are still challenges to face. There remains a great deal of misinformation, misunderstanding and stigma relating to HIV. This is despite the advent of campaigns such as U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable). U=U means that a HIV positive person with a sustained undetectable viral load cannot pass HIV to their sexual partners. This is a very important message in tackling the stigma around HIV, which can lead to stress and isolation for people living with the virus. People living with HIV may have a range of other problems that make it difficult for them to cope with their HIV diagnosis or treatments. The Sexual Health Centre continues to support people living with HIV through one to one counselling and support groups. In 2012 The Sexual Health Centre became the first organisation in the Republic of Ireland to deliver Rapid HIV testing in a non-clinical setting, namely Chambers, Washington Street. The centre is proud to be working in partnership with HIV Ireland in Dublin, GOSHH in Limerick and AIDS West in Galway on the national KnowNow Rapid HIV testing initiative. Our volunteers and staff offer monthly testing in a number of Cork venues including Chambers and The Loft. Testing is also offered during office hours at the Sexual Health Centre. We will be offering outreach

rapid HIV testing during Pride Week in conjunction with the Cork Gay Project and the Pride Committee. Keep an eye on our social media to find out when you can access a rapid test during LGBT+ Pride Week 2018. In response to demand for an out of hours STI screening service we established an evening clinic in 2016. The response to this service was overwhelmingly positive. We are currently trying to recruit a GP for this service so are presently unable to offer appointments. We hope that this situation will be rectified very shortly as this is a service we are fully committed to going forward. Other services offered at the centre include counselling for a range of issues including sexual issues and crisis pregnancy. Post abortion medical check-ups can also be accessed at the Centre. Part of the vision of the Sexual Health Centre is that the Sexuality of everyone is respected. To this end, the Sexual Health Centre participates in the LGBT+ Interagency group at Cork City Council. This interagency group organises LGBT+ Awareness Week in Cork each May. LGBT+ Awareness Week acknowledges and demonstrates the contribution of LGBT+ people to the city. Cork LGBT+ Awareness always takes place around IDAHOBIT Day (International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia). IDAHOBIT Day takes place on the 17th of May each year and aims to raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBT rights work worldwide. Anyone is free to drop into the Sexual Health Centre or call us on our helpline with any queries they may have. Free condoms and lubricant are also available from our welcoming staff at our reception area. The Sexual Health Centre is committed to offering you quality services whenever you may need us. If you wish to access any of the services mentioned, please contact us on 0214276676 or by email at info@sexualhealthcentre.com

By Phil Corcoran

61


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LOVE CORK Enjoy a 2 night summer break in the heart of Cork City Your stay will include: » Bed & Breakfast both mornings » Dinner on one evening in the Pembroke Restaurant » Lily O’Brien’s chocolates on arrival » Lunch on one day in the Farmgate Restaurant » Entry to the world famous Blarney Castle and Gardens » 10% Discount voucher for Marc Cain Boutique

Imperial Hotel, Cork City, Ireland. “Let our family look after yours”

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05/06/2018 12:57


Sharing Is Not Caring:

Cork Pride speaks with Austin Kelly about HIV and the‘ Bug Chasing’ Phenomenon. Having decided to get back into a relationship with my ex fiancé, I felt it would be best to get a full sexual health check-up, before we went any further. It was the right thing to do. Having been regularly tested in the past, I still felt nervous going into the GUM clinic in the South Infirmary, even though I felt inside that I was going to be ‘clean’. I was diagnosed HIV positive in July 2012. From day one of my diagnosis, I have been met with many different reactions. Reactions such as fear, sadness and some pity. I never knew how bad it was or would be having what I have. It is an overwhelming process without the right help. I began immediately to seek help from the counselling service and group therapy services available from The Sexual Health Centre, Cork. The support these services provided me were amazing. I quickly realised that I was not alone and with the help of my councillor, I would not let HIV control me. In fact, I would take control of it. We are seeing a record number of HIV diagnoses in Ireland already this year with 221 new cases reported in the first five-and-a-half months of 2018. I think a lack of understanding and empathy about HIV is damaging. One of the leading causes of this troubling increase in HIV transmission is the conspiracy of complacency. We need to break the conspiracy and resist complacency. We must work hard to uphold the progress that has already been made. Ireland is a small country and there is still a huge stigma around HIV. The 80’s epidemic left a terrible image of the disease in people’s memories that people always revert back to. We are not in the 80’s anymore, and though there is no cure for HIV yet, medication has removed the idea that HIV is a death sentence. People living with HIV and on the correct 68

medication can now become ‘undetectable’ and ‘un-transmittable’. This is not something that a lot of people know, as HIV is looked at as a ‘gay men’s issue’. However, HIV affects everyone, and we need proper sex education along with better services and visibility to educate people. There were two prominent cases related to HIV in the media recently. In the UK, a man received a prison sentence for deliberately infecting other men after he was diagnosed HIV positive. Also, in the U.S., a man was sentenced to 50 years in prison after it was discovered that he deliberately sought to contract HIV to knowingly pass it on to others. Unfortunately, I can relate to these cases as it is also happening in Ireland. In the 6 years since I was diagnosed with HIV, I have encountered an alarming amount of people who would deliberately go out of their way to contract the virus. Some people have their own reasons, but personally I don’t think it helps any community that has to deal with the stigma of it, especially as millions of people with HIV didn’t seek it deliberately in the first place. Contracting HIV has become popular among certain ‘tribes’ or subculture in the gay community, who think it is OK to catch HIV, since it can be medically treated and managed better nowadays. This in turn affects the irrationality behind the way we think about HIV, not to mention the way society perceives the HIV-positive community. I have witnessed a growing subculture of people looking to willfully contract HIV. Disturbingly, I have had people approach me seeking to contract HIV for various different reasons. Some want to just ‘get it out of the way’ and not live


in fear of ‘catching it’. This practice is known as ‘bug chasing’ (also referred to in slang as, ‘charging’, ‘pozzin’, or getting ‘pozzed up’). People engaged in this risky sexual activity are commonly referred to as, ‘bug chasers’. ‘Bug chasers’ actively seek sexual partners with a HIV-positive status for the purpose of engaging in unprotected (bareback) sex to become ‘pozzed up’. HIV-positive individuals who comply with the requests of ‘bug chasers’ are referred to as, ‘gift givers’. It is important to note, however, that not all ‘barebackers’ are ‘bug chasers’; the sexual activity is the same, but the psychology behind the practice is drastically different. ‘Bug chasers’ engaging in dangerous sexual activities do it for various different reasons: excitement, defiance, loneliness, intimacy, sympathy, connection to community, and some even consider ‘bug chasing’ to be ‘intensely erotic’ because it is the most extreme sex act, the ultimate taboo. Moreover, there are ‘bug chaser’ who seek HIV for love. There are individuals who are HIV-negative and in a relationship with someone who is HIV-positive seeking infection to maintain their relationship. Advances in antiretroviral treatment provides assurance that HIV cannot be transmitted by being ‘undetectable’ or having an ‘undetectable viral load’ (UVL). Truvada, a drug known as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which is taken once-a-day to prevent HIV transmission can help break down these walls between HIV-positive and HIV-negative men. In my opinion, the attitude towards HIV as seen with the aforementioned disturbing sexual trends is despicable. Why would anyone take on something that they know is chronic and fatal and make things worse all around? However, compassion and empathy is important. We must examine the root cause of this health crisis affecting the LGBT+ community. Mental health plays a significant role in the troubling behaviour of ‘bug chasers’; it is a form of self-harm and ‘slow suicide’. Fear, hurt, anger and loss, to name but a few, are some of the emotions negatively affecting the ways LGBT+ people ‘give-up’ or just stop caring about their health. LGBT+ people are battling a hidden ‘demon’ more frightening and powerful than HIV. Mental distress triggered by generations of deep-rooted homophobia in society, and internalised homophobia in the LGBT+ community, drive many LGBT+ people to harm themselves with alcohol, drugs and risky sexual practices. These behaviours are symptoms revealing this silent health crisis. The problem LGBT+ people have is not their sexuality or gender identity, but rather society’s attitude

towards them. It is our experience of growing up in a heteronormative and heteorsexist world that still does not fully accept that people can identify as anything other than cisgendered (born into the physical gender you identify with) and heterosexual. Since children, we continue to be culturally subjected to shame, and we carry the weight of centuries of bigotry and hatred. From the playground to the boardroom, even the word ‘Gay’ itself has become a repository for everything that is considered ‘bad’ or ‘broken’. With this in mind, what are the ways in which we can prevent risky sexual practices from happening? Or, should I have to give advice on how to change these attitudes? I would advise anyone that is thinking of purposely trying to contract HIV, or people that are regularly having ‘bareback’ or risky sex, to sit down with someone living with HIV and talk to them about the implications. It is important to discuss the amount of lifestyle choices and sacrifices someone living with HIV has to change or consider. We are expected to change our diets, abstain from alcohol consumption, smoking and drug taking. These are all the things we are supposed to do to stay healthy, but most of us do not. Life is a precious gift, a privilege and something that should not be wasted. Our government and the public need to change their attitudes towards HIV. HIV is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious, life-changing disease that we absolutely have the power to prevent. Regardless of whether you are HIV-positive or negative, it is important for people to become involved in HIV awareness and activism. HIV is not something that only affects the person living with it. HIV affects everyone; partners, families, friends, colleagues, co-workers and everyone else in between. We need people to support HIV campaigns and work together towards eradicating stigma, finding a cure and putting an end to this disease.

69


Three unique hotels. Exceptional Cork experiences.

CuraTing unique HoTels. CreaTing exCepTional experienCes. T: +353 21 4947555 | TRIGONHOTELS.COM


Midleton Park Hotel

Montenotte Hotel

River Lee Hotel

Bru Bar and Hostel

Clayton Hotel Cork City

The Imperial Hotel

The Metropole Hotel

Oriel House Hotel

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

Scoozi’s Liberty Grill

8.

9.

13. Carrigaline Court Hotel

The Cork Gay Project

LINC

Sexual Health Centre Cork

The Samaritans

Jigsaw

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

RESOURCES

12.

Killarney Heights Hotel

12. The Workshop Cafe

O’Flynns Gourmet Sausages

Cafe Velo

Orso Nando’s

17.

18.

16. The Farmgate Cafe

15.

14. Natural Foods Bakery

13. Cafe Gusto

11.

Kinsale Hotel

10. Isaacs Resturant

Cafe Paradiso

Starbucks

Amicus

Uncle Petes

Quay Co-op

Restaurant 14a

Burritos and Blues

7.

6.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

RESTAURANTS & CAFES

11.

10. UCC Accomodation

Ambassador Hotel

1.

HOTELS & ACCOMODATION

Hallmark Cards

Hannon Solicitors

Cork Dental Care

NLCC Solicitors

Miss Daisy Blue

Carroll’s Gifts

Vibes and Scribes

Designworks Studio

Therapie

Flying Tiger

Origin Hair Salon

Red FM

1.

First South Credit Union

FINANCIAL

16. Coolgrey

15.

14. Leisureplex

13. O’Leary Insurance

12.

11.

10. Castle St Jewellers

9.

8.

7.

6.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

RETAIL & MISC

Electric The Roundy

3. 4.

The Flying Enterprise

9.

The Franciscan Well

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LINC LGBT HELPLINE CORK GAY PROJECT CORK LESBIAN LINE TENI AIDS HELPLINE NA HELPLINE AA HELPLINE GARDA LIASON STD CLINIC

USEFUL CONTACTS

11.

10. Fionnbarra’s

The Sextant

The Woodford

The Vicarstown Inn

8.

7.

6.

BDSM

Sober Lane

2.

5.

Chambers

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Equality in Death Disenfranchised Grief of Same-Sex Partners By Paul O’Shea I will never forget the moment I received the dreadful phone call to tell me my partner is dead. The words, “Dave’s dead. He’s gone, Paul!”, ringing in my ears as I stood by the sitting room window, my hands shaking as I pressed the phone against my ear, confused and perplexed by the unrecognisable voice and incomprehensible words spoken to me from the other end of the phone. The memory of the gut-wrenching shock that crashed into me like a tsunami wave, engulfing and drowning me, will be etched in my mind, forever.

Coping with the loss of Dave was made somewhat easier for me because there was a shared, collective grief and a collective mourning from the Cork LGBT+ community. Mourning can become complicated and compounded, though, when there is a lack of social acknowledgment and affirmation. One’s rights to express grief may be silenced. One’s rights to grieve at all may be violated and removed. The deceased’s partner may feel powerless fighting against an unresponsive community or family who denies the reality or integrity of gay grief. Disenfranchised grief is not exclusive to being gay or lesbian; it is part of being LGBT+ in a heteronormative world. To be gay and grieving can be an inhumane reminder of how the world still views LGBT+ people and the unfairness of this treatment is worthy of attention. In countries that lack gay rights, the right to grieve publicly is denied to committed same-sex couples. Bereaved gay partners are denied funeral arrangement rights, next-of-kin hospital visitation rights, next-of-kin

As we approach Dave’s first anniversary on July 1st, I cannot believe a year has passed. When I look back now, I do not know how I got through it all. The pain is still very raw; it has not gone away, but I am learning every day to live with it. If it was not for the incredible out-pouring of community support and love from friends, family, and everyone who knew Dave, I do not know if I would have survived the pain. I am one of the lucky ones; believe me, I have not forgotten that because I have caught glimpses of what life could be like if my circumstances were different.

status emergency medical decisions, spousal funeral and bereavement leave, social security benefits, and inheritance rights. Without a legal recognition of marriage, a gay or lesbian couple are denied next-of-kin rights and these rights then usually fall to the deceased’s family who may, or may not, involve the deceased’s partner in the funeral. Imagine if you were told you not could visit your dying partner in hospital? Imagine if you were told you couldn’t attend your partner’s funeral? Imagine if you or your deceased partner were not ‘out’? Bereavement is difficult enough without adding layers of struggle on top of grief.

Death punches holes in your life. Your everyday reality changes in an instant and becomes filled with the deep voids left behind by the one you love. If you are gay, the holes left by the loss of your partner may feel deeper, wider and invisible in a world that too often diminishes the value and validity of same-sex love. We have marriage equality, but do we have grief equality? Do gay rights extend beyond life to death? If you loved and committed yourself to your partner in life, shouldn’t that love, commitment and care extend to death?

Although the tides have begun to turn in Ireland with marriage equality, these struggles are what same-sex couples have faced for years, and they act as a stark reminder to all of us that we must strive to make our end-of-life wishes known and to ensure they can be carried out fully against all odds.

To understand the significance of losing a same-sex partner, I think it is important to talk about the kind and quality of same-sex relationships. I can only speak on behalf of the relationship that exists between two men, particularly between two men with a considerable age gap. Intergenerational relationships are stigmatised by both the ‘straight’ community and the gay community. People are quick to look for reasons for the relationship besides love. Despite the issue of age, younger and older men are capable of having monogamous, long-term, loving relationships. Intergenerational relationships are becoming increasingly accepted amongst the gay and straight community; it is becoming the ‘new’ normal. Where ageism ends, love begins.

Regardless of one’s legal marital status, or lack thereof, it remains vitally important for same-sex couples to discuss end-of-life issues with their loved ones. Communication is a significant component of every lasting, loving relationship so please talk to each other about your wishes, and discuss them with your families and friends. Most importantly, write them down! Even though a year ago, I would never have thought death would come knocking at my door, I am glad I had these important conversations with Dave about our end-of-life wishes, while he was alive. Talking about death and dying is not easy because of the fear and pain it evokes in us, but avoiding these important conversations only postpones the inevitable, and it can make things even more difficult when the time comes. Do all that you can do now to help prepare one another for all hurdles in life, but especially for the final event when the sands of time run out and the last grain in the hourglass slides down the narrow neck at the end of life. 77


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CHEMSEX From Condom Packs to Slamming Packs How did we get here? I mean no judgement with that question. We have thankfully moved past that phase of wagging fingers and tutting about others behaviours. Health professionals in the field of sexual health, health promotion and dr ug services know that this doesn’t work.

In 2003 myself & Moss Naughton began working together for the Southern Gay Men’s Health Project on South Main Street, part of the Cork Gay Project. One of the many tasks we had to perform was the monotonous yet somewhat satisfying job of packing two regular condoms and a sachet of lube into our custom-made SGMHP condom wallets which we would then distribute at bars like Taboo, Loafers, and Instinct. Fast forward 11 years and I’m working in a busy London sexual health clinic still giving out condom packs, but I’m also handing over a slamming pack, containing clean needles, syringes, a spoon, filter & thermometer and other drug paraphernalia. 80

Lots of people have fun on drugs, for them, it doesn’t impact on their health, their partners’ health, their life; work & home. However, through my work in the NHS and private practice, many men partake in chemsex who aren’t in control, who are picking up multiple STI’s, HIV, Hepatitis C, losing their relationship, their jobs or home, some are even losing their lives. Before the chems, there was sex

For those of you who don’t know, chemsex can be defined as the use of three specific drugs by gay men (GHB/GBL [‘G’], crystal methamphetamine [‘crystal meth,’ ‘Tina,’ ‘Ice’], and m e p h e d r o n e [ ‘ m e ow m e ow,’ ‘M-CAT,’]), used in a sexual context. The notion of chemsex only came about in around 2010; this doesn’t mean that sex and drugs among the gay community weren’t linked before this, but the drugs of choice back then were cocaine, ecstasy &

MDMA and the idea that groups of gay men would be injecting drugs was unthinkable. Lots have been written about chemsex so for a moment I want to take drugs out of the equation and focus on sex. Sex is complicated it’s physical and emotional pleasure in one, and both of these can be addictive. Working with g ay men before there were any apps or chemsex, men were seeking advice on trying to wean off the amount of unsatisfying sex they were having as it wasn’t fulfilling them emotionally or physically. For many of these men, they were looking for more than just sex; they were actually looking for a connection, to be themselves, to be intimate but not always in a sexual way. This was (and is) difficult for men; living in a society that is heteronormative and after going through an educational system that doesn’t prepare gay (or straight) teenagers for relationships and sex, men found themselves going for the quick route, that is, meeting online or public sex environments and having sex, then fleeing. The instant gratification lasting for as long as the interaction did, leaving feelings of shame and guilt, then repeating this cycle over and over again.


A d d a r o u s i n g a n d e xc i t i n g drugs like GHB, methadrone or crystal meth, and you’ve got an insidious, complex problem. Not just the spread of STI’s, i n cl udi ng HIV b ut also the de pendency these dr ugs can create. It’s also common to see men in clinics unable to have sober sex (sex without drugs), they fear it won’t be the same or that their performance capabilities will be diminished. While hook-up apps have made meeting up much easier, they have also made it more convenient to find dr ugs and like-minded people.

''Everyone's doing iT'' I hear this a lot in the clinic. Statistics from Ireland prove that this is not the case with only 27% of the respondents to a questionnaire saying that they had engaged in chemsex in the last 12 months. However, there seems to be a higher proportion of people on hook-up apps who are ‘into chems’ and for people coming out, taking a tentative step and exploring their sexuality or those who have just found themselves single for the first time in years, downloading these apps and seeing what’s out there, it

makes sense that people feel, that to be part of LGBTQ society in 2018, involves trying chems.

What I wanted to get across was the notion that this could happen to any of us.

The thing that struck me the most when the number of referrals for chemsex counselling shot up was these men weren’t what you would expect. They were educated men, in good jobs, with supportive social networks. They didn’t fit the stereotype of a drug user. This caused it’s own problems and meant that conventional drug services didn’t know what to do with these men and the men themselves felt that it wasn’t the place for them to access support; hence sexual health clinics became the hub of safer drug use, support, and counselling.

If I were to offer any advice, it would be this: if you are having sex, with or without chems and you aren’t enjoying it, or you are doing it for the wrong reasons - it’s time to speak to someone.

This was one of the reasons I decided to write a novel, THE G CLUB. I wanted to illustrate the stor y of an upwardly mobile man who appears to have everything; husband, good job, and friends, who experiences a loss in his life which destroys him, so he enters the world of London’s chemsex scene to deal with his pain.

Paul Madden

THE G CLUB is available from Amazon and iTunes/iBooks. For more information check out www.paulmadden.info.

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LittleShoes Productions Presents

THE LARAMIE PROJECT Directed by Sinéad Dunphy

Unitarian Church, Prince's Street 1st, 2nd, 3rd August, 8pm Tickets: www.eventbrite.ie

TWENTY YEARS LATER

by Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris & Stephen Belber


The Laramie Project: T w e n t y Y ea rs Lat er The Laramie Project, by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, was created in response to the murder of twenty-one year old gay student Matthew Shepard in the town of Laramie, Wyoming; a hate crime that captured the nation’s attention. Now twenty years later LittleShoes Productions in association with Cork Pride Festival unearths this incredibly honest and thought-provoking piece in an age where although so much time has passed since this tragedy, we live in a high-octane environment where the brutality of existence seems to find us online and in real life. Now more than ever, following successes across numerous areas of humanitarianism, we must continue to work for the rights of those who perhaps are too tired to have their voice heard or simply too scared. In the wake of the Laramie Project, a country raised its voice in unison and after an arduous process the Mathew Shepard Act was finally instated by the Obama administration in the US. Here in Ireland, we have worked together seeking equality for our friends, our families and our future generations through successful campaigns around the Marriage Equality and Repeal the Eight campaigns. But the work doesn’t stop there – this play, or more so, this insight into a community’s devastation, allows us to explore the dynamism of the power of community and also the need to rise against shame and perceptions. After all if a crime is committed against one of us, “How we react to the crime, how we talk about it, and if we do or don’t do anything to prevent this from happening again [defines] us” just like it did in Laramie twenty years ago. This theatre piece is an opportunity for us to hear all sides of a story, no matter how difficult and to realise that only our unified support of each other is the only way to transcend all difficulty and tragedy. We are one with Laramie, even now, even twenty years later. Although the name Matthew Shepard is a name that is known by communities of all divisions touched by the unescapable stories of hate crime, not everyone knows the full story of this young man, unknowingly facing his last night on earth as he entered the Fireside Bar in Laramie, Wyoming. On the 6th October 1998, Matthew was beaten, tortured, tied to a fence and left to die in near-freezing temperatures. He died six days later as a result of his injuries. In the wake of the assault, Kaufman and members of the theatre company travelled from New York to Wyoming one month after Shepard’s death, with an aim to analyse the town’s reaction to the

attack and the aspiration to create a play inspired by the events of Matthew’s murder. The result of their research was The Laramie Project, a three act play based on over 200 hundred interviews with more than 100 residents of Laramie, as well as news reports and journal entries kept by the theatre company members throughout their eighteen-month long investigation. Ten years later, in 2008, the Tectonic Theatre Company returned to Laramie with a view to creating a follow-up piece to their original project. Kaufman and the Tectonics found a town struggling with its place in history and the expectations which had been placed upon it; the group decided to investigate what, if any, long-term effects the crime had on the town, and how the town’s attitude to the LGBT community had changed since the incident in October 1998. In returning to the scene of the crime, the company discovered that while some positive changes had been made, many younger residents in the town views Matthew’s death not as a result of hate or homophobia, but a robbery or a drug deal which had escalated beyond control. Kaufman and the Tectonics set out to retrace the events leading up to and following the murder, and highlight the assault for the hate crime that it was. To determine how Matthew Shepard was remembered in the town which became synonymous with his name, and whether his death had held any significant impact over the town of Laramie, the group re-interviewed original participants from The Laramie Project. In order to further shed fresh, new light on the consequences of the horrific event, new interviews were also held with residents who previously had not contributed the original project – including interviews for the first time with Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, and his murderers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. These interviews formed a companion piece to the original play, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later; an epilogue examining the town, its citizens and its progress from a social, political, educational and religious standpoint in the decade following Matthew’s death. LittleShoes Productions have now workshopped the play with a number of community actors in an attempt to further update and bring it to the audiences of Cork Pride Festival to help us as a community look at how we can work together in defending the quietened voices of our peers, friends, family and of those who are yet to come. The Laramie Project may have happened twenty years ago, but it is only with our learnings we can fully develop and continue striving for growth both as individuals and communities in how we support and aid each other.

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The Dark Side of Me There are certain things I will always remember about him. His sandy brown hair, his round glasses, the kind Harry Potter has, and the mustard coloured corduroy jacket he was wearing. However, I only saw these things after he raped me, along with his blank, emotionless face. This man was a predator, and if he didn’t rape me, it would have been somebody else. He grabbed me from behind, as I was finishing using a urinal at a public toilet and dragged me into the cubicle where he had been waiting. When he was finished with me, he just fixed himself and left. He didn’t say a word throughout the whole incident and neither did I. I was a 13-year-old boy traveling home from my grandparents’ house who innocently needed to pee. I had no idea that this singular event would have such a huge impact on my life and lead me down a very dark path; one in which I’m still trying to overcome today. When he left the cubicle, I just sat there in shock. I didn’t comprehend what had just happened. I had never had sex; I hadn’t even been kissed before, but at that stage of my life I knew I was gay. This was my first experience of sex and it warped my perception. Growing up my grandmother was very protective of me. She would always say, “you have to be careful of “those people”. You see, when my uncle was 7 years old he had extremely fair blonde hair and was approached by a man when on a school tour, a man that turned out to be a paedophile. As I also had extremely fair blonde hair as a child, my grandmother would instil this story in me as a cautionary tale. These people were bad and they would hurt me. However, she never used the word paedophile; she would instead refer to the man as “liking boys”. So, when she said “those people”, what she really meant was paedophiles, but as I grew up this warped into me thinking I was one of “those people” as I was beginning to realise I was gay. I liked boys, too, so this obviously meant I was bad, right? If I ever told my family I was gay I would lose them, right? I did NOT want to be one of “those people”. But I was, I was gay. Thinking these things made me feel extremely isolated. I had no one to talk to, no one to confide in. I felt like I was the only person like me in the world. Then I was raped. By a man. Everything changed. As I sat there in the cubicle after he left, I saw that the walls were covered in crude messages and doodles, men looking to meet other men. It makes me sick to think of it now but at the time, sitting there, I thought that what had just happened to me was normal. As I said, my perception was warped. This was where people like me went to meet each other and this is what they did. We were all “those people” after all, weren’t we? So I kept going back. I kept going back to those toilets, time after time, hoping I would eventually meet someone else my age, someone I could talk to. It was 3 years before that happened, but in that time I did things and allowed things to happen to me that I’m not proud of. It just made things even worse. All of these guys were older, they had no interest in talking to me, instead they took advantage and sometimes even threw money at me after. I was basically a prostitute. I thought all I had to offer was my body because that’s all they wanted. This completely messed me up and followed me later in life. I became so numb and would zone out completely from what was happening. Penetrative sex and kissing were off limits but I did everything else. Kissing was too intimate. My first kiss had to be special, like losing my virginity because losing that was stolen from me.

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All of this had a severe psychological effect on me. My mother says at the time she knew something was wrong, but she just didn’t know what it was. I became withdrawn, hysterical at times if she tried to talk to me. I was very hard to deal with. I never told anyone about the rape until 10 years after it happened. I knew by then that what happened wasn’t normal; it was rape. He violated me. When my mother found out she was distraught. By that time, I had built up so much guilt and shame I became severely depressed so I was sent to a counsellor. My mother wasn’t very well off, but she paid for the best and I’m so thankful. That counsellor saved me. She made me realise I was not responsible for what happened to me. I was a teenager, impressionable and struggling with my sexuality. The only guilty party is the person who raped me. However, after this I still had deep-rooted psychological issues. Hypnotherapy seemed to be the only option that would help. I spent a couple of thousand euros on it, again going to the best hypnotherapist recommended. It didn’t magically fix everything, but it made me aware of the problems I’m still facing. Problems that are subconscious. I have severe trust issues and it takes me a long time to become comfortable with a person in a sexual way. This is stemmed from the fact that I still zone out during sexual encounters, I don’t get aroused, it’s my body’s way of trying to protect me. This in turn makes me very anxious. It’s a vicious circle. It also made me realise that I still hadn’t come to terms with my sexuality, I still had all this underlying shame and hatred towards myself. That was a very hard thing to face up to as I thought I was 100% comfortable with myself. The hypnotherapy did help in many ways but some of the problems are so embedded in me that I’ll have to deal with them for the rest of my life and that’s a hard reality to face at times. I’m in a good place now, though. It’s been over 20 years and not an easy journey. Though, recently things like the Belfast rape trial have been hard to deal with. Everyone had an opinion. So many victims don’t come forward and many people don’t stop to think that there could be a rape victim, male or female, nearby listening to your comments. Hearing people say, “Why didn’t she scream? Why didn’t she fight back” just translated to me as, “Why didn’t YOU scream? Why didn’t YOU fight back”. It’s a hard thing to hear, as I don’t know why I didn’t, I just froze. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t scream. My body shut down. Over the years, I felt so much guilt over that. So much guilt about not coming forward at the time, but that’s not my guilt to shoulder. I still wonder how many other people he might have raped. Hoping there was none but if there was that they had the strength to come forward. I will admit I’ve found it very difficult to ever talk about my rape as it’s hard to deal with people’s reactions. Our natural response as humans is to feel bad for a person who has experienced trauma. It immediately shows on our face and we say things like “I’m so sorry”. This feels awful as it makes me feel like a victim all over again. It’s the last thing I want to feel. Regardless of that, however, I will talk about it as these things need to be talked about more. Trying to hide it only perpetuates the stigma that we should be ashamed. Though my rapist was a predator, there are plenty of casual rapists out there. We need to talk about this more. We need to battle the rape culture society we live in. We need to find better ways to teach consent to our kids. We need to stop victim blaming. We need to talk about male rape, acknowledge it and that it doesn’t make you any less of a man. Writing this has been terrifying. It’s a dark side of me, but it’s still part of me. I hope by sharing this it will help others to open up as the more we talk about rape the more we stop the stigma.

Giles Reid

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RAPE CRISIS

needed to happen would be that communities have open conversations about consent and sexual behaviours and expectations.

IRELAND

In a community that has struggled against hate and violence and for sexual acceptance and freedom, opportunities and spaces for sex have been established carefully and sometimes at great risk within LGBT+ communities. What does consent look like in those spaces? In a post marriage equality Ireland, let us talk about sexual safety within LGBT+ relationships and sexual activities.

NETWORK

#MeToo is the new hashtag and word of the past 12 months. Across the world, the lines have been redrawn around sexual harassment and sexual violence. How has LGBT+ been part of the ‘Me Too’ conversation? As ever with issues of sexism, misogyny and sexual violence LGBT+ people have often led the conversations. They have asked the sharpest questions, and they have brought into relief the connectivity of intersectional discrimination and sexual violence. Much of the ‘Me Too’ conversation is heteronormative; it involves women speaking out about how men have sexually harassed and violated them, but it is notable that gay men as perpetrators has featured prominently as part of the ‘Me Too’ movement also. The conversation talks of unequal power dynamics, coercion and threat, entitlement and assumption, and sex as a transaction. These are universal themes. The issue of sexual violence and the LGBT+ community encompasses vulnerabilities that are sometimes universal, sometimes targeted at LGBT+ people because they are LGBT+ and at other times involves sexual violence that occurs within the LGBT+ community. There is a great deal in here that we need to understand and name. RCNI (Rape Crisis Network Ireland) alongside our partners in the LGBT+ community seek to support and foster safe places for these vital conversations to flourish. When RCNI launched our LGBT statistical report, Finding A Safe Place: LGBT survivors of sexual violence and disclosure in Rape Crisis Centres, back in 2016, what was clear to our LGBT+ partners were one of the most important things that 92

One of the reasons it takes courage to have that conversation is because LGBT+ people still face discrimination and hate crimes. In addition to all of the fears faced by anyone who has encountered sexual violence, LGBT+ people are often targeted differently, and may face additional barriers to support and reporting. RCNI’s statistics show gay and bisexual men disclosed almost twice the levels of rape of heterosexual males (63% compared to 34%). In the US 40% of gay and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared with 21% of heterosexual men. While Lesbian and bisexual girls and women survivors disclosed higher rates of abuse by male and female perpetrators abusing together (10%) than heterosexual females (2%). We must do much more to protect LGBT+ people from sexual violence and harassment motivated by homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Survivors’ facing multiple disadvantages often remain voiceless as their risks when disclosing may be higher. There are good reasons why, in the RCNI report we found that LGBT survivors can take up to twice as long to report the crime compared with their ‘straight’ counterparts. 47% of LGB survivors waited over ten years to report the abuse compared with 21% of heterosexual survivors who took the same length of time to report. LGBT+ people also were found to rely much more on friends and partners and less on parents and family than ‘straight’ people do. These two findings suggest the potential isolation and the added difficulties survivors who are also LGBT face in reaching out and seeking support.


Akin to all aspects of sexual violence, the threat is not always from the outside. We know our closest relationships can be our most dangerous, those within families, partnerships and, for queer people, the safe places that have been built for LGBT+ people. Ensuring these spaces are safe and supportive for all may require us to have a ‘Me Too’ conversation about power, consent and sex within LGBT+ spaces. According to a survey by UK gay men’s health charity GMFA, some 62% of British gay men have been touched or groped in a bar without consent. Although there may be an implicit understanding of where ‘the line’ is, many gay men who are groped in a bar won’t name this as assault or feel threatened in any way, but some will. What are the rules? Are we confident that everyone is clear about those rules and agreed that they are safely and freely open to the various sexual expectations and behaviors? Back in 2016, in response to the RCNI report, Gay switchboard Ireland commented, ‘discussion about sexual violence in the community is so far to the margins it is all but invisible. At Gay Switchboard Ireland we want to make talking about sexual violence safe for the LGBT community.’ RCNI are here to help. Rape crisis centres have been safe spaces for LGBT survivors. The RCC fundamental model of practice is to meet survivors where they are and to journey beside them and only support in ways that empower, which are necessarily inclusive. We also have standards of practice on equality and as a learning movement we continue to listen and learn. We continually share and seek out conversations and training to ensure we maintain ongoing best practice. The Rape Crisis Movement and LGBT+ activism are inextricably bound up together through the leadership and activism of lesbian, bi, trans and queer women who alongside other women in this movement, and more lately men, over the past 45 years have shaped the sector and movement into what it is today. The LGBT community should be rightly proud of Rape Crisis achievements because they are LGBT achievements. The LGBT+ community helped build the rape crisis space; it is an LGBT+ space.

If you are upset or unsure about something that happened to you or concerned about a friend, please get in touch to have a non-judgmental conversation. If you want to just talk, or if you want to report it, we can help you through those steps and support you. Where there were rigid gender and sexual boundaries and expectations of behaviour, sexual violence was arguably easier to name and call out. Over recent years, RCNI has focused attention on the culture now where, on the surface at least, we claim to be free of rules. However, we must remember that where there are no rules the onus then falls on each individual to be responsible for ensuring they have consent for each act. No rules mean we become critically engaged in our own actions rather than passive recipients of a ‘guidebook’. Given the guidebook has always been flawed and discriminatory this can be a good thing. LGBT+ people threw out that rule book a long time ago. For the past decade we have driven the debate towards a consent focus which recognises the convergence of sexual liberalisation, sexualisation, porgnigraphication and violence where, far from the promise of freedom, all too often gender discrimination and inequality are replicated. We now have a national conversation on consent. This is how together we will claim our autonomy and our sexual freedom. For your local rape crisis centre www.rapecrisishelp.ie

by Dr Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director References 1.https://www.rcni.ie/ wp-content/uploads/RCNIFinding-a-Safe-PlaceLGBT-Survivors.pdf 2.https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-assault-and-the-lgbt-community 3.https://www.gmfa.org.uk/fs162-consent-andthe-gay-community 93


Advocacy

Support

Community

Comminity, support, educa�on and advocacy for bi+ people in Ireland Bi+ Ireland are proud to be the only organisa�on providing support, community, and advocacy for bi+ people throughout the island of Ireland. We work to bring about a more inclusive LGBTQIA+ community, and a society where all of us are valued equally. Everyone under the bi+ umbrella- be they bi, pan,queer or more-are welcome to join us in our events throughout the country, as well as our Facebook discussion group.

Join us at:

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biirelandnetwork@gmail.com @biirelandnetwork

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Sydney Queer Irish is a social group running out of Sydney where the Irish LGBT ex-pat community and allies can come together. SQI has had a huge influence on many LGBT ex-pats’ experience as they move from Ireland to Sydney. Whether your stay in Australia is long, short, permanent, or fleeting, SQI offers a home away from home for the Irish LGBT community. We also support Australians with Irish heritage, and Irish who are strong allies to the LGBT community. We are very proud of the connection we have made with other Irish community groups in Sydney and thankful of the support of The Consulate General of Ireland, whose ongoing assistance is invaluable. I am the president and founding member of SQI, an organisation emerging from late night conversations in my kitchen with a group of friends who wanted to create a social support network for Irish ex-pats and those with Irish ancestry who also identify as LGBT, queer or just left of centre. I am of Irish born parents, a proud Mayo man and equally proud Galway woman. I lived in Clonbur, Co. Galway until I was 6. We immigrated to Australia in the 80s. Since then I have spent years back and forth living in both Ireland and Australia and feel patriotic to both my home countries. Ireland will always be ‘home’ for me and I have a lot of family and friends in Mayo and Galway. Settled in Sydney (for now!), I feel very proud to be an Irish gay woman and I love to connect with the Irish community. As a result, in a suburb in Sydney’s Inner West, SQI was formed in 2010. Sydney often feels like it is a million miles away, but SQI members actively take part in a variety of Irish inspired event’s including The Darkness Into Light walk held at Bondi each year. SQI monitors current affairs at home and contributes as they can to causes close to our hearts. SQI supported both the Irish and Australian campaigns for Marriage Equality. During the Repeal the 8th Campaign at home, SQI members 96

also lent their support and co-hosted a fundraiser breakfast to raise funds and awareness of the issues driving the ‘Together for Yes’ campaign. Even a million miles away we are doing our bit and making sure our voices are heard for a fairer and equal Ireland. Although far from perfect, Ireland seems to be a beacon of hope worldwide, showing how democracy, social justice and progressive change can occur and part of me wishes to head home to a ‘New Ireland’. Sydney and Australia can feel like it is getting more and more conservative. The draw to head home is always there for many of our members. Being Irish and seeing Ireland achieve so much in such a short period of time makes one incredibly proud to call oneself Irish. SQI allows us to celebrate that ‘Irishness’ as we live here in Sydney. SQI’s support for the ‘Australian Marriage Equality’ movement is something of which I am particularly proud. Our contributions to this successful, community driven campaign was often a double-edged sword having to experience again the emotional toll of such a personal impacting campaign debated in the public domain. Whether our members had experience fighting the same battle at home, or whether we watched it eagerly from Australia, we all had to take a ticket for that emotional roller coaster ride a second time. Australia took a lot of inspiration from the campaign in Ireland and members of SQI were active campaigners and often looked to comment and to share differences and similarities between both campaigns. SQI did what we could, attending rallies and community based fundraising events. We also held working bees for the Irish community to create banners for the marriage equality rallies. Aside from political campaigning, we are an active social group throughout the year. We host various social meets ups and try to host an event each month. We hang out at picnics (yes, it is sunny enough for picnics year round!) and yes, we go to the occasional pub, too! We host a successful annual quiz night, we throw a good boat party in the summer, and we have had a number of successful ‘Irish Christmas in July’ parties. This year we managed to pull off our first and biggest, gayest Paddy’s day event Sydney has ever seen! We had an absolute packed house at Sydney’s iconic Imperial Hotel to watch our Irish-inspired drag Kings and Queens belting it out to top Irish tunes. SQI’s biggest event of the year, by far, is our celebrated Mardi Gras entry. To achieve an award-winning float takes months of planning and preparation. In the days leading up to the parade, members are making last minute touches to costumes and props, doing final choreography rehearsals, as well as holding


down day jobs. Every year we are oversubscribed with eager float applicants and are joined by people flying from Ireland and interstate. This year we had 80 strong Sydney Queer Irish (SQI) community members who proudly marched (more accurately, danced!) up Oxford St. in Sydney’s 40th Mardi Gras parade. This was our fourth entry into Mardi Gras with our first back in 2015 when none other than the ‘Queen of Ireland’, Panti Bliss joined the float. Having had so much fun she came back for more in 2016 and 2017. This year’s Mardi Gras theme was ‘Evolution’, and our entry celebrated Ireland’s road to Equality over the past four decades. Our small island has embraced love, equality, modernity and LGBT rights, while still celebrating our rich history, tradition and culture. In remembrance of our much loved Dolores O’Riordan— lead singer of the Irish rock band, ‘The Cranberries’— we played the track ‘Dreams’ to help us celebrate our Irish pride and bring together a choreographed group with a mix of traditional and modern dance. Our costumes and props showcased the Irish tricolours of green, white and orange, with each section representing a decade over the past 40 years. The green marchers, with their shoulder-pads ready for battle, represent the first LGBT protests in the 1970s and the foundation of the Irish Gay Rights movement. Our winged, white marchers pay tribute to those impacted by HIV/AIDS in our community in the 1980s and beyond, and the various Irish gay organizations who formed Gay Health Action (GHA) in response to the crisis. The orange section, in their flower covered broken chains, represents the decriminalization of homosexuality in the 1990s. Our support crew brought it home showcasing the achievement of Marriage Equality in 2015. Sounds like a lot of work? It sure is! However, I am lucky to be supported by an incredibly hard-working committee who pushes us all to be the best we can be. It is this passion and commitment for SQI that means we will be around for a long time to come. Every year I say, “never again!”. Predictably, as with our AGM fast approaching, we are actively promoting and looking for new members to join the team. We are already talking about how we can better our Mardi Gras entry in 2019, and who we can invite to be part of our award-winning float (Roisin Murphy if you’re reading this, or if anyone who is that knows her, she is top of our list). Did I mention we took out ‘Best Choreography’ in 2018? We have our hearts set to win ‘Most Fabulous’ in 2019! Loretta Cosgrove, SQI President 97


LGBT

ABROAD

By Eoin McCarthy

I moved to Bangkok in August 2017. I had previous experience of living abroad having lived in London for 3 years. I knew that I was looking for something completely new and had decided that I wanted to live in South East Asia. This was not a decision that was made any easier by being LGBT as many countries in South East Asia have conservative social attitudes to LGBT people. Even countries that have developed and grown in recent decades such as Vietnam retain some hostility to LGBT people and rights. That is not the case in Thailand where attitudes to LGBT have been liberal and forward-thinking for a long time. There are very few differences between LGBT life in Thailand and Ireland (or the UK, for that matter). There is a vibrant gay scene in Bangkok and Silom (the gay district) is a central part of Bangkok’s night-life; in fact there are far more gay bars and clubs in Bangkok than there are in my hometown of Cork. The ubiquitous and infamous tales of Bangkok’s ladyboys are indicative of Bangkok’s openness and its acceptance of people of all identities. In fact, T h a i l a n d ’s a c c e p t a n c e o f L G B T p e o p l e

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happened much sooner than in Ireland or the UK, with sodomy laws being repealed in 1957. That is not to say that Thailand is completely open: there remains a section of society that sees homosexuality and transgenderism as a mental defect. This is not overtly evident when you see/speak to people but it goes some way to explaining why same-sex marriage has not yet been legalised, although this is in the pipeline and is being introduced soon. In that sense, while there are few disadvantages to being LGBT in Thailand, there are some legal protections for LGBT people that continue to be aspirational rather than reality. I remember being in London when the Marriage Equality Referendum passed in 2015 and the sense of pride that I felt in Ireland at the time and how I believed (and continue to believe) that it was a monumental move forward for a traditionally conservative country like Ireland. I hope that I will also get to experience that same sense of liberation from the past whilst I am here in Thailand. I firmly believe that Thailand can be a beacon for the rest of South East Asia and help to alter the face of what remains a very conservative continent.


Gay life in Thailand is not limited to bars and pubs, however. There is a litany of gay clubs on Meetup and other social networks for new LGBT residents or those who have been here for a while and are looking to immerse themselves in the LGBT scene outside of the bar scene. In fact, compared to Cork there are many more. This is due to the fact that Bangkok’s population is nearing 10 million. There range from tea-clubs who meet up weekly for tea and chats to the LGBT Social Arts and Culture club who meet up monthly for a cultural day. And there are the LGBT day-trips clubs where LGBT people meet regularly and take trips to some of Thailand’s most notable attractions. This is also where lesbians are most visible. Unfortunately, Bangkok has much fewer opportunities for socialising for lesbians than for gay men.

particularly in societies that are more conservative. There is little need to worry about this in Thailand, even in a profession like teaching. It has never crossed my mind since coming here that I would need to hide my sexuality from my colleagues or school management. Whilst I recognise that this is due, in part, to working in an international school, the other LGBT people I have met have relayed similar messages to me about the openness of their workplaces. To conclude, it is difficult as an LGBT teacher to make the move abroad if you are moving outside of Europe. Whilst there are many opportunities for teachers to move abroad and make a lot of money in places like Dubai and Abud Dhabi, LGBT teachers have much more to think about than their pay packets. We must be cognisant of the societies we will be entering and their attitudes towards our sexuality. Whilst this can limit our opportunities in some ways, it also forces us to be creative and to consider other places in the world that may not be the most obvious choice. I could not be happier or feel more welcome and secure than I am in Thailand and I look forward to spending many more years here exploring all that Asia has to offer.

Although it is common in gay communities for gay men to be more visible than lesbians in certain aspects, lesbians are practically invisible in Thailand and there are few places for lesbians to meet other lesbians outside of online spaces. Within the professional sphere, LGBT people have the space to be open and visible and are welcomed in all professionals. As a teacher, of teenagers, it is always difficult to balance the necessity of being yourself whilst at the same time maintaining your reputation as a professional, 101


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REBELS TEAM CORK GAY GAMES 2018 - Shared Goals

WITH A CAUSE

“Rebels With a Cause” is the title of a short documentary directed by Rena Blake which follows the participation of 26 Team Cork athletes at the “Gay Games” in Cologne in 2010. On the 21st September 2017, one of those athletes, Nicky Green, shared that documentary and her experience of the Gay Games with a group of people in LINC. The documentary and the picture Nicky painted had everyone hooked and planted the seed for Team Cork 2018.

Sarah O’Sullivan

Ciara Mulcahy

Boxing

Boxing

From Kinsale, Co. Cork, part-time cowgirl, poet and now apparently boxer!

Ciara, 29, Boxing Team coach and general full contact enthusiast.

Reece O’Connell

Peter Holohan

Football – Cork Rebels

Football – Cork Rebels

The team appeals to me because it’s a really e ff e c t i v e m e a n s t o socialise regularly. We travel together, hang out outside of the games and are always encouraging to newcomers. I can’t wait for Paris as it’s a strong incentive for all of the team to increase one’s fitness, and plan and prepare for new experiences.

The Rebels allows me the sense of belonging and togetherness while playing the sport I love. For us to be going to the Paris Gay Games shows us how far the club has come from it’s humble beginnings less than 2 years ago to playing at the biggest stage.

Hollifer Fogarty

Sabrina Carolan

Reg Curtis

Badminton (Doubles)

Boxing

Badminton

Can’t look directly at the camera, got my eye on the prize! (am I doing this faux cockiness right? Or should I say... shuttle-cockiness, ohohoh)

Boxing is not in my blood, but it’s growing on me. I hadn’t even heard of the Gay Games prior to this nor had I boxed before. But the chance to compete for Ream Cork/Ireland is an opportunity and experience one simply could not pass by... Bring it on.

I’ve been playing with the Cork Badminton Te a m f o r 1 2 y e a r s now. While it’s good physical exercise it also allows to meet new and interesting people outside of the bar setting. Fabulous group of women.

Team Cork 2018 are now a group of approximately 40+ athletes training to take part in the “Gay Games” in Paris August 2018. They have athletes from Badminton, Running, Athletics, Soccer, Swimming, Urban Dance and Boxing and form a significant part of the larger Team Ireland. The “Gay Games” is a huge event that happens every 4 years (like the Olympics). The organisers describe the games as follows: “Since 1982, the Gay Games has brought together people from all walks of life, without discrimination, around the values of diversity, respect, e q u a l i t y, s o l i d a r i t y, a n d s h a r i n g . ” The theme for the 2018 games is “All Equal”. There are estimated to be 15,000 athletes and 40,000 spectators at this event from 70 plus countries, bigger than the Common Wealth Games. Team Cork were honoured to meet the Lord Mayor of Cork City Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, w h o w i s h e d th e m l u c k on thei r tri p. Team Cork’s main sponsor is Quay Co Op, along with Eli Lilly, Sodexo, Virtustream and Chair – Artistry of Hair. Team Cork’s official send-off will be hosted by DAA Cork Airport on Friday August 3rd from 10am to 11am. All family, friends, supporters and well-wishers are welcome to attend.


Emma O’Reilly

Aoife Cooke

Ciara Mulcahy

Grainne Cummins

Kerry Vernon

Swimming and Boxing

5km and 10km run

Boxing

Boxing & Badminton

Boxing

Originally from Clare but based in Cork so at least half a rebel by now, a serving member of the defence forces.

Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.

Ciara, 29, Boxing Team coach and general full contact enthusiast.

Boxing-ton queen looking for a knockout in Paris.

I train like an athlete, eat like nutritionist, sleep like a baby and I’m going to win like a boss.

Stephen Bain

Aaron O’Sullivan

Cillian Buckley

David Meehan

Jennifer Foley

Football – Cork Rebels

5k, 10k and Half Marathon 5k and 10k

Football – Cork Rebels

Badminton

Profoundly Deaf athlete. Sign Language advocate. Moved to Cork from London in 2015. Play for Cork Rebel Football Club. Footballer by heart. Loves his Irish and British families. Chelsea fan. Never say no to Pizza and Irn Bru!

Aaron is a civil servant, originally from Midleton, East Cork, but is currently based in Dublin. Aaron is proud and excited to be part of Team Cork and Team Ireland for his first trip to the Gay Games in Paris and will be taking part in the half marathon in August.

I enjoy participating in gay sports competitions as it allows me to meet like-minded people from around the world. LGBT people obsessed with running are difficult to find! The track and field/ running competitors are like a family that meet up once a year.

It’s great craic, the lads are fairly nice and welcoming and we’re always having a laugh. Representing our county/country in Paris is a big honour and the fact we’ll be doing it together as a team is an added bonus.

I’ve been thinking of the Games as a massive sporty Pride festival. The biggest Pride I have ever been to is the Cork one so I’m really looking forward to being surrounded by 15000 plus Queer people. Where else could you experience something like that?

Diarmaid Burke

Niall Clohessy

Niamh O’Sullivan

Nicky Green

Padraig Rice

Football – Cork Rebels

Football – Cork Rebels

Swimming

Badminton

Half Marathon

The soccer team is a great way to keep fit and I’ve made lot’s of new friends from it. I look forward to playing against teams from all around the world, the weather and nights out.

There’s always a great team spirit here and it’s very good in bringing people together. The best thing about Paris is being able to experience such a huge event and competing as a team.

My reason for entering the gay games was a personal challenge. Also good excuse to get back to competitive sport.

Having competed in the Gay Games in Cologne in 2010 which was the most amazing experience, I can’t wait for Paris 2018!

Padraig Rice, 28, is the new Coordinator of the Cork Gay Project. He will be competing in the half marathon alongside his other half, Aaron.

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Playing The Field This summer the World Cup kicked off in Russia, a country that’s become infamous for their homophobic laws and rising number of hate crimes towards LGBT+ people, sparking outrage from LGBT+ football fans and LGBT+ organisations globally. Already we have seen activists being arrested in Moscow, LGBT+ fans receiving death threats and some who have been physically attacked at The World Cup.

While closer to home… “I thought that they were playing football not making a political statement.” “Shame! It’s irrelevant to the match, it’s not a gay pride event”. “This has nothing to do with football, this country needs to get a grip and soon!” These are just some of the comments made about the FAI’s Pride Month campaign. Below, the members of Cork Rebels F.C. explain why sports clubs, football clubs in particular, need to make statements like this to help combat homophobia in sport. 75% of Irish people have witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport. 77% of gay men and 90% of lesbians have heard verbal slurs, such as “faggot” or “dyke”. 41% of gay men have been bullied in sport. These are the stark findings of a recent study called, ‘Out on the Fields’, the first international study on homophobia in sport. These findings are irish. Homophobia is still present in football. The FAI (Football Association of Ireland) made a statement this month by wearing the iconic green Ireland jersey with the numbers on the back in the Pride colours. It looked amazing (fabulous!) and really was effective as a PR campaign. This statement finally acknowledged that the LGBT community does exist in the football world. The visibility alone was worth it. The positive reaction online was inspiring to read, but there was also a sizable negative reaction that showed that there is still a lot of work to be done. With this campaign, we want to be positive about the role of the FAI. Why are we doing this now? John O’Shea was subject to horrible homophobic chants by Manchester City fans back in 2009 so it was fitting that it was his last match in that

jersey. Republic of Ireland football manager, Martin O’Neil, joked about ‘queers’ in 2016. The fact is, the US national team wear the Pride colours to celebrate Pride month. This is the reason the FAI are wearing the Pride colours. A player once refused to play for the US national team because of this practice. The USA team invited members of the Dublin Devils FC to participate in training. Now that was a ‘wow’ factor right there! Have the FAI ever really done anything for the LGBT community like this? Will they invest funds to support teams? This matters. The Dublin Devils FC has been around since 2005 and has never been supported by the FAI. Even when they entered a football league affiliated with the FAI. The attitude has been that the LGBT community simply does not exist in their world so there is no problem. The Cork Rebels FC formed two years ago. At the time there were not many other sporting activities available for LGBT people, especially for men in Cork. It is not just about getting to kick the ball around every week. It is about the friends you make, the exercise you get, and the mental wellbeing you get with exercise and socialising. It incorporates all the positive aspects of sport that most LGBT people do not feel comfortable about or in which they feel like they do not belong. The Rebels have had to turn to private companies and the LGBT community for funding. Voxpro, Chambers, the Brog, and Cork Gay Project have supported the club. Without them, we would not have equipment or access to facilities to enjoy our sport. Homophobia in sport can have significant health implications on the LGBT community. LGBT people are less likely to get involved in physical sporting activities, which in turn has resulted in worse physical health and higher rates of cardiovascular disease in LGBT people. These worrying findings are particularly higher in gay males. This is clearly a reason why it is important for the FAI to issue such statements. Times are improving in the grassroots of the FAI, though. The Dublin Devils FC has had an amazing association with Shelbourne FC over the years. In June, they will have another friendly match with staff and past players. The “GayBohs” is part of a proud message of equality sent by the Bohemians supporters. They revealed a flag in support of the LGBT community. We have had similar displays of support from Cork City and a possible friendly match on the cards, as well. So, what now? There are a few things that can happen. Does it really matter if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or whatever the case may be? We are here to play sport just like everyone else. We want to compete. We want to have fun. We want to participate. It is 2018 and we are still not comfortable in our skin to kick a ball around a field. Time for the FAI to check itself. Time to create the LGBT sporting spaces that are open and in a friendly environment to enable those LGBT sports men and women to come out. It is time for society to recognise that words have consequences and homophobia will not be tolerated in sports any longer! 107


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‘I’ is for ‘Intersex’ Jack Fitzgerald speaks with Dr Tanya Ni Mhuithile

Over the last few years we have made great strides in Irish Society in recognising the rights of many different communities. We have gained new understanding of the complex world that we live in. Even then there are still areas of Irish life that we know little about and are often overlooked. One of these areas is the lived experience of intersex people and the challenges they face on a national and international level. I got the chance to speak with the amazing Dr Tanya

Ni Mhuithile who has been working closely in advocating for intersex people in Ireland having worked as a legal consultant for TENI and intersexUK. Tanya is a lecturer and law researcher in UCD focusing on the body and the law. She has written much about how law affects intersex people in Ireland and internationally. She is currently a member of the Gender Recognition Review Group.

between non-binary individuals and those who are intersex. Non-binary is a gender identity based on, not identified with, a singular gender, whereas intersex is an umbrella term that covers many different medical conditions. Those who are intersex often have a discrepancy between expected secondary and primary sexual characteristics. The rate of people born as intersex is about 1.79% which might seem like a very small portion of the population, but it is actually similar to how many people are born with red hair, or about the same size as the population of Galway.

One of the biggest problems faced by intersex people when they are born is that ld a r e they are born into a world Jack Fitzg with a gender binary; male or female. This is problematic as intersex people do not fit neatly into either definition and often there is medical intervention to make them fit. These In my conversation with Dr Ni Mhuithile, I interventions can be either surgical or hormonal. discovered how complex intersex is. She These surgeries are often performed to help speaks about how there is often confusion the intersex individual fit in more with society. 110


As Dr Ni Mhuithile said, these procedures are often just cosmetic and do not change the gender of the person, but instead simply only make their sex in line with similar characteristics of male or female. This is problematic because when a person grows older they may end up not identifying with the gender that they were raised as. They might become dissatisfied with the surgery they were put through as a child as they do not feel that they had consented to these changes, which are proven to be harmful to people’s mental health.

When asked about what we can do to help those who are intersex, Dr Ni Mhuithile said that there needs to be a social change, that people should have education on intersex people and that there should be more awareness to the existence of intersex people. This is important that groups do not co-op intersex people’s struggles to further their own agenda, while leaving intersex behind, but instead to give intersex people their own advocacy.

ile

Dr Ni Mhuithile continues our conversation saying about There is little in the way of how intersex people have protection from these nona place within the queer consensual surgeries, community. Although i n t e r n a t i o n a l l y. A l some intersex people though some countries may not identify as have put some queer, it is important protections in place, to respect this. Some such as Columbia intersex people feel and Malta, where the comfortable in being surgeries are either heteronormative, while banned or must have others do not, and both informed consent from ways of existing are the family. Tanya talked h t perfectly OK. While there about the importance of hui M are many intersex people i including intersex children Dr Tanya N in Ireland, there is an absence in the dialogue; about what is of community. Given the reason to happen to their bodies at an age that many intersex people do not feel appropriate time so that they can have greater comfortable speaking out about their authority over their bodies. conditions publicly, and often feel like they are the only one. This is a feeling most queer Trying to find out about intersex people in people experience when they were first Ireland is hard since there is no significant discovering themselves, and have yet to studies carried out. Therefore, it is hard to say contact the community. Currently, there is what the lived experiences of intersex people no dedicated support group for intersex are and what their needs might be. As Dr Ni people in Ireland, although many trans groups Mhuithile put it, “we do not know how broken it welcome intersex people, as they both have is, so we do not know how to fix it.” commonalities while being different. Currently in Ireland, intersex people can be legally either male or female. If they wish to change their legal gender, they can go about it in the same way as trans people, via the Gender Recognition Act. Although intersex people face the same limitations as trans people, considering you must be over 18 years old to change your gender and only legally identify as male or female.

For those who are intersex and are looking for support, you can contact TENI to find out more information and support throughout the country. Gender Rebels Cork is the local group who welcome intersex people. There is also a lot of online support available, such as IntersexUK. Dr Ni Mhuithile advises that if you wish to connect with other intersex people, to reach out because you are not alone. 111


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Letycha Le’Synn

Mia Gold

Letycha Le’Synn was created 6 years ago especially for Cork Pride. Since then she has performed around the country and has a residency in Cork’s very own Chambers bar. Last year she was crowned the winner of Paul Ryders Ringmasters Drag Race, which is a nationwide drag contest. My inspirations come from various places. With a love for fashion and burlesque which is where I draw inspiration for my acts. In terms of other drag performers I have many people that I look to for inspiration such as the legendary Devine, to Rupaul and our own fabulous Irish queens. To me, drag is an art form and a platform for me to promote body confidence and acceptance of all shapes and sizes. In the future I wish to continue and grow within my art form. #represent4thethickergurls

Hello Gorgeous people, I’m Mia Gold, I’m (“#) years old and I’m a Drag Queen based in Cork. Originally from Portugal but calling Ireland as my home is the most wonderful thing, especially Cork City, that gave me a platform to start my Drag and grow as a person. Being a Drag Queen is like being a chameleon, you can be in a glamorous rhinestoned gown performing an emotional song and next week you can be in a sexy outfit being sex bomb performing to a provocative song. You are the artist when you’re in Drag. I chose the persona for Mia depending on my mood and on what I want to perform to or even what I want to wear, you can choose it all. Earlier this year I was crowned Miss Drag Hens Den 2018 in Limerick, one of the Drag Queens competitions for Queens around Ireland, and I’m so glad and grateful for winning the title.


THE QUEENS OF CORK

Liam Bee

Being a clubkid/drag artist to me means bending the rules of gender that our society has given us and representing a mindset that is changing towards the alternative LGBTQ+ community. The awareness of our community in Cork in 2018 is growing faster than ever and with my drag I try to push the boundaries even further of what it means to express myself as an LGBT person.

Dakota Mode

My first time out in drag (ooh girl!) was near the beginning of October 2017. My roommate at the time, Liam Bee had finally convinced me to leave the house in a dress with a shiny shake and go wig on my noggin and smeared pink lipstick - the rest is history! After NYE, things evolved; I joined Candy Warhols ‘Mockie Ah!’ family and was offered a job co-hosting a new night in Chambers called ‘Trump Thursdays’. Members from the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community began reaching out to me on multiple platforms saying how the Cork drag scene was becoming so much more than ‘just a night out’ - how it gave members of our community a safe space to just be themselves with zero judgement or societal repercussions. Hearing that was worth its weight in gold! Drag to me is a freedom of artistic and political expression - an art form of zero rules. I implore anyone who has ever thought about doing drag to try it at least once; whether you’re a man or woman, Drag is for everyone and anyone! I know it’s cliché to say this but it really is empowering! I’ve met some of the best people in my life thus far by becoming a Drag Artist - I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner!

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THE REMAINING CHALLENGES:

R I G H T S, R E S O U R C E S A N D R E P R E S E N TAT I O N .

BY PADRAIG RICE On the day I started as the Coordinator of the Cork Gay Project, I saw two young men walking down South Terrace, elbows linked, and arms tucked together. Both looked blissfully h a p p y, b o t h u n h i n d e r e d a n d unashamed. What once would have been an act of political defiance, for them seemed like a simple act of love. I knew in that moment that the challenges we faced as a community had changed significantly. Thanks to the work of brave men and women like Artur Leahy, Katherine Zappone, Dave Roche and Ann Louise Gilligan we have won the battle to have same sex love recognised as equal culminating in a change to the Constitution. This was a momentous achievement of global significance. As Senator David Norris said i n t h e C o u r t Ya r d o f D u b l i n Castle, as the votes in the Marriage Referendum came trundling in from around the country, ‘The message from this small independent republic to the entire world is one of dignity and freedom and tolerance. Liberté, égalité, fraternité.’ While marriage is an importance right, it is just one piece in the jigsaw of LGBTI+ civil rights. Earlier this summer ILGA-Europe rated and ranked all of the European countries 118

in terms of LGBT human rights and policy protections. Ireland came 15th with a score of 52%. Almost half of our jigsaw of rights is missing. As an example, the equal family rights passed as part of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 have yet to be commenced. As a result some LGBT parents remain legal strangers to the children they are raising. Young trans* people, non-binary and gender fluid people do not have the legal right to have their gender recognised. It is still legal for people to practice dangerous conversion therapy and we do not have a workable hate crime l a w. Ou r ri ght t o s af et y and freedom from harm will not be vindicated until such a law is passed. In addition to advancing the rights agenda, our community also faces a number of health challenges that require resources. According to the LGBT Ireland (2016) study 33% of LGBT 14-18 year olds had attempted suicide. 56% had self-harmed. 70% had seriously thought of ending their own life. Comparing the results of this study to the My World National Youth Mental Health Study, LGBTI young people had: • twice the level of self-harm. • three times the level of attempted suicide. • four times the level of severe or extremely severe stress, anxiety and depression.

The report pointed to barriers for the community in accessing services. All too often mental health practitioners are not sufficiently aware of LGBT identities and appropriate language use in particular for bi and trans people.The assumption of heterosexuality can be a real challenge. From our end, the Cork Gay Project is seeking to build up community connections and resilience. To achieve that, we: • Host UP Cork the LGBT Youth Group Every Tuesday and Wednesday. • Run a social group for adults that meets every Tuesday at 7pm. • Provide a weekly drop in social every Friday from 1pm – 6pm. • Help run the national LGBT Helpline (1890 929 539). • Support a group for LGB parents that meets at 7pm on the second Friday of every month. • Host an AA group ‘Live and Let Live’ that meets every Saturday evening. • Run a number of one off workshops and talks. • Seek to make schools and workplaces more inclusive places through training, awareness campaigns and building visibility. In addition to mental health there are also sexual health challenges. For example, in the last two years we have seen the highest number of


representation. While we face challenges, Ireland is a great place to be LGBT, thanks to the work of those who have gone before us. With your support we will continue their work and strive to ensure that Ireland will always be that beacon of hope for LGBTI+ people around the world.

new HIV infections on record – half of those among men who have sex with men. It is a cause of concern for me that there are no dedicated Gay Men’s Health Services outside of Dublin and that PrEP is not widely accessible. Sex education in schools is failing young LGBT people; it needs to be radically reformed and made empowering, LGBT inclusive and honest. For our part, the Cork Gay Project is trying to improve the community’s sexual health by providing free condoms, rapid HIV tests and facilitating and supporting renewed community HIV activism. Achieving adequate representation is another key challenge. Across Irish life, LGBT people are not always visible or present. For example, Ireland has never elected an openly bi or trans person to the Oireachtas. Until 2011 there had never been an out gay TD. In 2016 Dr Zappone became the first out lesbian elected to the Dáil. While we make up about 10% of the population we make up just 1% of the Dáil. Every day the Cork Gay Project seeks to create greater visibility for the community through campaigns, outreach and the media. Personally, I dream of an Ireland where we are visible in every walk of life. Where the inter county GAA player does not fear the lads will find out that he is bi. Where the Irish language super hero on TG4 happens to be lesbian. Where

the woman from the post office can feel happy to share her trans identity without fear of her shop being attacked. While we have come a long way, we have a way to go to achieve that level of representation and acceptance. To achieve all of the above we need your help. If you have expertise in an area you could run a workshop or class. If you have free time you could volunteer or join a campaign team. If you have the ability you could make a donation or organise a fundraiser. Any money raised will be put to good use; fighting for rights, developing community resources and improving LGBTI+

About the Cork Gay Project:

The Cork Gay Project is a charity that works with and for the gay, bi, queer and trans* community. They provide information, support and social opportunities as well as engaging in education, outreach, awareness building, and seek to influence LGBT policy at a local, national and international level. They are a network member of LGBT Ireland and host the LGBT Helpline. They are also a member of the Cork LGBT Inter-Agency Group. How to Contact the Cork Gay Project: Email: padraig@gayprojectcork.com Phone: 021 4300430 Facebook & Twitter: @gayprojectcork 119


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Bi-niversity Challenge:

A Conversation between Donna Alexander and Ellen Desmond

Donna Alexander

Ellen Desmond

This is a conversation about bisexuality in the university and beyond between Dr Donna Alexander and Ellen Desmond. Donna and Ellen first met when Donna was an assistant lecturer and Ellen was a student in University College Cork. DONNA: This is me. My name is Donna. You first met me when you took my seminar on Gothic American Literature. I don’t remember discussing LGBTQ+ issues in that seminar. But I was then, as I am now, a bisexual, feminist academic who loves to teach. ELLEN: This is me. My name is Ellen. When we first met I was studying English with the hope of working in publishing and I wasn’t yet labelling my sexuality. I am now a professional publisher and comfortable being bisexual. D: It has been really interesting to follow your career since you graduated. I was so proud when you started Monstrous Regiment Publishing and that your first publication was The Bi-ble: An Anthology of Essays and Personal Narratives about Bisexuality. E: Thank you so much! You were of great support with The Bi-ble’s crowdfund! Before that I don’t remember ever talking about bisexuality or LGBTQ+ issues with you explicitly or in your class, but I do recall you once saying that you hoped we all knew gender and sexuality are a spectrum. I was really impressed with this, and I found academia relatively liberal most of the time perhaps more so for feminist issues than LGBTQ+ ones. D: I am glad I said that! One of my enduring memories of that seminar was when I explained Freud’s “The Uncanny” using a scene from IT and ended up scaring the living daylights out of us all! Fitting for a Gothic literature seminar I guess! 122

E: I also really enjoyed the story you told about someone coming over to your place dressed as a clown to scare you… D: I do remember that! I sometimes use personal anecdotes in class if they benefit learning, but only recently started including bisexuality. One of the things I love about being an academic is the flexibility we have in terms of what we research and teach, and the opportunities this offers in terms of connecting with students in real ways both intellectually and socio-politically. E: That’s interesting. I often noticed other lecturers bringing their true selves to class socio-politically but I can’t recall any lecturers (or teachers) of mine ever being “out” about their sexuality. Plenty expressed LGBTQ+ support in vague ways. Once, another past lecturer of mine subtly called a student out on possible bi-erasure (bisexual erasure or bisexual invisibility). This meant a lot to me, because at that time I had only ever dated men, and I was struggling to allow myself the label bisexual, as many do for this reason. I think I would have been extremely impressed if a lecturer had ever identified explicitly as bisexual in a class. Knowing that more bisexuals were walking around and getting on with their days (as everyone else is) would have without a doubt “normalised” it for me at that point of my life. The majority of “out” bisexuals I knew back then were in activist circles, and so that is the only way I saw them standing up for their rights - rather than just seeing them in their everyday lives. However, I do think this is something that would be pretty scary. I’m not sure how I would handle it if I was a lecturer and I can’t seem to put myself in your shoes as I work in a very different environment. What is it that you do now to express it? D: Like many people I had a very painful coming out. I avoided expressing it in the classroom at first to avoid confronting some difficult memories even though sexuality comes up a lot in my work because I teach a lot of queer feminist writers and topics. But I was moved by LGBTQ+ students who spoke openly about their experiences during lectures. I feel I owe students the same openness. Moreover, even though we live in a “New Ireland” that has seen a lot of positive social changes in a short amount of time (marriage equality, Gender Recognition Act, repeal of the Eighth), we still need to have these conversations, ensure visibility of issues that affect us, and be role models wherever possible. I think university is a great place for this. I hope the aforementioned changes mean that these conversations will happen even earlier in students’ lives. I’m inspired by the work of Sara Ahmed. In Queer Phenomenologies she explores what it means to be “oriented.” She says that we are “turned towards certain objects, those


that help us to find our way.” I thought this was an interesting way to think about being a bi academic, the research I “orient” towards, which is often queer and always feminist. It also made me consider how I can “orient” myself towards students in more authentic ways. E: I’m grateful to have reached adulthood just as this “New Ireland” has been born, but it’s still a “read the room first” thing for me when I discuss bisexuality. I really wish it wasn’t, but I’m ashamed to admit I’m not always strong enough for confrontation. In particular, microagressions are something that really seem to chip away at me. I’m interested in this idea that some heterosexual people think LGBTQ+ people flaunt their sexuality too much. It was recently pointed out to me that not only do some people find such solace in certain expressions of their queer sexualities solely because they were denied their identity for so long and are finally able to embrace it, but no one expresses their sexuality more than straight people! It’s in every movie, book, and conversation about a straight person’s life and they don’t have to explain it because it’s always seen as default. It’s usually very safe to just casually refer to an opposite sex partner by their pronouns for example, but oftentimes LGBTQ+ people in same sex couples have to skirt around their partner’s pronouns when meeting new people - especially in workplaces, or perhaps in class. This may seem small, but it really starts to sting. D: I sometimes refer to my partner without using pronouns in order to avoid assumptions about my sexuality. Ambiguity is a more comfortable place for me because everything can be assumed and nothing can be erased. Someone once remarked that it “makes sense” that my partner is a cis man because “all bisexual women really crave that.” Aside from the obvious bi-erasure, it was offensive to assume that my partner was only fulfilling some heteronormative need. It’s no surprise that my gravitation towards ambiguity in terms of sexuality also leads me to teach subjects like Gothic literature. Liminality and that idea of being betwixt and between are such important aspects of it. Isn’t it such a happy coincidence that that is how we first connected? E: Yes, that is. I think bisexuals often find each other through literature and pop culture. I’m not sure how explicitly LGBTQ+ sexuality was covered during my time in academia because on the one hand, I was looking for those topics within everything anyway. On the other hand, the things that were covered were so liberal they opened doors, and led to interesting discussions with classmates - many of whom I was surprised to hear identified as bisexual. H.D. stands out for me as a bisexual writer I don’t think I’d have easily found on my own, and I appreciated that introduction from the School of English. It also came up with Woolf - of course - as she appears to have lived quite a

bisexual lifestyle. Interestingly, another passion of mine is mental health, and discussing Woolf with others has often led me to hear about their invisible emotional struggles. Mental health is something that came up a lot when I was doing research before editing The Bi-ble. Statistics about bisexual mental health are particularly bleak. D: I’m glad The Bi-ble emphasises mental health. Many LGBTQ+ students have spoken to me about mental health issues, often connected to social stigma and/or the stress of coming out. Being a lecturer is not just being a “sage on the stage.” There is an important pastoral care element: another reason why I am more open with students. Bi-erasure and bi stereotypes can make us feel like we do not exist, that we are unwanted, and that we are not important. At some point we have all looked at that “B” in LGBTQ+ and wondered what it really means to everyone else. One thing I don’t ever want it to imply is “bi-stander.” If there is even one bi student in the room who feels invisible I hope my openness might help lessen that. E: I admire that a lot because I know a few academics who say they tend to struggle with the pastoral care element. Even though you weren’t out with my class, I definitely noticed and appreciated your pastoral approach. Creating a place for those who feel invisible is what we’re hoping our book will do, too. There aren’t many accessible resources about bisexuality. We wanted to put something out there so people could find their kin and read personal testaments where they may see themselves reflected clearly. It doesn’t have all the answers, but it’s a book full of bisexual people who - at the very least - show they can understand.

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UCC LGBT Society UCC LGBT* Society is a fun-loving, safe haven for Queer people in UCC. The society aims to provide a space where LGBTQI+ students and allies can feel at home and socialise in a safe environment and to provide social support for those in the process of “coming out”. We also raise awareness of LGBT* issues through various campaigns and events. First of all, a short history lesson on UCC LGBT* Society. UCC LGBT* Society was set up 38 years ago by Cathal Kerrigan, who at the time was president of the Student’s Union. The society was not recognised by the college until 1989, an entire decade later. This fight for recognition and a place within UCC set our society on the path of activism and political action from the beginning, which was reflected in our successes this academic year. Our previous chairperson Kelly Doherty, led the society to campaign for reproductive rights for everyone and inclusivity in the Abortion Rights Campaign debates. We highlighted issues facing young LGBT people such as mental health, homelessness, drug

use and drug addiction, and safe sex. We collaborated with a multitude of societies, reaching an even wider audience than before, and solidifying that place our predecessors fought so hard to get in the first place. Alongside our political events and campaigns, we also organised the first ever free, student run Queer Conference. Many inf luential speakers came to UCC to discuss LGBT* issues from education, diversity, the workplace, and Irish culture with speakers, such as James Kavanagh and Brian Kennedy. Queer conference was the first society run educational event of its kind, which strays from the typical social LGBT* society events. Our members could listen to experts in their respective fields talk about the struggles and share their experiences. The innovation of our first ever UCC Queer Conference lay surely in the diversity of the topics ranging from cultural, political to the everyday life. It was a unique event where LGBT* students and allies listen to such a wide range of topics in a single conference and ask questions and share their own stories as well. Our topics were broad enough to encompass many aspects of LGBT* life in Ireland, from diversity, LGBT* in the workplace, Irish culture and education. T he conference even won us a STAR award for Best Academic Event, awarded to us by UCC. The success of our society this year can be reflected in the many awards we were nominated for and the awards we won. At the STAR Awards, we won Best Conference/ Academic Event

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and Best Social Society, of which both trophies now take pride and place on my mantle-piece. We were runners-up for Best Promotion and Best Innovative Event for our bimonthly club night and collaboration with UCC Feminist Society, Future. We were shortlisted for a further five categories. It was the best feeling to have recognised the hard work we put in all year.

Fr o m h e r e we we n t o n t o b e nom i nated for Board o f I r i sh College Societies (BICS) awards and USI Student Achievement Awards Ireland. June 1st marked the changeover of committees, and the start of a new academic year. This also begins my new role as chairperson. The overarching theme for this year is celebration. We want to build on our successes from the previous year by continuing our club night, ‘Future’, Queer Conference, our biweekly brunches, and ‘Lunch with LGBT*’. We want to engage more with external LGBT* organisations, build relations with organisations like the LGBT Staff Network and Cork Gay Project, to name but a few. I am excited for the future! So, let us hope I can make this upcoming year as fun and as ambitious as the previous year. -

Hannah

O’Connor


Rainbows and Song at UCC

Proudly Celebrating the 10th Birthday of the UCC LGBT Staff Network In October the University College Cork LGBT Staff Network celebrated a major milestone, our 10th birthday. It was a night to remember, with inspirational speeches by the President and Deputy President of UCC, a beautiful and rousing performance by Choral Confusion, a well-attended and lively reception and social event in UCC’s Aula Maxima, and the rainbow flag flying proudly in UCC’s main quad.

businesses; assisted with the drafting of UCC’s first ever gender identity and expression policy; organised public seminars; and campaigned for a ‘yes’ vote in the marriage referendum. Notwithstanding our advanced age of 10 years, we have no intention of slowing down. We recognise and embrace the old Industrial Workers of the World motto, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all’, and are committed to doing everything in our power to support our sisters and brothers working for gender, racial, ethnic, and religious equality; an end to all discrimination based on disability; full recognition of the rights of trans and non-binary staff and students; and greater access to the university for under-represented groups, from Traveller staff and students to refugees to mature students and those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The plans and accomplishments of the UCC LGBT Staff Network, while a source of immense pride to me and my Network colleagues, might appear rather modest to some. And, indeed, in the great scheme of things, they are a little thing. But, to draw on a metaphor from the distinguished American author Ursula K. Le Guin’s wonderful short story ‘A Woman’s Liberation’, so too is a key a little thing, next to the door it opens. If you lose the key, the door may never be unlocked.

The event was above all a celebration of equality, diversity and inclusion. The LGBT Staff Network was established 10 years ago to promote these same values. Our aim, then and now, is to work with management and staff of the university to help create a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment that encourages a culture of respect and equality for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in order that every individual can reach their full potential without fear of discrimination. We have achieved some notable successes. In the years of my association with it the Network has provided a forum for networking, information sharing and peer support (the coffee mornings and ‘meet and greets’ are particularly popular!); raised the visibility of LGBT* issues at UCC; supported our colleagues in Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway to create thriving Staff Networks of their own; participated in Cork Pride and Cork LGBT Awareness Week; shared information and best practice with local

The door that I would like to unlock is one that leads to a qualitatively different and better world, one much more honest and open and loving than our own, in which establishing one’s man- or womanhood is no longer bound up with the rejection of homosexuality, and there is instead broad equality of sexes and sexual orientations and manly women and womanly men; a much less violent and hate-filled world in which we are able to realise genuine freedom insofar as all human beings, women and men, are equally free; and in which human diversity in all its wonderful splendour is a source of pride and celebration, where (in gay liberation pioneer Dennis Altman’s eloquent words) we at last come to the realisation that we all possess far greater potential for love and human relationships than social and cultural structures have hitherto allowed us to reveal. Happy Birthday to the UCC LGBT Staff Network, and Happy Pride to one and all! Laurence Davis is Co-Chair of the UCC LGBT Staff Network

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CIT LGBT* SOCIETY CIT LGBT* is a college society that is open to all full-time students of CIT. We meet weekly for various types of e vents dep ending on w hat our members want to do. We aim to make members feel welcome and included in the Institute, and to enhance their ‘student experience’. We also try to provide a private and confidential forum where members can be themselves and to

e ns u re t h e y h ave the information and tools they need to help them on their individual journeys. The CIT LGBT* Society has come a long way since the year 2000/2001, and has quickly grown over the last number of years, particularly due to the hard work and dedication of our committees, which have been led by Stephanie Fogarty (2014-17) and Michelle Desmond (2017-18). After being First Year Rep on the committee last year and having the opportunity to learn from Stephanie and Michelle, I am delighted to b e taking on the position of CIT LGBT* Society Chairperson this year. We have a great committee again this year, which I absolutely adore. We will be looking to fill two or three more committee positions in September. Having been a volunteer in various parts of the LGBT+ community in Cork for several years, I am very aware of the struggles people identifying as LGBT+ face. I believe any groups, clubs or college societies that can support people who are struggling is important. The LGBT

Ireland report, released in 2016, showed that young people, aged 14-25 who identify as LGBT+ were two times more l ikely to self-harm, three times more likely to have attempted suicide, and four times more likely to suffer from severe or extremely severe stress, anxiety and depression. This was compared to the My World National Youth Mental Health Study. As a college society most of our members fall into the age group these studies were carried out on. So, for those reasons I think it is extremely important to have a college society that provides a safe and supportive space for our members.

Going forward this year as the newly elected Chairperson, I hope to b e able to t a ke w hat I have le ar ne d t hus far as a C ommunity Development student, combined with my experience volunteering with Cork Gay Project, and to apply them to what we do as a society, next year. We will be keeping our annual events, such as LGBT Prom, our Christmas Charity Drive and our work with CIT Students Union on different campaigns, in addition to our smaller weekly meet ups. What I hope to accomplish this year as Chairperson is to work more with other LGBT+ Societies; different societies in CIT and with our local LGBT+ organisations. Most of our members come straight from secondary level and have experienced many issues for being LGBT+. Therefore, I have a particular interest in what we as a society can do to help those younger LGBT+ kids in secondary level who are struggling with their sexuality and gender identity. As a committee, we have a few things in the works; it is going to be an exciting year and I am looking forward to contributing to the continued growth of our CIT LGBT* family. 129


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