27 JULY - 2 AUGUST 2015
PROUD TO BE...
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Cork Pride Festival Chairman’s Address
A very warm welcome to the 10th Cork LGBT Pride Festival! Over the past 10 years, the Cork Pride Festival has grown exponentially to become the largest festival of its type outside the capital. We hope that whether it’s your first visit to our festival, or whether you’ve travelled with us from the beginning, that you’ll thoroughly enjoy our programme of events this year. Please take the time to plan your schedule to take in as many of the events as you can; especially the community events. This year, these include a Coming Out talk, a Sexual Awareness evening, a Transgender Workshop and the Family Fun Day, in addition to the main event, the 10th Cork Pride Festival Parade. I would also like to invite everyone to attend the official opening of the 10th Cork Pride Festival in City Hall on Monday 27th July at 7p.m. The theme this year is “Proud to be…” which will of course have different connotations for different people. It could be that you’re Proud to be a parent to an LGBT son or daughter, it could be that you’re Proud to be in love with the person you’re in love with, or it could be that you’re Proud to be Irish, after the historic Referendum result in our tolerant and accepting little country, that has now rendered each and every member of the LGBT community equal in the eyes of the State. Our theme is there to provoke the question, what are you Proud to be? We should all be Proud to be living in a country that has come so far in so little time. Who would have thought in 1993 when homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland, that a little over twenty years later
Equal Marriage for LGBT couples would be legislated for by the electorate for the first time in the world, by a margin of over 62% nationally? The Yes Equality campaign was the first time I saw a real and palpable sense of commonality of purpose within the LGBT community, which politicized many young people who had previously been apathetic to such causes. This sense of community must now continue to be harnessed and built upon, as we have now seen what can be achieved when we all work together; this is after all what Pride is all about. The campaign was not without its negativity however, when groups from the No campaign tried to muddy the waters and confuse the electorate with a campaign that relied on misinformation, creating fear and uncertainty about issues that the Referendum simply wasn’t about. Many of our community felt vulnerable and bullied by this campaign, which became less and less about the matter at hand as the campaign progressed. Whilst the Yes campaign ultimately triumphed, the No campaign has left many scars on our community that will take time to heal. It has been an emotional journey for our community, but all the hard work has finally paid off. We should be proud of this monumental achievement, as this Referendum would not have passed without your support and the support of your family and friends. I’d like to say a huge thank you to our supporters; without their stoic support year after year, the Cork Pride Festival simply couldn’t operate. I would therefore ask that when you’re buying a product or service, please bear in mind the advertisers in this magazine. They have supported us; we need to support them in return. Each and every one has been handpicked - and is fabulous, so this really isn’t a big ask! Finally, I’d like to say thank you to the Cork Pride Festival Committee, and the army of volunteers who all give up hours, days, weeks and months of their free time to make this all happen. Each and every person brings something unique to the table, and it is this eclectic combination of skills and personalities that has made the Cork Pride Festival the success it has become. Wishing you all a happy and safe Pride, and a very happy 10th birthday to Cork Pride! Clive Davis Cork Pride Festival Chairperson 2015
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Clive Davis Chairman Chairman’s address Clive Davis Ted O’Connell Vice Chairman Joe Mulrennan Secretary & Design Proud To Be A Yes Equality Cork Kate Moynihan Treasurer Volunteer - Sarah O’Sullivan JP McCarthy PR & Marketing Denise Boyle Parade Proud Of What We’ve Done Colm O’Gorman Giles Reid Marketing & Design Aaron Blake Community Events Proud To Have Been There Karla Crowley Community Events Brian O’Rourke Olly Foley Social Media Proud To Be A Dreamer Dave Roche Proud To Play My Part Valerie Mulcahy
Big Thank You To:
Proud To Be Priviliged Tara Flynn
Proud To Be A Cork Man Brian O’Flynn
Kerry Mullally Fundraising & Sponsorship Co-ordinator Paddy Carty Evergreen Print. Web Design Justin Cronin Coolgrey Printer Marcin Lewandowski soundofphotography.com Peter O’Toole Cover Photograph
Arthur In Conversation with Neil Arthur Leahy & Neil Prendiville
And all the many others who give unselfishly of their time to make this festival better and better.
Mr. Cork Proud To Be Nathan Adams
Proud To Be One Of You Kate Moynihan
Proud To Be Asked Joe Noonan
Proud to Be A Committee Member Rebecca Murphy
Proud To Be A Mother Margie Fennelly
Proud To Represent Jerry Buttimer
Proud To Be A Family Nora Dennehy & Ted O’Connell
Are You Proud Of You Geraldine McAleese
Be Proud Of Yourself Davina Staunton
Proud To Serve Sarah Marry
Content Contributors: Nathan Adams Jerry Buttimer Nora Dennehy Margie Fennelly Tara Flynn Arthur Leahy Sarah Marry Geraldine McAleese Kate Moynihan Valerie Mulcahy Rebecca Murphy Joe Noonan Brian O’Flynn Brian O’Rourke Dave Roche
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Sarah O’Sullivan is from Kinsale in County Cork. She is a part time cowgirl, part time poet and part time administrator in LINC. She has been involved in activism for LGBT rights and animal rights for many years.
I wanted to do something,
to be involved in some way, with the Yes Equality Cork campaign but I didn’t think I was up for canvassing. The idea of approaching strangers, whether on their doorstep or the street, and discussing marriage equality for the LGBT community was a little bit terrifying. I attended canvassing training in 8 North Mall in early April facilitated by Jerry Buttimer and some of the things he said made me re-evaluate what my role could be. When he said that speaking to people was the best way to make a difference I decided that just because this was way outside my comfort zone was insignificant compared to the bigger picture. This was before the No side ramped up their campaign, but the idea that we might, on May 23rd, find ourselves faced with a No vote win was bad enough, I didn’t want to face that kind of national rejection and also deal with personal regrets that I should have done more. I decided that whatever trepidation I felt about canvassing was nothing compared to how horrific that would be. 8
I decided to start a canvassing hub in Kinsale as that is where I am from. Two friends of mine who are also gay and live in Kinsale and my Mammy came with me. It’s a small town and between us we knew a lot of people. I hoped that if people knew us, or just recognised us from around town, they might remember that we had personally asked them to vote Yes on May 22nd. A few doors we called to that first night were a definite yes, but the comment here and there of “Sure, do ye even need to be canvassing” worried me. I felt that the Yes would win, but only if people actually voted, and I was really worried that complacency in a Yes win would be the end of us. There were so many pleasant surprises along the way. Of course it wasn’t always easy, talking to people who were voting No, and I found the church canvass particularly difficult as that was my first encounter with No canvassers but there was so much positive support from all different quarters that it restored my faith in humanity and the people living in this country.
Some neighbours from where I grew up who I would have thought were a definite No overwhelmed me with their support when I knocked on the door. The businesses of the town were hugely generous in donating prizes for a fundraiser night we held, and advertising the event. My family, who I know support me, but who at the beginning I believed were silent Yeses did not stay silent. One of my cousins who is very involved in the local church resigned her position on the parish Assembly over the Bishop’s insistence that she vote no, and came to hand out the Yes letters outside the church with me, just when I thought I was going to be on my own outside the church that Saturday evening. On Sunday morning I got a random phone call from someone from Kinsale who lives in Dublin, she was down visiting her mother and they came to hand out letters at the church too. By the last mass on Sunday the Yes canvassers outnumbered the no canvassers 3 to 1. There really is strength in numbers.
The Yes Equality Cork Volunteers Facebook page was always a source of encouragement. We were struggling with numbers of people to canvass here and any time someone showed up to help it was a fantastic feeling. We had 10 people on the first night and I thought “we might actually get this done” but for the 4 weeks after that it was just me with one or two other people. We walked every street, road, alley and hill in Kinsale, and there are a lot of hills in Kinsale!
Just when I thought we were never going to get to every house before the vote the cavalry arrived. People from Cork on the volunteers Facebook page came to help so that on the last night of canvassing we had 16 people climbing up and down the hills of Summercove. I phoned the local retirement home to ask if I could call in and speak to the people living there. I was expecting to meet people in their visitors room and speak to one or two at a time, but they said I could come the next morning as they were having an assembly and I could give a talk to the whole group at once. That was a bit daunting! I immediately rang HQ and asked for someone to come and help me.
They dispatched John Calnan who came to my aid and both of us and my Mammy (what would we do without Irish mammies?) went and spoke about why a Yes vote was important to us. We stayed after and chatted to a couple of people who had questions, and I came away feeling we had added a few Yes votes that we hadnâ€™t had before. I am so glad I was involved in this movement. The scale of it blew me away. I made new friends and
I could probably write a PhD on letter boxes by now! I am proud to be Irish, I am proud to be from Cork, I am proud to be a member of the Kinsale community , I am proud to be a member of my wonderful family and every Yes Equality Cork volunteer I met made me proud to be a volunteer too, you are all my heroes!
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We’re tickled pink (plus red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet) to support you - our local LGBT community - each and every day of the year, and we’ve got some great days and nights planned for this year’s festival.
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Proud of what we’ve done!
Colm O’Gorman, 48, hails from Co Wexford. He married his long-time partner, Paul, in 2011 in New York. Together they raise their son, Sean, 18, and daughter, Safia 15. They describe their family as just as boring and challenging as any other. Colm came to note initially as the founder of abuse survivors charity ‘One In Four’. He was elected to the Irish Senate in 2007. He is currently executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland. He most recently played a significant role in the campaign for a Yes vote in the recent marriage referendum. The highlight of his career however has yet to come when he will be Grand Marshall in Corks Pride Parade on August 2nd!
Pride takes on a deeper meaning this year. In May Ireland said a big, bold, proud ‘I Do’ to marriage equality. We became the 20th country in the world to guarantee LGBTI people full equality in our civil marriage laws, and the very first to do so by a popular vote. It took the world by surprise. It was clear that much of the world still saw Ireland as a regressive state and society, with deeply conservative attitudes to social issues such as LGBTI rights. In the days that followed the referendum result governments in countries such as Germany, Austria, Italy and Australia faced demands to introduce marriage equality, with politicians and commentators suggesting that if a ‘conservative’ country like Ireland could do this, then surely theirs could too. Our vote, and the joyous, positive mood within which it took place, is still causing ripples across the world. And of course it is profound and wonderful that we have been able to send such a hopeful, joyous message out to LGBTI people and their allies across the world. In my work with Amnesty International I know how 12
important such messages are to people facing terrible persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in other countries. The dignity and humanity of our campaign is a beacon to them, showing that change is possible. They draw strength from the fact that a country which only decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 can move in the space of only 22 years, to introduce full civil marriage equality. And that is something we can be proud of. What I love most about the outcome of our referendum though, is not so much what it says to other people about who we are, but what it says to us. I love the fact that as we moved through the campaign, the generosity, decency and humanity of Irish people came to the fore. Many people predicted that the referendum campaign would be divisive and vitriolic, and some media commentators doggedly held that view throughout the campaign despite all the evidence to the contrary. But it was not. It has its moments of course, occasions where some people on either side got carried away on Twitter…but since when has the rubbish that some people write in
social media defined the quality or nature of our public debate? Lots of daft, even hateful, stuff gets spouted on social media all the time, try saying something negative about Niall Horan’s latest hair style and you’ll see what I mean! But my abiding memories of the campaign will not be such stuff. Instead I will remember the amazing conversations, both online and offline that I had with people all across Ireland. I will remember the Friday that the No side launched their campaign, and how we got #FamilyMatters trending online as hundreds of people posted beautiful pictures of their Yes Equality families. People wanted to counteract the undercurrent of the No side campaign, which suggested that one, narrowly defined family was superior to all others, and did so with gorgeous pictures of their families, proclaiming their support for a Yes vote. I remember the conversations I had with people when out canvassing or taking part in public meetings right across the country. In Galway, Wexford, Dublin, Wicklow, Waterford, Cork and in Bantry. People of all ages, of different faiths and of none. People who told me they were going to vote Yes for their brother or sister, for their aunt or their uncle, for a workmate or friend, or just because they believed that we should respect and cherish the loving relations of everyone equally. Every one of those conversations lifted my heart, and made me proud. I was proud too as I witnessed the courage and integrity of so many people who got
out and worked to secure a Yes victory. People who went door to door, street by street, asking people to vote Yes. It’s quite the thing to have to ask your fellow citizens to grant you equal rights. No-one should have to of course, but the way in which the courts had previously interpreted our constitution meant that we had to. So we did. It took courage to do so, most especially for those who had never been so public about our sexuality before. I will never forget how LGBTI people right across Ireland laid their lives bare for others to asses and judge. We had to go out and lay bare the most precious, intimate aspects of our lives and open them up for public comment. We had to listen as some sought to devalue us and our lives, and calmly but passionately rebut their attempts to denigrate or dismiss us. It wasn’t easy, in fact at times it was pretty awful, but more often than not, it was also amazing. As the campaign started, we knew the polls looked good, and we knew we could win the referendum if we could convince enough people to go and vote, but would we be able to get them out? Pollsters were telling us that the Yes vote was ‘soft’, that whilst people were generally supportive, they might not feel that the referendum mattered enough to them personally to actually go and vote. That’s the problem with minority rights being dependent upon majority support; it’s not just that the majority might be openly hostile to equality for a minority, but that even if they are not, they may just not care enough be actively supportive.
So as we headed out to canvass, to go doorto-door asking people for their permission to marry the person we love, we didn’t know quite what to expect. And yes, we met hostility, prejudice and bigotry, but for every hateful comment or insult, for every dismissal of our worth and our dignity, we experienced countless expressions of support and of genuine regard. I think that took many of us by surprise. And it was wonderful. Wonderful too was the fact that the campaign was not left to LGBTI people, instead thousands of our allies joined with us, and worked to secure our victory. We had conversations we will never forget, with our own families, our friends, our neighbours and our workmates. And they stood with us. They joined us and went out there and had conversations with countless others. And those are the conversations that won the referendum, and that may well have helped usher in a more confident, more open kind of public debate here in Ireland. Polling day was electric. You could feel the momentum build as the day passed. There were queues at some polling stations when they opened. There was an energy and an excitement to this ballot that we had never seen before. Online, people were posting pictures from outside the polling stations, big beaming smiles shone out, families went to vote together. Parents held up their toddlers to drop their votes into the ballot box, there was a sense of history in the air. It was clear from early on - something
extraordinary was happening. Thousands of recent emigres’ made long journeys home to vote. #HometoVote lit up social media all day, reducing many of us, and most definitely me, to tears as we witnessed those who had left Ireland in often difficult circumstances come home to help make it a better place. And within twenty minutes of the ballot boxes being opened for the count on 23 May, it was clear that we had all done something truly wonderful. Ireland said yes! And not a mild mannered, squeaking over the line kind of yes, but a big loud, passionate, determined, bold and proud Yes! It was amazing. It’s one of those moments in time that we will never forget. One of those days we will likely tell our grandchildren about. The day when Ireland became not something new, but something we always were, when we became the best of ourselves. We reconnected with a decency and a generosity that runs deeply through our culture, something much more deeply embedded in our traditions than we often appreciate. Something deeper than politics or even than faith. We reconnected with an understanding that loving, care giving relationships matter, regardless of their conformity to rigid ideological demands. We reconnected to an understanding that family matters, and that Irish families come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. And we said yes, and of that, I am very, very proud.
Marcin Lewandowski / soundofphotography.com
deeper than I could have imagined. I talked, they listened; they talked and I listened and there for me began a ‘listening process’ that was to last until I left Cork at the end of 2014. As a result of the new relationship with members of the LGBT community a Remembrance Service was held in Pride Week that year. If I may borrow Rick’s closing lines from Casablanca, I think this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Many special Christmas Carol services and Remembrance services were to follow. The most special occasion was the blessing of the rings of some very dear parishioners on Pentecost Sunday, 2014. Brian O’Rourke is an Anglican priest and rector of Portlaoise and Ballyfin. From 2000-2015 he was rector of St Anne’s - Shandon, Cork. Married to Agnes, they have two grown up children and two grown up dogs.
Proud To Have Been There The Oxford English Dictionary defines PROUD as ‘Feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated’. I’m proud to be closely associated with the LGBT community. I’m particularly proud of one of my possessions: the ‘Straight Up’ REBEL Award, which I was awarded in 2010. Was that really five years ago? In the light of that definition, and the opportunity given me to contribute this article, I am thinking about those ‘achievements’ of which I am proud. I was fortunate to have been rector of St Anne’sShandon for fifteen years. Therefore, I am writing from an Anglican priest’s perspective. It was during my time on the north side of Cork city that I made contact with the LGBT community and encountered some of the most amazing people you would wish to meet. It began with a meeting with Dave Roche who persuaded me to meet with some parents whose sons and daughters had ‘come out’. That meeting was an eye-opener for me and the beginning of something much 14
During the intervening years, there were conversations; there were long, long conversations with women and men in that little office beside St Anne’s, coffee and listening in the ‘Other Place’ and the odd pint in the Bierhaus. In all of this, this priest was brought on a journey. My church was saying one thing (often in the abstract) and I was listening to another voice – a voice that had been marginalized, victimised and hurt by the church. It took some time to understand the pain. I listened to people who found the readings of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) painful, to say the least! I began to understand what it meant to be excluded. And, by that understanding, I began to feel the pain that exclusion brings. For me the church has to be a place of acceptance and welcome, not a place of exclusion and condemnation. I encountered many people from the LGBT community who had lived their lives suppressing their true humanity, forced to live in an emotional prison. The kingdom of God, which I preach and teach, is for
everyone. I found it difficult to reconcile the inclusively of the Jesus in the Gospels with the declarations of the main Christian Churches. In 1998 my church stated ‘that “homosexual practice” (not necessarily orientation) is “incompatible with Scripture”. It went on to state: (This Conference) “respects as persons and seeks to strengthen compassion, pastoral care, healing, correction and restoration for all who suffer or err through homosexual or other kind of sexual brokenness.” I did not feel proud of that statement. Our response to this in St Anne’s was in our Vision Statement : ‘We are committed to taking all people seriously - married and single people, gay and straight, those who have a natural faith and those who struggle with belief. ‘ I am proud of the people in St Anne’s who made that vision come alive and welcomed the ‘gay’ community into their church. I am proud of the elderly parishioner who, when I was leaving, said that she was proud to belong to a church that welcomed everyone and meant it. But this is only one small part of the church. We have a long road ahead of us still. As a good friend wrote recently, “… and it’s not enough (for you to) know that the Church cannot defend the theology on which such Biblicist blindness and hypocrisy and deceit are built.” The debate will continue, and this priest - although in another parish in another diocese - will continue to pursue what he knows is right and just. Finally, I am PROUD of the people of Ireland who said YES to Marriage Equality in May!
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Proud To Be A Dreamer
Pride, and the concept of Pride, has been an internal struggle for me over the years. Am I proud to be gay? I don’t think so; I usually take pride as the result of some achie vement, some piece of work, and some action undertaken that resulted in something positive. I have no memory of an action that “resulted” in my being gay. I am however extremely proud that I survived the Ireland I grew up in, to emerge as the man I am now. Surviving was the achievement, but unfortunately many did not survive. I was asked once in an interview why we felt the need for a Pride parade? What were we marching for? The question threw me for a moment, and then I realised that I was not marching for something. I was marching because I could. As someone who was born in 1963, in a completely different Ireland where I was criminalised for expressing my sexual orientation for over thirty years, it was very powerful to be able to claim the main streets of my city as a gay man. I have no clear memories of the Irish State ever directly impacting on me, with the exception of the odd raid on early gay clubs such as the one on McCurtain Street. Now, however, I realise that the background stress of being an outsider, an “other” has impacted on me heavily.
Marcin Lewandowski / soundofphotography.com
Dave has been the manager of The Cork gay Project for the past fifteen years and has worked extensively in the area of community development around the issues faced by gay and bisexual men. Dave has a particular interest in education and youth development and has worked with many schools and colleges to advance awareness of how minority stress operates and how the structures of education themselves oppress minorities such as LGBT youth. Dave is a graduate of UCC where he received an honours degree in social science in 1999. Dave works in the Munster region and represents the project on a number of National bodies and networks. He is also active in a number of local and national interagency groups.
I, along with most of my generation, lived half-lives. Our visions, our aspirations, our dreams were limited as gay men. When I was thirty years of age, the State rather reluctantly decriminalised homosexual acts. While I had an awareness of decriminalisation, I cannot say that I was politically engaged enough to fully understand how momentous the change was. Decriminalisation of Homosexuality was the single most important legislative change for gay men, in particular, and laid the foundation for all social progress that followed. Yet, despite these social changes, I was afraid to nurture a vision. When civil partnership came along there was a palatable change in how I saw myself and other gay men like me. For one thing we had to go to a lot of civil ceremonies; like weddings except only different. Some civil ceremonies followed very traditional lines, like the heterosexual weddings I attended. While civil ceremonies were very special days for those who chose to
publicly declare their love for one another, I could never shake the feeling that they were different. Normally, difference is something I would celebrate, and indeed I celebrated those days with friends, but it always played on my mind that the creation of a separate ceremony for gay men and lesbians while welcome in some regard (such as legal status etc.) was still being “other”. I had to correct myself when saying that so-and-so’s wedding was beautiful, that they were married! The reality is they were not married. They had entered into a civil partnership. That is not to take from all those special days and the obvious joy of those involved but I still felt half cheated. On the 23rd May 2015, all that changed. Something truly seismic shifted in me. I, the boy who “came out” at fifteen, the man who worked on the gay rights and health project for over fifteen years, and the person who thought he was sorted was suddenly faced with the reality that I was holding my breath for most of my life. I was afraid to dream. I was afraid to love. I was afraid to admit that I still on occasion felt outside. Most importantly, the most difficult of all things to accept was that I had limited my aspirations and my vision. I dared not to dream. The act of being so actively involved in the campaign, particularly in rural Cork, forced me to expose all these emotions to strangers, asking them if I could marry should I choose to do so, was both painful and completely liberating. I had no idea of how cathartic it would become to have to explain the difference between marriage and civil partnership, to explain how the constitution mattered to me as well, to have to say (sometimes almost not believing it) that I wished to have the same rights. Cathartic is what that was. May 23rd was the last leg of a journey that began with a confused and angry fifteen year old, who was glad of any crumbs of tolerance thrown his way, to a damaged young gay man trying desperately to fit in, and then to a middle aged man with some reserves of strength and anger that the system still operated differently when it came to his private life. The final leg of the journey began on May 23rd with me finally believing that I was worthy of love, that I didn’t have to limit myself anymore, and that Ireland said, enough is enough. The people want equality. The people say, YES! I am proud to live long enough to witness Ireland’s new vision and to live it. I am proud that now I can dare to dream!
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Valerie, a school teacher and proud Cork woman is the holder of nine all Ireland football medals. She was a regular canvasser with YES Equality Cork and married her long term partner Meg Blyth earlier this summer
Long before our journey to now, being Irish was synonymous with pride. I grew up in a traditional Irish family. We were everything that is stereotypically Irish. We were Catholic, we loved GAA, my dad is a farmer, my mom was a home maker, we ate at the dinner table every night at the same time, we went to mass, we loved Irish songs, we liked poems and jokes, we were as Irish as you can be. I eventually became a teacher at an Irish speaking school and have played for Cork Ladies Football Team since I was a teenager. I have sung Aran Na Bhean religiously for as long as I can remember. I thought I was proud to be Irish. I had no idea what Irish pride was. I had never been part of progress or history. I had never been part of a movement to make the future Ireland a better place for people to be. I guess you could say I was proud of the people who had and extremely grateful.
I am in love now more than ever with the people of Ireland. When I leave the country on my travels I always suddenly begin again to appreciate the kind nature of the Irish people. We are friendly, we are welcoming, we are compassionate. We proved it by opening our minds and our hearts to a minority of people in our society and going out of our way to change life for them. We should all be proud to be Irish.
Then, there was a referendum on civil marriage that changed everything.
Of course along our journey to be the global champions of pride we hit several proud milestones.
It changed me and made me proud of a lot of thingsâ€Ś but not the same pride I felt before. It was an emotional, passionate, intense love. It hit me like a wave - personal, first hand, full force, prideâ€Ś
Firstly, I am proud of the respect shown for the dialogue of the campaign. It was challenging to be calm and dignified at times but in individuals and in the nation love and respect prevailed.
I understood what it really was to be proud of my heritage, proud to be from a passionate and successful sporting county, proud of our character, proud of us. We have shown the world that being proud still belongs to the Irish. After a long, dark history of fighting and oppression the light of the collective spirit of Irish people has shone through. Together, we have achieved unity and honesty through a massive national 20
c om mu n i c at i on . Inspired by one referendum, we have inspired other people around the world, and most significantly the Irish children of the future. I wouldnâ€™t be who I am now - Irish, a woman with a vote, an openly gay person with choices - without the pride and passion of the generations before me. It became increasingly important to me as the referendum loomed to be somebody who contributed to change, to make things better for our children than they were for us - To be part of progress.
I am proud to be among a country of people who collectively opened their hearts and minds to change, abandoning so much of the tradition we had created of avoiding what makes us uncomfortable or scared. We were brave. I am proud to be a Mulcahy. My family came through for me during what I would consider the most significant, difficult but ultimately amazing weeks of my life, by getting involved in conversation and joining me on the referendum campaign
trail. They met and spoke with their peers, neighbours, strangers and even the Tánaiste. Uncomfortable and all as it must have been for them. They did it for me and my sister and I am a proud Mulcahy. I am proud of and humbled by the tireless efforts of (amateur - turned professional) campaigners who effectively paused their own lives to better the lives of others. Without doubt, they will inspire revolutions of the future. I am proud of every Irish person who initiated conversation around the topic of sexuality and human rights. The deeply personal stories that were shared from one individual to another impacted hugely on the mindset of the neighbours, the colleagues and even the strangers in people’s lives and from that respect and compassion was passed on in every community in the country. I am proud of all those that decided to take the journey home to be counted and use their vote to make us a fairer, better nation. I am proud of my partner in crime, my beautiful fiancée. Her ability to see the hope
and opportunity in every c i rc u m s t a n c e frequently pulled me through the rougher days. She has always had a humble sense of pride in herself as a gay woman she knows who she is and more i m p o r t a n t l y, how to be herself. I learned from her that you’re only really living if you are really being yourself. It reminded me of how important it is to persevere with your sense of pride. Ultimately, she reminded me every day that I had spent enough time not being myself and that nobody should ever have to do that again. I have mixed emotions when I think back to when I was younger. Back then I had no strong sense of pride in myself. I had success, I had some happiness, I was lucky
- but I wasn’t proud to be Valerie. I was preoccupied and deeply concerned about how much I was going to disappoint everyone I knew by being gay. I had shame and fear. Now, I have love and pride. How times have changed and how we have changed times. I am proud to be me.
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Tara Flynn works extensively as an actor and comedian in theatre, radio and TV in Ireland and the UK. She came to international attention in 2013 for her satirical video Racist B&B, for which she was named Satirist of the Year at the Swift Satire Festival. Armagayddon – a marriage equality PSA she made with Kevin McGahern – has had over 400,000 views to date. She did stand up for many years and is a popular host and MC. She’s a core member of Dublin Comedy Improv. Recent TV includes Irish Pictorial Weekly (RTE), Moone Boy (Sky 1), Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (BBC). Tara is the author of You’re Grand: the Irishwoman’s Secret Guide to Life (Hachette Ireland) and is a regular contributor to radio & TV discussion panels. Her second book, Giving Out Yards (Hachette Ireland) will be out autumn 2015. Read more at www.taraflynn.ie
Proud to be…
In An Ireland That’s Checked Its Privilege. I was hit pretty hard with the privilege stick. I’m straight, white, able-bodied, cisgendered. If I hadn’t been unlucky enough to be born a woman in Ireland - not to mention the flak I get for being from Cork (they’re just jealous) - I nearly have the full house. I’ve always felt that the Irish people were fair, and would instinctively want to share what they had, especially if they didn’t do anything to get it: privilege, in other words. I’m fond of crappy analogies, so here’s one. I was given cake I didn’t work or ask for. Now, it’s up to me what I do with that cake. I can share it, or I can make sure other people who don’t have cake stay without cake. But where’s the fun in that? I’ve always believed we were a nation of cakesharers. I’m so happy I was right. So why did I get involved? Why did a straight, able-bodied, cis, albeit-woman, albeit-from-Cork, already married person campaign for a Yes to Marriage Equality? I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and there are a few reasons. In 1989, I was busking on Winthrop St. My sister came to meet me for coffee. We shared a copy of Bronski Beat’s Age of Consent album: I remember us both being mortified reading the inner sleeve - listing ages of consent for gay sex around the world - when Ireland glared out as one of the places where it was still illegal. Back on Winthrop St., we were chatting about where to go, when a young man came over. He’d been pacing up and down for a while, sussing us out. He blushed bright red and said “Excuse me, I hope what I’m about to say doesn’t offend you.” Our minds raced. What could he be about to say? Were we about to be mugged in the politest way ever? Then he said “I’m down from Dublin…” That’s it, we thought, that is pretty offensive. He went on, “…and I’m wondering if you could tell me where the gay bar is?” 24
Our turn to go crimson – not because we were embarrassed, but because we were once again ashamed. Ashamed that anyone would be made to feel so uncomfortable about who they were that they would blush, in quite apparent distress, when asking where a pub was. That others might be offended by the question, or feel entitled to dismiss or even harm this person for revealing who he was. Here was someone who couldn’t do the things we took for granted – openly flirt, kiss, hold hands in the street – and it really upset us. Of course we knew where the gay bar was. We directed him to Loafers and off he went, way more grateful than anyone should have been for some directions.
And of course, there was the No factor. The deceitful, dressed-up-as-decency campaign ads from the more extreme end of the No side. I first saw an anti-marriage equality ad about 2 years ago, when Diarmuid O’Brien (Danger Farm) sent me a link. We were incensed by honey voices peddling discrimination with cute graphics and twinkly music. Not to mention the obvious access of such a discriminatory message to ad budgets and YouTube views. We wanted to call that message out for what it was. So, with no budget but plenty of fire, we parodied that original ad, and in so doing came to the attention of the Yes Campaign. The rest – including more videos along the way – is history.
I like to refer to a “privilege veil” that lifts when you’re ready to learn. Once it lifts, lucky you, it doesn’t come down again. A veil lifted that day that I’m sure fuelled my fire when, decades later, I pinned on my Yes badge and did whatever I could think of for Yes Equality.
And finally, back to the cake-sharing thing: I just refused to believe that Ireland was an “I’m alright Jack” society. I believed in our kindness. I wanted to appeal to our empathy, the capacity for which is one of the coolest things about being human. I wanted to wake up on may 22nd knowing I had done everything I could to raise awareness, to chat, to allay the fears and confusion so cynically disseminated, to make sure the message was out there: even if this doesn’t affect you directly, a Yes vote will still make our country a better place to live.
More recently, I married an African American man. He’s suffered discrimination all his life. As far as I’m concerned, all inequality is the same. No one should have the right to discriminate against another who they consider “lesser” or “other”. So within my own family I found more fuel for the campaign fire.
Like magic, the Yes’s rolled in on May 23rd, and I can’t remember being prouder of this country. I love it, but I can’t honestly say I’ve always been proud of it. Now I am. Of course, there’s still stuff that we need to address; inequality hasn’t gone away. But let’s have another (less crappy) analogy: a house gets cleaned room by room. And if our Irish mammies taught us anything, it’s that there’s no point half-arseing the job. I think we cleaned this room particularly well, and now we’ll go on to the next: bodily autonomy for Irish women, child poverty, transgender rights. We won’t be stuck for something to do. But the first room’s been cleaned. You can see your face in it.
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I’m proud because of a simple number; 65.8. That’s the percentage of people in our city who believe that all citizens should be equal in the eyes of the law. It’s the percentage inner-city Corkonians who took time out of their lives on May 22nd to ensure that our equality would be enshrined forever in our constitution. I’m proud to be… part of this community.
d Prou . .. e B To
Brian O’Flynn is a student at the University of Edinburgh. He is an aspiring opinion journalist, and has recently featured in Attitude, GCN and the Irish Examiner. He enjoys feminist analysis of popular culture, writing and being an equal citizen! He is very grateful to all of Yes Equality Cork for their tireless work, especially his partner of 2.5 years, Micheál O’Riordain
I’m proud to be… a Cork man. Not just because of the inherent superiority complex that makes every Corkonian declare their home the real capital. Not just because of the warm and friendly citizens that make Cork hospitality world famous. And not just because of some morbid fascination with the Butter Museum (though that is a huge factor).
I’m proud, again, because of a few simple numbers; for example, 80. That was how many volunteers were out knocking on doors around Cork canvassing for a Yes vote in a single night. Or how about, 60? That was the number of days that Yes Equality Cork worked full time on the campaign, recruiting, organising, postering, leafletting, canvassing and changing minds all over the county. That was the number of days that our wonderful volunteers gave up to spend in headquarters and around the housing estates of Cork. We cannot thank the Yes Equality Cork committee and volunteers enough; they deserve unending praise and gratitude from the whole community. And what about the numbers that can’t be counted? What about the thousands of people who asked their friends and families to vote yes, those who helped to get people registered in time, those who spent money they didn’t have just to fly home and vote yes? Those people are countless, but I am still proud of their numbers, whatever they are.
I’m proud because when it really mattered, LGBT people and our allies all over this beautiful city came together to stand up for what is right. Proud, because I know that when we need them, there are people here in Cork that we can always count on to fight the good fight. Proud, because our community has proven how strong, how powerful and how caring it really is. Proud, because our community put everything into this fight and won. I’m proud to be… Irish I’m not proud of Ireland because of its past. I’m not proud of its reputation as a conservative, Catholic country. I’m not proud of the church’s lingering influence in all of our institutions. I’m not proud of all those aspects of Ireland; but I am proud of what Ireland has done in spite of them. I’m proud that despite centuries of indoctrination, our country showed that we value acceptance, equality and humanity more than superstition. I’m proud that we as a people saw through the lies and diversionary tactics of the No campaign. I’m proud that the face of Ireland is changing. I’m proud that the strength and goodness of the people is finally outweighing the wealth and power of the church. I’m proud that soon, Ireland will be unrecognisable. I’m proud that we are a new nation, united in equality. I’m proud to be… a global pioneer. I’m proud of the influence we as a country have had on the rest of the world. I’m proud to be the first domino that caused a long line of other dominoes to fall.
Following our referendum, Germany, Australia, Northern Ireland, Italy and many more countries were all hit with enormous international pressure to legalise civil partnerships or same-sex marriage. Greenland’s parliament quickly followed our lead with a unanimous vote to legalise same-sex partnerships. The world said we could not do it, but we defied all odds to prove that our country is a world leader. Our shockwaves were not limited to the sphere of same-sex marriage, but were also felt by transgender people in Ireland who have longed for the right to declare their own gender without being having to “prove” themselves. The referendum result catalysed the change in legislation that now allows transgender people to declare their own gender without providing medical testimony, and that allows married transgender people to have their gender recognised without difficulty. I’m proud that the Yes result initiated a chain reaction both within Ireland and around the globe, prompting fast legislative moves towards equality and away from prejudice. I’m proud that Ireland has made the world a better place for Irish and international LGBT citizens.
I’m proud to be… still fighting for equality I’m proud of how far we have come as a community in Cork and as Irish people. But I’m also proud to say that I believe we have a long way to go. I am proud to say I will continue to campaign for transgender recognition, and for the rights of LGBT people in countries like Uganda and Russia. I am proud to say I will still campaign against LGBT bullying in schools, the blood ban, and unfair laws that threaten LGBT teachers in Ireland. There are many who say that Pride is no longer necessary. I was appalled to see that Wicklow Pride this year was rebranded as a non-LGBT festival. We must realise that to attempt to blend in and “quieten down” is simply giving in to homophobia. It is akin to saying “We have some equality, now let’s not push our luck, let’s take what we have and bow out quietly”. “Some equality” is not enough. “Nearly equal” is not equal.
Yes, we have fought hard and we have won many victories. But to give up now and say that’s enough is to leave behind countless LGBT people who still need us. Transgender people are still struggling with legislative inequality. LGBT teachers in this country still fear being fired if they come out. LGBT people around the world still have to fear persecution, prison and even the death penalty. Proud to be… LGBT We must continue to be proud. We must continue to have Pride. We must continue to march through the streets every summer, not just to celebrate our history, our culture and our community. We must march to remind the world that inequality and prejudice is always waiting to find a foothold in society. We cannot yield any of the ground we have already won. We must keep fighting on. I am so proud to be Irish, so proud to be Corkonian, and so proud to be LGBT. I am so proud of how far we have come. But I am also proud to look forward to the future and imagine an even more equal society than we have today.
night I called at one door and the man was really angry about the trees that were overhanging his house. He wanted to know why I wasn’t lopping the tops off the trees because he assumed I was a politician. He was just really angry about that and we almost didn’t give him time to think. We were part of a political grouping and politicians weren’t doing anything about his trees. I think in a sense sometimes you knock on someone’s door and you catch them at a wrong moment. They are a bit angry. They might be angry at the dog and they come out and you’re there smiling at them and they let rip. I think it is so rare that it happens but we do that take into account. Anybody campaigning does have a kind of support service where you can talk to canvassers afterwards. N: If I was to be honest I’d prefer if nobody called to my door. Arthur is a well-known and long-time activist on many national and international issues. He is a founding member of the Quay Co-operative and Cork Gay Development Project. In 2015, as director of Yes Equality Cork he played a major role in the successful referendum campaign.
Neil: Arthur Leahy is with the Yes campaign, Arthur one of your canvassers had an incident last night on Dublin Hill. Can you tell us what happened? Arthur: There were about 12 of us out and one man canvassing a house was confronted by somebody who suggested that Hitler hadn’t built enough concentration camps. The canvasser was a married man with three children but the presumption I think was that he was gay. N: The words were, there were not enough concentration camps built for ye. A: Yes. I think the really important thing to say Neil is we’ve covered up to about 8,000 houses in the Cork area and this is just one incident. I think it’s really important to stress the general common decency that’s out there. Very often we latch onto, even in our own campaign, it’s kind of a story, and we talk about it afterwards, but the overwhelming thing that comes across is the decency on both sides. On the no side and on the yes side. Obviously we need to talk about the particular cases but it’s really important to put it in context. N: Absolutely and you’ve done so. I’m interested in how your buddy responded?
garden and the other lad just walked away and left him. He didn’t confront him. Part of our policy if you get very negative - and you very rarely get that - it’s just to say to walk away from it. There’s no point in expending your energies in getting upset. A lot of the people we have campaigning are new to this. They haven’t been out on the streets before. They’re not political people in the larger sense capital P but ordinary people out for the first time, they’re a little more vulnerable. N: This was Dublin Hill. This man was how old? A: An elderly man. N: I wonder how he’d feel if he had a son or grandson who came home one day and told him he was gay? Would he be encouraging that his son or grandson should also be sent to a concentration camp? A: I think people very often don’t think in those terms. We knock on people’s doors and canvass them at a wrong moment or they’re angry about something else. They open the door and we’re there. Like last
A: I might agree with you if I was doing something different at the moment. I might agree with you. N: Because I’m capable of making up my own mind you know? A: What I would say is there is a number of people who don’t answer the door. In certain areas they have far too many people calling to their doors at night for one reason or another. But the people who do answer, which is probably about 60%, are really glad we’re there. I think people really do want to talk about it. There is a lack of information. There is confusion. There is the whole issue of children which is now being pushed by the opposition but is no longer an issue. N: No it’s not. already.
It’s all been sorted out
A: But it’s the one issue that constantly comes to us at the door. People are confused about that and it’s really good to be able to talk to people. I would say the majority of people who do answer the door are pleased at the fact that we’re there. But having said that I do appreciate your point. I think sometimes if you’re sitting down at night and in the middle of ......
A: When something like that happens - it’s easier for me, I’m a fairly ould campaigner - and even then you are kind of shocked by it and so you are out the garden or away from the door before you’ve really realised what’s happened. N: Did he slam the door? A: No I think he followed him down the 30
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N: You’d be up and down like a jack in the box. A: Well I’m sure you’ve got it worked out Neil you won’t be answering your door. N: Oh no I would never not answer or hide behind curtains and I’d never ever be abusive.
A: No that’s very rare but one of the overwhelming things - and again these are people who have not canvassed before, they’re not seasoned, the thing that comes across is that people after a while say ‘God this is good fun’. You meet people, it’s pleasant and most people are really pleasant. N: Do you find a generational thing, younger people more pro than older or is it an overwhelming yes? A: We’re getting a very strong yes response on the door but I think in the campaign we don’t believe that. It’s going to be much tighter when it comes to the vote. What we are getting is strong from young people, but they’re not known to vote in droves. The older people you could say there is a gender thing – a more instinctive response from women whereas men are much more – now this is a huge generalisation – older men are likely to be more cautious and ask questions. N: I can just tell you and maybe this will put your mind at ease a little bit, I wouldn’t worry too much about the younger generation. For the first time both my son and daughter who are of voting age have organised, registered, got their cards and can now vote for the first time ever such is their interest.
A: That’s probably down to good parenting. N: Not at all. I don’t for a moment think it’s anything to do with me. I think it’s just of their generation and all UCC and CIT are likeminded. I think there’s going to be a big turnout. A: Yes. The student unions have put a lot of work into raising awareness around the issue. I think the first time I was on the radio with you – I won’t say how many years ago – N: A long time ago. A: We were on about contraception and in a sense very much the same forces were involved. It’s a similar kind of issue I suppose about an agenda. It’s about a more open agenda from our point of view. There are similar arguments. N: I hope you don’t have any more idiots like that man on the door anyway Arthur and good luck to you. End.
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PROUD TO BE I am proud to be a citizen of a country of equals. A country that created history on the 23rd of May! More importantly, I'm proud to be a gay man. On the 31st of March this year at 10:47pm (I remember the time exactly) posting on Facebook about my sexuality. The response was amazing, welcoming, supportive and humbling. Moving on I realize its okay to be who you are, that we should all be happy in our own skin. To not be afraid of what friends and people think, if you’re black, white, fat or skinny, LGBT or straight, who cares! We are equals. That's what counts! The atmosphere on the 23rd of May in Dublin was extraordinary. The streets were crowded with people painted in the LGBT colours, flags flying, smiles everywhere, everyone so happy. Lots were emotional with tears of joy in what we as a nation achieved. We also showed the world that we as a small nation cherish all our children equally. It’s so inspiring as a young gay man to be part of a seismic cultural change. It was very surreal, I felt ready to burst into tears! This is it! We've done it. I had to keep pinching myself on the hand to know this wasn't a dream, what a day for Ireland. I stood in the Panti Bar with a very good friend of mine and drank a bottle of beer grinning from ear to ear, knowing my country was behind and supportive of mine and every other gay man and woman’s future! We went for lunch the next day at Dylan’s in Ballsbridge. Driving through the city there was a great sense of pride in the air. We drove past a number of LGBT couples who were happily walking hand in hand not a care in the world, nobody looking at them strangely or passing comments, just everyone getting on with life. It was great! I don't think I will ever experience another day like the 23rd of May, a day I will cherish and never forget. Tá sé ina bliain iontach a bheith Irish!
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Kate is the co-ordinator of LINC and a long-time activist within the LGBT community. This year she was proud to be one of the directors of YES Equality Cork having responsibility for developing and overseeing YEC’s canvassing strategy.
are no longer with us but who contributed enormously and would have joined heartily in our celebrations.
Proud To Be One Of You Happy days, summer is on the way, long evenings of sun, leisurely bbq’s and Pride festivals. It is the 1st of June, a bank holiday Monday which generally suggests the start of summer. However, the wind & rain are reminiscent of winter and summer seems to be far away. The weather today though does not affect my mood because I’m over the moon, still feeling the afterglow of that historic of events. It is a little over a week since 62% of Irish voters decided that their LGBT fellow citizens should be allowed to marry the person that they love and I am so so proud. Not proud because we can all suddenly get married but that a large majority of Irish people voted that their fellow citizens should have the same rights that they have. I am proud of Ireland for bringing in that result. And I am proud & privileged to have been part of the wonderfully inclusive campaign that was Yes Equality Cork which helped make that happen.
People who had been ‘out’ for years and the people who ‘came out’ during the campaign because they knew it would take putting themselves on the line to change this country. Young straight women and men who saw this for the Equality issue that it was and threw their support behind their lesbian and gay friends and family, knocking on peoples doors night after night.
It has been suggested by some that there is no LGBT community, I beg to differ. One only had to visit the YES Equality Cork HQ to experience the vibrancy of that community. What was evident in the months leading up to the referendum was the sense of a community being energised around a unifying issue. That energy inspired me. Young and old, LGBT and straight, coming together to campaign on an issue that meant so much to all of us made me proud to be part of it.
Each step towards equality is built on the one that goes before just as this campaign was. Forty years ago the idea of equal marriage would have been delusionary. But this campaign was started back then by women and men who dared to be visible. I am proud to call some of them friends and to remember those who
The badge makers who supplied nearly every town in Cork with their own specially designed badges. The young straight woman, who smiled and laughed her way around many a housing estate encouraging and supporting her colleagues, parents, who spoke to strangers about how they wanted all of their children to be treated equally. The young bi man who opened his heart on the doorstep and all canvassers, hero’s one and all. Every single volunteer whose effort made the passing of this referendum possible has made me proud to be part of.
It is important to remember that while this will have a lasting impact on our community there are many issues that remain to be dealt with before we can even consider Ireland to be an equal society but this is a beautiful, magical step in that direction. Being involved with LINC is one of my greatest prides. For over thirty years, lesbian and bisexual women in Cork worked to promote equality and provided support services within our community. This culminated with the foundation of L.inC (Lesbians in Cork) an organisation rooted in feminist, social justice and community development principles. Today LINC is still committed to those principles and advocates and supports LB women from all over Ireland. We create a space where LB women of all ages are encouraged to be proud of themselves and who they are. As the co-ordinator of LINC I am proud and privileged to be tasked with the job of managing the only lesbian and bisexual women’s organisation and resource centre in the Republic of Ireland. It is a role I am passionate and proud of having begun my own involvement with LINC as a volunteer. Last but not least I am proud to be part of Cork Pride on this our 10th anniversary. Over the years Cork Pride has developed from a small march to a weeklong festival. During those years, one of its greatest achievements has been the preservation of its warmth and friendliness; it is still a community Pride. I was recently asked if following the referendum this would be
the last Pride. Pride, whether a march or a parade has always been about visibility. The need for that visibility is as strong now post referendum as it was before. While one person watching from the side-lines, is afraid to take part; while one person is afraid to be out in their rural community; while a young person is being bullied in their school; while people can tell lies about who we are as individuals, parents and families we will still need Pride.
For me growing up, I knew I was different; when my friends were getting interested in boys I just didnâ€™t get it. And of course as a teenager all you wanted to do was fit in. So of course I had the boyfriends but I was never particularly interested in them. I couldnâ€™t make sense of the difference I was feeling and as a result felt very much on my own. The word lesbian was barely mentioned and when it was, it was always in a derogatory sense. Whatever about today,
there were no positive representations of lesbians back then! When I finally did come out I was 20 living in another country because the only way I felt I could come to terms with it was moving abroad. Those days are nearly over I hope and young people will be able to develop into their adult selves with happiness and pride.
To my beautiful queer, dyke, lesbian, gay, bi and trans brothers and sisters I am proud to be one of you. I wouldnâ€™t have it any other way.
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The conversations were mighty. People spoke out in a way that many would never have spoken before, within families, between families and with complete strangers. This has been a hugely positive experience. A silence has been broken forever. Ireland is great for talk. A brand new conversation has begun. It will continue. This is the second great achievement of this campaign.
Joe Noonan has an established record of excellence in advising clients on Planning and Environmental issues and in representing their interests before An Bord Pleanála, the Environmental Protection Agency, and in the Courts. He has a particular interest in EU law. He is described by PLC Which Lawyer? as ‘a well rounded specialist in all areas of environmental and land-use planning law arising in Ireland’. He lectures on Planning Law at the Law Society Law School and on a guest basis at University College Cork.
Proud To Be ... Asked When Arthur asks you to meet a few people to see about changing the Constitution, you say Yes. He asked a few of us to do just that early in August last year. The seeds were sown for what would become Yes Equality Cork in a small room in the Quay Co-op. For me as someone involved in the early heady days of the Co-op in the 1980s, nostalgia almost took hold – but was quickly displaced by the fresh energy in the room.
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the voting papers, we knew. The people of Ireland had voted with confidence and compassion to show that when it comes to marriage, everyone matters. As the world now knows, Ireland is the first country to vote by nationwide referendum for marriage equality for all of its citizens. That is the first of three astonishing achievements of this campaign.
The final achievement was the political awakening of a new generation. Young people drove the campaign with an energy and creativity that was unstoppable. They knew that for once their vote could make a difference. And what a difference! Some people said that we were trying to redefine marriage. They missed the point.
During our first meetings we all quickly became familiar with Minnesota. A campaign based around personal conversations had helped Minnesotans United for All Families to w i n
a State referendum on equal marriage, and Arthur was alive to some demographic and social parallels. He wanted everyone to get talking. We always knew this campaign would end in tears - we just weren’t sure which kind of tears they would be. By May 22nd the country had talked and thought its way to a decision. By 9.25am at City Hall the next morning, watching the boxes disgorge 46
Everyone who could make it, came home to vote, pouring in from every corner of the globe. Others asked us to stand for them. It is an honour to be asked to stand for somebody. From London to Sydney, from San Francisco to Shanghai we saw the pictures as Irish people stood up together for Yes. Closer to home, in every townland, every town, every city, canvassers knew there was a silent Yes. They heard it as they stood in the street or as they went door to door to strangers’ houses. Sometimes it was only a whisper. Sometimes a look. But when they saw it, they knew what it was.
We were trying to redefine home. Ireland is a more welcoming home place now for all of its sons and daughters. Just two weeks before Polling Day, Transition Year students at Largy College in Clones, Co. Monaghan had won First Prize at the National Young Social Innovators Awards with a project on homophobic bullying. As part of their presentation, they reworked the four initials LGBT into a new phrase: Let’s Get By Together. We have made a start.
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r u n t e , r a e w c , r oss t he crack t s e r a e d . .“ . l ing sea n n o a t c e a v o l l ways f l y wit e s u a c e .. .B hout rest ing, b a d c a k e h h s e o s me w here t hey be .” s i k r u O . .. l ong - Pablo Neruda , “Love, we’re going home now”
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Rebecca Murphy is a longtime health promotion, equality and wellbeing advocate, working in the area of student supports in UCC. She has worked with teachers, youth workers and young LGBT people during her career through training and development work. In her spare time she enjoys baking, roller derby, adventure racing, having Breaking Bad marathons with her girlfriend Rachel and looking after her many, many pets.
“We made history!” “We changed the world!” “We made Ireland a better place!” I tell the Yes Equality Cork volunteers these things all the time, when I saw them at the count or when I saw them at our wrap party, or when I talk to them online in our volunteer’s facebook. “We did it!” We hug and have a giggle, still not quite believing that it’s real, that it’s true. That we won.
letters to newspapers telling them why they needed a yes vote, or painstakingly organising the canvassing materials only for the canvassing leaders like me to barrel in and dig through them all trying to find more “Gay Byrne” flyers for their trip to Bishopstown. There were as many reasons to turn up and be counted as a volunteer as there were reasons to vote yes, and we heard them all, and witnessed them all, and felt our hearts swell as the community and its allies awoke. So yes, I’m very proud to be a Yes Equality Cork committee member and volunteer – but not just because we made history. Not just because we made a better Ireland, and not just because we changed the world. I’m proud because we did it together.
We did win - but that’s not why I’m proud to be a Yes Equality Cork volunteer committee member. The committee first met in a small room in 8 north Mall back sometime in October, a few chairs in a circle filled with the usual suspects –LGBT and social justice activists, student politicians, and a few new faces eager to offer what they can– motivated by a passion to make their lives and the lives of others better. We all dared to dream of a more equal Ireland, an Ireland that would loosen the shackles of injustice just a little bit, that some of us might squirm out of them into the daylight as full citizens. The campaign built quietly from then on, the motor spluttering and purring, ready to burst out of its starting block once the flag was dropped. May 22nd – Enda declared and the race was on. The fuse was lit, but still we worried “what if no one gets involved?” “what if we don’t have the teams to go canvassing?”. And at first, we didn’t. Teams of 4 or 5 went out a couple of nights and knocked on a few doors. The committee meetings were tense as members demanded more of us, more of our community, more of the people this referendum would benefit. We needed more people. This referendum would be won on the doorsteps and in the shopping centres of the city and county – not in a committee meeting, or on Twitter, or on Facebook. How can we win this if no one turns up to fight it? And then, the cavalry arrived. A gay man here, a lesbian there. A straight mother dragging her gay son along, a pair of sisters knocking on doors asking for the opportunity to be each other’s maids of honour. A dad and his daughter braving the wind and the rain. People of all ages, backgrounds, religion, orientations and identities found all sorts of reasons to approach people’s doorsteps, all sorts of reasons to take that deep breath, raise their hand and ring the doorbell. They found reasons to make badges for 8 hours, or drive around the county putting up posters, or write 50
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having amazing and often challenging conversations. But most importantly for me I would have missed out on being part of an extraordinary event in Irish history and of having the absolute privilege of meeting all the other volunteers and being part of such a respectful group of people. This experience is something I will really carry with me forever.
My name is Margie Fennelly. and I am married with three children. Up until 4 years ago, I am now a little ashamed to say, I had never really given much thought to what it was like for someone to be Gay in Ireland. I really did not know very many people who were gay and I can honestly say I did not think about it much.
For me as a mum of two boys who are gay it was a very emotional couple of months. As a parent your natural instinct is to protect your children but so many times during that campaign I didn’t feel I could protect them and that just made me feel sick inside. I was so afraid for them and I hated the thought of them hearing this awful stuff being said.
But that all changed for me when in June 2010 my son, our oldest twin, very bravely told us that he was gay. I remember standing in the kitchen feeling very scared of what might come out of my mouth. He seemed so confident and happy to be sharing this news with us. He seemed so sure of everything he was saying and had lots of information to tell us. My baby suddenly had become this confident and informed person about something I knew so little about. The days that followed were filled with lots of questions to him by me and my husband and of course there were tears. I was terrified of what lay ahead for us, but mainly for my son. If I was to be of any support to him I knew I had to find out more about being gay. I had no idea where to go or who to turn to. Searching through the golden pages I came across a number, so I picked up the phone and rang it. Of course I rang the wrong place but I was guided in the right direction, which was to the co-ordinator of the Cork Gay project. There I met Dave Roche, who I have to say was really great and I will always hold a warm place in my heart for him. Those early months were a very difficult time and he was able to put my mind at ease about so many things. Six months went by and we were all getting used to our new life. In some ways it was new. Things had changed, but in other ways nothing was different. We were still the same ordinary family. Then just after Christmas my other twin son gave us his news. Mum I have something to tell you. “I am gay”. I have to admit, again there was shock, sadness and fear and once again a visit to Dave. We are now five years on and I and we as a family have come a long way and I believe much closer. Bit by bit we told friends and family and yes this can be hard because you are quite vulnerable. I suppose each time you tell someone it is a coming out for you too.
So when people say to me ‘God, You were great to do it’ I just say, ‘No I was the lucky one’! I have become more involved with the Gay Community in Cork and I try to go to as many events as I can. I would say to any parent that this has helped me no end. The more informed I became the more I felt I could be a support to my boys. And even though they come across as being fine I do believe they need that support. My life has turned out a little different than what I might have expected. I suppose our path changed. But now, I am happy to say, I celebrate the day both my sons told us they were gay. It would have been far worse for us all if they could not tell us. I always knew I would get involved with the marriage referendum campaign but I had no idea of what or how I would do it. So what unfolded for me over the months coming up to the referendum and since then I could never have predicted. It has been an incredible experience filled with a variety of emotions such as fear, nervousness, sadness, comradeship, anger, excitement and love. I remember the first canvass I did was on Paul St on a nice sunny Saturday morning I was so nervous. But I survived the day helped along by the other volunteers. But I had to really push myself when it came to doing the door to door canvass and now I am so very glad that I did. I would have missed out on a truly wonderful experience of meeting people on their door steps and ��������������������������������������������
TALKING GOT ME THROUGH Talk to us – ����������������� ������������� We’re always here – round the clock, every single day of the year. A safe place – as volunteers we’re ordinary people who keep what you say between us. Be yourself – whoever you are, however you feel, whatever life’s done to you. We’re a charity – ������������������������� that keep our helpline open.
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whichover the past number of years, months and specifically weeks we have held a national conversation with the People of Ireland on Marriage Equality and what it means to us all. From the four provinces of our island we on the ‘yes’ campaign respectfully asked the Irish people to join with us as we knocked on doors, spoke on radio interviews as we told our personal stories. Jerry Buttimer, 48, is a native of Cork and was elected as TD for Cork South Central in the 2011 General Election. Prior to that he was elected to Seanad Eireann in 2007. He is a former Secondary School teacher and was Director of Adult Education at Balincollig Community School. In April 2012, Jerry made history when he came out as the first ever openly gay Fine Gael politician. At the same time he was one of a number of members to set up Fine Gael LGBT which he then went on to Chair.
Happy pride. It’s one where we here in cork can celebrate as equal citizens. As thousands gather in our city it is appropriate that we say Thank you to the people of cork for their generosity, courage and affirmation of all us as people. It is in fact Ireland we redefined and not marriage, in voting yes. Today a small nation with a huge heart shines brightly across the world as one that cherishes all of its children equally. With this massive endorsement the people have affirmed that we are all equals as citizens under our Constitution. We are now the first country in the world to democratically vote in favour of equal marriage. And we did so resoundingly. This says a huge amount about who we are and will change how the world views us. This is a statement that our country values all of us the same irrespective of who we are and who we love. It is a time to hang out our brightest colours. It’s a day that Gay people in Ireland have hoped for and dreamed of for decades. One that many of us who advocated and campaigned for thought perhaps would never come. Today as a Gay, equal citizen I can write and March with pride that the Irish people cast their ballots for hope and the future, over isolation, fear, and for making our country a truly equal and just society. It’s been an emotional number of months for a lot of people including myself. So many people have given so much of themselves in this campaign. What this referendum means is we are no longer on the margins that we are included, that our love is the same, that we are no different to our straight brothers or sisters. The embrace of the majority whose affirmation in voting to extend the right to marry toward those of us who are lesbian or gay demonstrated a generosity of spirit as seen by thousands of our young people registering to vote, an older generation recognising that this referendum was about their families and the people they love. It was about people making extraordinary journeys to come home to vote, or on polling day by Kitty Hurley a 101 years old lady who went to her local polling station in West Cork wearing her rainbow coloured cardigan to vote Yes, and it concluded on Friday night as I watched Cillian Fleming sprint towards the door in Rochestown at 21:59 after a marathon journey to make it home to cast a vote. This referendum was about the lives of people. It was a referendum
I was humbled to canvass with YesEqualityCork members who in their hundreds strode across town lands, housing estates, shopping centres and even city bridges to talk to people. This referendum allowed people to see the humanity of us all. As one lady told me on Friday “This referendum helped me to see that Joseph my hairdresser of 20 years was a real person and not my hairdresser “We were told time after time”, I’m voting for you as my son or daughter or grandchild because i want you all to be equal. I have spoken at meetings, schools, conferences and events across 16 counties, 24 constituencies, in 9 universities and Institutes of Technology. I also had the privilege of participating as a member of the Constitutional Convention when it considered this issue and ultimately recommended to Government to hold a referendum. It has been a pleasure to meet, to engage and to talk with the Irish people. Friday morning was very emotional more so than in any other election and referendum as I cast my most important vote ever. This referendum was personal to me, my relationship, my friends, my neighbours, my past pupils, my work colleagues and to men and women across our great country whom I’ve never met. It is also personal to future generations of our citizens. The result as seen by the euphoria in Dublin Castle, on the streets of Dublin, Cork and other parts of Ireland will have a profound and positive impact on the lives of people. It was breathtaking to watch the joy and emotion of so many people on Saturday night. Since I came out publicly, many more people have had the confidence to discuss very personal stories and experiences with me. By our vote on Friday we have dispelled the fears of many to will they continue to feel on the outside, excluded and marginalised to one of inclusiveness, acceptance and affirmation. To those who campaigned for a No vote, thank you for your engagement, I accept your right to have an opposing view. When the shadow of the campaign recedes you will see there is nothing to fear. This result is, and will be good for our people, our society and our country. Simply by voting ‘yes’ we have made a change to our constitution that will be personal and reaffirming for so many people. It will open the door to a new and better Ireland where we will be all cherished as equals. Today we together construct a new modern republic where liberty and equality shine brightly. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Cork Pride Committee for the outstanding work they do behind the scenes, ensuring that each year the festival gets better and better. Can I wish everyone a very happy and safe Pride festival. 57
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Nora and Katriona Hourihan had their Civil Partnership in February this year on Friday 13th! They are parents of baby Willow who will turn 1 year old just in time for Pride. Nora, 29, hails from Tralee and like many of her Kerry friends moved to Cork nine years ago. She works in RCI where she was recently promoted to Supervisor. Katriona, 26, is a pure Cork girl growing up in Mahon. She is currently working in a crèche.
Nora Dennehy in conversation with Ted O’Connell. The purpose of the interview was to get an insight into what life has been like both pre and post-Civil Partnership and what has been their experience bringing up their beautiful baby girl as a same sex couple. For those of you who do not recognise them, Nora and ‘Kat’ were the stars of the RTE programme ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ which was shown in March of this year. The original intention was for me to interview both girls but, as with many many family situations, baby Willow acted up so Kat stayed at home to settle her. So Nora, how have the last six months been for ye? Well they have certainly been eventful. With the hype leading up to the show and then getting married it has been amazing, the support has been fantastic. As far as the actual day is concerned in some ways it was like any other wedding, pen to paper and ring on finger but of course it was much more than that. Since then we have just been getting on with our lives, dealing with day-to-day stuff like most newly-wed couples. Getting back to the TV show and the lead up to the day; was the whole experience enjoyable or did it put a certain amount of stress on your relationship? For me it was probably one of the most stressful things I have ever done to date. People ask me would I do it again and I have to say there is a very big question mark. It was one of those things in life that I thought I had to do and I actually think I did a fantastic job. We all know that Katriona hated the dress and all the drama but on a positive note I like to think we were a positive influence on people coming up to the marriage referendum. Well as someone who was lucky enough to share your day I can only say that it was a truly memorable and wonderful occasion and, as planned, full of surprises. Moving on a little, no sooner were ye settling in to married life you upped and left Kat for five weeks. How did that fare out? Yes, not only was I away for the two and a half weeks leading up to the wedding (rules of the show). This meant that Katriona was looking after Willow the whole time. But then there was the shock of me getting promoted and going to the US for five weeks training. It was very very tough altogether. What with being newly married and with a young baby, I’m lucky she didn’t divorce me. She had all the work to do at home with Willow but we did keep in touch though Skype. But I did miss them both dearly. I also missed out on the lead-up to the referendum but Kat did her bit handing out 60
leaflets and stuff. I was really proud of her for doing that because she wouldn’t be that type of girl normally. The thing that strikes me is that you two faced challenges that many couples do starting out. My own nephew had to leave for the other side of the world for six weeks because of work shortly after he got married. Yeah, I’ll be honest, when I applied for the promotion I didn’t really expect to get it. So when I did, it was a shock, there were a lot of tears, a lot of words said. In some ways it was a make-or-break time because after such a short space of time from getting married it was a real test in our relationship which thankfully was successful. So here we are now in the middle of June. The referendum was passed comprehensively, thankfully. Do you think that this is going to have an impact on you and Katriona’s future together? Absolutely! We have already discussed it. We had our big day on TV so that means we won’t be having another ‘big’ day with all the hassle associated with it even though I know Katriona would LOVE to organise this one! But what we want is to transfer our Civil Partnership to Marriage as soon as possible without the fuss. Another big factor in our lives now is that we want to buy a house and so saving for that is a priority. I am also hoping to get my name on Willow’s birth certificate so I am hoping the referendum will help some of this happen. So yes it has been a huge factor in our lives. From what you are saying so, you want to adopt Willow formally? Yes. I have been looking into it already and seeing what’s involved, Googling what our options are. Obviously we now know that it is possible for me to adopt her so it’s just sorting out the process. Oh and I might just be changing my last name to Hourihan seeing as my two other ladies have it.
Oh wow. I didn’t see that coming! The very best of luck with that. Now, Willow is clearly an important part of your lives together. What has been your experience raising her as a same-sex couple as opposed what you might perceive a straight couples experience would be. There’s actually no real difference in terms of the rearing or development of the child. She doesn’t know any different. She has had her first words like ‘dada’ which is natural for any baby. But when we are with her it’s ‘mama’. She knows she has two mammies. We have had the same challenges as many other parents. When Willow was born she had some health problems but we faced them the same as any straight couple would do. Being two women hasn’t been a factor at all. And do you think friends neighbours and in particular strangers treat you differently? We kind of expected that at the start and I suppose a lot of people did question it, not to our faces, but you could tell. But now I think most people see us as a family now and don’t necessarily see us as being different. They see that Willow is well cared for, well loved. Katriona and I still have battles about what she will wear in the morning. Kat wants a dress while I want a track suit so I guess we are just normal parents with normal daily challenges. So what would you say to the people who say mothers and fathers matter and in your case you can’t replace the love of a father? Yes I have seen that around a lot. I suppose I think there’s nothing like a mother’s love. But really, there are loads of things you could really say. I know a lot of other lesbians who were upset by the posters which were horrible. Whether its two mothers or two fathers, it’s all about the love for the child and how he or she is brought up. Just recently I was watching a video on Facebook of a straight couple where the mother was beating her child. Any natural person would see that as a bad thing. I’m hoping that when people see a gay couple with a child they will stop thinking that’s a bad thing because we just love our child and we want to bring her up as normal as possible. I’m sensing that you feel the referendum has been a real milestone. That because of it Willow will grow up in a world that will have a different attitude towards her. Absolutely. Just a small thing; we bring Willow to a crèche most days. She goes for two hours, and when I go to pick her up I’m seen as just another parent there. When she goes to school I’m hoping that there will be education around gay families. I’m hoping there will ultimately be lots of children who are proud to say that they have two moms or two dads. The referendum has made this happen. So, to wrap things up, is there anything you would like to add? Well I suppose our next big news will hopefully be that I will have a baby sometime next year. We want Willow to have a baby brother or sister. So that will be another milestone for us. Personally, I never thought of having children in my life but I reckon if Ireland can change so can I. You can follow our progress on that on Facebook! Well that is fantastic news and I’m sure all our readers wish you, Katriona and Willow all the best in your future together.
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ARE YOU PROUD OF YOU? Gay Pride – What a day for The Gay! In fact what a year for it, with the historic passing of such a life changing referendum the “New Ireland” was born! I – Geraldine McAleese – am a big supporter of The Gay and of course couldn’t be happier for such an amazing result. However like many Gayers and Lessers out there (Can I call them that Ted No?! They knows I loves them anyway). Well like many of the LGBT community out there I too know how it feels to be looked down on and considered an outsider. After all I am a Norrie (The Glen of all places like!) and I do get awful slake for my beautiful hair. “Towel head” they used call me and of course “Loud Mouth McAleese” which comes with the territory – It’s all in the rearing I suppose.
Jonathan Buckley Jonathan grew up in the northside of Cork city. He currently works in business and in his spare time he writes a blog and creates Facebook and YouTube comedy videos as the character Geraldine McAleese. The Facebook page has over 13,000 followers and nearly 2000 subscribers on YouTube. Jonathan is no stranger to performing having spent many years on stage at the Everyman Palace In Cada Performing Art's Pantomimes. Quite recently he has just returned from almost three years in Dublin where he performed regularly with "The Line Up" choir and the Bray Musical Society. He's excited about his return to the Rebel County and looks forward to this years "Proud To Be" Pride! "Its been an historic year for Ireland and this year should be special one to celebrate”
Well looking back on all those years that have passed I used to love going down Panna as a young teeny bop with me best one Siobhan during the Pride Parade. An exciting hour where the then closed minded Cork City would stand in shock of the overly obnoxious use of glitter, colours, exposed skin and hip trusting. I must admit, in all fairness, this is where my most valuable and worth-while fashion tips came from. The Gays. You’d often hear Sheila in the corner with her Samson tobacco rollies muttering to Mary “I mean why they have to be so in your face and loud? You’d never see the normal people having a straight Parade would ya likkk”. This would be followed by a an domino type echo of “In all fairness” which could be heard from Penny’s right the way up to the English Market entrance on Princess Street. I am proud to say I am a Norrie but thinking back of those times now I used get myself into awful trouble, kicking all the boys in the goulies for throwing eggs at the gays, after all they are people too, but unfortunately it seemed we lived in a society that didn’t have as open a mind as my teenage self did.
Over the 15ish years that have passed since, I have seen Cork and Irish society grow faster than my beautiful boobs did during puberty. You go to town these days and you see all sorts, guys kissing guys, girls kissing girls, young fellas kissing auld wans â€“ we have changed and we have grown and in an accepting kind of way. Those boos and eggs once thrown at the gays have changed to cheers and applause, and even though this has been a gradual process the marriage equality referendum has catapulted this tiny little town and country so far into the future even America are trying to catch up with us like. Against all odds even Sheila and Mary are flying the rainbow flag with the closed minded and the bullies being shunned if they attempt to insult people for their sexuality or differences. All this equality has changed life for all of us, just a few weeks ago I befriended a girl Shauna from Rochestown (Can you imagine!) and nobody even bats an eyelid when we stroll into BT together. For the first time in my life I feel equal and I donâ€™t feel different because of my Norrie status. I can only imagine how The Gays feel now they are allowed marry the ones they love.
So this is where the country has changed big time, people are celebrating differences and beginning to allow people to be proud of who they are, be that gay or straight, north sider or south sider, Pennys or Topshop. When I started doing online videos last year I never imagined people would like my Norrie attitude but I am still swinging the towel a year and half later! We have a long way to go like but we are a hell of a lot closer than what we were even 15 years ago. So why not come along this year to a historic Pride Parade and donâ€™t just come along to support the LGBT community but come along to support yourself and your pride. After all we all have something we are proud off deep down and this is certainly the event to let it be heard, whatever it may be. By Geraldine McAleese (A product of an over imaginative Jonny B) youtube.com/user/GeraldineMcAleese facebook.com/GeraldineMcaleese2k14
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Be Proud of Yourself Davina was born in 1974 and has lived most of her life on Corks North Side. She comes from a large close family, and she boasts thirteen nephews, three nieces, and one great niece. Davina enjoys walking, music, and socializing with family and friends. Davina’a journey of self-actualization has been one of a number of steps. She first came out as Gay when she was 23 years old, she came out as Transgender at the age of 30, and is on route to have her Gender Reassignment or Confirmation Surgery in early 2016. Davina is passionate about Transgender rights, and is an active member of Cork Trans Peer Support Group.
I’m very proud to be a Transgender Woman in the city that I love. Cork City, my home by the Lee. The journey to where I am now has been a long and arduous one. I started school at the age of 4 when I was sent off to the same school as my Brothers. I have 6 brothers and two sisters. I’m a middle child with 4 older and 4 younger siblings. I always remember wearing my sister’s dresses and my mams high heels, around the house and on the street, this was in 1978 when Ireland was a world away from where we are now. Im proud that my parents allowed me express myself as who I am. I got on well at school for the first few months then things took a turn for the worse. I became unwell, I was very weak and pale, and ended up back in a pram, I could not walk. My parents brought me to the doctor and he called the ambulance. I was rushed to hospital where they carried out tests, the result showed that I had Leukaemia. Which is a type of cancer, too many white cells in my blood. This was a very sad time for my parents and the rest of the family. My parents were looking after four other children, one of which was my brother, a new born baby. There was a trip to Lourdes in France being organised by a group of people from the hospital. It was decided that I should go, I was unable to walk so a pram was borrowed from my cousin, then myself and my father headed off to Lourdes for a week. When we got back to our hotel room after a trip to the baths in Lourdes, I felt very sick, after a rest I felt a bit better. Next morning we travelled back home to Cork. I got worse when we came back from Lourdes and it was bad news for my parents and family. The medication was not working, after about a week the priest was called. There was no hope, I was passing away. Then I had a life changing experience, I felt I was 74
between heaven and earth. I remember seeing bright lights and darkness I was hovering between two realities. I felt I was in a tug of war, my fate was outside of anybody’s control. Soon after seeing the lights I began to feel better and in two years I had made a full recovery, and was given the all clear. After that experience I am a believer in Heaven, God and Mary. I believe it was a miracle from Lourdes that saved me. I was given a second chance at life and I grabbed it with both hands. I went back to school and had a very understanding teacher that encouraged me when I tried to catch up having missed a full year. I loved school and I was mixing with other children along with my brothers and sisters. I always felt like one of the girls with my sisters, and friends. Soon it was time to do my exams for Secondary school, I was nervous and excited. Secondar y school was a mixed school, and I enjoyed being there. I made friends with both boys and girls. However my feeling that I should have been a girl grew deeper and deeper, I also found myself attracted to boys. The desire to transform my body into the woman I always felt I was, became paramount in my thinking. In the years that followed I came to terms with who I was, and should have been. I was diagnosed
as having gender dysphoria, so I started my medical treatment and begin my journey to become who I was meant to be. I have been on hormones a long time now and the final stage of the physical journey is drawing closer. I am getting ready for the next chapter in my life. The journey so far has thought me to be myself and be proud of who I am, life is too short, I enjoy being myself, and enjoy my family and friends. I attend the Cork Transgender Peer Support Group once a month, and have made great friends there. We are there for each other as we each make our own journey. I have fantastic female friends, who accept me for the woman I am. I’m so proud of the people around me. Friends, family, fellow Corkonians, I am immensely proud to be Irish. I handed out leaflets asking my fellow citizens to see me as equal and worthy of equal status. By voting yes last May Ireland said, “Davina, your one of us”. I’m proud that Irish politicians listened to Transgender people and made some changes to the proposed gender recognition bill, that is finally almost across the line. Ireland has become an example of a country where LGBT people are valued. I’m proud of that.
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Originally from the UK, Sarah Marry moved to Dublin in 1997. Her husband is an artist and they have two lovely daughters 10 and nearly 12. She studied Italian and French and then human resources working latterly with Concern Worldwide. The call to ordained ministry was a surprise but something she came to see as right for her. After completing a Masters in Theology she was ordained and moved to Cork in 2012 to begin a Curacy in Douglas Union of Parishes with Frankfield. She has just recently taken up post as Priest-in-Charge of St. Anne’s, Shandon and as Chaplain to St. Luke’s Home, Mahon.
I am… married to Declan, Mum to Ella & Sophie, putty in the hands of a labradoodle Bailey, to my initial surprise and later delight a priest in the Church of Ireland, loving Cork, passionate about faith, excited to know what happens next, a lover of all things Italy… Proud to be … the new Priest-in-Charge of St. Anne’s Church of Ireland, Shandon, Cork - a place with a great legacy of welcome and inclusion and some rather famous bells. While my gender is not the defining characteristic of my priesthood, I appreciate from the double takes I get when wearing my collar round town that for some a female priest is a bit of a novelty. I sometimes wonder how I would have felt if my vocation had come at a time when ordination was closed to me as a woman. I also wonder whether the first women ordained felt something similar to how the first LGBT couple might feel when they are civilly married. I cannot claim any personal experience of the journey that has led to equality of civil marriage, but I
hope you’ll allow me to share my personal delight at the recent referendum result. I’ve been watching a series on UTV called ‘Home Fires’ about the attempts of a small community to come to terms with the onset of the Second World War. In amongst storylines such as the young woman who runs away from her lover for fear of being ‘found out’ only to be heartbroken to learn she has died (which left me sobbing like a baby…) one subplot concerns a young man vilified by locals for his decision not to fight. Eventually he can take being ostracized no more and he makes a heartfelt plea to them. He says; you have known me all my life and I know you can’t agree with my decision but please just accept it and accept me for who I am. While his decision for pacifism is clearly different to sexuality - we are created in God’s image and each gifted by God with sexuality; something that is likely far more complex than we currently understand - this desire to be accepted for who we are goes to the heart of our shared human experience. Accepting each other for who we are, or in other words loving our neighbour as ourselves, can present
a particular challenge when we disagree over something we care deeply about. But the Christian faith challenges us to that kind of unity and rather than denying our differences or demanding that we all agree with each other, celebrates our diversity. I am thankful to have received God’s blessing through the church on my vocation to marriage and to ordained ministry and perhaps more importantly, thankful not to have experienced a vocation to marriage or ministry and had God’s blessing on that vocation through the church withheld. The Episcopal Church in Scotland has recently begun its conversation about equality in religious marriage, but whatever the journey looks like from here in Ireland, I pray we might travel it with generosity of heart remembering that Christ calls us to travel in fellowship with one another, especially with those who would prefer to go a different direction. With every blessing, Sarah
The Select Vestry and Priest-in-Charge of St Anne’s Shandon invite the LGBT Community and their family, friends and supporters to A Service of Remembrance on Thursday 30th July at 7:30pm. We look forward to welcoming you to remember members of the community and those that have supported them in the past year who have passed away. Whoever you are and wherever you are on your journey in faith - you are welcome. 78
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