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Chairperson’s Address Clive Davis
Iconic Giles Reid
A Letter From The Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald
Coming Out In The Public Eye Chloe Herlihy
Ridicule, Referenda and Roses Dave Roche
Splash Of Pride Chambers
Mind Yourself John Buttimer
Going to Score? Know your Score! Konrad Im
Memories of a March Denise Murray
Stars A. Wootten
Invisible Community R.A. Moulds
Shine Oliver Callan
Three Tier Red Velvet Cake Recipe Brian Drinan
Easychef Ireland Pauly Corby
P.39 - 47
Lets Work It Out Niamh Kavanagh
ReCollective The Cork Pride Art Expo
Pride in Faith Rev. Mike O’Sullivan
Cork Rebels FC
The Cork Gay Project
All Out For Repeal Of The Eighth Orla Egan
Volunteer Call Out
Shine In Your Own Light Aengus Mac Grianna
LINC Siobhan O’Mahony
Pride: In The Name Of Love
Committee Members: Clive Davis Sarah O’Sullivan Kery Mullaly Denise Boyle JP McCarthy Stuart Immelman Giles Reid Joe Mulrennan Konrad Im Davina Staunton Joanne Hegener John Buttimer Noelle Cambridge Ted O’Connell
Chairman Vice Chair & Treasurer Sales & Sponsorship Parade Coordinator Marketing & PRO Events Coordinator Marketing & Design Magazine Design Volunteer Coordinator Community Liaison Secretary City Liaison Officer Events Coordinator Magazine Content
Big Thank You To: Paddy Carty, Evergreen Print. Web Design Justin Cronin, Coolgrey Printer John Allen Parade 2015/2016 Photography LINC & The Cork Gay Project Daniel Carey & Team, Like Communications Media Marcin Lewandowsk Photography To all the many others who give unselfishly of their time to make this festival better and better, also to our advertisers, without whom we would not be able to produce this magazine.
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“Where We Part” So this is where we part, my love. You go on before me, around the bend. Gone from sight, never from mind. A new place for us there, you’ll surely find. I will go on; I’ll find my strength. Life measures quality, not its length. I wish for one more long embrace before you leave, A kiss, a caress of your cheek; I clutch your sleeve. Share one last look upon me; your death I reprieve. You are the love of my life; that much is true. I miss you so much now, what can I do? We fell in love, it took no thought. A wish or a dream; it was heaven sought. Your place in my heart I’ll forever hold; you will be missed, Your beard I stroked, your lips I kissed. And as you journey to your final rest, Take with you this... I love you, Bear! For that, I am truly blessed. Love, Paul.
1963 - 2017
Cork Pride Festival Chairman’s Address Firstly, I’d like to extend you the warmest of welcomes to this year’s Cork Pride Festival! This year, The Cork Pride Festival runs from the 30th July – 6th August, beginning with our fabulous Cork Pride Family Fun Day which takes place in Fitzgerald’s Park on Sunday 30th July, and concludes with the legendary Cork Pride Parade and Afterparty taking place on the following Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend; the Cork Pride Festival now runs over eight fun filled days and nights with events to suit everyone - check out the events pages for listings. This year our festival theme is “Shine” which was selected by the Cork Pride Committee to represent not only how we shine as a community – but also to shine a light on both the positive and negative issues that we as a community face, celebrating both our monumental achievements – but more importantly to shine a light on the work that we still have left to do. 2017 began with the shocking news of the murders of gay men in Chechnya, and the torture and concentration camps that have been established by Ramzan Kadyrov’s anti-LGBT regime. This is part of an alarming global increase in the regression and dissolution of the rights we have fought so hard for, from discrimination against our Trans brothers and sisters in Trump’s America, to the outrageous ongoing incidences of “corrective” rape and murders of Lesbian women in South Africa. Closer to home, assaults against LGBT people in the UK have increased by a factor of three since Brexit, and with diagnoses of HIV and AIDS still on the rise, we ask the question; why is PrEP still not available in Ireland?
2017 also saw our community lose several iconic figures. In March, we lost LGBT activist Gilbert Baker, the man who created our iconic and internationally recognised LGBT Rainbow flag, which he created in 1978 to show both unity and diversity within our community. In June, we also sadly lost Anne Louise Gilligan who, along with her wife Catherine Zappone started the fight for Equal Marriage in Ireland. In July, we lost our beloved friend, colleague, and community leader - the inimitable and irreplaceable Dave Roche. On a professional level I lost a mentor; on a personal level, I lost one of my best friends - one that could make me laugh with his razor sharp and legendary wit, someone that I turned to for advice and support in good times and bad times, someone whose opinion I sought and valued, and whose friendship I cherished. Dave’s legacy lives on, and the changes and contributions he made to the LGBT community are far reaching and long lasting. Dave was larger than life, and filled a room with his presence. He was natural orator, and had a unique ability to address a crowd, but to make each person feel that he was talking to them directly. Our thoughts are with Dave’s family and especially his partner Paul, who Dave loved so much and who made him so happy in recent years. Dave, you will live on in our hearts, and will never be forgotten. The world will be a less colourful place without Dave, but our memorial to him will be to continue his work, and to celebrate his life at our tribute night, La Vie En Rose on Friday 4th August at St Peters, North Main St. These unassuming trailblazers took on the Establishment, and fought for what they believed in; they dared to dream – and were successful in making that dream a reality. In June of this year, Leo Varadkar historically became Ireland’s youngest and first openly gay Taoiseach. Regardless of your political persuasion or personal views, this was a landmark moment in
the history of the State, and one that demonstrated not only how far Ireland has come in just a few short years, but that being LGBT is no longer a political impediment, and that regardless of race, creed or sexuality, anybody can be what they want to be in a modern Ireland. Some of the younger members of our community might not fully appreciate that we are only where we are today because of the hard work and dedication of those who have gone before us; we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We must not forget that we are fortunate to be living in a part of the world where we are free to be who we are, and love who we love – but many of our LGBT brothers and sisters around the world are still being persecuted, harmed, and even killed, for simply loving. Considering these issues made me think - where is the community on all the other days and weeks of the year when their help could make a difference? Has the LGBT Community become reactive rather than proactive; how often do we need to see an issue posted on Social media before we decide to react? Have we become a community of keyboard warriors, waiting to see how many likes, comments or shares a post gets before we choose to show our support? The Cork Pride Festival would like to thank all of its generous sponsors and supporters. Their assistance enables us to keep all our community events free of charge, offer free advertising and financial assistance to local LGBT community groups and organisations, and expand the festival every year. Please take note of them and support them throughout the year without their help we simply would not be able to produce the Cork Pride Festival annually. Finally, I would like to thank the fabulous 2017 Cork Pride Festival Committee for all their dedication and hard work over the past year in producing what’s promising to be the best Cork Pride Festival yet!
Chairperson 2017 Cork Pride Festival
CORK PRIDE 2017 SUN JUL- 30TH RK MR. GAY CO
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To the Participants at Cork Pride, I would like to welcome each and every person to Cork who is participating in the Annual Cork Pride Parade and festivities. Cork City is famous for its festivals and the Cork Pride Festival and parade is one of the most colourful and participatory. As Lord Mayor of Cork I would like to acknowledge the work of the organising committee and their efforts to ensure that not only the Parade is successful but that the supporting events during Pride Week are entertaining and diverse so as to reflect the LGBT community itself. I would also like to acknowledge the commitment of Cork City Council and the Social Inclusion Unit for their efforts over many years to systematically tackle and address issues of homophobia and exclusion. I know it is a source of pride for many in the LGBT Community that Cork City Council was the first local authority to fly the Pride Flag over its municipal building. It is hard to believe that it is only two years since the passing of the Marriage Equality referendum. While it was momentous it is but one part of the journey and there are still many issues to face within the LGBT community. In my year as Lord Mayor I will be putting an emphasis on Cork as a Healthy City and as a Learning City so as to build bridges and connections between communities. I invite the LGBT community to become part of that engagement. Each of you taking part in the Parade will see that Cork City is undergoing renewal. You will find that Cork is an open and welcoming city, with people, attractions, amenities, pubs and restaurants unrivalled anywhere else. I wish you a happy and successful Pride. Yours sincerely, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald
I remember once when I was starting out in the restaurant business being told that I would know I was successful when I had a full restaurant and didn’t know anyone in it; simply put the product was good enough not to require personalities. I had no idea that thirty something years later I would face this exact situation in my new life as a gay community development worker. When I go out now on the very active “scene” in Cork, particularly around Pride, I am unlikely to know anyone except the very few from the old days. The point being that the work of the previous two generations has been so successful in changing Ireland that many people may not even be aware of that work. Ireland, and especially Cork, has become a much more welcoming and open space for LGBT people. When I first “came out” (I use the expression cautiously) in the late seventies , Cork was a much smaller and more homogenised place. I knew almost everyone of the small band of pioneers who were the “scene” and while law reform and marriage were many years in the future we somehow managed to carve out a life for ourselves despite the suspicion, ridicule and downright hostility that was part of daily life. Of course I now realise the damage done by the background stresses and the internalising of the negativity we faced but I can also remember the fun, the thrill and the sense of belonging that came with being part of this closed group. I have
to admit that while my friends and myself had some awareness of the early stirrings of something vaguely political happening at the “Quay Co-op” we were much more concerned with the next party or the latest fashions. So with ridicule as the norm, we carried on and through mutual support survived more or less intact. It was years later and with the horrors of the HIV/Aids epidemic still very much in my mind that I began the real process of “Coming Out”. This internal dialogue was essential to self discovery. I realised that one cannot grow up gay in the Ireland I grew up in and not be damaged in some way. That internalising of fear, stigma, disgust and ridicule leaves its mark. The process of extracting it was the real coming out. Around this time I decided to reengage with formal education and went to U.C.C where I studied Social Science and began to understand the forces that shape our society and therefore our lived existence. I understood the need for, and the use of, liminal spaces but decided that for real difference I had to cross these thresholds and try to effect some positive change. So began a career in gay community work that has taken me on a roller coaster ride that has shaken that naive teen, that arrogant hedonist in my twenties and that careless thirty something into a greying and content gay man. Post Referendum Ireland is a far better place, but while many people’s futures are more secure, we still have a mountain of work to do about p e o p l e’s present.
The present for those generations who began all of this is to be the first generations that will age as an Out population anywhere. While LGBT people have always grown old, the new phenomenon now will be a visible aging community, and we don’t know what that will entail. Many older LGBT people were estranged from their families, were less likely to have children and for many the career options they felt were open to them often came with little financial security. They grew up in a country where they were anthologised and criminalised. I’m sure our need will be similar to other aging populations but there is likely to be distinct differences as well. Older people are often desexualised in our society and often reconsigned to those liminal spaces we fought so hard to get out of. Do we want to give up a sexual identity that was so hard won? The environment that
we create now for our elders will be skips whenever Viber rings. the environment that this and future The good news is that despite the constant rose pruning I am a now generations will inherit. the happiest I have ever been. I get I often wonder when I am working to share my life with someone I in schools or with youth groups really love, I get to work in a job I around the city and county or when adore (if I ignore the admin) and I making some speech at an event get to garden my own little slice of what the younger members of the heaven. I have also been privileged audience see when I am in full flight to have met and worked alongside about equality, rights and Irish the most amazing people over the years and have lifelong friendships society. that I cherish. Do they see a grey activist who is kind of interesting but past it? Or Being Gay and Grey is not as I someone who is politically gay but thought it would be. It has its own special wonders. couldn’t actually be “doing it”? Or can they see me? By me, I mean all of me. The passionate community worker, the country boy who agonises about his garden, the lover whose heart
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Yes! It has been a good year for the roses. In loving memory of our friend & colleague, Dave Roche 1963 - 2017
John Buttimer is a Senior Clinical Psychologist and represents Cork City Council on the HSE South Regional Health Forum.
Over recent years there has been a dramatic increase in media focus and attention on the promotion and development of positive mental health and wellbeing. There have been a number of very successful high profile campaigns run by the HSE and the voluntary sector including the Pieta House â€“ Darkness to Light Walk, the Green Ribbon Campaign and the HSEâ€™s dedicated yourmental health. ie website. There have also been a significant number of celebrities and individuals with a high public profile coming out and speaking about their journey through mental illness and the impact it has had on their life. All of this has shone a light on mental health but the reality is that most people are still unsure what defines a mental health need or what they should do about it. It is also true that while attitudes to and understanding of mental health need have improved there continues to be a stigma attached to it. 8
The first step in developing and promoting positive mental health is to have a good emotional or feelings vocabulary. Have we the words to describe accurately what we are feeling or thinking, are we able to differentiate between the external and internal factors that influence our mood and our behaviour? Have we the communication skills to communicate that to others at a time of need or crisis? In fact, more importantly do we have the language and maybe the confidence to fully express ourselves even when we are not at a crisis in terms of our mental health? Unless we know how we are in the good times how can we expect to know how we are in the bad or challenging times. A good working mental health literacy and awareness is one of the first steps to developing mindfulness and ownership and control of our own mental health.
Recent Irish and international studies on the experience of mental health need within the LGBT community have thrown up interesting and challenging results. Some studies have found slightly higher prevalence or no difference in the rates for Depression and Anxiety for members of the LGBT community than the Non-LGBT community. However, an Irish study found that young LGBT individuals were more likely to engage in acts of self-harm to act out on suicidal ideation than their nonLGBT peers. This is a worrying statistic as it suggests that young people within the community continue to experience challenges and barriers that might not be common to others. It also suggests that significant numbers of young LGBT people are not availing of supports or services, are suffering on their own in time to check distress and not coping. We all to need to take on a regular in with ourselves is how we are doing. It One of the first things we have to basis to see ng know when does feeli acknowledge is that it is normal to essential to or t not getting a job experience a mental health need down abou e d by a partner becom for which we might require the being dumpe e lik more serious support of others be that friends, something at How do we know th family or professionals. But how depression. to t st shy and reluctan can we tell the difference between we are not ju at I might be take the stage but th what is a normal response or an lised anxiety experiencing genera abnormal response when we are important to disorder? It is also in the middle of a situation or a set some of the know and understand of feelings and emotions that are event people barriers that can pr overwhelming and impairing our riate help at from seeking approp ability to function and make good the appropriate time. decisions?
booklet out a useful information t gh ou br tly en rec are of checking The action group Aw to guide our own process AL IV ST FE m ny ro ac e lue, which used th ep, Thinking, Interest, Va Sle y, erg En , ng eli Fe h: elp guide in with our mental healt these. This is just a self-h e m so on ed nd pa ex ve Aches, Life. I ha a diagnostic tool. and checklist and is not Feeling What are the feelings that we have during the course of the day, week or month? Are they mainly positive or negative feelings? Indicators that might suggest there is something more going on might be a significant number of negative feelings like being sad, anxious or bored all the time to such a degree that they might stop you from doing activities you’d normally find pleasurable. Energy Just as temperature indicates how the body is doing, taking a reading of energy levels can do the same. How are you feeling right now and can you explain why you have that level of energy? In general, do you have positive or negative energy; are you constantly feeling tired fatigued? How does this compare to when you feel at your best? Sleep Never underestimate sleep. Are you getting too much or too little? Do you have difficulties getting to sleep or going back to sleep if you wake during the night? Is the sleep you are getting restorative or do you still feel tired and jaded when you get up? Thinking How is your concentration? Can you focus and maintain concentration on a task or activity when you have to or is your mind racing and unable to become still? Has your memory improved or gotten worse? Is there any pattern in your thinking and type of decisions and attributions you are making – is the glass half-full or half-empty most of the time? Interest What is your interest in the things around you like compared to last week or maybe a month ago or when you were at your best? Are you able to get the same enjoyment and pleasure out of the things you used to? Has your sexual drive increased or decreased significantly? What are your social relationships like and how are family and friends responding to you? Is there a pattern in what they are saying to you? Value How do you feel about yourself? Do you like or love yourself? Do you feel valued by friends or family? Are those feelings accurate?
Having a good insight to how and what we are feeling is only one step of the process to having a truly positive mental health. At times we will require the support of family, friends or professionals to help us through particular challenges. There are a variety of different professional and voluntary supports that can be accessed easily and confidentially. The theme of this year’s Pride Festival is Shine. Use this time to Shine a light on your own mental health and wellbeing. Reflect on how you are doing, the strengths and skills you have, the resilience you have developed. But also take comfort that if you think you need some support there are steps you can take. You are not taking this journey on your own but every person who walks in Pride is walking with you.
If you are experiencing difficulties or are unsure about how you are doing, there are plenty of groups and agencies from whom to seek support. It is always useful to start with your GP or speaking to the Samaritans.
Cork Samaritans, 7 Coach St, Phone: 116123
Aches Sometimes mental health need becomes manifest in physical pains and symptoms. Be sensitive to physical changes that you experience. Life This is often the most difficult and challenging question you have to ask yourself. Are there times when you have lost interest in living, when you’ve had suicidal thoughts or engaged in dangerous and risky behaviour? Do you find yourself feeling that life is not worth living or that other people would be better off without you? Have these thoughts been persistent or fleeting? Have you developed a plan? Do you engage in other behaviours (drugs, alcohol) that might increase the probability of you trying something?
The HSE online resource for mental health can be accessed at: www.yourmentalhealth.ie - John Buttimer 9
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On a surprisingly sunny St Patrick’s Day in 1992 I stood, as a recently returned émigré, with my partner and son on the Grand Parade dreading the Parade. Having lived all their lives in England, my non-traditional family had never experienced Paddy’s Day in Ireland and had dragged me to what I fully expected to be the usual cringe fest of tractors hauling flatbed trailers festooned with poorly made agricultural themed heteronormative Catholic paddywhackery. No less an authority than the Human Rights Commission of New York City had recently confirmed that to be Irish was to be Catholic and homophobic. Judge Maldonado had ruled that although it was discriminatory to exclude people from a public parade on the basis of sexual orientation it was, in her final analysis, obvious that as the parade was a celebration of Irish ethnicity, the Ancient Order of Hibernians as NY parade organisers had a right to discriminate against the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organisation, based on the tacit acceptance that an a-priori condition of being Irish was an active intolerance of homosexuality and therefore it was impossible to identify simultaneously as Irish and homosexual. In short – No Gays on ‘Patty’s Day’.
And so as our little family found itself waiting for the Annual Straight Paddyfest to dawdle on by you cannot imagine my surprise as from behind a banner declaiming HELLO NEW YORK familiar voices called us to join the homosexuals of Cork proudly participating in the Patrick’s Day Parade.
Now, I considered myself a sophisticated out and proud parader of long standing. Didn’t I witness Divine sailing up the Thames on a barge singing “You think you’re a man”? Hadn’t I carried my toddler son on my shoulders through London on a glorious Pride day with himself chatting away to a gaggle of Diesel
Dykes from Newcastle on one side and a squeak of Brighton Rubber Queens on the other? Wasn’t mine one of thousands of voices roaring “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, OUT! OUT! OUT!” in cities across the U.K as we let the Tories know what we thought of their homophobic Clause 28? But I can honestly say that as I walked down the South Mall with my lesbian partner and our son I was never more terrified and exhilarated to participate in a public demonstration of Gay Pride. Or prouder of our little Rebel City. Sure who cares what some judge in NY says, or what a gang of Yanks think it means to be Irish? Cork embraced its own. We could hear people in the crowd shhhing the rare negative comments with an emphatic ‘cop yourself on; there’s a young fella there with his Mammies like!’ Twenty three years later the Man with Two Mammies was a vocal campaigner for Marriage Equality and spoke movingly of the acceptance he experienced growing up in Cork where no one gave a monkey’s about someone else’s definition of what you have to be to be Irish. - Denise Murray
Denise Murray has lived in enough countries, had enough diverse careers, and graduated from enough third level institutions to officially qualify as a Dilettante. She is also a mammy, a granny, and an animal rights advocate. Mainly she’s from Cork like. 13
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I have only been part of the LGBTQIA+ community for less than a year. The only real representation of the community that I had seen or heard of aside from the statistics was the Pride parade, which seemed like this bubbly, happy, outgoing, fun event so I guess I assumed that that was what it was like to be a part of the LGBT+ community. I have been going to the UP Cork Youth Group for about 9 months. From the very first meeting I had with the leader, Gill, I felt comfortable and safe. I was upfront with her about my struggles and was honest about my self-harm. Truthfully I was expecting a dismissive ‘sure everyone gets anxious’ response when I told her about my anxiety. The response I got was completely genuine and understanding. She said not to worry, that I wasn’t the only one. I have heard the statistics about mental health in the community but I don’t think I really realised just how prevalent it is. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that mental ill health and identifying as LGBT+ are mutually exclusive or that they are the cause of each other but it was still eye opening, yet also strangely comforting. Experiences like that, of genuine understanding and acceptance are what helped me to trust people with my writing and to not be absolutely terrified of the repercussions. Below is an extract from my book, “I’m fine” which was the first thing that came to mind when I heard “Shine”...
To continue reading more from Ms Wootten, pick up a copy of her book ‘I’m Fine’ from the Cork Life Centre. Info: www.corklifecentre.org
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I was born and grew up over 5,000 kilometres from Cork, and yet, when I moved here in August 2015, I immediately felt at home. There are several reasons for that feeling, of course. Both my Irish spouse’s parents and my own have similar backgrounds; his were from rural County Clare, and later moved to the UK. My own parents were from farming families in rural Mississippi who moved to the East Coast of the United States shortly after the Second World War. This means that many things about Ireland actively remind me of aspects of my childhood, from the traditional music, which informed and inspired much of the folk and country music that I heard from a very early age, to the value of doing things the way they have always been done, and the ways of expressing one’s self that still surprise me with their familiarity. But there is more to my feeling of comfort here than a simple cultural similarity. The Irish people that I have met in Cork have been unfailingly polite and welcoming, always happy to talk, and ever curious about newcomers. I am also very proud that, to my knowledge, Ireland is the first nation to achieve marriage equality through the ultimate democratic practice of a referendum rather than judicial or legislative instructions. I have the feeling that this change is reflected in the attitudes of many people we 20
have met here; we have noticed no discomfort or surprise when we tell officials or new friends that we are married, and it is clear that LGBT rights and issues are not in any way concealed. All of this is a very good thing. Unfortunately, although a new and refreshing attitude towards both LGBT rights and LGBT individuals is shiningly visible in many ways, I have observed that the LGBT individuals themselves— particularly those over thirty-five or so—are not to be found. Despite our diligent research, it appears that most social venues and community activity centres intended for LGBT Corkonians ‘of a certain age’ have shut down or are steadily fading away. This is not a situation that is unique to Cork or Ireland. LGBT venues in both the UK and the USA appear to be shrinking in number as well. In my hometown of Baltimore (the other one) one of the centres of the gay scene, The Hippo, recently closed its doors and is reportedly to be converted into an express supermarket. This was a shock to many LGBT Baltimoreans,
because it really had been a shelter and a home base for most of us for so many years.
It is difficult to pin down the reasons for this decline in LGBT social venues for older patrons. It is all too easy to point to social media, to the marginalisation of older LGBT individuals who treasured such ‘safe’ social opportunities, or to a new focus on ‘hooking up’ rather than community and solidarity, but instead of pointing fingers, I would rather point out the value of such ‘oldstyle’ socialisation. It is true that we have achieved much—that we are much more visible, that many more of our fellowcitizens are comfortable with our presence and acknowledge our
fundamental rights—but am sorry to say that there is a basic difference between being welcomed by one’s peers and being tolerated as just another face in the crowd, and as our own institutions fade into memory, we should resist the temptation to give too much credit to a society that is still on the edge of change. We have not truly arrived, and with the observable state of today’s world firmly in mind, I must say that I am not sure that we ever will, at least completely. So, I think it is important to continue valuing the sort of shelter that our old institutions provided—to revive, if we can, the sort of community and fellowfeeling that we once had. This may seem slightly insulting to our ‘gay-friendly’ fellows and businesses, but it should not be. We need to provide opportunities for LGBT individuals of all ages, races, genders, and orientations to come together and more firmly cement their support, valuing, and enjoyment of one another. Pride began as a way to show the world at large that we are not ashamed, that we matter, and that we exist. Thus, in a way, it may be seen as an event for outsiders. Our LGBT social institutions and venues are still valuable, and still necessary, because we need to focus more, now and then, on supporting one another more than being a beacon to the world. The next few years will reveal whether the direction of our state in the world will be one of progression or regression. Either way, I feel that we must continue supporting one another and standing shoulder-to-shoulder. It is really the only way we will survive.
R.A. Moulds was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1958. After thirty-one years with the US Federal Government, he retired and relocated to Cork with his partner in August 2015. He now composes contemporary classical music that has been performed all over Europe and the USA, and in 2000 published a book of short stories, Porch Swing Stories, based on his family’s southern US background.
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by Oliver Callan still remember the first time I heard the word “gay”. It was a thousand years ago, in the mid-1980s. I was travelling home from school in one of those swaying yellow buses, the rainwater gliding up and down the aisle as the smoking hulk gurgled between the hawthorn hedges of Monaghan, prickling with its secrets. In fact I thought the word the boy from the next townland was saying was “gé”, the Irish word for goose. The chap he was accusing of being a Gaeilge goose was equally confused, until the braying boy spelled it out for him. Two men who are doing it with each other. Everyone reacted with horror and laughter over the diesel roars of the yellow bus. And so like most people of our persuasion, the first time I heard the word “gay” was as a term of abuse. Worse than the narrow minds of a national school of the 80s, were the narrow minds of a national school in the borderlands of the 80s. The most popular jokes were racist puns on the plight of starving Ethiopians. Or gags about Brits who should of course all die at the hands of the IRA. There were no Brits or Ethiopians to take offence to the off-colour jokes but I was there, sinking ever deeper into a protective layer of disguise and silence with every passing reference to these dirty gays. As a consequence I knew it was wrong to be gay and that I was undoubtedly one of these misfortunates long before I knew anything about sex. That lesson came in another bus journey by a girl from “the
village”, the sprawling metropolis that was Inniskeen, population 265. Gay Byrne thought he was educating Ireland all on his own, but our Bus Scoile was like the Late Late in yellow aluminium and manual steering. Looking back, I know now the silence about sexuality wasn’t my own. It abounded throughout culture, conversation and the strive to be as normal and beige as everyone else. I didn’t know it at first, but the realisation of not being normal was the great epiphany of my life. It would free me from the drudgery of sameness and the burden of having to behave predictably and properly, following society’s accepted steps of life. Instead I indulged almost every marginal difference about me to distract from the central abnormality. So I became a heightened nerd, devouring books around me and snatching smidgens of high-falutin talk on the longwave radio. Ours was not a scholarly house so once I had gone through the monthly allocation of library books, I read every scrap I could find to broaden my world beyond 27 acres of farmland. Farmers’ Journals, bits of Africa and Far East magazines, RTE Guide articles and old Irish Independent pieces that had been used to wrap the ice-cream block home from O’Gorman’s supermarket. I got my fair share of slagging from my two siblings and the Newry cousins for using fancy words like “superb” and “marvellous”. Secretly I was delighted this was all they seized upon, as I desperately kept that other great light within me
switched off and never shining. I developed all sorts of traps and diversions. While I couldn’t play GAA, I got away with it because I wholeheartedly loved going to and watching matches. I was slower than my older brother to learn how to operate machinery, but I was organised at milking cows and spotless in cleaning up the byre and milk tank. He was driving the International two-wheeled drive tractor at 10 while I didn’t master it until 12 or 13. By secondary school I knew what to avoid and was never bullied. I pitied the camp lads who couldn’t lower their volumes and got abuse around the town of Carrickmacross. Again I was able to divert any suspicions in new and curious ways. My nerdiness as a debater in a blazer was offset by being video commentator on the school’s football matches. But nothing distracts quite as well as comedy. As a natural mimic, my impersonations of teachers pretty much provided a free pass against bullying for the entirety of secondary school.
When the beautiful Charlie Hunnam sweated breathlessly with nasty Aiden Gillen, I thought I might die from the implosion of embarrassment, excitement, shame and elation all crashing together in a cacophony of broken secrets. There was a moment amid all this tortured private humiliation I must have come out to myself. Yet it would take the guts of another decade to tell another soul. Maybe I missed the best years of romance and lovemaking - my 20s - according to some. I have never felt any sadness or regret about coming out late. Like peace, sooner is always better, but at last is better than never. Today I feel that being gay is the most delightfully anti-normal normality a person can enjoy. I have never met a straight person, even those among my closest and most beloved friends, who ever fully understood what is to be gay. To endure the darkness into light and the constant tingling of tension over how camp to allow oneself or the appropriateness of challenging irritating assumptions that you’re straight. The breeders just don’t get it, even if they try. Thank creation for those that try, even though deep down at the very nadir of their rainbow-bright hearts, even the very best of them still feel a little sorry for us.
the realisation of not being normal was the great epiphany of my life.
While I survived school by covering the true self so well, it only served to push me deeper into the closet during college years that should have brought more freedom. DCU put me in contact with the first openly gay people I’d known, albeit at distance, and although my classmates weren’t homophobic, the LGBT crowd were very much “them” and we were “us”.
Coming from a deep Irish country background, my ignorance of sexual freedom was profound, even in the early days of the new century. I collected my Leaving Cert results by parking the tractor that I wasn’t licensed or insured to drive at the edge of town. I was gay Boo Radley in a sad Springsteen ballad. I was Patrick Kavanagh’s Great Hunger of the 21st Century. By the time the race of progress had started, I was just too far behind. The shine of truth only threatened to emerge. Queer as Folk started on Channel Four. I watched on the weekends home from college, with the volume so far down I had to sit two feet from the Grundig to hear it. In case anyone entered the room and found me indulging in the sin of truth, I held the remote in a fist,
In the meantime, my secret inner soul was burning to break out. The 90s saw gay characters appear on TV more overtly than ever before. Every time they did when the whole family was watching, my face burned so hot with shame I thought small animals might fall asleep at my feet thinking the sun was setting.
ready to switch off the only thing that gave me a glimpse of myself.
There is a lot of pain and suffering, but there is a dawning too, a shining of the soul that announces a truth. Being gay is a classless state. The LGBT+ bars of old, that are disappearing now in the aftermath of marriage equality, were the only pubs where people came together in a warped sort of honesty, irrespective of age, wealth, background, race, religion, political views or accents. They often came together in spite of the prevailing culture outside the door rather than because of it. Regardless of how hard it was attained, freedom is always taken for granted and becomes dull. That’s the phase we’ve entered now in Ireland. It’s not time yet to get too worried about it, but there will come a moment when we need to remind ourselves that a century’s worth of progress occurring in half a decade needs remembering and reinforcing. The light will go on shining, but the wick needs to be trimmed and the oil needs refilling every now and then. I don’t look back in fear anymore at the boy in the yellow bus who taught me a new word. I think of him as the unlikeliest hero of truth I’ll ever know.
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I assure you dear reader this article is not going to be a woe is me story of the “fat” kid turned skinny….. Actually I’m lying, that’s exactly what it’s going to be. I am in part going to talk about my “journey” as well as also sharing some of the day to day things that help me to maintain my weight and positive outlook on life. I was always the heavy kid in school, not in a baby fat way more of a mini Buddha kind of way. Flashforward and add a stone or six and we get to secondary school, having few close friends and a particularly nasty bout of bullying. All of these instances led me to turn to food to cope with my stresses and my life at the time. I found food comforting and it filled a void within me that at the time could not be filled by anything else. In saying this, I did manage to keep up with my studies and get into college. I am so thankful for accessing a “fresh start” as I don’t like to think where I would be now or what size I would be if I hadn’t managed to break the cycle of comfort eating.
I had put on a considerable amount of weight by college in 2006, I stopped checking at about 21 stone. I cannot really remember what it was like to be 19 years old and nearly 21 stone but I do remember the way I felt at that time. Starting college I became the bright bubbly “fat friend” who on the surface was happy go lucky and loved life. On the inside I was really desperately unhappy and quite lonely in myself. I decided within my first month in college that something had to change. The real turning point was being tagged in photos on Bebo (it was that long ago) from one of our first nights out. Only then did I realise who I had become on the outside, I was d e s p e r at e l y unhappy and it really made me a w a r e for the
first time that something needed to change in my life. I made a conscious decision when I returned from home one weekend that things were about to change. Within my first three months in college I lost 6 stone through daily exercise and altering my diet. I had the added advantage that I had free access to the gym in college and also had to walk 40 minutes to and from college. I have to say that making good close friends who accepted me for who I am really helped me to become more comfortable in my own skin. It would be amazing if this was the end of my story and that this is where I lost more weight and turned it all around. The saying “old habits die hard” springs to mind. It was a gentle return to the old habits of binge eating/ reassuring myself that “it’s only a treat”, my weight crept back up to 19 stone. At this time about four years ago my self-esteem was at an all time low, a lot of my friends had moved away (damn you recession) or had begun relationships. I felt that old feeling of being alone and emptiness come back with a vengeance.
Thank God this time around I was much more self aware, I began by altering my diet in small ways, reducing the size of my meals, cooking only fresh vegetables and good quality meats. I started exercising and slowly at that (an absolute must when you’re overweight and don’t want to crack a knee). I mainly walked about 3-4 times a week and began running when I felt fit enough. As I was sticking to my routine and diet plan I noticed that the weight started falling off, coupled with a lot of support and encouragement from my friends. I reached my goal weight of 11 stone (a ten stone weight loss total) and realised something, I didn’t like it. I had become obsessive, I wasn’t enjoying my food I was counting everything that went into my mouth and became almost obsessive. I learned slowly to ease off on the calorie counting and began to enjoy food again, eating out more and caring less.I’m now at 13 stone and I’d like to maybe get down to 12 ½ stone but I’m happy, so if it happens, it happens.
Another transformative thing that I discovered, particularly in the past year is yoga. I do it four times a week in my living room mostly using YouTube videos. I cannot recommend it enough, it’s incredible - not only have I toned up completely, it has also helped me to become much more relaxed in my everyday life. Food is no longer my go to response to any of life’s trials. Something surprising has happened over the past 12 months, I found that my stress levels from work have reduced and I am more relaxed within myself. I have also gained much more confidence within myself, I even got a boyfriend or two which is something I thought would never happen for me.
For me at the ripe old age of 30, I’ve realised that everything in life is about balance; whether it’s diet, finances (still haven’t wrapped my head around that one) or just managing stress. I’ve found writing this article really cathartic, I hope you got something out of it too. Around this time I started blogging Check out my blog or Instagram for and Instagramming; it’s been a great some inspo or to see more about my way to monitor what I was eating. wee journey through life. My new motto is “if it can’t go on Instagram then it can’t go in your mouth”. I also found a community online that are encouraging, positive and always willing to share tips and tricks. It has been fantastic; I still Instagram and blog regularly for the pure enjoyment of it check my Social media (cheeky plug going in there).
â€œOur three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.â€? MFK Fisher The Gastronomical Me (1943)
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Clare is an Irish singer songwriter from Cork, whose voice has been likened to Joan Baez. Clare was always interested in music and played piano as a young child, starting at just 4 years of age. Clare’s musical interest lessened during her teenage years, however her interest was re-kindled in her late teens and early twenties with the discovery of the likes of Irish songwriter, Sinead Lohan as well as Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell that really piqued Clare’s interest in songwriting and playing guitar. Clare, a graduate of the renowned Music, Management and Sound course at Cork’s Colaiste Stiofain Naofa, began to pen her own songs while learning about songwriting, and performance. Clare’s debut album, Secret World, was well received and included two songs produced by Declan Sinnott. Clare went on to share the stage with James Blunt, Ron Hynes (Sonny’s Dream) as well as performing her own shows throughout Ireland. Clare has performed across parts of Canada including Toronto, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as New York and Chicago.
I was never one to have dreamt about being a singer or writing songs since I was a kid – I was a latecomer in that regard. I was about 17 or 18 when I really started listening to music, people like Sinead Lohan and Tracy Chapman, and I was a big REM fan at the time; I used to try to sing and play along to them in my room. I recorded myself into a tape recorder and gave it to my friend to listen to – I remember being really embarrassed that she thought it was actually good! From there, I started to develop an interest in songwriting. I ended up auditioning for the Music, Management and Sound course in Stiofain Naofa which was a huge turning point for me. I had always wanted to do it, but was pushed more towards a “traditional” 3rd level education. So after I got that, I went on to the CSN course. I still sing and play with a lot of the people on that course – such great connections were made. Mick 34
Flannery and I were in the same class and ended up travelling to Newfoundland, Canada one year along with Ger Wolfe and other Cork songwriters to write and sing with Canadian writers. It was a great experience for me, and afterwards I went back to Canada for a year and played over there. I got some great opportunities to perform with great Canadian artists like Ron Hynes (who wrote Sonny’s Dream) and Jeffrey Straker who’s really taking off over there now. I’ve got kind of a love/hate relationship with music and performing. I’m quite shy and don’t particularly care for attention, so it’s always a conflict for me to perform. I do think that there’s a natural want in a singer or songwriter to have their song heard, and that’s the part that conflicts with the shy element of my personality. It’s taken me years to be able to talk to a crowd at a gig, years to not feel
quite as nervous. The first time I performed in front of people, I was almost frozen with nerves – it was awful and you’d have to wonder what is it that drives you to ever do it again! The songwriter/singer part obviously wins out I guess. Something I’ve always wanted to do is to play a full show of Joni Mitchell songs. She’s so under-represented, under-rated, yet so good. It’s all “Dylan this and Cohen that” and to be honest, she’s far better all round, in my opinion. I had my first one of these shows in Coughlan’s on Douglas Street back in June and it went great. I’ll be doing some more over the coming months. My second album, Make Your Move, was released last year and a couple of the songs from it got a nice amount of airplay. I did a small tour around Ireland and played some shows with Mick (Flannery) which was fun. It’s so different now to when I put out my first album, Secret World, 10 years ago. There’s so much happening online now that it’s really where you need to focus your promotion, as opposed to the now old-fashioned CD and newspaper article. I still love getting someone’s CD though. I think it’s more personal than just clicking a button or a link on your phone and listening to something that way. Free music has become the norm and that’s a shame in one way ‘cos it devalues it, but it also makes more music available to more people. The only counter to that is live performance. You can never ever replicate a live gig – the atmosphere, subtleties, expressions, interactions, silences etc. cannot be replicated on any audio or video recording. That will never change – so support live music. Don’t just click on it – go see it.
Check out Clareâ€™s website and Facebook pages for more info: www.clareomahony.com www.facebook.com/claremusic @clareomusic 35
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Over the last 20 years there has been massive social and legislative progress for LGBT people in Ireland, resulting in legal protections for LGBT employees such as the Unfair Dismissals Act, the
“LGBT people make up one of the largest minority groups in the workforce.”
case of new colleagues, new clients or in a new company. Thus, many LGBT people choose to conceal their true selves in the workplace. In a 2013 study, only 43% of LGBT employees in Ireland reported that they were “out” to everyone in work. Of course, if a person wants to keep their private life private, this should be respected and protected. However, the mental effort of constantly self-regulating to hide a stigmatized sexuality has been shown to substantially increase stress, anxiety, depression and other negative health outcomes. This, of course, has knock-on effects for the business too - reducing workplace satisfaction, lowering productivity and increasing turnover.
Parental Leave Act, the Employment Equality Acts, the Civil Partnership Act and the Gender Recognition Act. However, legal protections do not guarantee LGBT inclusiveness in the workplace. There are currently 177,000 LGBT people working in Ireland. LGBT people make up one of the largest minority groups in the workforce. Support structures tend to focus on more visible minorities, STEM-orientated (Science, Technology, such as those related to gender, race or Engineering and Maths) workplaces age. While these groups also include bring their own unique challenges LGBT people, an LGBT orientation to the table. Research has shown that or identity in itself is anti-LGBT bias is particularly inherently less visible evident in STEM-related and so, often overenvironments, compared LGBT employees looked. to other professional said they had been settings. This may be due verbally abused on the This invisibility is the stereotype that persists basis of their sexual heightened by the of a white, male “scientist” orientation or gender fact that many LGBT and the correspondingly identity employees choose not rigid expectations of gender to “come out” at work for expression and sexual orientation fear of discrimination, exclusion that go along with it. On top of or unconscious bias. In 2009, one in four this, individual identity factors are LGBT employees said they had been sometimes considered irrelevant verbally abused on the basis of their in STEM fields and the illusion of sexual orientation or gender identity. a meritocratic ideal that “all that LGBT people must regularly decide if matters is the work” prevails. While it disclosing their orientation or identity is certainly true that race, gender and will have negative consequences for sexual orientation do not determine a their career - if an LGBT employee person’s intellectual ability, they may does decide to “come out”, it’s not determine the opportunities that that something that’s done only once; person is presented with. coming out is a constant process in the
Diversity has been shown to be a good business decision because diverse teams have better results. However, as pointed out (in Harvard Business article of the same “In order to name) “Diversity Doesn’t Stick achieve diversity Without Inclusion”; and inclusion, it is important to “In the context create a culture of the workplace, where LGBT diversity equals people feel that r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . they be their true Without inclusion, selves in work.” however, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation and lead to business growth won’t happen.” Embracing the principles of diversity and inclusion helps to attract and retain the best and the brightest people. If a company wants to remain competitive in today’s global economy, they need to increase recruitment and retention of talent from all demographics. Not only this, but as Apple’s slogan says: “inclusion inspires innovation” - diverse teams make better products that cater to the wants and needs of the diverse consumer market. In order to achieve diversity and inclusion, it is important to create a culture where LGBT people feel that they be their true selves in work. This openness has benefits for both the employee and employer. LGBT employees who are open about their LGBT orientation or identity report higher job satisfaction, lower anxiety and fewer work/home conflicts. Also, they can earn more! It was discovered that LGBT respondents who were “out” in safe workplaces earned 50% more than those who were not. Unsurprisingly, LGBT
employees are more likely to be open about their orientation or identity if they perceive their colleagues to be supportive of LGBT people and if their employer enacts LGBT-supportive policies. LGBT-supportive policies and workplace climates are linked to greater job commitment, better workplace relationships and improved health outcomes among LGBT employees. As the saying goes “a rising tide lifts all boats”; revised discrimination policies and more inclusive practices can benefit everyone in the workplace, not only those in minority groups. Diversity training can be a great first step in fostering a culture of inclusivity; reducing discrimination, exclusion and unconscious bias. Training can improve awareness and encourage dialogue among all levels of employees. Additional factors have been shown to create a culture in which LGBT employees feel that they can safely disclose their orientation or identity, such as a feeling of safety within an institution, the presence of
an institutional LGBT group and the visibility of other LGBT colleagues (especially in senior positions). Employee groups can be a very effective way to begin promoting change within institutions. These groups can raise awareness of LGBT issues, contribute to enhanced diversity climates and lobby for institutional change. However, it is important to resist solutions that delegate responsibility solely to those within minority groups, such as relying on senior LGBT employees to mentor junior LGBT personnel.
spend at least a quarter of the hours in their week at work; no-one should feel afraid to be themselves in that time for fear that their career might suffer. Since 1993, our love has no longer been criminalized in Ireland and this May marked two years since the Marriage Equality Referendum. Employers need to step up and openly support, strictly protect and actively include their LGBT employees. I’ve talked about how it’s good for business but really, at the end of the day, it’s just the right thing to do.
On a personal note, it was in the sadness, fear and feeling of solidarity surrounding the hateful attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando which prompted me to come out to my family and start living my life more openly as a proud member of the LGBT community. We exist in all walks of life. We deserve to be respected as people, we deserve to feel safe and we deserve to be protected from discrimination, harassment and hate – especially in the workplace. Most full-time employees
Niamh is a physics PhD student based in Tyndall National Institute, UCC. As a science communicator and member of the Tyndall Empowering Women committee, she is a very passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion within science, technology, engineering and maths. For more, find Niamh on Twitter & LinkedIn @NiamhTalking90.
ReCollective is an exhibition with four elements, by four artists, for four days, each with a different message. The exhibition will feature submissions from Orla Egan, Stephen Doyle, Krzysiek Rosa, and Konrad Im, and is on show at St. Peters, North Main Street, Cork from Wednesday 2nd – Saturday 5th August from 10am – 5pm daily. The exhibition will be launched at a reception on Wednesday 2nd August at 7pm.
Rebel Orla Egan Cork has a long and rich history of LGBT activism, community formation and development. Since at least the 1970s LGBT people in Cork have forged communities, established organisations, set up services and reached out to others. As well as campaigning for LGBT rights and providing services and supports to LGBT people, the LGBT community has played a vital role in movements for social justice and political change in Cork. Yet this community, like many other LGBT communities worldwide, has been largely invisible in historical accounts and its contribution to social and political change and developments largely unacknowledged. The Cork LGBT Archive aims to preserve, digitise, share and display information in relation to the history of the LGBT communities in Cork, Ireland. The Arthur Leahy collection is at the core of the Cork LGBT Archive. This is a private collection, gathered since the 1970s, and including posters, newsletters, leaflets and other items. In addition to this collection, items are also being gathered from other smaller collections and individual items held by members of the community. The Cork LGBT History Exhibition will highlight key moments in the development of Cork’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities from the 1970s-1990s. At the launch of the exhibition Orla Egan, organiser of the Cork LGBT Archive and author of Queer Republic of Cork, will discuss the work of the archive in preserving and sharing the rich history of Cork’s LGBT community, and Arthur Leahy and Helen Slattery will discuss the development of the community over the years. Copies of Orla’s book, Queer Republic of Cork, Cork’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities, 1970s-1990s will be on sale at the launch. http://www.onstream.ie/books/queer_republic.htm http://corklgbtarchive.com/
Repetition and cycles, is the history of the tS c a human race. From all our Re progress and strides we seem destined to repeat our mistakes and refuse to learn from them. Discrimination is nothing new to us, something the minorities in society are no stranger too. As I’m sure many of you know, the events in Chechnya is a further example of the heteronormative suppression. Something we, as Irish citizens will not have to suffer. Yet that isn’t exactly a fair statement to make, because I think we do. The LGBTQ+ community is a global community, if someone is attacked or abused twenty miles down the road or twenty -thousand, we feel it. We feel it because the difference between us and that person is merely the fact we were not at that specific place at that specific time.
I am a recent graduate of Crawford College of Art and Design. I have spent the last few years developing my practice in the hopes of capturing the nature of queer culture. The interest in such a diverse culture stems from years of restricting myself from embracing it. The presence of the queer community in the visual arts draws parallels to the work of the Gorilla Girls or Kerry James Marshall, in that there is a large gap in representation. As an ‘artist’ and as a gay man, I feel responsible to tackle the challenge. This last year, I wanted to experience harsher circumstances and go somewhere that has often made our stomachs drop to the floor when we read about what happens to individuals like us there. I booked flights to Moscow, Russia. If there was a place to understand what it means to be queer, it was going to be found there.
I went to observe and tried not to be influenced by what I’ve read or seen while I was there. A trying task but I thought it was important to reflect what was honest. U n f o r t u n a t e l y, it was reminiscent of the days when my sexual orientation was something to be hidden. Attempting to straighten up by butching up my sissy walk, lowering the register of my high-pitched voice and trying to remember which sporting event was on last night so I could talk about something. I hate the feeling of pretence. It’s so unnecessary. If it wasn’t for the individuals there who reminded me that if there is the smallest presence of a queer community, there will always be a place to be who you are. Instagram ‘stephendoyleart’ Email: ‘email@example.com’
Reveal Krzysiek Rosa
Remember Konrad Im
My work is a project about love. I was born, of that I am certain, because of the pain I can feel. I am going to die, but that is not that obvious. I constantly crave love, and it makes me lonely… and hurt sometimes.
The Rainbow Peace Crane Project is based on the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl that became ill after the Hiroshima bombing. The story goes that Sadako was told that if she made 1000 peace cranes she will be granted one wish; her wish was to live. But sadly she passed away before she could complete her goal. It’s said that she reached 644, and the remainder was finished by her class mates in her honour and placed in her casket.
I am an artist, a condition which, according to Freud, means that “I am a schizophrenic trying to treat myself.” Being an artist is not a choice, it is a path… one that I have to follow. Constantly searching for answers to an unending wave of questions. My inspiration comes from observing the sexual nature of humans. What it is to be of…and a part of another, the dance of an unimaginable gravity. That gravity pulls us together and equally that same gravity can tear us apart. What is that intangible spark that ignites attraction to some….and not to others? Why does that same spark wane for some over the passage of time, whilst for others it surges to become an inferno that burns brightly for the span of a lifetime? These are the answers I seek, to touch the untouchable, to understand the thing that eludes so many of us…and perhaps on my journey capture a glimpse of the beauty of something that cannot be caught; cannot be caged…cannot be comprehended.
The Rainbow Peace Crane Project is a fundraising initiative that was established to raise funds for local LGBT Organizations to help expand the services provided to the LGBT community in Cork, whilst also raising awareness about the services they have on offer. This special Pride Rainbow Peace Crane Project will now raise funds for The Cork Gay Project and LINC to continue supporting the LGBT community. Organisations like The Cork Gay Project and LINC provide various services including weekly drop in services, one-to-one counselling, peer support and provide information on issues relating to the LGBT community. They also provide a meeting place for, and facilitate, various groups such UP Cork LGBT Youth Group, Live and Let Live AA Group, Sports Groups, LGBT Helpline, and The Cork Pride Committee amongst others.
We all must dare to dream, and when the dreams are realized…We must dare to live our lives.
For a €1 donation you can sign a crane with the name of a loved one that you wish peace for. The cranes will then be displayed in St Peters along with the Cork Pride Exhibitions during the week of Cork Pride. The Cranes will be available in Chambers Bar Washington Street on Saturday and Sunday for the month of July 8pm-11:30pm, or you can make a donation online by following the link below, and we will write the name you request for you and add it to the display.
As a child, I was sexually abused by my father. I am trying to release my fear of what was done to me through chasing that which draws us together by exposing the timeless beauty... or the unfathomable damage that it can wreak.
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WILL YOU KEEP SAYING YES? Equality needs to be EVERY DAY for our nation’s LGBT+ children and young people. The future is secured with marriage equality, but the present can still be a very frightening place for LBGT+ children and young people.
EQUALITY IS NOT JUST ONE DAY.
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UP Cork: Drop in every Wednesday 5–7pm in LinC (aimed at new members) UP Cork Youth Group: Thursday 6–8pm in Cork Gay Project T. 086 0443745 E. firstname.lastname@example.org Looking for groups elsewhere in the country www.belongto.org/groups.aspx Please Support Our Sponsors
The expression of love between two people is a reflection of God’s love. To seek to limit and dictate God’s love is to fail to understand the depth and the power of love, because love is one of the most wonderful potent and life affirming feelings there is. We must always Stand Up for Love, stand up for equality, honour diversity. We must see each other as pilgrims on the journey of life, each as best as we can, each as we are able, each recognising that we need each other. Many or even most of you will not have maybe heard of the Unitarian church, even though we have been in Cork, a part of its life and heritage for over 300 years. Our present church in Prince’s street has been our home for 300 years having been opened in August 1717.
Ours is a faith that has always placed a great emphasis on both equality and the honouring of diversity, we are a liberal faith; reason freedom and tolerance are the foundation for our faith. There is little doubt that in many ways Ireland has moved forward, we have in many ways matured, thanks in large part to the lessening influence of churches on our thinking and perception of life in particular in the area of human sexuality and gender identity.
In our Unitarian faith we cherish equality, for us it is the hallmark of the spiritual life, the sun shines on all of us, the rain makes us all wet! It is why we are the only church in Ireland performing same sex weddings. Not because we are trailblazers, not because we are different but just because at the end of the day, if you believe in God as the source of love, you must practise what you preach.
On behalf of myself and the Unitarian Church may I wish you In many ways people have rightly all a fantastic week. left churches lagging behind with Enjoy, enjoy and many churches clinging to a belief enjoy! system in these areas that is both outdated cruel and not I believe reflective of God. In this regard like many others I must pay tribute to Bishop Paul Colton and the team at St Anne’s. In simple terms we ordained to serve must be a reflection of a God who is the Source of all love that is between two consenting people, love that is built upon dignity equality and respect. Love cannot be simply defined as being restricted to gender as in the old adage of “ Adam and Eve”, such a view is not reflective of the God I believe in. God has no gender, God is all genders, God is not what we choose to acknowledge in love, God is all love.
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The Cork Rebels FC is a new football team set up in Cork aimed at the LGBT community. It’s about ‘Football for All’. Events will include a weekly 5 aside football kickabout. Also, includes warmups, football training and friendly matches throughout the year. The focus is on creating a safe fun space to play football openly and to gain fitness and well being through new friendships outside the usual club scene. This strengthens the LGBT community spirit in Cork. We have grown into a football club with 20+ players and many followers on Facebook. We are very active when it comes to local social events. Whether it’s a competitive match or social event the Rebels are there to enjoy it!
In the Ireland of 2017, 24 years after decriminalisation, two years after marriage equality, and in a summer which has given us a gay Taoiseach, it might appear to most that things are going well for LGBT people in this country. And indeed they generally are, with much laudable progress being made. Today younger generations of LGBT people enjoy a generous level of acceptance in society, and this is largely due to the struggles and sacrifices of the previous generations of LGBT activists. For this we must be grateful, and also responsible in safeguarding our progress to date with a view to expanding and developing our rights and visibility within the wider community. Sport, and in our case football is a great way to show ourselves off as a vibrant, diverse, inclusive and indeed proud community. Homophobia lingers as a societal problem and our community is still subjected to some unfortunate social stereotyping. Many in the ‘straight’ world often see us as more interested in glitter bombs and disco balls as 64
(Tottenham Hotspur), and Gay Gooners (Arsenal). Needless to say the FAI and League of Ireland clubs can be encouraged to take steps in a similar direction, by opening up football in Ireland and reciprocating the efforts by the IRISH LGBT community to take part, support and get involved in the game here at home.
opposed to soccer kits and footballs. In the world of professional football, it’s quite stunning that 17 years into the 21st century we do not have one single top flight footballer playing the game who has come out as a gay man. This says a lot about public attitudes, and is unfortunate proof of the lingering shadow of the closet, that continues to afflict many in our Cork, a city with LGBT community. a proud sporting tradition, and a proud For these reasons and more, LGBT and visible LGBT presence football clubs began to emerge over has been a part of this new LGBT the last few years across the UK, sporting confidence. We have our Europe and also now in Ireland. It is very own LGBT Football Club, a growing phenomenon providing a The Cork Rebels, who meet and safe and fun environment for LGBT play twice a week in the city. The people to express their love of sport club has a strong social element to and football. The growing strength it also, with regular nights out and of LGBT football clubs is welcome functions organised, and we are news, as is the emergence of LGBT always available to support each supporters groups of football other. We are a community within a clubs in the English premiership community, open to all. - Canal Street Blues (Manchester City), LFC LGBT (Liverpool), Come and get involved. Pride of Irons (West Ham), Proud and Palace (Crystal Palace), Proud www.corkrebelsfc.com Canaries (Norwich City), Rainbow Facebook /corkrebelsfc Toffees (Everton), Rainbow Tractors Twitter @CorkRebelsFC (Ipswich Town), Proud Lilywhites
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Ask anyone in the area of health, local government, education, youth work, mental health, medicine or policing and the Cork Gay Project is a well known and long established brand. However a significant number of gay and bisexual men who have not engaged with the project may say “Cork Gay What?” Ask the same men about The Other Place and a stream of nostalgia inevitably follows..”I met my partner there” “those were great days” “That is where I first met other gay people” and similar fond recollections. But “the Other Place” was one incarnation of The Cork Gay Project which had in origins in political and social initiatives dating back to the early 1980’s. In the early Seventies the first recorded meetings took place in Popes Quay under the guise of the Cork Naturalist Club. Prior to this and for many years afterwards the primary focus for a Gay movement was through individual networks. The Quay Co-op was established in 1981 as a broad based community initiative. The Co-op was modelled on the “Community Resource Centres” which evolved from the politicisation of youth culture and were developed primarily in London in the late sixties and early seventies
n e n t member of the CGC) formed a highly significant trade union group. This was the development of a strategy, which resulted in a slow but steady body of lobbying, which eventually was central to law reform nearly fifteen years later. (decriminalisation in 1993)
The Cork Gay Collective was established and began to meet on a regular basis. Its first major involvement was the organisation of the First National Gay Conference in 1981.
In the early to mid eighties there was an awareness of HIV/AIDS among the gay community. As a result local groups such as ours were aware of the issues on a day-to-day basis from a very early stage. Gay Health Action was established shortly afterwards by the Cork and Dublin Gay Collectives in 1985 and began to attempt to promote sexual health education within the community.
The Dublin Gay Collective and many smaller groups were established throughout the country joining the then National Gay Federation/Irish Gay Rights Movement, particularly in Cork and Dublin, and the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA) up north. From this conference primarily, Kieran Rose (a promi-
In 1991 a Gay and Lesbian centre was set up in Cork with “The Other Place” opening. This was established with funding from particular individuals and primarily funding from the Quay Co-op. The centre comprised of a café, a social centre (disco and some office and meeting space).
tion between LINC’s young women’s group “Phoenix”, so Unite and Phoenix became UP Cork. Still Ireland's longest running LGBT youth group. Around this time the project contacted local helpline around the country to see if we could arrange staggered opening time as most lines operated on a Wednesday or Thursday back then. That conversaion led to the establishment of the National LGBT Helpline and the project stills plays an important role in this. The project and LINC jointly played a central role in Cork City Council's ten year strategy being the first to include specific targets for LGBT citizens and visitors to Cork. (Objective 86 of “Imagine our Future”2002. This evolved into an inter agency group being set up at city hall to monitor social inclusion for LGBT people and celebrated each year with the annual “LGBT Awareness Week” which happens around I.D.A.H.O.T day on the 17th May The project continued to operate with varying degrees of success from South Main Street until a fire in 2014 forced the project to move to a premises on the North Mall. This became the focus for Yes Equality Cork and together with LINC and other groups and individuals formed the very successful campaign that led to marriage equality T h e Southern Gay Men’s Health Project was established in 1991 and has become a core part of the project. The emergence of a viable Lesbian identity also happened during this period. This resulted in the establishment of LINC with whom the project works very closely. The Project was incorporated as a company in 1996 and has over the years survived under intense pressure, both internal and external. The project managed to survive despite these pressures by a variety of strategies and funding sources (Health Board, C.E. etc) and developed into a strong, clearly identifiable fixture in the social/community landscape of Cork. Since then the project has worked at both a local and National level to influence policies that would impact positively on the lives of gay and bi-sexual men and their families. In 2001 it opened the first gay youth group called “Unite” which evolved into “UP Cork” an collabora-
In 2015 the project found it’s current home at 4 South Terrace where it operates a number of social and support groups as well at its policy work in areas such as health, education , social inclusion, Policy development, Asylum /refugee support and a number of social, sporting and support groups. The project can be contacted on 021-4300439 or at firstname.lastname@example.org We can also be found @CorkGayProject on Twitter and at www.facebook.com/CorkGay Project
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VOLUNTEER! The Cork Pride Festival runs 30th July – 6th August 2017 and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved as a volunteer. All our Volunteers are Ambassadors for Pride. Across the festival weekend you will be the face of the festival, our eyes and ears on the ground helping festival goers, speakers, guests and other volunteers while helping deliver a fun, memorable and successful event for all. You will be part of an ever growing, friendly team of LGBT+ community members dedicated to making Cork Pride an enjoyable and empowering experience for LGBT+ people young and old. This will be an invaluable experience into how a festival runs but not only that, you’ll be contributing to your community whilst making friends along the way! We need a dedicated team of volunteers to help deliver Cork Pride over the festival week (30th July –6th August ).
*Volunteers must be over 18 years old* This year we are on the lookout for people for the following roles:
Hospitality/Site Set up
Stewarding/Clean Up Crew
What I got from volunteering for Cork Pride Wh 2016? - This was my second year helping out and like the year before I have gained loads of new friends from volunteering. - I got involved with as many events as I could from the movie night, the coming out talk and the Fun day in the park. - I was happy to help where I could. Setting up, minding giant inwhe flatables in the park and posing for photos. The volunteers for events like pride are important for the smooth running for the events. - This year will be my 3rd year volunteering and I can’t wait for the festival already. - Its loads of fun and you get to meet so many new and interesting people from all over the world.
Volunteering for pride last year was a very good experience. I was new to the city and the scene and it was a great opportunity to meet new people learn a lot about them and also myself. Also it was great to see the other side of it, see how much work it actually is and how much time and thoughts are spent. All in all it was great and we had lots of fun!
It was one of the best experience ever. People coming up chatting to us all , especially in Fitzgerald Park. Everyone of the volunteers all did their bit, and we all also had great fun.
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GETTING MARRIED? W E A R E A COR K BASED COMPA N Y TH AT S P E C I A L I S E I N TH E C R E ATI O N O F BEAUT I F U L W ED D I N G STATI O N E RY. W E TA K E P R I D E I N A L L O F O U R D ESI G N S BEI N G U N IQUE FR O M OTH E R S O N TH E MA R K E T B E C AU S E O U R FA N TAST I C T EA M OF D E S I G N E R S H AV E A M O D E R N A P P R OAC H TO D ESIG N . EXP LOR E OU R W ED DI N G STATI O N E RY CO L L E C TI O N S O N O U R W EBSIT E OR A LT ER N AT I V ELY I F YO U DO N ’ T S E E S O ME TH I N G TH AT YO U LOV E, W E C A N C R EAT E A CU STO M DE S I G N E S P E C I A L LY FO R YO U A N D YOUR M R O R M R S TO B E .
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It is our duty to shine. Nothing can shine without light, therefore all of us must allow our true being to shine openly. Being Gay is an intrinsic part of who we are. It’s part of our very essence and cannot be changed. We CAN change things we don’t like about our behaviours, but we can’t change being Gay. When we accept ourselves exactly as we are, there is nothing to compare ourselves to. We are individuals, no better no worse than anyone else, just different. Embracing our difference allows us to grow in confidence and tap into our true abilities. This is nothing new... I have always used the motto.. “To thine own self be true”, and it certainly has helped me. However it is not something static. It is something that grows and evolves with age. Certainly the older I have become, the more confident I have become. With that confidence has come the ability to shine more and more in my own light. In being able to do so more and more, I have achieved more and am ultimately much happier within myself.
The Referendum on same sex marriage changed a lot of perceptions and rotten old ideas about Gay life. Acceptance and inclusion have changed enormously. But sometimes we ourselves refuse to throw off the old shackles of shame, embarrassment and inferiority. Often the people most at risk of these demons are those who are older and didn’t enjoy the freedoms now evident all around us. Another group is the young who are struggling with their sexuality, or those who know deep inside that they are Gay, but for some reason can’t come out. All these situations deprive individuals of the joy of reaching their full potential. Self acceptance is the road to shining in our own light. Being true to ourselves about ourselves lifts away unnecessary burdens, often self inflicted by the narrow-mindedness of others. Why would anyone want to enslave themselves, just to keep those who have a low opinion of them, happy. It just doesn’t make sense!
If you allow yourself to shine in your own light by accepting yourself, others will see this. Most will be delighted that you want to be the best you possibly can and achieve the very best for yourself. If there are people in your life who disapprove, or who want to let you know how disappointed they are by who you really are, remove them politely from your life. Surround yourself with those who appreciate you for who you truly are. The love and acceptance you receive will nourish you, enabling you to become the best you possibly can in all areas of your life. So trust yourself and the true essence of your being. Let others see the true you. Come out into the light and shine, shine, shine. Bainigí sult as Bród i gCorcaigh! - Aengus Mac Grianna
Carrigaline, Co. Cork. Tel: 021-4852100 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.carrigcourt.com 90
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Advocating for Lesbian and Bisexual Women in Ireland by Siobhan O’Mahony
For over 30 years, Lesbian and Bisexual women in Cork have been providing support services for others in our community and have been active in promoting equality for Lesbian and Bisexual women. This culture of activism and support culminated in 1999 with the foundation of Cairde Chorcai which ultimately became LINC (Lesbians in Cork) when a company with charitable status was formed in 2005. Since then, we have tirelessly campaigned on behalf of and advocated for the Lesbian and Bisexual community at local, regional and national level. LINC is, uniquely, the only community development organisation in the Republic of Ireland that works exlusively for LB women. At LINC, we are committed to informing and impacting upon social inclusion policy and practice and providing peer support services to all in our community. From the LINC Resource Centre on White Street in the city, we offer a comprehensive outreach training and development programme. We also actively engage with lesbian and bisexual women throughout the country who do not have similar services in their own areas. LINC engages with the community through annual community meetings which contribute to the design of the activity plan for the year. Some of the groups we have supported over the years include a young women’s group, lesbian parents’ group, a youth group and the older lesbian group. LINC On The Rise is our fundraising drive, launched in 2017 to source and purchase a permanent home on Leeside so that we can secure a safe and accessible community space for future generations. LINC aims to improve the quality of life, health and well-being of all women who identify as lesbian or bisexual in Ireland.
Support: LINC provides access to a low cost One-to-One counselling service, a valuable resource which provides a lifeline to those who may be feeling isolated or alone when dealing with their sexuality. A Peer Support group also meets regularly.
Wellness: We take a holistic approach to womens health
hosting popular Spring and Winter Wellness Evenings incorporating yoga, meditation, drumming circle, massage and nutritional tips. LINC also organises various sporting activities including a running group, basketball, swim & gym, walking group. 84
Social: Regular events and groups offer an opportunity to meet new friends. These include Mystery Tour; Drama Group; BBQs and Gig/Theatre Trips, as well as the renowned LINC Christmas Party. LINC also hosts and supports many of the Cork Womens Fun Weekend events each May and also supports the monthly Out4Drinks social evening. For the last number of years LINC has been delighted to host the annual LGBT Pride BBQ. Resources: LINC boasts an extensive library of queer and feminist literature which members can browse and avail of during opening hours. In addition, the LINC website holds an archive of policy information which impacts on the LB community.
LINC is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week from 11am-3pm and until 8pm on Thursdays. All are welcome to drop in for a chat and a coffee. Contact email@example.com if you would like to be added to our mailing list, and receive our regular newsletter to keep updated on all events. Phone: 021-4808600 Like our Facebook page @LINCcork Twitter @LINCwomen Please donate to â€˜LINC on the riseâ€™, our fundraising appeal for a new building, by visiting our website www.linc.ie, Gofundme page, iDonate and PayPal.
OBJECTIVES To build a safe, accessible and vibrant community centre (actual and virtual) for lesbians and bisexual (LB) women. To provide information and support for LB women and their families. To promote the mental, physical, emotional and sexual health of LB women. To inform and contribute to relevant policy development at local, regional and national level. To be a model of best practice rooted in feminist, social justice and community development principles.
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Hi folks, I’m Julie O’Brien & I’m from Buttevant, a small town in North Cork. I’ve been a member of the Defence Forces for some 18 years now. I suppose it’s not exactly a conventional job so there’ve been plenty times when people have asked me what it is I do there from day to day. To answer that in a single sentence is near impossible! I guess the simplest way of putting it is that my job is fantastically varied – that’s a blessing as it means you never have time to get bored. I’m based in Kilworth Camp, near Fermoy. Kilworth is one of the main training areas that the army use so there’s constant footfall in and out, suffice to say that keeps me on my toes! I work in the transport section there – quite often I’m out supporting major exercises, be it driving a variety of vehicles or lending assistance to those partaking on an exercise. Being a soldier is a physical job so sustaining your fitness is a must. Kilworth’s gym allows for that, I spend quite a bit of time pounding the treadmill in there! Beyond that, I’ve completed some six overseas peace-keeping missions. The missions are 6 months long, prior to which we undergo pre-deployment training. I’m proud to have represented my country in some very unique places – Liberia, Kosovo, Lebanon (three tours) and most recently, I’ve been to the Golan Heights. When I’m
overseas, I’m employed as a Mowag driver. A Mowag is an armoured personnel carrier, they’re quite a sight. I’m 5ft 4, a mere dot within the beast, hence driving it is quite exhilarating! As a driver, I carry out a variety of operational duties – one day, I could be driving within a convoy to fetch supplies and the next could see me conducting patrols in war-torn areas. Overseas missions are quite different to home as out there it’s a 24 hour job, you always have to be ready to deploy at short notice, to react to any situation. My experiences have really proved both affecting and enriching, they’ve opened my eyes to the hardship that some people in these regions have to endure and in turn they’ve made me realise how much we have to be grateful for here in Ireland. If one were to ask me what I like most about the army, though it may sound clichéd, I’d say, without hesitation, it would be have to be the colourful personalities you encounter within! Be it when I was in recruit training, or sharing tiny rooms in testing overseas encampments or simply doing my day to day job, I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve developed along the way and I have no doubt that many will be friends for life. Pte Julie O’Brien
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ICONIC We all know the rainbow flag, right? It is the most
recognisable symbol for the lgbt community. We hang it outside our bars and march a giant flag through our streets at every pride parade around the world. However, something most of us are probably less familiar with is the name Gilbert Baker. The man who created the rainbow flag. I have to admit, I had never heard the name Gilbert Baker until only a few years ago. I was lucky enough to attend an event at Dublin Pride in 2011 where he was giving a talk. Before hearing him speak, I never gave much thought as to the origins of the flag. I just took it for granted. Originally created back in 1978 for the June 25th San Francisco pride parade, it took thirty volunteers to hand-dye and stitch the first two flags and was an attempt by Baker to replace the pink triangle, another symbol for gay people that originated in Nazi concentration camps. “It was put on us,” said Baker “It had a really horrible, negative origin about murder and the holocaust”.
In November of 1978, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in California and a close friend of Baker’s was assassinated. It was very difficult to watch Baker talk about this. His voice was quivering as he tried to hold back the tears. It was obvious how much Milk had meant to him and how devastated he was because of his death. After Milks death demand for the rainbow flag increased significantly. In order to mass produce the flag and keep costs down the pink colour had to be dropped, as the dye for the fabric was too rare and expensive. Shortly after, in 1979, the turquoise was also cut to give the flag an even number of colours, so it could be hung vertically as two halves from the lampposts on San Francisco’s Market Street for their Gay Freedom Day Parade.
Bakers first design for these flags started out with 8 colours, each with its own personal meaning; pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity, and purple for the spirit. “This was the hippie, 1978 meanings for the thing,” Baker said.
Gilbert Baker creates the rainbow flag and first flys it on June 25th in San Francisco. The colors on the Rainbow Flag reflect the diversity of the LGBT community.
AVEN release the asexual flag. Black is for asexuality, grey for grey-asexuality and demisexuality. White for non-asexual partners and allies and purple for community.
Michael Page creates the bisexual pride flag to represent bisexual people at Pride rallies. Page designed the flag to be 40% pink, 40% blue and 20% purple.
Marilyn Roxie creates the genderqueer flag. lavender is for androgyny, white for gender neutrality, and green for identities defined outside of gender binary.
In 1994, for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Baker was commissioned to create the world’s largest rainbow flag. Sections of this flag were then sent with LGBT activists to be used in pride parades and marches around the world. We now call these “Mile-long flags”. Baker also spoke about being a gay-rights activist in 1970’s America and the hardships that went with it. Afterwards he sat, chatted and signed rainbow flags for everyone at the event. What I remember most about him was how humble he was and the gratitude he had for the fact that we wanted to hear his story. Sadly Gilbert passed away earlier this year on March 31st 2017 leaving behind a legacy that will always be remembered through his iconic symbol of pride. By Giles Reid
Monica Helms creates the trans flag. It was first flown at a Pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona in 2000. It consists of five stripes; two light blue, two light pink and one white.
Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia creates the intersex flag. Yellow and purple are intersex colors. The unbroken circle symbolizes wholeness and completeness.
The pansexual pride flag was created to distinguish from bisexuality. Blue is for male identity, pink for female identity and yellow for non, both or a third gender identity.
Philadelphia City adopts a revised version of the rainbow flag with black and brown bands added to highlight people of colour within the LGBTQIA community
“PREJUDICE HAS NO HOLD IN THIS REPUBLIC.” WISHING EVERYONE A SAFE & HAPPY PRIDE
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On the 25th of February 2016 I came out as transgender. I wrote a Facebook status letting the world know my name was now Chloe, and my pronouns were she/her. After months of presenting as gender fluid and struggling with my gender identity, I knew that transitioning would be my one chance at ever feeling like my body belongs to me.
I took to social media as I didn’t want to have the same conversations with people over and over again. Walking into the salon I work in, John Geaney for Hair, was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I felt like the ceiling was going to collapse on me, but I got through it. Everyone made their best effort with the new name and pronouns. My sister jamie took to social media, a few days previous, also coming out as transgender through a video she had made. After her video had been shared around, a press company asked if we would be interested in doing an article for a magazine. When we were coming out there 104
wasn’t anyone in the Irish media who we could look to as a role model, so we decided to do it. As we were naive and didn’t know about these things we signed a contract and the story went worldwide. Although the headlines were sensationalised, our story was still ours and I think most of the pieces were well written. The messages of support and hate flooded through, but all we knew was that transgender issues were being highlighted in the media and we felt this was a good thing. We kept going knowing that the hate would get worse but it would be worth it if we could help even a handful of people who were struggling.
Even though coming out has helped me so much, my confidence has been hit hard. As a trans woman it’s scary to read so many horrible stories of other trans women being murdered or assaulted. Coming out so publicly, it was like putting a flag on my head. Anxiety is something I struggle with everyday, but I feel like if I don’t do the things I need to do, I’d let it control my life. Things are starting to get better, but to anyone out there struggling, it really does get better with time. - Chloe Herlihy
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Going to Score? Know your Score! - Konrad Im (HIV Testing Ambassador for SHCC and former Mr Gay Ireland)
2016 saw 512 new cases of HIV in Ireland. A record high compared to the 5 years previous. Since the beginning of 2017, as of 23rd June, there has been 240 new cases of HIV in Ireland. A number that will continue to grow every week throughout the rest of the year.
Though men who have sex with men are still at a higher risk, in a society that is reported to be becoming more sexually open, everyone that is sexually active is at risk of contracting the HIV virus.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, if not treated. Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely, even with treatment. So once you get HIV, you have it for life.
It’s very important to practice safe sex (using condoms, dental dams and lubricant) always. But let’s be real, sometimes people mess up. So it’s equally as important to keep on top of your HIV status and ensure you’re tested regularly.
There are more than 8000 people living with HIV in Ireland. With a further 30% of people not knowing they have the virus.
You can book a test in your hospital STI clinic or with your GP. Or alternatively, The Sexual Health Centre Cork, GOSHH in Limerick, HIV Ireland in Dublin along with outreach programmes in Chambers Bar Cork and Pantibar Dublin provide confidential walk in testing services and bookings.
HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get other infections or infection-related cancers. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS, the last stage of HIV infection.
HIV testing has come a long way in the last few years. With results now available within a matter of a minute and free testing being made available in outreach programmes in more locations including bars and nightclubs, it’s much easier to find out your status.
During Cork Pride week this year you can avail of free HIV testing on Monday the 31st July 2017 at the Gay Project Cork, 4 South Terrace from 7:30-10:00pm.
HIV can be spread through the exchange of bodily fluids, such as semen or blood. Therefore, it can be spread through unprotected sexual contact, including vaginal, oral and anal sex. People who inject illegal drugs and share needles are also at risk of getting HIV. The condition can also be spread from a mother to her unborn child. However, medicines can now be used to prevent this from happening. HIV can be spread through blood transfusions. However, since 1985, all blood donated in these islands must be screened for HIV. Screening policies in the developing world may not be as rigorous, so there is a possible risk of developing HIV if you receive a blood transfusion in certain parts of the world.
What is PrEP PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The word “prophylaxis” means to prevent or control the spread of an infection or disease. The goal of PrEP is to prevent HIV infection from taking hold if you are exposed to the virus. These are some of the same medicines used to keep the virus under control in people who are already living with HIV. PrEP, is a prevention option in some countries for people who are at high risk of getting HIV. It’s meant to be used consistently, as a pill taken every day, and to be used with other prevention options such as condoms.
PrEP is not currently widely available in Ireland.
HIV rates have never been higher in Ireland. Last year 512 people were diagnosed with HIV. A staggering 46% of these were MSM. We know PrEP is effective at stopping HIV infections and we have never needed it so badly. It is important to note PrEP isn’t a substitute for condoms but another tool in our arsenal of contraception against HIV. Prime examples include London and San Fran that have shown massive drops in HIV diagnosis thanks to PrEP. The W.H.O. recently added PrEP to their List of Essential Medicines because they understand that safe and effective medicines like PrEP are essential to any healthcare system. We must not wait longer for PrEP. We must call on Simon Harris to speed up the process to get PrEP into Ireland and available to those who are high risk now. - Robbie Lawlor (HIV Activist with ACT UP Dublin and former Mr Gay Ireland)
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