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may hint at Ireland’s centenary celebrations; cognisant of this we are delighted to welcome Brian Merriman’s critically acclaimed play Eirebrushed to this year’s programme of events.
Cork Pride Festival Chairman’s Address
I’d like to extend you all the warmest of invitations to party with us at this year’s Cork Pride Festival! This year, the dynamic Cork Pride committee has programmed our largest, most diverse, and most ambitious festival to date, not only to retain and satisfy our loyal existing audience, but to attract new audiences; we hope that you will engage with and attend as many events as possible; our success is dependent on your support - this is your festival, take ownership of it! Cork Pride has a well deserved reputation as Ireland’s friendliest Pride Festival, and also has an important public relations role in promoting positive images of the LGBT community, which encourages integration, inclusion and acceptance, not only amongst the wider community, but also within our own community. Ironically, there can sometimes be an element of homophobia within our own LGBT community, and peer pressure, or maybe more accurately queer pressure to conform to a perceived acceptable stereotype or tribe, in order to be part of a particular scene - when all we really need to be is ourselves… Kurt Cobain once famously said “They laugh at me because I’m different; I laugh at them because they are all the same…” which is an empowering affirmation for any minority group. Fittingly, our theme this year is “The Original Rebels” - which will mean different things to different people, and is intentionally ambiguous. For some it will conjure images of LGBT trailblazers such as Senator David Norris who took on the State and successfully overturned Ireland’s archaic law criminalising “homosexual acts”; for others it could be a figure like Dr. Lydia Foy who will be their rebel of choice for her 20-year battle against the State to have her true gender recognized. Both feature in the following pages and we are honoured to have Dr. Lydia Foy Grand Marshal the 2016 Cork Pride Parade which takes place at 2pm on Sunday the 31st of July. For others, our theme
The Cork Pride Festival has been developed over the past 11 years from a small but enthusiastic afternoon march, into a weeklong national event that has become the largest regional Pride Festival in Ireland, partnering recently with San Francisco Pride and Winter Pride UK. Whilst the raison d’être of the Pride Movement was to protest against the inequality and injustice our community was subjected to, Pride Festivals have now developed and evolved into a celebration of our newly achieved equality, and of our diversity. We have seen from the historic events of the past year that our community can achieve great things when we all work together, and are a force to be reckoned with. 2015 truly was a historic year for the LGBT community – and a defining moment in the lifetime of the State, with both the Marriage Equality Referendum and The Gender Recognition Bill being passed. I can honestly say that the 23rd of May was the first time when I personally felt equal. The commonality of purpose, sense of excitement and infectious enthusiasm demonstrated in Yes Equality groups throughout the country was nothing short of extraordinary. This was especially true in the Yes Equality Cork Headquarters where the overwhelming community spirit was palpable from the beginning; my euphoria at the positive result was heightened by the fact that I played my part in the campaign. The troops were rallied, and a wide and varied group from all walks of life gave freely of their time, day after day, night after night, week after week and month after month in all sorts of weathers –encountering all sorts of reactions, some positive, some negative, but all were counteracted with a smile from our army of intrepid canvassers. People gave freely of their time, resources and skills, new friendships were made, existing friendships were strengthened, but my most lasting impression of the campaign was the support people got from their families and friends from outside our LGBT family. I didn’t initially think that there would be such a huge show of support – as neither result would directly impact on their lives, yet across Ireland, grannies and granddads, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters and friends turned out in force to canvas and to vote - and for this I will always be thankful. That said – should our community ever have had to have asked the permission of the electorate for equal marriage rights – the majority of whom it would have had no effect on, in the first place? But we did, and we won. Interestingly, in a recent survey by Belong To, nearly a third of 1300 14-23 year olds said that they felt the Referendum had no effect on their lives, although 35% went on to say that they believed that the Referendum had helped LGBT adults -but not them. What this group of young people perhaps fails to grasp is the hugely detrimental and devastating effect a No vote would have had on our community. By
the end of the campaign, I felt that the crusade for Equal Marriage rights had almost become peripheral; I felt that it had become a campaign about the acceptance and validity of the LGBT community in general. For many, Pride is the only time that many of our community engage with likeminded others - but it doesn’t and shouldn’t necessarily have to be this way. LGBT people living in rural areas can suffer from feelings of loneliness and isolation Pride plays an important role in reaching out to these audiences, and making them feel part of our family. Some of our community have commented to me over the years that Pride isn’t for them, or representative of their lives, and that’s fine, but for many, Pride has been, and continues to be a very important part of their journey to self acceptance, happiness, and in creating a sense of belonging. Cork is the only county in Ireland that benefits from a designated organisation for both men and women in our community, which is something we should be very proud of. The Cork Gay Project and LINC do stoic work for our community – not only during the Cork Pride Festival, but 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. During the eight years I have been the Centre Manager at the Cork Gay Project, I have listened to many interesting stories, some happy, some sad; I’ve had great days and some difficult days; I have made many friends, and feel honoured to have played my part in a chapter of a book that is still being written - and read. We are humbled and honoured that so many local, regional, national and international companies have engaged with us and supported the Cork Pride Festival this year; it demonstrates the esteem in which the Cork Pride Festival is held, and the enormous spending power that we as a community wield. Please return this support wherever and whenever possible; if you’re looking for goods, services, or entertainment, please consider the advertisers in this magazine first – as without their support, there simply would be no Cork Pride Festival. As always, I would lastly like to thank the dynamic committee of this year’s Cork Pride Festival. Each and every person on the committee brings something unique to the table each year, and volunteers their time and skills selflessly for the greater good and development of the festival, and the community. A huge thank you also to our festival sponsors and supporters – we owe you a huge debt of gratitude for your constant and unwavering support. Wishing you all a hugely enjoyable 2016 Cork Pride Festival; let the party begin!
Clive Davis Cork Pride Festival Chairperson 2016
Contents P.3 P.6
Chairman’s Address P.94 Clive Davis P.99 Rebel With A Cause P.112 David Norris
Straight Talking Programme of Events Being Married To Someone Who Is Bi Paul WS Bowler
The Right to Offend Tony Doherty
Moving On From Marriage Equality Odhrán Allen
From Los Angeles with Love Stuart Immelman
Ground Control To Country Tom
We Are Family Paula Fagan
Stuart Immelman & Dee Cronje
UP Cork Gillian Barrett
My Aunt Lydia Colin Foy
A Transgender Rebel Trish O’Connell
Life’s Better With ‘T’ Broden Giambrone
PRIDE Jack O’Rourke
Roger Casement Tina O’Toole
Grand Marshal’s Address Lydia Foy
Being Bi+ In Rural Ireland Paula Dennan
Cork LGBT Archive Orla Egan
Committee Members: Clive Davis Kate Moynihan Sarah O’Sullivan Kery Mullaly Denise Boyle JP McCarthy Stuart Immelman Giles Reid Joe Mulrennan Konrad Im Davina Staunton
Chairman City Liaison Officer/Vice Chair Treasurer & Secretary Sales & Sponsorship Parade Coordinator Marketing & PRO Events Coordinator & Design Marketing & Design Magazine Design Volunteer Coordinator Community Liaison
Big Thank You To: Paddy Carty, Evergreen Print. Web Design Justin Cronin, Coolgrey Printer John Allen Parade 2015 Photography LINC & Cork Gay Project Daniel Carey & Team, Like Communications Social Media
The Sisters Rebellion JP McCarthy
A Year Since “Coming Out” Paul O’Shea
Burning Issues Rachel Mathews-Mekay
Pride & Prejudice Colette Finn
Looking Foward To A Brighter Future Cork City Council Laura Harmon HSE Volunteer Extraordinaire Irish Examiner Nicky Green Red FM Apple Coming Out Is Scary Bank of Ireland Smirnoff I’m Just Enjoying ... Noelle Cambridge First South Credit Union
P.82 P.87 P.90
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 magizine.
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What a year we have had! We still bask in the wonderful passing of the Marriage Equality Referendum, the embers of whose cheery glow are only now receding. I remember travelling to my native Laois to talk to a public meeting, being on the wonderful Yes Equality Bus and canvassing all around the city centre. I never got even one really hostile reaction. Well it’s been a long struggle. I recall my earliest contact with gay organisations in 1969. I had spotted a notice on the back page of the Observer Newspaper saying anybody who was interested in a positive view of homosexuality should send a ten bob postal order to 28A Kennedy Street, Manchester.
It is well over 40 years since I had seen that advertisement but it is still as clear as day in my memory. We then went on to found the Irish Gay Organisations. We were very small in those days but I well remember our first march when we had seven people. We picketed the Department of Justice and the British Embassy. I had a placard with the legend ‘Homosexuals are Revolting’ on it.
The 46A bus nearly went through the railings at Stephens Green when they saw it. All the secretaries from the Minister’s office were there with their eyes out on stalks. Then a lorry arrived and the Minister’s new carpet was flung out on the pavement. The helper emerged from the van, took one look at us and reported back into his colleague – “Jasus Mick fuckin queers”. The driver took one look, got out of the van and said “Whorra bowra it! Sure I don’t give a bollix, a picket’s a fuckin’ picket’s mate” and with that he took up one of our placard’s and marched around with us for half an hour leaving the Minister’s carpet on the ground. I thought that a wonderful example of worker solidarity. Ireland is an increasingly friendly place for gay people and it gives me immense pleasure to see young gay men and women so open, so happy, so balanced and productive. But the battle is not over. We are in a minority in this country with regard to the decent treatment of gay people. All over the world there are nations and communities in which gay people are reviled, beaten, tortured and murdered. And in some instances shamefully this is done with the support of the Christian churches. So there is still plenty to protest about, but there is also in this wonderful year of 2016 a great deal to celebrate. Well done to Cork Pride and to all the wonderful people of Cork city and county. In the early days Cork was the second city of our gay empire and I remember the great work done by people like Arthur Leahy and continued now by the Committee of Cork Pride. So I don’t need to tell Corkonians to celebrate they know how to do it better than anyone else. Senator David Norris
Senator David Norris has been a tireless campaigner for gay rights for over 40 years. His greatest contribution to the LGBT community was his landmark case challenging the State for its archaic law criminalising “homosexual acts”. After losing his case in the High Court and the Supreme Court, he took the State to the European Court of Human Rights who ruled that the law did in fact contravene the European Convention on Human Rights. This law was finally repealed in 1993.
- Ed Sheeran, ‘Thinking Out Loud’
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attempt to speak out. Two recent cases illustrate the inherent fascism of the “No Platform”
In this age of Political Correctness, a disturbing trend has emerged especially in our Third Level Colleges. We have entered a type of activity only found in totalitarian states. Firstly, there is the “No Platform Movement” where lists of people, not acceptable as speakers because of their views, are drawn up by Student Unions and selfappointed groups. This is then backed up by the defenders of “Safe Spaces”, areas where nothing should be said or done which would offend anybody. We have entered an era of free speech offence.
I have always felt that the right to offend and be offended were fundamental human freedoms. In my days in college the Philosophical Society was a bearpit where you invited speakers who were offensive on some topic and you did your best to offend them. One would have thought that in this age of “Safe Spaces”, the offensive fur could fly while the faint-hearted and easily “hurt” could cluster securely in the “Safe Spaces” and conveniently forget that it was the outspoken ones who won them the freedom to chill out in their cossetted cosmoses in the first place. It is not so long ago that LGBT speakers could not get a platform and there are dozens of countries where they can still get jail or worse if they
The first concerns Peter Tatchell who was one of the first Gay Rights Campaigners who has been called racist and ‘transphobic’ by a student union officer ahead of a debate the pair were both invited to speak at. Fran Cowling, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representative for the National Union of Students, refused to appear at Canterbury Christ Church University, unless Mr Tatchell did not attend. Ms Cowling stated in emails to event organisers that she could not share the stage with Mr Tatchell, because he signed an open letter in the Observer last year supporting free speech and against no-platforming.
The second c o n c e r n s M a r y a m Namazie who was due to give a speech at the Society on International Affairs in Trinity college on apostasy and the rise of Islam. The event was cancelled after the college tried to attach conditions. Ms Namazie stated “I’ve just been informed...that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is ‘one-sided’ and would be ‘antagonising’ to ‘Muslim students’. Ms Namazie wrote that, after consultation with college management, Trinity College Dublin would let the event proceed, subject to conditions. “All attendants of the event must be 1) Trinity students and 2) members of the society hosting the talk.
“For ‘balance’, they required that a moderator host the event; Prof. Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics has kindly agreed to do so.” Ms Namazie wrote she would not do the talk subject to the conditions, “particularly since such conditions are not usually placed on other speakers”. “It is crucial that I be able to speak against Islamist fascism and honour our dissenters deemed apostates, blasphemers, heretics… whether exMuslims, Muslims or non-Muslims,” she wrote. “An Islamist speaker was invited last month and he has explained why apostates should get the death penalty. He has explained why there is the punishment of stoning for adultery and so forth. None of these conditions were put on him. “Because of the conflation between Muslims and Islamists, if you criticise the Islamist movement, which is a far right political movement, it is often
seen to be an attack on Muslims or an act of racism - and this is not the case. Sadly, the LGBT Society did not come out in support of Ms. Namazie. George Bernard Shaw once said “I was never a revolutionary when I was young lest I become a conservative in my old age” Will these young conservatives become revolutionaries in their old age? Let’s hope so. Tony Doherty
k r member of Cor Tony is a founde r volunteer worke Pride and a y Gay Communit with the “Cork of or the direct Project”. He was of tre” and leader “Rainbow Thea alkers.” “Cork Gay Hillw
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In the last two decades, Ireland has slowly but steadily made significant advancement in the civil and legal rights of its LGBT citizens. As a direct consequence of these developments, Ireland has evolved from a society noted for being LGBT oppressive to being considered internationally as a forerunner in progress on equal civil rights of LGBT people. It is therefore heartening to see in the findings of the LGBTIreland Report that a majority of the participants aged 26 and over were doing well and reported good selfesteem, happiness and life satisfaction as well as being very comfortable with their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) identity. It is also very encouraging to find that the majority of the Irish adults polled were largely positive about LGBT people, although some misunderstandings remain about LGBT sexual orientation and gender identity which need to be addressed.
It is disturbing that among the 14-18 year olds in the study, 56% had self-harmed (e.g. self-cutting, overdose and self-battery) and 1 in 3 had attempted suicide.
However, despite recent positive social changes the study found that a very significant number of those aged under 25 did not experience the same levels of positive mental health and wellness as those older than them. Following the launch of the report in March by former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese, people were taken aback by some of the reportâ€™s findings, particularly those reflecting the experiences of LGBTI teenagers.
It is important to state the obvious. It is not because people are LGBTI that they report higher levels of mental distress and lower levels of wellbeing. So why is it? The LGBTIreland Report clearly shows that the past continues to exert its negative legacy on many LGBTI lives. Itâ€™s experiences like being bullied, being harassed, being rejected or being stigmatised because you are an LGBTI person that leads to higher levels of self-harm and attempted suicide. The situation is compounded by a continuing level of misunderstanding
On top of this 35% of them reported severe levels of depression and 43% severe levels of anxiety. However, the report raises a number of important questions for Irish society. Why is it that with all the social and legal progress in Ireland in recent years, do LGBTI people still fear rejection and discrimination when considering coming out to family and friends? Why is it that compared to the national youth mental health study, LGBTI young people in the LGBTIreland Report had 2 times the level of selfharm, 3 times the level of attempted suicide and 4 times the level of severe anxiety and depression? Why is it that so many LGBTI people still experience harassment and bullying with 75% saying they have been verbally abused in public and 50% saying they have been bullied in school, just because they are LGBTI?
of LGBTI sexual orientations and gender identities among the general public. Of particular significance is the finding that experiencing anti-LGBTI bullying in school is directly related to poorer mental health and higher levels of selfharm and suicidal behaviour. Students who experienced bullying had higher levels of depression, anxiety and alcohol use and were more likely to self-harm, to seriously consider ending their own life and to attempt suicide.
This highlights just how critical it is that efforts to tackle homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying in schools continue. Beyond this, however, there is a need for all schools to become places where LGBTI students feel included and affirmed with appropriate LGBTI content woven into the school curriculum. In this way children and young people will be fully protected and supported to get the most out of their school education.
The many manifestations of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia described in the LGBTIreland Report are at the core of what needs to change in Ireland henceforth. Speaking at the launch of the LGBTIreland Report Dr McAleese eloquently captured the core message emanating from the findings and the direction of change GLEN hope to see evolve in the coming years:
We have the chance to make this country the best in the world for LGBTI citizens. It will not happen by chance but by change. We committed to that change last May and now we have to follow through, drilling down through the centuries of sediment, to the heart’s core, releasing the goodness, decency and egalitarian sensibility that Ireland is capable of. The children who are in cots and buggies today, who will discover their sexual identity in twelve or so years time, have the right to grow
into mentally healthy and welladjusted teenagers. What we do now can help ensure that no bully and no homophobic, biphobic or transphobic culture will too easily deprive them of that right.” GLEN will continue its work to tackle LGBTI mental health issues including self-harm and suicide and we will also continue our efforts to establish programmes promoting positive mental health and resilience among LGBTI people in Ireland. We hope that when the LGBTIreland study is repeated in the future that we will see much-needed progress. The progress achieved for Irish LGBTI people in 2015 gives us solid ground for the urgent work necessary in our schools, communities, workplaces and in our homes, to ensure that all LGBTI people are equal, safe, included and valued across Irish society.
more about GLEN’s Mental Health Programmes on our website, www. glen.ie. For further information on LGBT mental health and support options visit www.lgbtmentalhealth. ie or contact the LGBT Helpline on 1890 929 539 or www.lgbt.ie
Odhrán Allen is Director of Mental Health with GLEN and is a passionate LGBT and mental health advocate. You can email him at email@example.com or contact him on Twitter at @odhranallen
You can read the key findings of the LGBTIreland Report and read
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Ground Control to Country Tom… Armed with little more than our acerbic wit and a tenacious appetite for adventure we eagerly left the shackles of Africa behind with a headstrong determination to create a home and forge a better, more secure life for ourselves.
And so it was that we landed…or more aptly descended upon the fair picturesque seaside village of Kinsale. A small fishing hamlet tucked away on the blustery coast of West Cork, lauded as the “Gourmet Capital” of Ireland and the very postcard “picture perfect” slice of Irish Country life. Integration as we would come to know it, is five parts fortitude, three parts blind ambition and two parts frustration, and as Murphy’s Law would have it, it is also Irelands lesser known “Holy Trinity”. We still have a chuckle recalling our complete bewilderment upon hearing the fine West Cork 18
accent for the first time… and still to this day we wear a wry grin when hearing a particularly strong and exceptionally fast country a c c e n t , though to be fair it was not too long before we found ourselves a b s e n t mindedly adopting the likes of “Grand”, “Yer Wan” and the customary “Bye. Bbbye. Bye. Bye” to such an extent that even our own parents are a little bewildered these days! Nostalgia is the most cathartic balm and I often find us reminiscing about “The Kinsale” fifteen years ago and how the landscape has shifted since… almost as if there had been a rising of sorts…a silent rural revolution. Looking back now, there is barely a point that you could pinpoint as the start of this metamorphosis…and as with all change, and true Cork fashion it was “slow but steady”. Revisiting those days through sepia glasses, there were very few souls who would brave the “out and proud” mantle in rural Ireland for fear of humiliation or shame…and at that time it was still very much a topic to be scoffed at behind closed doors…and only ever discussed in public as derisive “gossip”, and whilst we say there were very few souls, there were a few more than just us who would unapologetically simply be who we were…and I believe that it was this brazen attitude of defiance and an unrelenting willingness to get involved and engage with the community that slowly warmed and garnered the respect of even the most conservative of the locals. But in those early days there was a definite and quiet disregard for “Gays” that permeated everyday life and
presented itself in the sudden change in expression when people had to deal with us or the curt, almost irritable tone that we seemed to inspire in even the carefree and usually happy individuals. There was almost a brooding fear associated with “Gays” and therefore with being “Gay” that was never voiced but certainly aired. Thankfully these airs and graces were not held by the community at large but more by widespread segment, that we saw less as an obstacle and more like a challenge. Even now, we remember been accosted by bands of teenagers slinging names like “fags” and “queers” as we walked down Pearse Street and we can almost still feel those cold misunderstanding eyes upon us from all those years ago. I recall as clear as day working in one of the most “set in yer ways” local pubs that had all the Fianna Fáil lads gathering en-mass every Friday for the weekly meeting. The first few years where tough but through dogged determination we very slowly set about changing the hearts and minds of the very “localest” of the locals.
One such local was Freddy, who used to come in every day at 10:30am “sharp or thereabouts” as he used to say, seven days a week, twelve months a year for his daily dose of Murphy’s, a spot of lunch and several trips to the bookies across the street, and come rain, snow, sleet or sunshine he never missed a day until the day of his passing. The first few years he used to disregard me with the same stony demeanour, but ever so slowly the thaw seemed to set in and
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we seemed to inch incrementally and ever so cautiously from disingenuous chat… to a little banter… and eventually a spark of respect, then friendship and eventually acceptance. Finally one day he came in and called me over and said leaning forward and in a very conspiratorial tone, “Come here to me now, are you one of them Gays?” to which leaned forward and matching his tone I replied, “I most surely am, Freddy”. I recall him getting up, clapping me on the shoulder and saying “Sure each to their own boy, each to their own!” and with a dry chuckle he was out the door and off to the bookies as usual.
Both Dee and I have been blessed to have found and become such active members of such a progressive and colourful community, and it this championing and engaging in the spirit of “Community” above all else that sets Ireland apart from other countries, and it is that very sense of community that allowed Dee and I to find a home. We have built not only a life but discovered our “Irish” family in the O’Sullivan’s but also forged friendships and bonds with members in our community that are our very heart and joy. Having both been so involved in the momentous “Yes Equality” campaign, and especially the “Yes Kinsale!” hub, we were both frankly elated by the openness, acceptance and support from those once stoic and devout members of our community that had
so rigorously disregarded us so long ago. Thankfully those times are now a shadow of an echo of a time long passed. So as we gaze to the future, after such a momentous victory, and ask “What now?” I think the answer is simple, we have proved that our LGBT community has the power to change the hearts and minds of an entire nation and we should be looking to lend that power to those disregarded minorities that still struggle onwards today. Pride is at its very core all about inclusion, and I think we owe it to ourselves and all those less fortunate to stand up and give back that same support that was so readily given to us. Stuart Immelman & Dee Cronje
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I never really considered myself a rebel, though a number of years ago I did attend the marches to the Old Head of Kinsale demanding public access to the beauty spot. A lost cause I’m afraid. I remember I was set upon by a group of Gardai when I tried to bring a bicycle along the route. As I scurried back through the gates being leisurely pursued by a gaggle of Gardai I shouted that they had taken the king’s shilling and were traitors to “the cause”, (or words to that effect) I made sure I had a head start and was well out of baton range. They do tend to have long arm’s you know. I suppose if I was a real man I would have offered more than a token of resistance, but alas, though I was equipped with men’s legs capable of propelling me at great speed, inside I was a woman, and had more sense than to risk life and limb to see a sunset and the chance to catch a few mackerel. My final token of resistance was to lock the gates open with my bicycle as a symbol that the road to the Old Head was State owned, and should be free to all, and not just golfers; a futile exercise as the gates were being left open to facilitate the protest anyway. 26
In truth, it appears my rebellious nature only seems to manifest itself through the non-payment of bills. TV Licence, Local Property Tax, and Household Charges, have all gone unpaid, with the defiant cry “As long as the State refuses to recognise me I will never willingly pay a penny in taxes”. When the Gender Recognition Bill was passed in 2015, I was down a couple of hundred quid straight away. Dr Lydia Foy has a lot to answer for.
I’m a rebel in other ways. Being merely tolerated by society is not enough for me. I reject the label Gender Queer. I won’t live my life through Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit. I will continue to live in the real world. I will keep my sense of humour, fun, and adventure. I refuse to adopt the victim role. I’m only Trans, there are lots of people who would gladly swap circumstances with me.
I suppose I’m still a rebel though. Every Transgender person who goes through a transition in Ireland is, especially people who transition late in life. I often think that Transgender people are like children that have been raised by wolves, but somehow became selfaware and rebelled, No, I don’t find myself on the roof of the garden shed howling. I used to be a man but I’m alright now-wwwwwwwww!
I’m a Proud Cork Rebel. I survived the multiple stab wounds in the back inflicted by Society and former friends when I first rebelled in 2013. Stab wounds heal. I’m delighted I rebelled, at last I’m free. Trish O’Connell
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This past year has been an incredible one for the LGBT community in Ireland. We became the first country to pass Marriage Equality by popular vote and we opened the doors to the trans community with the passage of the Gender Recognition Act. This new law allows trans people to be legally recognised for who we are. There is no doubt that the year 2015 is one for the textbooks. As Pride season is upon us, there is much to celebrate. We pay tribute to our heroes, the many individuals and groups that campaigned, advocated, organised and agitated across the country, and over the decades, to secure these victories. In the past few months I’ve heard many people make the argument that the T should be taken out of the LGBT acronym. Some have argued for the dismantling of the LGBT acronym or ‘alphabet soup’ altogether. The argument goes that our experiences are too different. Some have argued that we’ve achieved everything that we wanted so do we even need these labels?
There is no doubt that legislative change is crucial to securing rights. However, we also know that things aren’t perfect. We know that there is still widespread homophobia and transphobia in our schools, at work and in our homes. Many of us still experience discrimination in our day-to-day lives. Some of us still have to hide our identities – who we are or who we love. This is why it’s important that we celebrate our recent successes and regroup for 30
the next phase of the struggle. We must ensure that each and every one of us under the LGBT banner is truly free. We will only succeed if we do this together. This year as we celebrate our wins, our identities and our families, I think now is the time to make an argument for why we must stick together. We do not have to be the same to stand in solidarity. Our History
Stonewall is commonly cited as the birth of the gay rights movement in the western world. The course of history was altered on this hot June night in New York City in 1969. It was State law that individuals should be arrested if they were wearing less than three items “appropriate” to their gender and this was often used by local police to persecute and harass gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people alike. But on this night, when the police raided the Stonewall Inn, the community fought back. The people on the front lines of the rebellion were drag queens, transvestites and transsexuals, including many sex workers, standing shoulder to shoulder with their LGB brethren. As the ‘gay rights’ movement became more mainstream, however, trans people were excluded. It was people like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson and Miss Major, and later Kate Bornstein and Leslie Feinberg who struggled for the rights and equality of everyone in the LGBT community.
The inclusion of the T in LGBT stemmed from the need to honour the work of trans and gender-variant people in standing with their LGB brothers and sisters for decades. This is also true in Ireland where trans people have been integral members of the LGBT community since the very beginning. We challenged and advocated – together – for everyone’s rights. During the marriage equality campaign, many trans people hit the streets with leaflets in hand and knocked on doors. Many LGB people supported TENI’s gender recognition campaign as our legislation worked its way through the Oireachtas.
Difference as Strength Sexual orientation and gender identity are different. It is an important distinction that is sometimes lost when the T is added in a lazy and tokenistic way. Certainly there are some trans people who want nothing to do with the LGB community because they feel their issues and experiences are significantly different- and in many ways that’s true. Trans people face heightened marginalisation and discrimination. Trans people also have particular needs in terms of accessing services like healthcare and employment that relate specifically to gender identity or expression. But trans people also have a sexual orientation. Some of us are also gay, lesbian, bi or queer. For some of us, our gender identity and sexual orientations overlap in meaningful and important ways that cannot be ignored. The LGBT community has always provided a home to trans people and created an important space for exploration and actualisation. I came of age in a queer community in Toronto that embraced me with openness and inclusivity. I was
able to navigate the rocky terrain of my sexuality and gender identity to finally settle on the label of queer trans man which is a moniker that still feels right to me. I’m not sure I’d be here now if I hadn’t found that space to belong, and I still consider myself part of this community. Homophobia and Transphobia There are also practical reasons for the LGB to align itself with the T. Homophobia and transphobia are undeniably linked. When words like “sissy”, “queen”, “butch” or “tomboy” are hurled as forms of abuse, it is more often a reflection of the ways in which a person is perceived to have transgressed gender norms than about who they are attracted to. This is particularly true in the school yard where “sissy” boys and “tomboy” girls suffer bullying and abuse because of their gender expression and not necessarily their sexual orientation. But these taunts and jeers grow with us, and many LGBT people are accused of not being “real” men or women. Negative stereotypes about trans people and ignorance about gender identity and expression negatively impact all of us.
In the months and years ahead we have many challenges to face as a community. Classrooms and school yards are still difficult places for LGBT youth. Despite notable progress, LGBT people still struggle in employment and can experience harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Homophobia and transphobia still rears its ugly head on our streets in the form of taunts, abuse and occasionally violence. Mental health challenges, particularly self-harm and suicidality are rampant in the LGBT community as a result of many factors including stigma and isolation. In terms of legislation, the Gender Recognition Act does not go far enough to protect young trans, intersex and non-binary persons. Those of us who are LGBT and have intersecting identities or experiences, such as individuals with disabilities, who are HIV+, from minority racial or ethnic groups, refugees, sex workers – face particular barriers. In our quest for equality, we must not leave anyone behind.
Next Steps By using the LGBT acronym, this is not to suggest we are all the same. Neither do we use LGBT to simply define our sexual attraction or identity. Rather, it serves as a way to discuss equality and rights. We use it as a shorthand because we have recognised that we are stronger when we stand together and that there is, and should be, a vital space for difference and nuance under the umbrella.
This Pride season let’s celebrate our victories and let’s rejoice at our progress as a society. As a community, we have shown our strength and unity. But let us also take this moment to honour our diversity as we continue to strive for full rights and equality for all.
Broden Giambrone is the Chief Executive of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI). www.teni.ie
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Internationally acclaimed Cork singer and songwriter Jack O’Rourke’s song “Silence”, was heard by Colm O’Gorman and used by Amnesty International for the Yes Campaign for Marriage Equality. Deeply personal and autobiographical, “Silence” recently won The International Songwriting Award and judges included Tom Waits, Lorde and Bill Withers. Jack’s debut album, “Dreamcatcher” is due in September 2016. A national tour will follow. Also a secondary school teacher in the North Side of Cork City, Jack reflects on the concept of pride since last year’s historic Referendum.
I asked my students this week, “what is pride?” Some uttered, “it’s a feeling.” Others more literal explained ,without any trace of humour, “it’s a group of lions” Another suggested, “pride is a living force.”. One student mentioned a rainbow flag and a collection of muscled guys and denim ladies dancing – a smart kid with a tendency to stereotype! The general consensus after much discussion, was pride means being comfortable in one’s own skin or collective skin. A beautiful ideal! It would have seemed that – an ideal – to so many last year, before the referendum. Obviously, many felt pride before that historic result, and didn’t need permission or popular vote to allow us to feel worthy of it. Nevertheless, the outcome certainly did no harm. The public spoke. We were that herd of fabulous unicorns or awkward elephants who weren’t invited to every table. God knows we would have added something to each table! We can now more than ever. Voltaire wrote, “we are rarely proud, when we are alone.” From the multitudes of people from all generations and backgrounds, last year, solidarity and understanding and love poured out, and I think collective pride certainly inspires individual pride. We are proud, therefore, I am proud, therefore I am. Seeing all those people flying and ferrying home to vote yes for their gay, bi, trans and queer brothers and sisters last year, was something to behold.
As Dinah Washington should have sang, “what a difference a year makes.” Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Hardly, but it’s a journey. Acceptance breeds power and freedom. Furthermore, hell hasn’t frozen over and not everyone has caught gay as our opponents would have believed or perhaps secretly desired in their deepest closets. The sun is out today. God is smiling on his/her children – of all sexualities and identities, even if some of us still want to live in the Dark Ages. Their loss. So many people on this island have worked for the current and next generations of LGBTQ (RSTUV) people in the past few years. (Forgive me if I’ve forgotten a letter!) Panti, David Norris, Colm O Gorman and Mary McAleese are on the Mount Rushmore bathed in rainbow dust. Gerry Adams and even Enda was proud to be pink. Valerie Mulcahy and Donal Og Cusack were wonderful forces on the GAA pitch for breaking down stereotypes. Many songwriters like Conor O’ Brien, myself, Karl Fradgley with Choral Con Fusion, Brian Kennedy and even The Nualas wrote songs to share our experiences and hopes and ideals through music and art, for a more equal Ireland (shameless promotion - soz.)
In our fair city by the Lee, Arthur Leahy, David Roche, John Paul Calnan, Kate Moynihan, Clive Davis and too many others gave their hearts, souls, blood and tears for the cause. So many of us and our families went from door to door to gather up support. We all 34
did our bit. We came together and we should do it more. For those who are “out” and those who are “in” or those like many of us who are on the way, mountains were moved, perceptions changed, prejudices eroded, internalised homophobia counselled and old hurts slightly elevated. I marched in my first Pride parade last Summer and I felt proud. I think this year I haven’t checked myself as much, as Panti described in her moving speech. I don’t know if the Referendum result had everything to do with that, but it was a pretty big catalyst for me. The result symbolised so much joy, so much freedom, so much possibility. We all can get married now and damn the torpedoes (who are seriously in the minority) My aunt says that gay weddings have better fashion, music and food anyway and we’re great dancers apparently. I am open to all offers lads. As a teacher, my students barely bat an eyelid if one of their peers is out and proud. I’m not naïve. Obviously, homophobia exists, but it’s not as apparent. Students offer congratulations and support to their brave friend who is beginning to assert his/her place in the world. Anyone who ridicules this warrior or Amazonian is shunned. The tide has shifted from when I was in school. What has emerged is a majority who value pride and are proud of those that assert their individuality. As a songwriter, I wrote “Silence” based on my own experiences. I was a “silent songbird”, which the song describes, like so many boys and girls. I was fairly handy at football (full forward I’ll have you know) and I did ask Santa for a kitchen. Obviously there are many heterosexual male chefs but I wasn’t going to be Gordan Ramsay and I
think my present choice symbolised my personal sense of otherness or being different. I couldn’t embrace that till recently. Silence recently won The International Songwriting Award, judged by Tom Waits and Bill Withers and I’m proud of that! See what I did there... I got to perform it on The Late Late Show and the outpouring of love and respect and empathy was possibly the most gratifying experience I’ve had yet as a musician. The truth does set you free. This time last year, I was handing out leaflets to vote yes on Daunt Square. One particularly venomous no campaigner spat, “what you do in your bed is disgusting” in my direction. An elderly lady (emphasis on the word lady) noticed this Bible clad diva and approached. She looked her younger opponent in the eye and said quite calmly, “You need whatever he has in his bed... now fuck off ”, and gave me a wink. Camper than Dynasty, but it made me feel proud. Happy Pride! We are a collective group of lions, “breaking out in song without sounding wrong.”
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Two questions tend to be raised in every conversation on the subject of Roger Casement, so I’ll begin with these and one of my own: was he gay? were the Black Diaries forged? what does his kinship network tell us about his life and the culture of the period? To take these in turn: yes; no; and, well now, that’s an interesting question. To grow up in Ireland, until very recently, was to be part of a world bound by the centrality of the family of origin. Irish LGBTQs circumvented this fixed heteronormative and patriarchal structure by creating alternative families of their own, or what might be described as “queer kin”.1 Focusing on Roger Casement, this article explores the ways in which his queer kinship unsettles the fixities of family and place in Irish culture. Sexuality, especially h o m o s e x u a l i t y, tends to be pathologized in periods of constitutional crisis, and this is particularly obvious in the controversies surrounding the Roger Casement “Black Diaries”, as a considerable amount of academic scholarship by Jeffrey Dudgeon, Lucy McDiarmid, Katie Conrad, Patrick Mullen, and others, shows.2 Casement’s patriotism could not be reconciled with his homosexuality and so, generations of forgery theorists continue to disseminate preposterous explanations for the contents of his private papers.3 We all know about the rigid enforcement of censorship in twentieth-century Ireland; that same mindset prevails when it comes to Casement’s Black Diaries. Because of
this mindset, it is hardly surprising that emigration is central to the twentiethcentury Irish “coming out story”, or that representations of same-sex desire in Irish literature and culture are almost always located abroad.4 These literary migrancies mirror the diasporic displacement of Irish lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people; Roger Casement provides us with an excellent nineteenth-century “case study” of an Irish queer who had to emigrate.5 Born in Sandycove in 1864, Roger [“Roddy”] David Casement was orphaned by the age of twelve but his migrations began with his mother’s death when he was nine years old; after that he moved to live with his father’s family in Magherintemple, Co. Antrim, and with his mother’s sister, Grace Bannister, near Liverpool. Following his father’s death, he became a penniless orphan – but was sent by his uncle to a boarding school in Ballymena (the town we famously associate today with the Rev. Ian Paisley). In later life, his diary entries talk about holiday periods, often Christmases, spent miserably in Magherintemple and Ballymena; the sense of restriction and enclosure he experienced “at home” with his grandfather’s family helped him decide to emigrate.
which culminated in his important humanitarian reports written in the Congo and the Putumayo in South America. Having come from a northern Unionist household, he started out his career as an ardent loyalist to the British Empire, supporting the British side in the Second Anglo-Boer War; he was later knighted by the Crown for his humanitarian work in Africa. So, when he suddenly resigned from a position of prestige in the British Consular service in 1912 at the height of his career, it caused quite a stir. The events following that resignation need no retelling: Casement came out as an Irish rebel, was outed as a homosexual, and was hanged for his activities on both fronts (thereby giving a new spin to the phrase to be “out in 1916”). So what happened to this obedient servant of empire, we might ask, that prompted him devote his life to the service of Cathlín ní Houlihán (among several other queens)? Principally, my aim here is to trace that journey and consider the influence of Casement’s queer kinship networks in bringing about this change in his politics.6
Leaving home to work as a clerk for a shipping company at the age of sixteen, Casement went to Africa while still in his teens. That was the start of his long career in the colonial service
1 Discussions of queer kinship emerged in scholarly and activist work chiefly as a means to explore alternatives to heteronormative family structures and claim legitimacy for queer families. See for instance: Kath Weston, Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997); Heather Murray, Not in This Family: Gays and the Meaning of Kinship in Postwar North America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). 2 Jeffrey Dudgeon’s Roger Casement: The Black Diaries (Belfast Press, 2002) is a full-length biography, which gives a frank account of Casement’s sexual life and his gay circle. 3 See Lucy McDiarmid, The Irish Art of Controversy (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2005). 4 Examples might include Colm Toibín’s The Story of the Night (1996), set in Argentina, and Desmond Hogan’s The Ikon Maker (1976), whose central protagonist first explores his bisexual identity in England. 5 Ed Madden, ‘Queering the Irish Diaspora: David Rees and Pádraig Rooney’, Eire-Ireland Journal of Irish Studies 47 1&2 (2012), 172-200. 6 This is part of a wider study I’m currently carrying out on Casement and his connections in the Glens of Antrim and beyond. 7 We might take some of this with a pinch of salt, given that two key Gaelic scholars were head teachers of Ballymena school in Casement’s time (Dr William Reeves having published Life of Columba into English, for instance), but it gives us an insight into the value Casement places on a nationalist education at that point.
It’s obvious that Casement’s early life was that of an “empire boy” (to use Joe Bristow’s term) in his boarding school in Ballymena. From the midnineteenth century on, heroic tales of adventure in textbooks and boys’ weekly magazines were all about training up boys to be good soldiers and colonial managers. The social networks emerging from those schools were intended to support their pupils throughout their imperial adventures. Of course, these bonds between boys at school were often bound up with same-sex experimentation and, simultaneously, with homophobia. Casement’s school-life was suffused with British patriotic values. In his later personal myth-making, he compared Ballymena School unfavourably to Pearse’s St Enda’s, writing: Now from my own recollection of the old Diocesan School … their aim is not so much to fit a boy to live and thrive on his own country, as to equip him for export from it. I was taught nothing about Ireland at Ballymena School. I don’t think the word was ever mentioned
in a single class of the school … As an Irishman, I wish to see this state of things changed. (qtd in Singleton-Gates, 42).7 Clearly, his migrancy was predetermined: he was “equipped for export” as he put it. This provides, we might say, the “straight” answer to his reason for migrating, but in a poem written in his thirties, “The Nameless One” we find another motivation. He writes, “I sought by love alone to go / Where God had writ an awful no”. On the back of the page, in his own handwriting, we find that these are “Lines written in Very Great Dejection at Genoa. November 15, 1900, before sailing on ‘Sirio’ for Barcelona”, which gives us an indication of his predicament. Casement was not the first Irish queer to banish himself to the far end of the earth from his family and local community, and he certainly won’t be the last. Continued on next page...
However, this is not one of those tragic stories of exiled and tormented gay life, quite the opposite, in fact; Casement thrived on his complex global lifestyle, and developed an expansive network of friends, lovers, and political allies across three continents. So who, then, were Casement’s queer kin and what did he know about gay culture in the period? Most immediately, we might say that he found kinship among the various men he cruised and wrote about in his diaries. Very few of these men are given more than a first name, sometimes not even that; even his Belfast lover, Joseph Millar Gordon, one of the very few men Casement is openly affectionate about in his Diaries, is only referred to as “Millar” – this, along with Casement’s habit of using “X” or describing young men he fancied as “types” were his way of encoding his desire and sexual practice. As for gay role models, Casement’s biographer, Jeff Dudgeon, points out the similarities in the “life patterns and national sympathies” between Casement and Oscar Wilde (16).
Unlike Wilde, however, because of Casement’s deeply closeted life he was never a well-known figure in contemporary British gay life. At one point, Casement does write in his diary about the tragic death of another queer kinsman, Hector Macdonald, a hero of the Boer War, who committed suicide when facing charges of homosexual practices in Ceylon.8 Inbetween, in a brief entry on 20th April, Casement mentions having insomnia (again), and turning instead to read “Gertrude’s [his cousin] present of the “Reminiscences 40
of an Irish R.M.” (Singleton-Gates, 123). Simultaneously, Casement was writing about his affair with Agostinho, the seventeen-year-old boy he had “kissed many times” a month before (March 13th) while docked in Madeira (Funchal), en route to South America. As such, in March/April 1903, Casement records his sexual adventures with rent boys, his trauma in response to the death of another man like himself and, as an aside, mentions reading a book by two West Cork lesbians (whether or not he was aware of that last fact). Importantly, he seems to be alive to the connections between these two dominant trains of thought; and his sense of having common cause with Macdonald, while not explicitly stated, is understood. Because of losing his family of origin at such a young age, Casement’s closeknit friendship network was important to him. While he had cast away from the Casements of Magherintemple, and sought solace in the arms of all those lost boys, Casement did not cut himself off entirely from his homeland. Through his sister, Nina, in Portrush, among others, he got to know many radical writers and nationalist activists at the turn of the century. While this coterie included some men, such as Francis Joseph Bigger and Bulmer Hobson, a significant number of his close friends and associates at that time seem to have been women (hardly unusual for a gay man to have a large circle of women friends, right?). These women were all part of that generation of newly-empowered, educated, active and radical women in Ireland in the early twentieth century who were involved in feminism and engaged in community activism. Many of these friends were important influences in Casement’s growing interest in Irish nationalism, for instance, one of his closest friends was the important Irish nationalist historian, Alice Stopford Green, who also knew Francis Bigger. Bigger was an important book and art collector, concentrating on Irish heritage (which you can see today in Belfast Public Library). Bigger’s to
Belfast house, “Ardrígh”, became a de facto community centre for young men with nationalist inclinations. Casement writes to Alice Green in 1905 “Yes, ‘the Boys’ are a good lot – a dear lot of youngsters, though I think Mr B. is a bit foolish over some – but he is a boy himself and that is all to the good”. While Casement’s involvement in the 1916 Rising may be read as a failure in several ways, perhaps most obviously, he failed to perform the kind of sexual and gender identities demanded by contemporary society. A report circulated by the British Home Office before Casement’s execution makes plain the effect his sexual identity had on the dominant social order of the day: Casement’s diaries and his ledger entries, covering many pages of closely typed matter, show that he has for years been addicted to the grossest sodomitical practices. Of late years he seems to have completed the full cycle of sexual degeneracy and from a pervert he has become an invert – a woman or pathic who derives his satisfaction from attracting men and inducing them to use him. (98) This is a reminder of the pathologising of gay men in the period; the invasive medical examination of Casement’s body after his execution – to “prove” his homosexuality – is appalling. The above report, and the circulation of “select” extracts from his private diaries, were released to counter the public appeal for a reprieve of the death sentence – at the time, a petition was in circulation which had gathered a lot of powerful names (including G. B. Shaw). By blackening Casement’s name with allegations of his “sordid” homosexuality, the authorities targeted, in particular, the powerful Irish-American lobby who were then coming on board to support Casement. Their strategy worked. So, Casement’s effort to land the cargo of guns at Banna Strand, and to talk his comrades out of going to war with the British Army given such impossible odds, failed. He ended up arrested, imprisoned, executed, his reputation
8 Singleton-Gates fills in Macdonald’s background: a decorated soldier and veteran of several imperial campaigns, including the Boer War, he was made Colonel in 1898. He was accused of homosexual practices in Ceylon in 1903, recalled by the War Office, and ordered face a court martial back in Ceylon; he shot himself in a hotel room in Paris en route. (122-3)
in tatters, in the aftermath of a failed rebellion. However, unexpectedly, the “failed coup” of Easter 1916 ultimately was translated into a success – or a partial one. Casement was heralded as a national hero and his bones reburied in Glasnevin in 1966 with full military honours, at a funeral presided over by Eamonn De Valera.
Today Casement is honoured especially, in the Putumayo as in Ireland, for his international human rights activism. Ultimately, Casement’s campaigns to highlight colonial exploitation effected important changes in relationships
between coloniser and colonised at the turn of the twentieth century. Advancing the “queering of Casement” helps us open up Irish history to scrutiny. After all, how many of us were taught about the “gay patriots” of 1916? Casement’s queer life was airbrushed to fit a story of national heterosexuality. Along with him, the work of revolutionary lesbians was also erased; the names of Kathleen Lynn and her partner Madeline ffrench-Mullen, not to mention another revolutionary couple Elizabeth O’Farrell and Julia Grenan, are only recently being mentioned. Focusing on Casement as a member of a community, a wider queer kinship group, takes the emphasis off the “Great Man” school of thought that tends to see such historical figures as male, exceptional, and existing in isolation. Using a wider lens, we can re-place Casement’s work at the centre of a wide social network,
see the active participation of women as agents in these revolutionary groups, and rediscover the existence of queer communities and codes in Irish culture.
Tina O’Toole is a lecturer at the University of Limerick. She has published widely on Irish literature, feminist activism, and the history of sexualities; her books include The Irish New Woman (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) and Women’s War Writing: Ireland 18801920 (UCD Press, 2016; co-edited with Gillian McIntosh and Muireann O Cinnéide). She was a founder member of LINC and co-editor of the LINC magazine for a number of years.
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On the 23rd of May 2015 we made history by becoming the first country in the world to vote by popular mandate to change the constitution to allow for the introduction of same sex marriage. The joyous scenes from Dublin Castle and all across Ireland, as the historic vote was declared, made headlines across the globe. But more than anything else the May 2015 vote was about changing the ‘Real Lives’ of the largest minority of people in Ireland: the LGBT Community. The exhibition, which is being held during the Cork Pride Festival will be on show in three venues across our city; The Quay Co-Op, Electric, and Perry Street Market Cafe featuring stunning portraits by leading Irish photographers: Karl Hayden, Tristan Hutchinson, John Minihan (famous for his portraits of Samuel Beckett), Peter MacMenamin, John McColgan of Riverdance fame and Kate Nolan. The exhibition is accompanied by a specially produced book ‘A Day In May’ by Charlie Bird – a poignant record to be read by everyone, The portraits compliment the voices on paper to powerful effect, amplifying the life-affirming impact of the day in May 2015.when Ireland said Yes to Equality”. Priced €24.99, the book is available in the Quay Coop and all good bookshops nationwide. All proceeds from the sale of the book are going to Console – the suicide awareness charity. 44
Grand Marshalâ€™s Address Thanks everybody for keeping me in mind. It is an honour and great to see such inclusiveness and welcome in Cork. Thanks to Davina Staunton for her liaison skills and work towards Cork Pride 2016. A big thank you to all in the rainbow of inclusiveness. We had a long and at times traumatic struggle but 2015 and 2016 we are grateful for on many fronts. We will cherish all our children equally. We were all bound together in the end, one dependent on the other for full rights with the Marriage Referendum right there in the middle.
Even though I have worked for years towards this goal many factors were perilous. An unstable government would have been another factor, (just got in before that one!) Getting legislation actually through is the aim, not â€˜pendingâ€™, and that means enactment and social change. We must now be on our guard to keep all gains and have no regression legally or socially. TENI, LGBT Belong To, Marriage Equality, GLEN, Cork Gay Project and LINC were all there toward the best result, FLAC stayed with me all the way. The work is still going on for good practice in medical care and support for young transgendered people (not fully achieved). We must remember that the gains of 2015 come out of a big and a very long struggle. I did things the very hard way with years and years of legal battles. Now however, it is up to all of us to treasure this progress and to
make sure that society keeps pace, and as I said, with no deletions, diffusions or regressions.
Indeed with the momentum at present we are delighted to see reviews pending in a positive sense toward commitment to full care for all, especially young people, so that from an early age their self esteem will be expressed in confidence as valued members of society. I wish all well in maintaining this path of continuing progress. Dr. Lydia Foy Grand Marshal Cork Pride Parade 2016
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for sure and once I said I was bi+ most people were great about it. Still, it can be draining and if not for talking to the brilliant people I’ve met through Bi+ Ireland I would have felt completely on my own. Bi-erasure is still something I deal with on a regular basis but I think most, if not all, bi+ people do and it’s not a specifically rural thing. The more it happens the more determined I become to ensure that future generations won’t have to put up with, that means calling it out when experience or see it. It also means being visible, so people know that bi+ people exist. What’s it like being bi+ and living in rural Ireland? Since moving from Dublin to Kerry three years ago I have faced the assumption, on multiple occasions, that I am an ally and not a member of the LGBT community because I had my boyfriend/husband (same person, we got married after I moved) with me.
Whether this was down to the specific people involved or in the case of canvassing simply a result of the deliberate bi-erasure of the entire Yes Equality campaign I’ll never know 48
On a practical level; heading out for drinks and a catch up with friends in the local gay bar isn’t always an option when the local gay bar is actually in a neighbouring county. The lack of resource or drop in centre means there isn’t a designated safe space for LGBT people and without a central hub it can be difficult to know what, if any, events are taking place. I know because it was one of the first things I looked for when I moved. Things are changing though. WinK (Women in Kerry), a group for LGBT women and their friends, turned one in May. They meet monthly and past events have included trips to the cinema, trips to the theatre, going for dinner, going for a walk all of which involve having a chat and getting to know each other more over drinks/ coffee afterwards. The recent establishment of a Kerry branch for the LGBT Helpline has the potential to become an anchor for the local LGBT community. The more
people volunteer the not just for those who may need to contact the service, but for those people who volunteer and those who will volunteer in the future. Hopefully it’ll lead to more activity locally and the eventual setting up of a drop in centre. Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative, I don’t mean it to but the practicalities and the knock on effects of being so far away from LGBT spaces is an issue I’m passionate about and want to work on improving.
L i v i n g in Kerry has reemphasised, for me, the importance of Pride events and making and maintaining connections within the LGBT community. Most importantly, perhaps, it has reminded me that the personal is still very much political when it comes to being out, especially for bi+ people.
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CORK LGBT ARCHIVE
In 2015 the Irish people voted in favour of Marriage Equality and the Irish government enacted the Gender Recognition Act – two important steps towards equality and rights for LGBT people in Ireland. The Marriage Equality campaign in particular has attracted huge interest and attention, nationally and internationally.
A common narrative or story has emerged and is constantly being retold – that the successful campaign for Marriage Equality was the result of the actions of a few (mostly Dublinbased) high profile individuals. There is a tendency to slip into the adoration of the icons, but while these individuals did play an important role in the campaign, their actions are just a small part of the story. The constant re-telling of this version of the story obscures the history of the LGBT community in Ireland. It ignores the fact that what happened in 2015 was the result of decades of activism by LGBT individuals and organisations throughout the country, decades of determination to fight against discrimination and to demand equality and respect for the LGBT community. Unfortunately this history is all too often hidden and unacknowledged – in mainstream society as well as by many in the LGBT community. Too many young LGBT people grow up completely unaware of the long and rich history of the development of their own community. Preserving and sharing this history is the key aim of the Cork LGBT Digital 52
Archive that I am developing. www. corklgbtarchive.com aims to preserve, digitise, share and display information in relation to the history of the LGBT communities in Cork.
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 Arthur Leahy collection is at the core of the Cork LGBT Archive. This is a private collection, gathered since the 1970s, and includes 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. Oral histories will also be included. While the archive strives to be a LGBT archive, much of the materials from the earlier decades refer to the lesbian and gay communities, with little reference or acknowledgement of the bisexual or transgender communities. Every effort is being made to redress this imbalance and to access a wider range of information. In the early 1970s in Cork there were no formal LGBT organisations, but LGBT social networks did develop, including a circuit of ‘fabulous parties’ in the homes of gay men. Even at a time of criminalisation,
discrimination and oppression a sense of family and community was emerging. As LGBT organisations began to emerge, with the establishment of the IGRM (Irish Gay Rights Movement) in Cork in 1976 and the opening of the first gay centre in McCurtain Street, the community was conscious of the need to reach out to other LGBT people and provide supports and resources. Tel-A-Friend offered telephone support, newsletters like Corks Crew and Sapphire shared information and the weekly socials and discos provided a venue for LGBT people to socialise and build a sense of community and belonging. The community continued to develop with the establishment of the Cork Gay Collective and the UCC Gay Society in 1980 and the organisation of the first National Gay Conference in Cork in 1981. The establishment of the Quay Co-op in 1982 provided an important base for the further development of LGBT groups and campaigns, as well as enabling interaction and mutual support between LGBT groups and other left-wing, alternative groups and campaigns in Cork. The Women’s Place in the Quay Co-op provided an importance space for the development of lesbian groups, with the establishment of the Cork Lesbian Collective, the Cork Lesbian Line and a weekly lesbian discussion group. The community continued to develop and grow in the 1990s, which saw the opening of the Other Place LGBT Resource Centre, the organisation of the first Irish Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in
Cork in 1991, the organisation of the first LGBT float in a Patrick’s Day parade in Cork in 1992, and the opening of the Cork lesbian centre on George’s Quay in 1999. The community continued to develop, forging links with other LGBT organisations and social change movements throughout Ireland and abroad. Like all families, the development of the Cork LGBT community not always been harmonious. There have been fights, disputes and disagreements. The lesbian and gay communities at times worked successfully together on issues or campaigns, but there have also been struggles about the distribution and use of limited resources and disagreements
about priorities for the community. In the 1970s and 80s there was often silence, ignorance and bias against the bisexual and transgender communities, which is gradually being redressed.
The story of the development of our community is beginning to emerge. The Cork LGBT Archive hopes to facilitate this, and to enable multiple voices and multiple narratives to be heard.
Yet for all the disputes people still come together at key moments. When Donna McAnallen was fired from her job in Brookfield Leisure Centre in Cork for allegedly kissing her girlfriend in the changing rooms, the LGBT community came out in support, sporting t-shirts saying ‘I kissed Donna McAnallen’. More recently the Marriage Equality campaign and the campaign for the Gender Recognition Act brought disparate parts of the community together.
Check out the website http://corklgbtarchive.com/ for more information. You may have items you would like to contribute to the archive or a story you would like to tell, or you may want to volunteer some time to work on the collection. Contact email@example.com. You can also keep up to date with developments with the archive by following it on twitter @CorkLGBThistory and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CorkLGBTArchive/ This project is currently unfunded and is being developed on a voluntary basis. Please support our Go Fund Me campaign and contribute whatever you can to support the preservation of the history of Cork’s LGBT community. https://www.gofundme.com/j3jujw8s
Orla Egan has been actively involved with the Cork LGBT community since the 1980s, organising various events including the first ever Irish LGBT float in a Patrick’s Day Parade in Cork in 1992. She has published and presented a number of papers on the history of the LGBT community in Cork and is currently developing a Cork LGBT Digital Archive. She is a member of the Linc Drama Group and has been involved in writing and preforming in a number of productions. She also has over 20 years experience working in the Equality, Education, Social Inclusion and Community Development arenas in Ireland. She is currently completing a PhD in Digital Arts and Humanities in University College Cork where she is a part-time lecturer / tutor in Digital Arts and Humanities, Women’s Studies and Applied Social Studies. She is also the proud parent of 10 year old Jacob.
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Cork native’s Jamie & Chloe hit the headlines recently when they both bravely came out as transgender sisters. Born Jamie and Daniel, the siblings caused something of a sensation announcing they both identified as sisters rather than as brothers. We sent our own JP McCarthy to have a chat with them and this is what they had to say. 2015 was a very special year in Ireland for the LGBT community with the resounding yes in the Marriage Equality Referendum but also on July 15th, the Irish government passed the Gender Recognition Act. How did this make you both feel? Jamie & Chloe: Of course we were absolutely over the moon. The samesex marriage referendum was an amazing opportunity for the LGBT community to come together and getting the yes was just amazing and a big step for equality in general in Ireland. We weren’t out when the Gender Recognition Act was passed but I think it was a big encouragement for us as we knew if we came out as our true selves that there would be a law to protect us and to recognise us as Irish citizens just like everybody else. It was a fantastic year for the LGBTQI community. We’re very proud to be Irish.
What advice would you both give to young people today who are considering coming out as transgender or in the process of transitioning? J&C: Always stay true to yourself and don’t listen to anybody’s judgements or criticism and that your opinion is the only one that matters when you are going through something like this. You only have one life so be the person that you want to be and that you feel that you are, and then do everything that makes you happy. And remember you are never alone, there is always support there. Stay strong and have courage. Who are your role models and why? Jamie: My three main role models would be my mum she has taught me to always be myself and always stay true to who I am, and to respect others as I would want to be respected. Britney Spears, Britney has taught me that even when you are at your lowest low and feeling really down you can always get back up and be better than you were before. I feel like a lot of us go through extremely difficult times but if you have love, passion, and perseverance, those times won’t last too long and thirdly Julie Vu (PRINCESSJOULES). She is a You Tuber and an out Trans woman. She’s amazing! She’s really insightful and she’s a great guide for Trans women
Chloe: My mom is my role model .She is the strongest person I have ever met and I have so much respect for her. She really shows me that no matter what life throws at you, there’s always a way up and baby I’m travelling at high speed! It seems that you have received an amazing response to your journeys so far; have there been any negative comments? J&C: Of course there have been negative comments, some really, really nasty ones-but look they’re all online and no one has personally come to me with negative comments or abuse. The support has been much greater than the negativity and that’s what we need to focus on. Everybody is going to have an opinion on what you should do with your life and a lot of them think that they are doctors, but really they have no idea,-they really don’t understand. So I’m not going to waste my time listening to them when I can just be enjoying my life.
How old were both of you when you realised you were transgender? J&C: I feel it’s a bit of a cliché to say but I think we always knew from a very young age. We always felt happier and better dressed up as girls and when I started doing drag that was a way to express my feminine side but when it came to the night time where I had to take it off, I really didn’t want to. It was like I had to say goodbye to the person that I really felt like I was on the inside. We came out to each other last August and came out to friends and family in November. How did your family react when you both came out as transgender?
So what are the next steps for you both and are you looking forward to what the future holds? Are you nervous about your transition? J&C: The next step for us is to start getting lazer hair removal and then start on our oestrogen (HRT) that’s after going through a psychological evaluation and talking to counsellors. I’m more excited than nervous, but I am really nervous about surgery I’ve never been in hospital or been under anaesthesia so there’s always the fear that I won’t wake up.
J&C: Our mum will always be supportive and she will love us no matter what we decide to do as long as we’re happy with our decision and not hurting anyone she will support us. Our aunts and uncles have been accepting of us even though we haven’t really talked about it much with them. We have seen you on so many Media publications and television over the past few weeks which is amazing. Do you have anything else in the pipeline? J&C: We are documenting our journey with John Norton who is the producer with stray wave media. He is going to help us share our journey in a positive and educational way. You both look amazing, what are your beauty secrets? J&C: Eat healthy, exercise, drink plenty of water. Give yourself enough time to do hair and make-up before you leave the house. But my real beauty secret is confidence. If you’re happy inside it will show on the outside
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On the 23rd of May at 9:15pm, with a palpitating heart and a quivering thumb, I hit the send button on my iPhone. I was taking a leap of faith into the abyss of the unknown. As the loading icon oscillated with swirls of nauseating suspense, I reflected upon what I was doing and why I was doing it. When the upload failed suddenly my heart stopped, momentarily. My thumb hovered over the reload button, the light of my iPhone illuminating my face, as I sat unnerved and alone in my dimly lit bedroom in Killarney. Was the reload symbol with its curved devil tail a bad omen, a prophetic sign warning me to stop what I was about to do? I froze! Trying once again to summon up the courage that got me this far, my thumb edged closer to the screen. Without further hesitation, I executed the action before the doubts could consume my courage. The loading icon swirled again, going around and around like the Rota Fortunae, or Wheel of Fortune, determining my destiny, before fading into a new screen, a new me. The photograph I just posted and shared with the world appeared before me. As I looked at myself holding words of honesty and liberation etched on a poster in my shaking hands, tears of joy and tears of sadness began to fill my eyes. I feared what would happen next, but there was no going back now. I had kicked open the proverbial “closet” door. I turned my phone off that night and began the agonising wait for the response of my friends and colleagues.
The Marriage Equality Referendum results had just been announced on the news. Ireland said ‘Yes’ to samesex marriage. I had spent the day monitoring the news coverage of the vote count, sick to my stomach with worry and praying silently that Ireland had made the correct decision to vote ‘Yes’. Tears streamed down my face as I watched the crowds of people, young and old, from the LBGT community celebrating the victory of their highly successful and noble referendum campaign. Regretfully, a campaign I had no hand or part in as a closeted gay man. I was afraid. Although I voted ‘Yes’ and encouraged friends and family to vote ‘Yes’, I did not have the courage to step up and get involved in the campaign. I was not “out”. I was isolated. Sitting alone in my sitting room watching the celebrations of the ‘Yes’ vote on television, I was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, regret and sadness. Why did I not have the courage to “come out”? Why did I not get involved in the Marriage Equality campaign and stand up for what I believed in? I could have stood up and taken part, but I chose to let fear get the better of me. I could have been there celebrating who I am, and celebrating Ireland’s national recognition of who I am with all those people, but I wasn’t. I was sitting in front of my TV celebrating alone. I felt empty while others felt full. In that moment, I realised I had fallen between the cracks of society. As a closeted gay man, I occupied a liminal status. I was not and could not be part
of the gay communities in Ireland because I had a “dirty little secret” to hide. In lying by omission about my sexuality, I existed on the periphery of heterosexual society. I was lost between two different societies, both of which I did not feel apart of. It felt like drowning while watching everyone else breathe. Every time I saw a gay or straight couple holding hands or kissing, it reminded me of a question no one could find the answer to: “Where was my partner?”
Loneliness is when you do not even know yourself. As Paul Tournier once said, “Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets”, and my secret had detached me from myself. At the core of my loneliness was a deep and powerful yearning for union with myself, and union with others who saw me as my authentic self. “Loneliness,” as Carl Jung said, “does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.” I am fortunate to have wonderful people in my life, friends and colleagues, who accepted “private” me for who I was, and who continue to accept me for who I am today.
I was the reason behind many people’s smiles, but unfortunately not my own. I was lonely in silence, choked by fear of rejection. I could not express what I wanted to express. I was bullied into silence and forced to accept other people’s definition of my life and how I should live it. I was made a victim of my sexuality by society, by religion, and by certain people in and around my life. Most importantly, however, I made myself a victim of my sexuality. The battle was not me against the world; it really was just me against myself. I allowed my mind to be influenced and contaminated by society and I chose to stay silent. Instead of choosing to risk rejection and be alone in honesty, I chose to be alone in silence, dishonest to myself, and others about my sexuality.
On this day last year, as the LGBT rainbow flags flew around Ireland, and couples gay and straight kissed and hugged in celebration of equality, I felt unequal. I could gain nothing from all the hard work of the incredible and inspirational people involved in the Marriage Equality referendum campaign because I was still living a lie. Ireland demolished with a resounding ‘Yes’ vote the walls blocking LGBT people from the equal right to marriage. However, I was still blocked behind my own walls, barriers that I had built myself and let others reinforce.
battle with myself. I no longer wanted to be alone and trapped in myself and defined by an illusion of myself. I had suffered for years. My spirit suffered. My mental health suffered. My relationships suffered. I lost some close friends because hiding the truth from them was easier than admitting it. As the tears ran down my cheeks that evening a year ago, I whispered to myself, “I can’t do this anymore!”
This day a year ago, I was forced to confront a reality I had been avoiding for years. A decision had to be made. Do I let the walls I constructed confine me and define me, or do I break them down and define myself? I did not want my sexuality to be the eternal sorrow that never sleeps. I finally gave up the
I did not want to stay stuck any longer. I wanted to be free so I decided to own my own truth and tell my own story.
“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
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One year later, standing on the other side of that pain, I can say that “coming out” was the best decision I ever made. When I acknowledged my sexuality, I felt whole for the first time. Standing up and being counted changed my life in so many positive ways and the experience has been incredible. My family, friends and colleagues have been extremely supportive in my journey and I thank all of them for their continuous support and love. I am very fortunate that I live in a society that allows me to speak out, that allows me to love who I want, and to acknowledge love with matrimony. I love my life. I accept myself. I embrace my uniqueness. I am proud of everything I am and everything I will become. I am no longer ashamed to be me. After “coming out” I realised the damage of self-shame. The shadow side of “coming out” is the realisation of all the pain I have carried for years. By “coming out” I liberated the energy I spent keeping a part of myself hidden. You never realise how much pain you were experiencing until that pain is removed. You never realise how lonely you are until you realise you have something to say but no one to say it to. You never realise how much love you have to give until you are granted a licence to love and you find someone special to share your love with, openly and honestly. When the proverbial weight that I had carried for years was lifted off my shoulders, I experienced a temporary void—perhaps, the acknowledgement of my existential death in the process of my rebirth—but that void was filled quickly with love. Shortly after I gathered the courage to face the world, a man wandered into my life. He has thought me things about myself I never knew and he continues to nourish my interpersonal growth. When I look at the spaces between my fingers now, I know that is where another warm loving hand fits perfectly.
Being openly gay and visible is the most powerful act anyone can do. Regardless of what else you do, you are making an impact on other people’s lives. Social change is all about visibility, education and awareness. To change people’s minds about homosexuality, they must witness what it is like to be gay. By “coming out” publicly on social media, I hope to contribute to the change initiated by the success of the Marriage Equality referendum. I hope one day, there will not be a need for people to “come out”. Instead, we will just say we are in love. Love is all that matters and love is not contingent upon inconsequential criteria as age, race, nationality, or gender. Deepak Chopra says, “If love is universal, no one can be left out.”
I hope by sharing my story with whoever out there is struggling with their sexuality will see that there is hope. “Coming out” can be a very positive experience and that it is never too late in life to “come out”. Be patient! The right time will come. Accept yourself and accept the fact that it is perfectly OK to feel conflicted. Sometimes you have to go through the worst to get the best. Falling apart is an opportunity to rebuild yourself in any way you wish you had been all along. Just remember to be unique. Don’t be afraid to show off your colours. Be brave! Writing this post is an opportunity for self-reflection over the year that has passed. I am extremely grateful the thing that came close to being my tomb has actually become my cocoon. Like a butterfly wrapped in its silk coat undergoing transformation, I have broken free and spread my wings. Paul O’Shea
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Rachel Mathews-Mckay lives in Dublin & is a Library Assistant in Trinity College Library where she has worked for the past 15 years, in addition to running her own handmade greetings card business. She lives a full life as a queer, political and community activist and is proud of her Cork & half Jamaican roots!
Happy Pride to you all and well done Cork! Thank you for all your hard work, determination, ‘heart’ and for challenging the status quo! 30 years ago I lived in Ballineen, West Cork with my grandparents in the Rectory that came with my Grandfathers job as Church of Ireland clergy. We loved our life there, and I still feel connected to the memories of going to school and making friends. In many ways it was an idyllic life but socially closed minded, religiously segregated and LGBTQI lives were invisible, including my own. In the nineties my family retired to Mitchelstown and I moved in for a spell, working in the Avondhu newspaper and Tangney’s shop. Newspaper editor Liam Howard defiantly and courageously printed my coming out article and call for support for the historic KAL case back in 2005. That was 6 years after I had come out to my family, but that’s the way it was and still is for many; ‘secrets and lies’ for self-preservation. I now have the privilege of a full live in the metropolis of Dublin, have helped research info for Seanad Bills while I worked as Senator Ivana Bacik’s PA, sing in Gloria DLGC, founded the SIPTU LGBTQ Network, have a column in the GCN, and am a member of the Steering Committee of the NLGF ‘Burning Issues 2’ survey due to be published in June.
It’s fair to say that I am happy and confident living an authentic and full ‘out’ private and public queer and social activist life. But even I have my days where I have to remind myself that we aren’t still stuck in the dark ages, and that we have progressed and seismically shifted societal attitudes! There is no doubt that over the past two decades Ireland has grown and benefitted from adopting and legislating a less conservative and generally more positive attitude towards cultural diversity, different expressions of sexual and gender identity and on all the nine grounds of equality. And 2015 was a radical boost with the introduction of the Gender Recognition Bill, amendment of the Employment Equality Act; Section 37.1 and of course our phenomenal Marriage Equality win! But there is so much yet to do and left to do, particularly outside of Dublin. I am as guilty as many as someone living in the bubble of the capital with easier access to LGBTQ safe spaces, job opportunities, social events, health services, social networks and reliable broadband. Over the past few months working on the Burning Issues survey and facilitating focus groups it has challenged me and I hope it will challenge all of us to think outside our own boxes of reality. I have learned that as open minded as I think I am I still have more to learn about our community and outside of my own experiences. I hope the published results of the survey will not only highlight
the gaps in our services, the needs of our community family members but more importantly help us to navigate a creative, constructive and more unified path on a national and regional basis. Money, ideas, leadership and vision needs to be spread more evenly, more fairly and even democratically. There are solutions and I’m all in favour of more joined up thinking on how we achieve them together, similar to the way in which we secured the choice to get married! We will always have the glory of our Marriage Referendum win but we must never lose sight of how much we have to achieve, overcome and how we can keep evolving as a living, breathing, authentic community in Irish society. The challenges are big, but the challenges are exciting!
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I was pleased as Chair of the Board of the Cork Gay Project to be asked to write an article for the Cork LGBT Pride Magazine 2016. I joined the Board in 2013 and it was only then that I became aware of the marvellous work that the project has been doing under the stewardship of Dave Roche. I grew up in the Ireland of the 1960s and 70s. Ireland was a very different place to the one that I live in now, thankfully. As a young woman back then I was aware of the mistrust of women by those in authority.
Unmarried mothers were cast as responsible for the ‘moral decay’ of the time. I was raised a Catholic but I left the Catholic church when I realised that the church hierarchy were not really interested in equality. As a
woman I was being told what the ‘norm’ was for my sex and marital status. I left Ireland in 1986 and went to Lesotho in Southern Africa. There I encountered poverty on a scale that I had never witnessed before. I encountered racism and oppression which was being done in my name. Simply because of the colour of my skin the systems in place gave me an unfair advantage. My education is the politics of inequality was about to be awakened. I came back to Ireland in the 1990s and Senator David Norris had bravely fought for homosexuality to be decriminalised. Most religions identify what they consider to be the ‘norm’ and adherence to those norms is enforced. Unfortunately most religions do not accept homosexuality as the ‘norm’.
This emphasises the importance of the separation of Church and State. A democratic state is for all of the people that live there. My sexuality had never been questioned until I remained unmarried. I recall being very indignant that anyone’s sexuality should be a cause of concern. My introduction to the Cork Gay Project was through my friend Dr
Margaret O Keeffe. There I met Dave Roche and Clive Davis who have worked tirelessly to break down the stigma associated with being judged on your sexuality. This stigma and prejudice was a mystery to me because I had no real understanding of why it was such a problem for some people.
The Yes vote in the Marriage Equality referendum was a very welcome milestone in the journey along the road to full equality for all people. Stigma, prejudice, and discrimination does still exist. There can be a hostile social environment for people who don’t fit the majority ‘norm’. In particular, young people may experience harassment and victimisation at school, in the home, at work and in community settings because they don’t fit their societal ‘norm’. It behoves us all to create an environment where all can flourish. However equality for all is a continuous journey against those who would foist their ‘norms’ on others. In a liberal democracy where religious freedom is protected, it is within the limits set down in equality legislation. Religions which espouse discrimination on any of the equality grounds need to be challenged. I look forward to the day when there will be no need for the Cork Gay Project. Unfortunately we are not there yet.
The Cork Gay Community Development Co. Ltd. evolved from 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. To this day they make it their mission to ensure that the gay community is enabled to fully participate in the social, economic, cultural, political and artistic life of the wider Cork and Kerry area. They provide support and events on issues like coming out, youth, parents and family, spouse support, education on LGBT issues, transgender support, A.A. groups and even movies and games nights.
For more information, please; visit: www.gayprojectcork.com, call: 021 430 04 30, or pop in at: 4 South Terrace, Cork City 40 74
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Laura Harmon, former president of USI and west Cork native played a prominent role in last year’s Marriage Equality Referendum leading a student registration campaign which saw 30,000 students registering to vote for the first time.
The sun was warm on our faces that May day as thousands of us, rainbowcoloured and elated, rippled into the grounds of Dublin Castle and gathered on the streets of Ireland to hear the final results coming through. I remember the feeling of pure joy and acceptance, like no other feeling I had ever felt in my life before.
It was clear from the outset that we had won when the first of the ballot boxes were being opened in count centres across the country. I watched eagerly that morning to see the results of my home constituency of Cork North West coming through, where I had voted Yes with all of my family the day before in the primary school I spent my childhood in. I remember the trepidation and the excitement, as we watched the votes being counted. We held our breath and hoped desperately that with every box that was opened, we would find the keys to a brighter future. The Irish people had spoken and love had won out handsomely in the end. For the first time in our lives, we were equal; we were part of the family. The last time I could remember feeling a similar sense of joy and acceptance was the day I walked away from my first coffee meeting of the UCC 78
LGBT Society in Cork City. It had taken weeks to build up the courage to seek out that support when I was first coming out as gay but I was met with warm faces and total acceptance. The coming out process, for me, represented the widening of horizons and the extending of my family. Family is the place where you can go to be yourself, to be loved and accepted for all that you are. I will always be grateful to the wonderful LGBT community in Cork and to my own immediate family in Cork for the sense of acceptance and the support shown to me. Ireland was the first country in the world to pass marriage equality by a referendum and this meant that our LGBT community came under a scrutiny like never before and subjected us to a national dialogue about our place in society and who we are. It was difficult for many of us to hear our lives and our families being discussed on the national airwaves on a daily basis but ultimately, when the referendum passed, we knew that we were accepted by wider society. The passing of the Gender Recognition Act was a huge step forward for our community also and to go from a country with no legislation for Trans identities to having one of the best gender recognition laws in the world in such a short space of time is remarkable and accredit to the work of Transgender Equality Network Ireland in particular.
The LGBT Community in Ireland is one big, diverse family. And we are a resilient family because we have had to overcome so much and persevere so much to get to where we are today. We have so much to be proud of. We are so lucky to have so many organisations working towards LGBT equality and inclusion in Ireland who provide safe spaces and a sense of family and belonging within our communities and Pride is a great time to celebrate the invaluable work they do. It’s amazing to see how Pride and how Cork Pride has evolved and grown over the years and it’s important too that we don’t forget that while Pride is a celebration, it was also about protest and defiance. It was about showing the world that our identities and families are to be valued just as equally as everyone else’s.
I can’t imagine what Ireland was like before homosexual acts were decriminalised in 1993. I can’t imagine the fear and the darkness that LGBT people lived in. I am so grateful for the work that activists in the past undertook to ensure that our community was able to reach the point we are at today. Ireland in 2016 is a brighter place and the light has been let in for so many LGBT persons and their families.
Itâ€™s a beautiful thing to see LGBT couples so frequently walking down the street now holding hands and to see all of the LGBT weddings and taking place throughout the country. Our families should be as important and valued as any other family. We have come a long way but there is still so much to achieve. The road to full inclusion of identities within the LGBT community in Ireland has been long and it still needs improvement. Many young LGBT people still live in fear about coming out we need to ensure that future Governments continue to prioritise and support our communities. Some of the challenges that lie ahead include full adoption rights for LGBT couples; employment equality; the removal of the MSM blood ban; the improvement of gender recognition legislation and the rights for Trans and Intersex people; the extension of mental health services for LGBT people; the awareness of bisexuality and other identities and the reform of curricula in our schools
to reflect the modern Ireland that we live in. Ireland also has the opportunity to lead the way for the future and be a role model for other countries when it comes to LGBT rights. The LGBT community has evolved so much over time and now there is an opportunity to evolve again and look inwards at the parts of the community that we have not focused on properly in the recent past. Weâ€™ve come so far together and I am confident that our community will overcome any challenges that lie ahead through working together. I sincerely hope marriage equality, gender recognition and our recent achievements only mark the beginning of a new phase in our movement for sexual and gender liberation.
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Nicky Green is a horticulturist living in Cork, she is also a community volunteer organising many events over the years including Out4Tennis, hiking and social weekends away along with Out4Drinks and a women’s badminton group.
Arriving in Cork from the UK in 1998 and not knowing a soul I headed into Loafers on my second evening to suss out the scene. With it being a Monday evening the bar was very quiet, so it was perfect to get my bearings and get a feel for this gay bar that what was soon to become my local. After about 30 minutes, in came The Douglas Street Soccer Team and after being introduced to everyone by the very kind and helpful bar tender they invited me to join them. That was the beginning of making great friends, who still are nearly 18 years on
and becoming part of the wonderful Cork lesbian community. Not a bad start!! I soon settled and made lots of friends and connections and had many memorable nights in that bar, Moore’s Hotel and The Other Place, to mention a few, along with those endless house and beach parties. My new Cork family.
Since then I have known the importance of being part of community, but also for it to be accessible to everyone whatever their circumstances. I was OUT, but that wasn’t the case for some and to step into Loafers or any gay associated public building just wasn’t an option for them. Being a keen sports woman and unfortunately not into Soccer, myself and a friend began playing badminton once a week and invited other friends along, who invited their friends, which then grew into a community based club. We started in 2005 and are still going strong with new members joining all the time and all different levels. An inclusive safe space to meet, make new friends, have some fun and a bit of exercise! In August 2010 a group athletes who formed Team Cork took part in the Gay Games in Cologne and represented Ireland, 7 of whom were badminton players. Proud moments and what a blast we had! Next one is in 2018 in Paris, so get ready!!
Being a Horticulturist I have also had immense pleasure being involved in the LINC garden community project which was a great success, transforming the outside back area of LINC into a beautiful garden created by members of the community, providing a colourful and tranquil place to sit and chat with friends or to just sit and be still. We had some lovely warm evenings, dirty hands, song and laughter and a lot of getting to know new people who came and joined in. Thank you!
Many new friendships have also occurred from the more recent Out For Drinks which I started two and a half years ago, an idea to just get
people together for a drink and a chat once a month in a friendly, low noise environment located in different venues across the city. It is a regular meeting for new and old friends to keep in touch within our community that just works very well. Thanks to everyone for their support and for keeping it going. New people always welcome, venues posted up on the LINC newsletter.
I had a wonderful welcome to the lesbian community and I hope very much people can find a connection and new friends through events like these. We have a great community in Cork, letâ€™s be part of it!
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Coming out is scary! It was scary when I came out to my mum. It was scarier when she came out me.
The best advice I can give for coming out to your kids is not to say things like, “You know about the support groups I’ve been going to”. The moment I heard these words my mind was racing to fill in the blanks, trying to figure out if these groups weren’t general ones what were they? I assumed the worst. Don’t make it sound like cancer. Everyone comes out their own way, and deals with it differently. I couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t immediately get on the same page as me when I came out. But when Mum came out it took me weeks even months to get on her page, I still don’t think I’m quite there. Mum’s had more patience for myself and my siblings than I had for my peers though. I think the hardest thing to come to terms with is Mum being attracted to anyone. The women bit was easy enough for me. But your kids will need support coming to terms with it. Make sure to tell them who they can feel comfortable talking to about it. This is a big thing for most children to find out and it’s important to have a good support network whether it be our friends or a councillor. Some kids become very quiet about this and want to deal with it by themselves before telling people, other kids deal with change through jokes and might feel better normalising the topic with a larger number of people knowing. Ultimately though they need to respect your boundaries, this is a big part of your life. I find it brilliant to talk to my councillor, there are loads organisations who offer teen counselling, like the ISPCC, but there are waiting lists.
Make sure your kids have someone they can talk to. I imagine it’s hard to open this part of your life to your kids after having to keep it quiet, and it’s hard to judge how much your kids can deal with. But try your best to be open, it’s taken Mum and I a few months to get comfortable with each other. For Mum it’s been a case of letting down guards she’s put up around this part of her life. She was defensive for a while about when she was meeting up with other gay women and kept the details vague. For me I found my trust shaken especially when Mum was hesitant to tell me the details of where she was going, who she was meeting. It was something we had to sit down and talk about and work on. Your kids do want to know about your life.
Talk and learn. So now you’ve come out and everyone adjusting and getting comfortable, it may be time to introduce a girlfriend. Introducing someone new into to your family can be hard and confusing. On one hand this person is a big part of your life, on the other no relationship is certain. It might be best to introduce the new person slowly and talk to your kids about how much they’re comfortable with. Going to a movie can be a good way to have everyone together. Don’t be afraid to take things slow I for one will be very proud to have my mum by my side at Pride this year. Hopefully in awful punny matching t-shirts.
It’s strange, to be able to be completely forward with where you’re going and the nature of relationships (but spare the gory details) but your kids have just found out that you’ve been keeping a major part of your life and identity from them. It may be better to let your children ask questions at a pace they’re comfortable with but it’s best to keep everyone in the in loop. That said, every child is different and will react differently.
I love my Mum and while this has been a learning experience for both of us I have never been more proud of her bravery and trust in myself and my brothers.
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Having been given a second shot I realise how important it is to help others, being sick is the loneliest journeys anyone will go on... So offering a little support can go a long way. Since my remission I’m involved in a charity for 18-30yr olds called Just Say Cancer. In September we will be going to schools and hospitals to talk to people and share our stories and answer questions- I guess just try and give some hope and let anyone going through it know that’s its ok to be scared.
I’m just enjoying all the experiences life has to offer...
Well where do I start, let me firstly introduce myself. My name is Noelle Cambridge. I work as a Community Liaison worker in LINC. Which I have to say I am really enjoying. You never know who is going to walk through the door and need even the simplest of things like a welcoming smile. There is definitely a strong sense of belonging within LINC and it’s good to feel part of the community. Unfortunately for me I struggle a lot deciding what it is I want from life... Hence courses in Airline Studies, Interior Design, Animal welfare, Dog Grooming, Event Management and Barbering!!! Quite a mix right? As my friend informed me, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. However when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October 2014 I quickly realised what it was I did want... I wanted to live. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know where my future is going, the main thing for me is to have a future. I fought and am currently winning that battle with cancer. Now I’m all about experiencing things, enjoying life, learning to love again and of course making memories along the way with both old friends and new. (Slightly cheesy i know!!)
Two friends and myself took over the running of Cork Women’s Fun Weekend last year, it was a tough act to follow from the previous committee but we’re getting there. This is now its 32nd year (I know this as it’s the same year I was born! This little fact makes me feel young!!- so I’m holding on to that with both làmhas). We brought the main event -the Saturday nightback in to the city centre last year by having the event in The Pav, which was a huge success. Numbers for the event were at the highest they had been in years. Everyone danced the night away and all went pretty smoothly (PHEWWW!). However, due to unforeseen circumstances this venue has since closed down so this year we took up residence in The Hanover (Vince, the manager is no doubt sick of my constant emails and calls- sorry Vince!). 2016’s planning has proven to be a lot more difficult than the previous year as we are without our corner stone, our pillar of the community- Loafers. Cork Women’s Fun Weekend was the last hooray in Loafers before it closed its all too familiar doors. A bittersweet way to end a magical weekend to say the least.
This year we stuck with the Douglas street area and moved a few doors up to Teds Bar, where we had a Drag King show the Friday night, and of course the infamous pub quiz on the Sunday from 3pm. The trophy being a Barbie that has had a few eh ‘alterations’ - it gets pretty competitive, everyone wants to be Barbie’s girl!!! She was held captive in Leitrim for the year... But she made the trip back down safe and sound. Instead of South Parish for the workshops and stalls we opted for LINC. We felt the venue would be more suitable this year, as we wanted a more relaxed, chilled out environment. The workshops included cooking, slam poetry, comedy and parenting. We also provided lunch for everyone which went down a treat. A sing song session kicked off in the sunshine... to finish off a great day. We managed to secure some top acts to perform throughout the weekend, some of which are NightShift, Sara O Kane, Velvet, Clare O Mahony, DJ Kate Brennan Harding/Today FM, DJ Ruth Dignam and DJ Andrea. But yes, all in all I thoroughly enjoy organising Cork Women’s Fun Weekend alongside Lynn Geary and Sandra Murphy. It’s a privilege if I’m being blatantly honest. Carrying on a tradition, especially a tradition that means so much to so many women far and near. To think I wasn’t even born as the first Women’s Weekend took place to now, 32 years later here I am... Trying to keep all the women happy, hahaha impossible task, but shur I’ll try.
WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY PRIDE.
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My name is Catherine Maguire. It’s been 11 years since I found out my husband was gay. To say my life came crashing down around me is an understatement. We had only been married a short time and pregnant with our first child when I was hit with the bombshell. I think I went into a state of shock initially. At first we tried to work it out but as time went on we knew there was no going back we both were in denial and decided it was for the best to go our separate ways. What should have been a very exciting time was turned into a very scary and lonely time. But you do get the strength to take it one step at a time with the support and help from family and friends. I threw myself back into work and raising our child and part of me blocked out how much it affected me my confidence went to an all time low,
how could I have been so stupid not to cop and I never heard of this happening to anyone. While my family and friends were fantastic I still felt very isolated and alone. You grieve for the life you lost for the person you loved and the person you thought loved you. You’re angry, sad, and hurt.
It was about 4 years on that I went for counselling I always had it in my head that I would love a support group to be set up if there were others in my situation that I could offer the slightest bit of guidance and support through this very difficult and life changing
experience. Then through a friend I got in touch with Dave Roche from The Cork Gay Project who agreed there was a need for such a group and was trying to get one approved nationally. Dave was a great support and it’s great to talk to someone impartial. Straight talking was set up in November 2014. The group meets the 2nd Tuesday every month. This is a confidential group for men and women of gay or transgender partners. You can speak freely in a confidential and non judgemental setting. There is no pressure and you can just sit and listen to other people’s stories and experiences. Realising you’re not alone is a real comfort. You can relate to what other members in the group are saying and going through. While everyone’s journey is personal the experience and the emotions can be quite the same.
You learn itâ€™s ok to feel the way you are feeling. To let yourself grieve for the life you lost to let yourself go through the emotions.
The important thing to remember is you are not alone and there is support out there. You can rebuild your life one small step at a time
As well as all the emotional stuff going on the practical side meeting your partner on an ongoing basis when there are children involved can be very overwhelming and the financial side can be a huge burden and worry. For me that was the hardest part telling my child. But with the help of the group and a child physiologist we got there . My child has a good relationship with his dad and we now are at an amicable friendly stage. The group is a great support everyone might be at a different stage and you find out how a person dealt with a certain aspect that you are now going through and vice a versa.
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I’ve never required pride. I am a straight, white, male. The only thing I can be proud of is not being quite as dickish as my privileges demand. I watched her slog and the spectrum began to lose its significance. She is at once someone who is bisexual and she is a bisexual. She is attracted to both men and women. She has to be proud of that because there are so many people who would insist she feel shame. There are people who see her as less, as not legitimate, as selfish, as confused.
What is it like to be married to someone who is bisexual? It is something I am still processing but thus far I can describe it using four key words. The first word is challenging. I consider myself to be a very open minded and cool dude. Or as open minded and cool as a middle aged man who uses the words cool and dude can be i.e. cool in theory but never tested. I grew up in a rural area and despite living in Dublin for ten years, I’d met precious few people who were gay or bisexual. I never imagined I’d meet, much less fall in love with and get married to someone who’s bisexual. I’d have considered it a ridiculous notion. And yet that is what happened. The second word is titillation. The shortest unit of time known to our species is the gap between a man meeting a bisexual woman and the prospect of a threesome entering his head. OK, perhaps that’s just me, but I’m hoping I’m not uniquely juvenile. The third word is inconsistency. When my partner glances at another woman I experience the deep satisfaction of knowing I’ve died and gone to heaven. If it’s a man, I suddenly feel my knuckles dragging along the ground and itching for a crude club with which to assert my unbridled manliness. The last word is pride. I’d assumed when we met, I’d assumed when we began dating, I’d assumed when we moved in together and I kept on assuming when we married, that I got it. That I understood that sexuality was a spectrum. I knew my place on it and 112
I knew her place on it. Then I watched her, already married, braving the scorn of strangers to campaign for marriage equality. I watched as her sexuality was side-lined by those she was supporting. I watched her persevere, a minority within a minority, identity erased for the greater good.
She never hides who or what she is and I am left feeling nothing but pride. Whatever unspoken misgivings I may have had about telling people in my part of the world her full story, are gone. I may be still adjusting, or more accurately my feelings may still be catching up to my thinking, but I am fortunate to have such a self-possessed guide, helping me to grow the fuck up.
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Looking back, you can hardly say when or where it started, the small voice of change that swept over our nation and grew from a delicate whisper into a roaring tornado of love and equality that engulfed the LGBT community and inspired us to mobilize, to captivate and change the hearts and minds of a nation. As we look back on a year in the making, on the long campaign crusade, and try to settle into a new found state of equilibrium, there are those amongst us who have foregone the general condition of reeling and adjustment and simply seized the proverbial equality bull by the horns. Cork Pride caught up with an especially dynamic couple, John Dunlea, a native Corkonian, and husband to be Doug Spearman at their home in the City of Angels for a frank and in depth discussion. Though hailing from Cork City, John now owns and runs a vibrant and successful gym in Los Angeles. He would be well known to the Cork LGBT community for the work he did at the Cork Gay Project in his younger years. Doug is a successful actor, writer and director, and although hailing from humble beginnings in Maryland, Washington, his drive and ambition has seen him rise to respected standing within the well-oiled Tinsel Town machine. Doug and John both share a passion and commitment in furthering the rights of the LGBT Community within Los Angeles and the greater United States and have been very active in their advocacy of LGBT equality and rights which has inspired us to share not only their story, but their perspectives on the Marriage Equality Referendum.
Q: Good morning gents, I am going to dive right in and ask, who proposed to whom and how did it happen? John: I proposed to Doug, it was in the middle of November on my father’s birthday. I had been waiting for the right moment and thought my father’s birthday would not only be the perfect date to show my commitment to Doug but also commemorate and honour my father who passed away recently. Doug: John had his work cut out for him on that particular day, he wanted to take me out for ice cream on Santa Monica Boulevard and I was being obstinate, I just wasn’t in the mood for going out, but John kept at it and eventually coaxed me out for a walk along Santa Monica and we ended up getting ice cream from the frozen yoghurt café where we had our first date. Just as we got our ice creams, John got down on one knee and asked, coincidentally just at the exact moment a friend of ours happened past and blundered into the middle of the proposal. Sharing your life with someone is work, but the most rewarding of work, finding the right person who can convince you to go out when you don’t want to or push you in the right direction when you need it is 116
what partnership and love is all about. Q: John, how did a lad from Cork end up in California and what where your motivations for leaving Ireland behind? John: I graduated from College in 1993, the same year that they decriminalized homosexuality, but for all the new policies and laws that were amended I knew that it was a mentality more than anything that I was fighting. Laws can be changed, new laws can be introduced, but if the people and population still cling to an ideology of discrimination then the laws have very little influence on the day to day living of the very people those laws where designed for. I didn’t feel that I could live and breathe freely in a country where being homosexual was still so unwelcome and where it was hard to be yourself, open and proud, without having a hard life. I left to find a place in the world where I could be who I was and create a life that was open, honest and above all accepting. I was fortunate to find personal training as it gave me the opportunity to move abroad and I worked in France and Spain where Personal Training was
in high demand before the economic crash which saw the demand for fitness services in Spain dry up. California offered the best options for my skills and has always had a great love affair with the “Body Conscious” image so it was a natural fit…though I always say that I came to Los Angeles to meet Doug! Q: How did the success of the Marriage Equality Referendum in Ireland affect your decision to get married? John: Over all in my decision to get married, it didn’t, sharing my life with Doug, the circumstances of having found the person that I wanted to spend my life with and commit to, marriage was always on the cards for me. It did however play a huge deciding role to get married in Ireland. The idea that I could exercise, partake and share an experience that was so long denied me with my closest family and friends swayed us both. Doug: And even so, it wasn’t an easy
road. Like so many gay couples, it took some time and adjustment for John’s parents to warm to me. I think it is still very difficult for families to come to terms with the realities of gay children and meeting their partners. We would all very much like to think that every family should just accept it as the norm, but Ireland has come so far so fast that I think we need to expect that the transition may not be instantly welcoming or disregarded. I can proudly say that I love John’s family and I am a family member in every sense of the word…sometimes getting there can be a little difficult but it is also so rewarding. Q: How do you think the Marriage Equality Referendum changed the hearts and minds of people internationally with regards to LGBT rights? Doug: Internationally, I think people were shocked at the revelation that a conservative Catholic country could vote so progressively and in such numbers for Marriage Equality for the LGBT community through popular vote no less. I think it has allowed people to be more accepting of them and feel open and proud with who they are. John: I think back home it gave people the final stamp of approval in many ways, to feel that the larger society had granted them the freedom to be who they are, and it allowed many families to openly accept and declare that they are proud parents of gay children who are now recognized and celebrated as equals…that there is no shame in having gay kids and that there never was.
Doug: There is still so much to fight for, here at home we are still fighting and there is still so much to achieve and accomplish for LGBT rights on the International stage. There are still States here where you can be fired for being gay; there is the ongoing war over transgender rights and their right to use the restroom of the genders they identify as. The bigger question is, will there ever be something for us not to have to fight for? John: I think we need to fight for maintaining our rights that we have fought so hard for and to be vigilant and aware that in changing policies and governments there are always those who will seek to take away from you the very rights that you fought so hard to get. I think the key goal is to fight for our rights, and keep fighting but also to ensure that there is not an erosion of the rights that have been won by us. I think we also need to put the full backing of the LGBT community behind other minorities who do not have the power nor the numbers to sway policies and laws and make certain that we fight for the “little guy” because not so long ago we were that little guy!
Doug: I am an African American, I was raised in a home where before going to college I was given “The Chat” where I was told that I am not only representing my family but “my race”. As hard as we are fighting for LGBT rights in this country, John and I are also constantly facing the daily fight of social stigma and racial discrimination. Being a mixed race couple is challenging and brings to light the No.1 cause of political discourse and violence in the States; race and the volatile and endless battle that raged for centuries and is still the primary cause of so much derision and instability within the United States. We are faced with the reality and the hate fuelled by this ongoing battle every day, so when asked if there is still something to fight for…I think there are issues outside of the confines of the LGBT umbrella that may not be included in the larger LGBT Agenda, but that equally affect members of the LGBT community as the word “Gay” is not race specific and I know there are still brothers and sisters within our own LGBT community who face discrimination daily for something not related to their LGBT identities. There are so many fights and I can honestly say that some of them may never be won, but without trying, they never will. Continued on next page...
Q: What do you feel should be next on the LGBT Agenda-what should we be fighting for? Is there anything still to fight for? 117
Q: What are you looking forward to most on your Wedding and what advice do you have for other couples looking to tie the knot?
Q: Do you think that because the LGBT movement has been so successful in attaining its goals that we are in danger of forgetting where we came from? John: I think there is a real danger of losing our history and our victories to the generational divide. There is a saying, “Don’t know your past… don’t know your future” and I think it couldn’t reflect more the sentiment that unless you understand what it is that you didn’t have, what was denied you and the blood, sweat and tears of generations in the momentous battle that has brought us so far, you won’t understand what it is that can so easily be taken away from you…or even worse that you would give up freely. Q: As proud gay men-what words of wisdom or advice would you have for youngsters thinking about coming out or going through the process? Doug: There is an incredible world out there that is waiting for you, filled with real life and unbelievable experiences, and people who will be there for you and support you. You are not alone and even though times are tough and you may feel like there is no way out, know that it does get better. My advice is to keep strong, keep going and to live your life…and if all else fails to make your life work for you. There are good people out there who will help you on your way…you just have to ask. Like Us On Facebook
John: I am looking forward to standing up there in front of all my family and friends and sharing the most important commitment in my life, to Doug, with all of them and have them be a part of our lives and celebration on the day. Doug: I don’t know about you…but I am looking forward to the cake! I mean to slicing the cake, I grew up in a house that always had photo albums where you got to see all your distant relatives on their “Big Day” smiling as they cut their cakes…and I thought, one day I am going to do that, I am going to be that happy, smiling person cutting our very own cake…and guess what…I am going to be!
John: Well maybe with a twist, my father won’t be at the wedding but he will be there in spirit- he had an old military sword…and antique, and I thought what better way to give him a nod on our “Big Day” than to use his sword to cut our cake.
I would like to thank both Doug and John for taking the time to chat to us and for showing us…that if we all took a little time to share with each other, what a wonderful world this could be.
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! y l i m a F We are In the five years that I’ve been Coordinator with the National LGBT Helpline I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of volunteers. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and are a diverse group of LGBT people. However, they all have one thing in common, they all became volunteers to give something back to their community. Motivated by the struggles they have faced around their own sexuality and/or gender identity, they volunteer to support other LGBT people through difficult times. In this year of the centenary of the Easter rising, James Connelly springs to mind. On the meaning of family, he said, “Family is about the stronger members of the family looking after the most vulnerable members.” Those values certainly seem to be a driving force in the LGBT Helpline and in other LGBT organisations and groups all across the country. We are there for one another, not because we have to be, but because we know what it is like to feel alone. We know how it feels to be unsure or unable to get the support we need from our own families. And when we do find the LGBT community, in whatever form it takes, how good it feels to finally be ourselves. Jason, one of our volunteers, put it this
Paula Fagan currently works as coordinator with the National LGBT Helpline, in this role she’s responsible for the development of the helpline’s services and works in partnership with a wide range of LGBT organisations & groups. Paula has been an activist on LGBT issues for many years, she was a founding Board member of Marriage Equality and has written a number of research reports in the area of LGBT rights, including Missing Pieces 2011 and The LGBT Parenthood Study 2013.
way, “I’ve had a lot of support from my friends in LGBT community and this was my way of giving something back and being an ear for those who need it when there’s no one else. To hear someone say something like “Thank you, you’ve really helped!” as we say our goodbyes, is the most intense and heart-warming feelings you’ll ever get. To know you made a difference is incredible.” While many LGBT people have very strong and supportive relationships with their immediate families, it is still common place for many others to experience numerous challenges and difficulties due to a lack of family support. In 2015, we had the busiest year we’ve ever had in our services, with over 77,000 people looking for information and support. Family and relationship problems, ranked the second most common reason why people contacted us through our helpline for support. As the nation debated the issue of Marriage Equality, we heard the views of our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues, on same sex marriage and sexuality. In the majority, these conversations were positive, and came as a welcome surprise to some of our callers. However, it was also an incredibly stressful time, particularly for those who were not open about being gay, lesbian, bi, or trans. Many calls came from people seeking support to deal with negative attitudes expressed by family members, for others it was seeking help to cope with ongoing difficulties, including being
excluded from their families because of their sexuality or gender identity. As human beings, it is important to our mental health and well-being that in some part of our lives we feel secure, and experience a sense of belonging, protection and love. In the recently published LGBTIreland study 2016, the report noted that the majority of participants aged 26 and over were doing well and reported good self-esteem, happiness and life satisfaction as well as being very comfortable with their LGBTI identity. The role of the LGBT community figured prominently, with happiness and pride being derived from a sense of inclusion, belonging, and support from engagement with that community.
The LGBT community was mentioned as a source of practical social support and friendship, but also in a more general sense of community or moral support deriving from its existence and activism. However, the study also found that a very significant number of those aged under 25 did not experience the same levels of positive mental health and wellness. All of this evidence tells us clearly, that despite the wonderful progress we have achieved in LGBT rights and recognition in recent years, our community remains as important as
it ever was. We are a family unlike any other. Through our successes and celebrations, obstacles and challenges, we have formed unique bonds that go beyond the traditional definition of “family.” As our community evolves we need to make sure that we remain there for one another, in all of our diverse identities. That we continue to work to improve the experiences for LGBT people of all ages and build a future where young people can feel positive about their sexuality and gender identity whatever that may be.
The National LGBT Helpline was established in 2010 and is a support service for LGBT people and their families and friends. The National LGBT Helpline provides support and information 7 days a week, through their telephone helpline service 1890 929 539 and through online chat support on www.lgbt.ie. For more information about the range of services offered by the National LGBT Helpline and for the helpline’s opening hours, log onto www.lgbt.ie
As we enter into the season of Pride celebrations, be proud of your LGBT family, be there for one another and make that incredible difference!
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Lydia Annice Foy is a trans woman notable for leading legal challenges regarding gender recognition in Ireland. In 1992 Foy had sex reassignment surgery, and began a 20-year battle to have her birth certificate reflect her gender identity, which she won in 2015. Below is an article wrote by her nephew, Colin Foy that originally appeared in GCN.
MY AUNT LYDIA My great aunt Florence used to say of the Foy family: “Here’s to us, there’s no one quite like us.” It’s a fairly common turn of phrase, probably uttered by countless great aunts of countless clans throughout the ages. In the case of us Foy’s, however, old aunt Flo was fairly spot on. Along with the usual cast of characters that make up any family, mine boasts the honour of having produced the single most important figure in the struggle for equal recognition for transgender people in Ireland: Doctor Lydia Foy, a transgender woman who fought an exhausting 19-year legal battle to have her gender recognised by the Irish, and later European, constitution.
I was eight years of age in 1992 when Lydia began the journey that would culminate in her landmark legal victory. Thinking back on my earliest memory of my new aunt, I can’t help but laugh at how small a deal it seemed at the time. There was no awkward sitdown between child and parent. My dad simply took my brother and I aside and giddily explained: “Your uncle has had a sex change and she’s coming to stay for Christmas.” That was it. You see, Peter Foy, my father, has a great knack for weighing up a situation and simply knowing the right way to handle it.
Even back in 1992, a far less liberal time, especially in rural Ireland, my father never tried to hide or sugar-coat Lydia’s existence. His view was, and always has been, blood is blood and we support our own. While some in the family struggled to accept Lydia’s transformation, my father almost immediately showed his support for his sister by offering a bed and, in many ways, a family for Christmas. 124
It’s a tradition that continues on to this day. The festive season simply wouldn’t be the same without Lydia’s arrival, complete with Santa hat and her faithful canine companion Bambi Presley Foy. Regarding the legal battle that would in time afford Lydia legendary status, myself and my younger brother were blissfully unaware of its magnitude. This is not because we were sheltered from the hard facts of Lydia’s struggle. If anything the opposite is true. My brother and I were frequent eavesdroppers while Mam, Dad and L y d i a
discussed ‘the case’ at length. Looking back it strikes me that Lydia never spoke openly of herself as the freedom fighter she was and is. To her it was a duty. Talk of the hard slog it surely was didn’t come up at the dinner table; instead Lydia preferred to poke fun at the magnitude of it all, speaking of the characters she met along the way and the unusual situations she found herself in, more often than not charming some lawyer or politician with a bar or two on the harmonica that never leaves her handbag. That’s not to say that we were totally shielded from the controversy and condemnation that Lydia attracted from some quarters. When the case broke in Ireland, making front-page news, my younger brother Peter and I received our fair share of hurtful schoolyard comments. Being the hot-head that I am, I was involved in a few scuffles when some ignorant bully-boy crossed the line. Of course at home we were actively encouraged to turn a blind eye to the dissenters, but I adored my aunt and I could only bite my tongue for so long. We may have been young but we were wise enough to know that Lydia’s struggle had far-reaching consequences for many people, and that her work could literally change lives. And we wouldn’t hear a bad word about her. The support shown to Lydia by my own family would go on to shape the moral fi bre of my brother and I. I consider myself to be so lucky to be part of such a liberal, understanding and embracing family. As a gay man myself, I was fortunate enough to have never dealt with the pressure associated with coming out to my family; I knew I would be accepted with open arms as Lydia was.
Today Doctor Lydia Foy and myself have a tremendous relationship, although she is a hard lady to pin down
(collecting prizes and awards doesn’t leave her with much free time!). But when we are in the same room it doesn’t take long to find me matching guitar chords to whatever instrument Lydia has brought along for the occasion. I often say that if Lydia had not devoted her life to the cause she would have eventually gained notoriety for her sharp creative mind and her ability to master any artistic endeavour she puts that mind to. Behind the image of Lydia we all know, the woman who tirelessly fought for her right to be recognised, is a truly unique, talented and warm person. That person deserves as much recognition as the fabled human rights heroine. Lydia introduces me as “my nephew Colin, who’s almost as eccentric as I am”. I can’t help but take that as a huge compliment. My aunt Lydia is a truly unique human being. Determined, brave, generous, kind and, yes, pretty eccentric! To share some of those traits and to think that she sees some of herself in me is a wonderful compliment. Here’s to us. There’s no one quite like us. Thank s to GCN for permission to reprint this article
In many ways Lydia’s titanic battle made it so mine didn’t have to happen. As well as the lives of thousands of transgender people all over Europe that Lydia’s battle directly affected, I saw my own life positively altered by her struggle. My family’s rallying around Lydia made me feel safe to be myself. We always take care of our own. 125
ou y R I, w e s p e a k
h e w o rld w it h
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Travel the world with Polari - We speak your language... Happy Pride
Polari Travel is the newest go-to Travel Agency, owned & operated by members of our community, for members of our community. We are delighted to be part of the Cork Pride Festival this year.
GETTING MARRIED? WE AR E A CO R K B AS ED CO MPA N Y T H AT SP ECIA LISE IN T H E CR EAT ION OF B EAU T I F U L W ED D I NG STAT ION ERY. WE TA K E PR I DE IN A LL OF OU R D ES I G NS B EI N G U N I Q U E FR OM OT H ER S ON T H E M A R K ET B ECAU SE OU R FAN TAST I C T EA M O F D ESIG N ER S H AV E A M ODER N A P P R OACH TO D ES I G N. EX P LO R E O U R W ED DIN G STAT ION ERY COLLECT ION S ON OU R W EB S I TE O R ALTER NAT I V ELY IF YOU DON ’T SEE SOM ET H IN G T H AT YOU LOV E, W E C AN C R EAT E A C USTOM DESIG N ESP ECIA LLY FOR YOU A N D YO U R M R OR M R S TO B E.
S H OP ON LIN E OR POP I N TO O U R DE S I G N STU DI O 021 4322 721 | PRETTYPRINT.IE | POULADUFF, CORK CITY
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I was born in Cork City in 1947, I was the third in a family of four. At about the age of seven I was wearing my sisterâ€™s clothes, in the garden shed whenever I got the chance. I started working at the age of fourteen, and was able to buy my own clothes, skirts, tops, shoes etc. On weekends I would go around the city as a girl. I would change clothes in a derelict building. I was really happy then. At the age of
nineteen I went to work in London. This gave me great freedom to go out as a woman, without the fear of being found out. I began to feel more and more content as a woman, than as a man. After a few years in London I came back to Cork. Living at home, my happy times came to an end. Transgender was unheard of in the 1970â€™s. I did not know anyone else
like me. I played a lot of sports, and drank a lot of (pints), and tried to be manly. I met a very nice girl and got married. When we got our own house, I had my own wardrobe full of dresses, shoes, hand-bags, etc, and dressed all the time. I carried on as a man, (a very unhappy one) using drink as a crutch. I was at rock bottom when I got medical help. I had full gender reassignment surgery in the year 2000. I worked as a woman for twelve years in a local hospital, and am retired now. I am now a very happy woman, still married to the same very nice girl, and thankful to the people of Cork for their tolerance, understanding, and kindness towards me.
Open nightly from 5.30pm Tasting and Set Menus available
‘Modern, Innovative, Unique, Award Winning’ Tel: +353 21 455 2279 or book on line at www.greenesrestaurant.com
ISAACS HOTEL & APARTMENTS CORK
‘Personality, Style, Comfort’
Book us direct for our best rate. Use promo code ‘save5’ and additional benefits. www.isaacscork.com Tel: +353 21 450 0011
48 MacCurtain Street, Cork
Located in the heart of the City, Close to Parking, 5 minutes walk to City Centre Tweet us @corkpride