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New Year, New You

GET INVOLVED

There are many organisations who work all year round to officer services to LGBTs in need of support. One such organisation, Gay Switchboard Ireland (gayswitchboard.ie), always needs volunteers. If manning the phones is too daunting a prospect, you can help out in other ways, like by fundraising or helping with GSI’s Monthly Condom and Leaflet Drops.

There are plenty of other queer causes to volunteer your services to. Check these out.

NATIONAL LGBT HELPLINE

Volunteer by providing a sympathetic ear or by fundraising – there are lots of ways to get involved. Visit lgbt.ie to find out how.

BELONG TO

This national organisation, which supports LGBT+ young people, often needs volunteers. Visit belongto.org to see how you can get involved.

DUBLIN LESBIAN LINE

The DLL are taking on new volunteers for 2018. Contact info@dublinlesbianline.ie to register your interest.

KNOW NOW

The Know Now Rapid HIV testing project always needs volunteers to further their good work. Visit knownow.ie to see how you can get involved.

LGBTQ PRIDE

Dublin Pride is on June 30 this year, and there’s a whole week long festival in the lead-up. Find out more about volunteering at dublinpride.ie Of course, Dublin isn’t the only place where Pride happens. Why not sign up to give of your services in Cork (corkpride.com), Galway (galwaypride.com), Limerick (limerickpride.ie). You know it makes sense!

SHOUTOUT

Make a real difference to the school lives of LGBT+ young people. Visit shoutout.ie for more information.

GET CREATIVE

There are myriad ways to mingle with other creatively-minded LGBTs. Dublin-based acting group Acting Out stage several theatrical productions throughout the year (like last year’s GALA award-winning, The Ref). Or if singing is more your thing, why not consider joining Glória, the Dublin Gay Men’s Chorus (pictured), or Choral Con Fusion in Cork? Our community is filled with creatives exploring and appreciating every kind of artistic endeavour around.

GLÓRIA LGB CHOIR

Dublin’s longest running LGB choir just get better and better every year. If you want to harmonise, contact info@gloria.ie to find out about auditions.

DUBLIN GAY MEN’S CHORUS

With a repertoire ranging from Negro Spiritual and Renaissance to Disney, to Take That, Dublin’s all male choir has auditions on a regular basis.

FRIENDLY GAY BOOK CLUB

Appreciating wonderful works of literature on the first Wednesday of the month at Outhouse, 8pm Dublin. Contact info@outhouse.ie for information.

ACTING OUT

Award winning drama group for LGBTs at Outhouse, Thursdays, 7.30pm. Contact info@outhouse.ie for more.

FILM QLUB

Showing classic queer cinema, on the third Saturday of the month, 2pm, New Theatre, Temple Bar. Visit filmqlub.com to see what’s playing.

THE DUBLIN GAY MUSIC GROUP

A gathering of gay men who meet on Saturdays to appreciate classical music. New members are always welcome. Visit dgmg.businesscatalyst.com for details.

LINC DRAMA GROUP

Thespian lesbians meet Tuesdays, 7pm at LINC, 11A White Street, Cork. Contact info@linc.ie for more.

CHORAL CON FUSION

Cork’s LGBT choir is a super-diverse bunch of people who just love to sing out in the South. Visit choralconfusion.com to find out about auditions.

OVER THE RAINBOW DRAMA GROUP

Sligo’s LGBT theatre group is pretty theatrical. Visit Facebook.com/overtherainbowdramagroup for more information.

GET FIT

The start of a new years offers us the perfect opportunity to establish new health regimes. And what better way to get in shape than by taking part in Dublin Front Runners annual Couch to 5K? Kicking off on April 9, the programme aims to have beginners limber enough to take part in the Dublin Pride Run on June 17.

Outside of that there’s a massive range of queer sporting and outdoors clubs and groups on the go. Why not get into one of these?

EMERALD WARRIORS RUGBY CLUB

Dublin’s gay and bi men’s rugby team train Mondays, and Wednesdays at 7pm (during the rugby season) at St. Mary’s RFC, Templeville Road, Dublin 6w. Beginners totally welcome in the scrum. Visit ewrfc.ie.

DUBLIN DEVILS FC

Football, or soccer if you prefer, club for gay and bi men. Training on Tuesdays, 7pm Phoenix Park and Saturdays, 1pm at YMCA, Aungier Street. All levels welcome. Visit dublindevilsfc.com.

DUBLIN FRONT RUNNERS AC

Running club for people of all fitness levels. Sources inform us that each run is finished off with cake in the Phoenix Park cafe! Meets Tuesdays 7.30pm in summer at the cricket grounds and in winter at the Garda Head Quarters, and Saturdays at the Papal Cross, 10am. Visit dublinfrontrunners.ie

LINC BADMINTON

Shuttlecocks at the ready! Training is on Tuesdays at LINC, White Street, Cork. Contact info@linc.ie for times.

PHOENIX TIGERS

The ladies soccer team trains on Thursdays, 8pm in the YMCA on Aungier St, Dublin 2. All levels welcome. Contact phoenixtigersirl@gmail.com for more.

OUT2TENNIS

Get your game, set and match on with the the national LGBT+ tennis network. For details of upcoming tournaments or clubs in your area, visit out2tennis.com.

LINC BASKETBALL

Shooting hoops every Monday, 7pm, at LINC, White Street, Cork. Contact info@linc.ie for more.

WET & WILD LGBT

Outdoor pursuits club organising a range of events on a monthly basis. Contact: wetandwild@gmail.com

LGBT SOCIAL & SPORTING GROUP, LIMERICK

Check out this sociable and sporty group for LBT women in Limerick. Contact (text only) 087 167 8218.

RAINBOW RAMBLERS, CORK

The gang meet on the first Sunday of every month in Cork for a ramble. Contact: rainbow.ramblers.cork@gmail.com for info.

OUT & ABOUT HILLWALKING GROUP

Get fit and enjoy the landscape at the same time, every Sunday with this super-friendly bunch. Sunday. Meets 10am at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, visit: gay-hiking.org for more.

FIND LOVE

When it comes to matchmaking, January is without doubt the busiest time of year. According to Rena Maycock, who along with her husband, Feargal runs Ireland’s largest dating agency: “Christmas is a time that throws the lack of a partner into sharp focus. Every January we arrive back to hundreds of voicemail and email messages from people who have resolved not to be alone again this time next year.

“Those people are lucky because they have done the hard part and taken the first step towards the chance of a shared life, but thousands of others are still succumbing to the enticing familiarity of loneliness because it’s simply easier.”

Having dealt with thousands of clients, Rena and Feargal understand the variety of reasons that people remain alone. “Procrastination is one of them,” says Rena. “Irish people are brilliant at putting things on the long finger, but if you don’t act now, you won’t act tomorrow. We appeared on the Late Late Show five years ago, and we’re still meeting people who have only just signed up now after seeing that piece.

“A lot of people won’t travel. They know everyone on their doorstep and none of them suit, but the idea of travelling even a county over is beyond reason. It should be about the right person, not the right geography.

“Some say they’re too busy but I don’t believe for one second it’s impossible to carve out even one night a month to go on a date. Everyone has to eat!

“Many people fear what the neighbours might think, or they fear rejection, or not wanting to get hurt again. It might be hard to face the fear but it’s ever so worth it.

“Lots of people have unreasonable expectations, whether it’s wanting someone 20 years younger or a PhD with a few Masters to boast of. There’s no point reaching for the unattainable. If what you want is within reason, you will meet someone.”

Rena’s advice is to put the reasons you’re staying alone to one side and make 2018 your year. “Our youngest member at Intro is 22 and our oldest is 84, which proves that it’s never too late to meet your perfect someone.”

Intro Matchmaking, 24-25 Grafton street, Dublin 2, (01) 677 7000, visit www.intro.ie and online dating site, www.arealkeeper.ie

Go On a Personal Development Course

It might come as a bit of a surprise that the Personal Development Course run by the Gay Health Network in association with Dublin’s LGBT Centre, Outhouse, has had to expand since Ireland voted for equal marriage. Despite the story that the grown-up gays are all grand now, more and more gay and bisexual men are joining the course to explore the specific issues that are affecting them.

“During the referendum, with all the messages that were out there, we were all triggered into self-examining, maybe for the first time since coming out,” says psychotherapist and course facilitator, John Paul O’Brien. “Maybe people are wanting to keep a momentum going, maybe they’re still be affected by the things that came up, or they may want to move their lives forward in a certain way.”

The course is run over a period of six weeks, with a 2 1/2 hour session at Outhouse every Tuesday evening, and the demographic it attracts is wide, with men in their 20s attending alongside men in their 50s.

The widest group, according to O’Brien are in their 30s and 40s. “I think people come to the course at a time in their lives where there’s a certain amount of reflection and self-awareness,” he says. “Sometimes there’s frustration, and feeling stalled in life. People come in curious and open for something new. Often what people are experiencing on the gay scene is impersonal, so to be met as a person, however and whoever you are, is great.

“For a lot of participants it’s their first time being in that type of context surrounded by gay men outside the social scene, so it becomes very real, honest and open very quickly.”

If this sounds a bit daunting, O’Brien is quick to reassure that the process is gentle and respectful. “Everyone who comes on the first night is nervous, it’s the great unknown. By the end of that first session there’s relief, excitement and curiosity for more. So, if you make the first step to join up, the rest can unfold from there.”

But why would men who have sex with men need a specific course? “There’s a shared thread among participants that wouldn’t be on other self-help courses,” O’Brien explains. “One of the topics we explore is internalised homophobia. Maybe this is something we haven’t even been conscious of, and it’s worth exploring if we’ve internalised more than we realise.”

If that sounds a bit on the too serious side, O’Brien points out that there’s lots of “fun and laughter” in the mix.

“One element of the course is flirting. We have different scenarios where participants pay different characters. It’s surprising what can be unleashed when people are being somebody other than themselves! There’s homework too, we ask the men to actively flirt with someone and to see what reaction they get, and what it feels like.”

Ultimately, the course is about self-exploration with a view to the future. “It can be a great impetus for people to reconsider where they’re at and branch into a new life,” says O’Brien. “It’s about self-enquiry in a safe enviornment, and as individuals we can all benefit from that. Really, what we’re focusing on is your relationship with yourself, and if that improves, every relationship outside of that will benefit. It’s a ripple effect.”

The Personal Development Course for gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men aged over 24 is free of charge. To find out more email pdcmsm@outhouse.ie or call (01) 873 4999

GET POLITICAL

Without the agitation of political activists, Ireland certainly would not have become the (relatively) LGBT-friendly country it is today. Groups like ACT UP Dublin, a nonpartisan group of individuals committed to direct action to end the HIV/AIDS crisis, hold regular meetings and protests, as do the many groups campaigning to repeal the eighth amendment.

ACT UP DUBLIN

Direct action HIV campaigners meet on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, 6:30pm in the offices of HIV Ireland, 70 Eccles Street, Dublin.

LGBT+ FOR CHOICE

Pro-choice LGBT+ campaigning to repeal the 8th Amendment. Check out them out on www.facebook.com/LGBTforChoice to see how you can get involved.

GET SOCIAL

Meeting new people is a pretty good goal for the new year – who wouldn’t like to widen their circle of friends and interact with potentially fascinating new faces? To that end that are groups that aren’t sport or performance related offering the opportunity to mix with other LGBTs. Peer support groups, book groups, dining groups, film and musical appreciation groups – there are interesting things happening all over the country on any given day.

DUNDALK OUTCOMERS MEN’S NIGHT

Gay and bisexual men in Dundalk have this great group to meet and mix at on Tuesdays. For more informationn, contact outcomers.org.

TENI TRANS PEER SUPPORT GROUPS

If you’re trans, non-binary or questioning your gender identity, meeting similar people might just make your year. There are peer support groups all over the country, in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Kerry, Limerick and Belfast, and there’s even a trans student alliance too. Visit teni.ie for full information.

GIRLS NIGHT IN

This social group for LGBT+ women in Dublin runs on Wednesdays at Outhouse, Capel Street, 7.30pm. Contact info@outhouse.ie for more.

GOLD OVER 50S GROUP

Get-together group for the silver foxes and vixens of our community. Meets at Outhouse, Wednesdays at 5pm. Contact info@outhouse.ie to find out more.

DINING OUT

This social for gay men samples restaurants in the city every second Friday and the last Saturday of the month. Visit diningoutireland.org to join up.

GAY BRAY SOCIAL GROUP

Chips on the promenade anyone? Join this social group for LGBTs in the Bray area, gaybray@gmail.com for more info.

OLDER WISER LESBIAN GROUP

Those OWLs meet for dining out and social events in Dublin. For more info visit meetup.com/older-wiserlesbians/

IN4LUNCH, CORK

Anyone for luncheon? This women’s social group is based in LINC, White Street, Cork. Contact info@linc.ie to find out more.

SHENANIGANS

A social group in the West for lesbian, bisexual and trans women. Contact them on shenaniganswest@gmail.com to find out where exactly in the ‘West’.

GOBLET SOCIAL GROUP

This social group for LGBTs in Ballina is pretty popular. Go Mayo! Contact: 089 445 4708 to find out more.

OUTWEST

This long-running social group for LGBTs in the west of Ireland meets bi-monthly. For more information, visit outwest.ie

CORK GAY PROJECT

The Cork Gay Project has plenty of socials, including a spouse support group, a transgender support group, an AA group and a youth group. There are lots of other social activities too. Visit gayprojectcork.com for service information.

RUNNING AMACH

Social networking for LGBTQ women in Ireland, with regular well-attended events. Visit www.meetup.com/dublin-lgbtq-womens-socialnetworking-club to find out more.

Consider Sobriety

Although there is no data available in Ireland specific to addiction amongst LGBT+ people, according to statistics published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the USA (SAMHSA), while substance use disorders affect 8.4 per cent of the general population, when it comes to LGBT’s that number jumps to 20 to 30 per cent.

According to Maebh Leahy, Chief Executive at the Rutland Centre in Dublin: “We have no reason to believe that substance and or behaviour abuse is less common in the LGBT community in Ireland than it is elsewhere. Looking at these figures, it is clear that LGBT individuals need to know that support is out there.”

Established in 1978, the Rutland Centre has a long heritage in the treatment of addiction in Ireland. Over 400 people pass through its doors every year, across all its programmes to receive treatment for a variety of addictions, including alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling and food, amongst others.

“The people we see at the Rutland Centre come from all walks of life, which is why we say that addiction does not discriminate,“ says Maebh. “Although we believe that everyone is essentially at risk of addiction, our focus this year has very much been about reaching out to the groups who we believe are at high risk or who are growing in numbers.”

Earlier this year, the Rutland Centre revealed that alcohol is still the leading addiction affecting people in Ireland, with 91 per cent of those who attended the Rutland Centre in 2016 doing so for the treatment of alcohol addiction. “Although alcohol is the addiction that most commonly presents, we have seen a growth in other addictions including new drugs that have grown in popularity in recent years,“ says Maebh.

The addiction counsellors at the Rutland Centre are trained to treat all types of addictions. A highly confidential team of people work at the Rutland Centre, comprising a multi-disciplinary team of psychologists, psychotherapists, addiction counsellors, nursing staff and a confidential and experienced administration team.

This September the Rutland Centre hosted its annual Recovery Month, which comprised workshops and seminars for people affected by addiction and their families, and included a well-attended workshop for the LGBT+ community. The Rutland Centre hopes to follow up with a workshops for the LGBT+ community in 2018 as a result.

“One of the things, we are most commonly asked is, how to recognise the signs and symptoms of addiction,” says Maebh. “If you are worried about either yourself or a family member, contact our support line or attend one of our free workshops to speak to one of our counselors.

“There is no shame or judgement in seeking treatment for an addiction. Recovery is possible for everyone and it’s never too late or too early to seek help.“

10 Ways to Recognise the Signs and Symptoms of Addiction:

1. A preoccupation with the addictive behaviour, for example gambling, drugs or drinking.

2. Thinking about it more often, and finding more ways to engage in the addictive behaviour across the day or week.

3. Beginning to feel shame and guilt related to the activity, but doing it anyway.

4. Withdrawing from relationships with family, friends or colleagues to engage in the activity and perhaps starting to associate with new friends where the behaviour is acceptable.

5. Hiding the gambling, drinking or drug-taking from family, friends or colleagues.

6. Spending more than you intend to, or can afford to on the activity.

7. Chasing/trying to regain losses by gambling more (if gambling is the addiction).

8. Mood swings, tension, stress, unhappiness, depression.

9. Spending money that is not yours on the activity.

10. Being unable to stop, despite your best efforts.

If you are concerned about yourself, your partner, or a family member, please contact the Rutland Centre on (01) 494 6358

This article appears in the 337 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 337 Issue of GCN