My journey with GCN began in 1993, as found my own community in Ireland after returning from a few years in London. spotted an ad in the paper, as it was at the time, looking for people to come and work on a community employment scheme there. “No experience necessary,” it said. Within a week, was working in the beating heart of queer Ireland, alongside the activists who were fighting for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
GCN grounded me in my still relatively new identification as a gay man, introduced me to life-long friends and helped me create a career as a journalist and writer. When returned to it as editor in 2003, it felt like coming home.
Just as I’d happened upon GCN during the lead-up to decriminalisation, my tenure as editor, for the most part, was marked by the next great queer movement in this country – the fight for marriage equality. The decade leading up to the 2015 referendum was a time of momentous change for Ireland and our community and it was a privilege to witness that change and to document it, from the position was in.
My goal was to give everyone a voice on the issue, to examine it from all angles and to report on every step along the way from the inside out – news by the community for the community, rather than a mainstream view. felt that GCN was the only safe media space during the referendum campaign. We weren’t bound by the 50/50 representation rule, so we didn’t have to give a voice to people who would not only deny us marriage equality, but who so often sought to diminish our basic equality too.
GCN has always been a safe space. It was a safe space for me when came back to Ireland not knowing one queer person, and it’s been a metaphorical safe space to so many LGBTQ+ people who found their community through its pages and voices over the years.
As editor, was always eager to move with the times, to embrace the changes within the LGBTQ+ community, and the evolution of issues and identities. From the outset for me, GCN has always been about positive representation, not only for the mainstream, but also to shore up our own sense of confidence. believe GCN is a mirror that reflects our lived experiences back to us, endorsing and reinforcing who we are, both as a community and as individuals. The GALAS, which co-founded, were an extension of this philosophy, as was the annual Youth Issue, in which mentored enthusiastic young people as they took over the editorial reins.
The very first regular column commissioned was called ‘Work It Out’. In it we interviewed and photographed people who were out and proud in their workplaces. It was hard to find participants (Ireland then was not the country where businesses line up to march in Pride) but when we did, asked the photographer to always catch them smiling with their chins slightly in the air, portraying an air of self-confidence.
That confident smile was very important to me. wanted every member of the community photographed for the magazine to be smiling, even if they were telling very difficult stories. For all the discrimination LGBTQ+ people suff ered, knew we remained a positive force for happiness and unity, and wanted that represented visually. It was a simple decision but believe it was powerful on a subconscious level. wanted GCN’s activism to be rooted in a sense of ourselves as a progressive driving force, rather than victims fighting against our oppressors.
My favourite cover is the one published immediately after the marriage referendum. A triple fold-out, it featured the key players in the Yes Equality campaign. Given the result on May 23, 2015, it’s hard to believe that we created two issues, one based on a ‘no’ vote and one based on a ‘yes’. We needed to be ready to go to the printers the minute the vote was called. I asked the cover stars to pose with a smile that said both ‘we are victorious’ and ‘we confidently live to fight another day’. They did so admirably.
I worked with all of those people over the years, and with individuals in many LGBTQ+ organisations across the country. want to thank them all for their co-operation and energy in helping GCN continue to be the voice of the community, and for the work they’ve done and continue to do. want to thank the many board members who guided me and supported me through years when the staff and had to pull every trick out of the bag to survive financially, especially during the recession.I would like to thank all the talented contributors over my years in the editor’s chair, and would especially like to thank the many staff members and interns I’ve worked with during my time. There was always a sense of family working at GCN, a great sense of fun and adventure, and a lot of hard work done with great passion. Without this, GCN would not have survived.
Most of all, want to thank GCN’s readers. Without you, it really would be nothing.
It’s a sad day to leave something I’ve cared so deeply about for so many years, and a job that’s been part of my identity, but it’s a good day too. It’s time for GCN to have a new pair of guiding hands and for me to have new adventures. It’s been an experience wouldn’t change or exchange, and wish GCN and all who sail in it, a long, prosperous and exciting future.