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Coming Out For The Community

During the recent official launch of Outcomers Drogheda, Chair of the group Anthony Kinehan gave a touching speech which summed up exactly what inspired a group of activists to create a new community support system.

“Why are we here? There are lots of positives; legislation, visibility, but there can still be a lot of hostility out there for LGBT+ people. The LGBT+ community in Drogheda is growing. There are a lot more younger people coming out. Since the Marriage Referendum you have more older people coming out. You have more LGBT+ staying in the regional areas rather than migrating to Dublin, so there is more of a need for regional LGBT+ organisations like this. These supports need to be in place. To have somewhere people can go, where they can ask questions, they can be private about it, they can be discreet about it...and that’s the same whether you’re young or old, Irish or not Irish, married or single, settled or a traveller. And while it’s great to have Dublin and Dundalk just down the road, they can feel like a million miles away when you’re feeling vulnerable.”

So what is Outcomers Drogheda? It is an independent support group for LGBT+ people with a committee made up of volunteers. It is focused on creating a confidential drop-in space alongside an information referral service, they will also aim to undertake any necessary advocacy work.

While they established in January, they’ve spent the time since then getting their training and governance in place, receiving that training from LGBT Ireland and the Outcomers group in Dundalk.

Anthony described how the drop in centre will operate once a month at first, along with monthly information evenings from September. The information sessions will consist of such topics as an evening on bisexual and trans folk for people to understand better the issues facing those communities, even people from within the LGBT+ community. Also, an information night for parents with LGBT+ young people is on the cards, as is one on family law advice.

Anthony took the opportunity to praise other LGBT+ groups in the area: “We’ll be dealing with adults initially, but there is an LGBT+ youth group in Drogheda called Boomerang. They are doing a great job. We’ll be linking in with them, and we’ll be a point of referral for those transitioning from the youth group into a more adult setting... Drogheda LGBTQ are also doing great work with visibility and social events. We will support them as much as we can with their efforts.”

The group’s Drogheda location has created a need for certain services that some other areas might not require. Anthony shared, “We want to combat rural isolation, give people somewhere to come to, even if it’s only once a month, to link in with other LGBT+ people in a place where they feel like they can be themselves. We also have the Mosney Direct Provision centre on our doorstep. One of our board members is Delroy, a trans man who lives in the centre, so that gives us a unique perspective on trans issues and Direct Provision services.”

At the successful launch of the group, Paula Fagan, CEO of LGBT Ireland, spoke about how “since the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015, there’s still only a handful of services around the country that are in people’s communities... Now people in Drogheda don’t need to leave the town anymore. There’s a service for them and they can get the support they need. That support really does make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

A new support service for the community such as this one is always welcome and should be celebrated, especially run as it is by volunteers so giving of their own time and skills. Those in the area who would like to avail of their assistance need only contact them, for, as Anthony said himself, “We will reach out to anyone who needs our support.”

To get in touch with Outcomers Drogheda, you can email them at Outcomersdrogheda@gmail.com or call 087-2379893. You can also follow them across social media channels.

This article appears in the 357 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 357 Issue of GCN