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NXF: GALAS: Acknowledging, Celebrating, Striving

Community

NXF – GALAS – Celebrating The Community

As we prepare for the ninth GALAS on Saturday, February 8, it’s timely to take a moment to reflect on the awards themselves.

Founded by the NXF and GCN in 2009, the GALAS are about acknowledgement and celebration but also about maintaining an awareness of the challenges that remain for the LGBT + community, both nationally and internationally.

The event is a platform to honour the commitment and resilience behind so many endeavours, harnessing individual and collective energy to be a force for good, to strive forward and knock down societal barriers to achieving openness, fairness and equality.

Former Chair of the NXF, Olivia McEvoy, and one of the founding members of the GALAS, recalls the establishment of the inaugural awards.

“Though just 11 years since the glitz and glamour of the first GALAS, 2009 made for a vastly diff erent societal climate and legislative landscape for the LGBT+ community. The GALAS were conceived to promote the positive visibility of the LGBT+ community and to celebrate diversity; both foundations for increased societal acceptance and the legislative change that would follow.

“Most importantly, the GALAS gave us the opportunity to recognise the individuals and organisations who were providing the building blocks for that foundation, often previously unacknowledged, in parts of the country rarely aff orded the limelight and on non-existent budgets.”

Excitement is already building ahead of this year’s event at the Mansion House, Dublin, which will be co-hosted by the fabulous dynamic duo, Anne Doyle and James Kavanagh.

This year we received a record number of nominations – over 1,400 individuals, groups, and companies were nominated across 15 award categories.

Speaking about this year’s awards, Caroline Keane, Chairperson of the NXF, said: “Already the GALAS have given joy to so many people who were nominated - everyone on the island of Ireland can get involved in the process and it holds a special place in people’s hearts, as we have seen from the outpouring of enthusiasm and positive energy since we opened nominations in October.

“We are really looking forward to a fabulous evening when we celebrate with our community and allies while also getting renewed energy and awareness of everything that is currently happening in the pursuit of better lives for everyone in our LGBT+ and extended communities. The event is also extra special as the NXF turned 40 so it is a particularly fitting way to close out our anniversary year celebration”.

It is inspiring to read through the nominations – each one a tribute to people across the country working to enhance the LGBT + community.

“An awards process and ceremony of this size takes an immense amount of work from volunteers and we would like to say thank you to everyone who wrote a nomination, to the organisations who created the shortlists, and to the voluntary committee led by our Project Manager Aoife McDonald,” continued Caroline.

New categories, such as Digital Change Maker and LGBT+ Trailblazer are a reflection of changes in contemporary society. The Digital category demonstrates the power of social media as a force for change, connection and positive representation, while the LGBT+ Trailblazer pays homage to young people between the ages of 18-25 showing incredible courage and leadership. It is heartening to see such engagement among this group, cognisant of their power to be agents for social change, and using it.

As we face into a new decade, resting on our laurels is not an option, there are other doors to break down. Significant challenges remain in the context of healthcare rights and provisions, mental health, trans health care, Direct Provision, hate crime legislation, parenting rights and our education system to list but a few.

For now though, the GALAS is a time to get together and celebrate; connect and refresh.

This article appears in the 362 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 362 Issue of GCN