Native Tongue – Irish Language – Abbey 5x5
As a queer Irish speaker, those four simple words did something that once thought impossible; melded two seemingly opposing aspects of my identity. Just a few years ago struggled to see how those two parts of me could ever peacefully co-exist.
Sometimes when run into someone in The George, tosaímid ag labhairt nGaeilge and people around us communicate their surprise. am always polite in response. Given how Irish and its speakers are depicted in the media, can understand the reaction.
An Ghaeilge: sean, traidisiúnta, coimeádach. Irish speakers: old-fashioned, narrow-minded, conservative. These stereotypes seep into the minds of the public; as well as the minds of LGBT+ Irish speakers themselves, as proven by the research done by Dr John Walsh, NUIG. Conflicted in their identities, they wonder: An féidir bheith Gaelach agus aiteach chomh maith?
I’ve been told that don’t look like an Irish speaker as many times as I’ve been told that don’t look queer. So wear a fáinne óir, and have a rainbow in front of my name on social media.
The fact of the matter is, there have been LGBT+ Irish speakers for as long as there have been Irish speakers. Many of them fought the good fight. Táimid buíoch dóibh siúd a chuaigh romhainn.
Then 2015 changed everything. The marriage referendum had profound and lasting effects for LGBT+ Irish speakers. Ireland voted Tá, to Make Grá the Law, and this visible use of Irish in the YES campaign had a positive effect on the public’s view of An Ghaeilge. On top of that, the Irish language community was revealed to be a lot more queer and liberal than many originally understood.
In Dublin, we have held an annual Pride event since 2017, and it is growing every year as our network strengthens. Galway Pride / Bród na Gaillimhe became fully bilingual since last year, when Seoirsín Bashford was elected as Oifigeach na Gaeilge. Dar léi, “Tá Bród dátheangach mar gheall go bhfuil sé ag teastáil ó dhaoine. Is cathair dhátheangach Gaillimh, agus tá muid á dhéanamh ar son an phobail.”
An Queercal Comhrá in Dublin and Anseo agus Aiteach in Galway are examples of monthly informal meetings for queer people who are interested in Irish. They are based on the same model as Gaeilgeoirí Aeracha Aontaithe.
Tá saoirse ar leith ag baint le labhairt lena chéile. Queer Gaeilgeoirí occupy a unique space within the subculture of Irish speakers. We are bonded by our experiences. Despite it all, here we are - beo beathach, living our LGBT+ lives le Gaeilge. Our sexualities and genders are not invalid, and our language is not dead. Tá sé fíorthábhachtach dúinn.
When speaking Irish in a group that includes other queer people, bím measc mo dhaoine. There is great comfort in knowing that there are people present who understand me on this level. Tuigimid a chéile. As the updated seanfhocal goes - aithníonn queeróg queeróg eile.
I run a multilingual spoken word night called REIC (pronounced ‘wreck’). Our next event is our fifth birthday in the Irish Writers Centre on April 2. Fáilte roimh chách! Many of the wonderful performances we’ve seen were expressions of queer experiences of Gaeilgeoirí in the 21st century.
I want to bring more of these stories to public attention, as well as the hidden history of LGBT+ Irish speakers. To this end, set up Aerach.Aiteach.Gaelach - a group of LGBT+ Irish speakers who aim to improve life for the Irish-speaking LGBT+ community via talks and workshops, media campaigns and research projects. Members include visual artists, poets, film-makers, performers, academics and activists who live in Ireland and abroad.
Is mian le Aerach.Aiteach.Gaelach a gcuid scéalta agus eolas stairiúil a roinnt, comhoibriú a dhéanamh ar thograí cruthaitheacha, agus a bheith ag “scríobh ar ais”, le stair na gcainteoirí Gaeilge LADT+ a athghabháil.
Aerach.Aiteach.Gaelach was chosen to take part in the Abbey Theatre 5×5 development series. Five community projects receive five days’ worth of space, technical assistance and €5,000 to help in the development of a theatre piece.
The first step in the process is to listen to members of the community. An bhfuil scéal le hinsint agat? Ba bhreá linn cloisteáil uait. Is féidir suirbhé a líonadh amach ar líne go hanaithnid; labhairt linn ar an nguthán; nó bualadh linn.