Welcome, dear reader to the first issue of GCN, since March 2020. After a necessary seven month hiatus, we are delighted to be back in print and in your hands (or on your screens). I think it is fair to say that none of us here could have predicted the journey we were all about to go on as a country and a global community when we sent the March issue off to our printers.
Since that time, we have all experienced seismic changes to our lives in countless ways. Some of you will have suff ered loss at the hand of the virus and we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the pain and sadness caused for people who have lost family, friends and lovers.
Alongside the crushing loss of life, many industries have suff ered significantly with entire sectors on hold or with unknown futures. One such sector close to our hearts is the live events and entertainment industry which is facing uncertainty and lack of support from the government, aff ecting thousands of skilled events workers across all areas. Our beloved Mother club is closed until who knows when, and we of course had to cancel our annual Mother Pride Block Party and our LGBT+ music festival, Love Sensation.
As a registered charity, Mother was a vibrant and sizeable source of funding for GCN and its closure placed us in a precarious financial position. We want to give a massive thanks to all the generous Mother Pride Block Party 2020 ticket holders who kindly donated all or a portion of their ticket cost back to GCN. It was an incredible show of support from the community which kept us afloat during the earliest, most daunting parts of the pandemic.
Of course, GCN was not the only community resource aff ected, due to the pandemic, necessary services and supports for LGBT+ people all across Ireland were hugely impacted, whether it meant many of our community organisations made the move online or went on pause completely. We’d like to commend and congratulate our LGBT+ siblings across all those organisations for showing great tenacity and creativity in their quick reimagining of how to provide key services and continue to support our LGBT+ community during this trying time. It was heartening to see such a show of togetherness and strength. As GALAS Person of the Year (and our last and longest Cover Star!) Evgeny Shtorn says, “Our solidarity is in our visibility”.
GCN was no diff erent to any other organisation or business in COVID times. We quickly focused our attention on our website and digital output, launching a diverse range of digital campaigns with the mission to educate, entertain and inform the LGBT+ community. These included a much shared and loved campaign called #StayAtHomo which allowed us L,G,B, T, Q, I, A and others to share their experiences of lockdown life. The good, the bad and the banana bread. We also launched an ambitious and exciting new digital festival called In and Out, a celebration of LGBT+ creativity which saw the best and brightest from our community host chats, panels, cookery demos, fitness sessions and queer cabarets to name a few. We produced two very special celebratory digital events to mark the 5th Anniversary of Marriage Equality (in May) and Gender Recognition (in July).
We are so very proud to announce that along with 50 other community projects, In and Out Festival is an awardee of the Innovate Together Fund from Rethink Ireland. This will allow us to continue to our festival across the next 12 months continuing to celebrate and honour our amazing community.
So, what’s in store for you in this special comeback issue. It’s a cornucopia of queer existence and a snapshot of how and where we are now with some future gazing too.
Our cover feature is an exciting new collaborative project from GCN called Queer Utopia inviting LGBT+ artists, activists and makers to create work based on their responses to that boldest of imaginings - a queer Utopia. Pairing creators of diff ering backgrounds and disciplines, we have asked them to collectively respond to this notion. Our first pair are the inimitable Steven Peice and Viola Gayvis and, well, you’re in for a treat!
Other visual delights include a feast of images courtesy of some of our favourite photographers; Babs Daly with her glorious lockdown drag portraits, Hazel Coonagh’s breathtaking Light as Air shoot with Marco Dias and new fave Niamh Barry’s Queer Hearts of Dublin series.
Elsewhere, we caught up with Ailbhe Smyth to talk LGBT+ life in lockdown for older folk, Noah Halpin gets to grips with the situation for trans people in Poland and the unique relationship the Irish trans community has with the country as a destination for top surgery. We hear all about the US election campaign from our fabulous new US correspondent Katherine Zappone, Jade Wilson talks to LGBT+ icon Sandra Bernhard and so much more!
We must mention that as we go to print, Dublin has been placed into Level 3 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19, that means our ability to distribute in that county has been severely curtailed. We’ll aim to deliver and distribute the magazine in a safe and sensible manner so keep an eye on our website and socials for details of where to find us. If you know of someone who would like to get a printed copy of GCN but can not due to current restrictions, or lives in an area not currently served by distribution (or any reason at all really!), please direct them to visit our website www.gcn.ie to see the options for getting GCN into their hands.
We would like to take this time to thank all the groups and people who helped us during this strange and difficult year. Firstly our board, the NXF, for their unwavering support through this all. Pobal, one of our core funders, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to continue our tireless work for the LGBT+ community
To all those who contributed to our In And Out Festival of LGBT+ Creativity - we are eternally grateful you gave of your time, energy and talents to support not just us, but your community, entertaining and connecting them during a very strange, difficult time.
To all the wonderful people who shared their lives during lockdown with our #StayAtHomo campaign - there are too many of you to mention, but your stories and messages of support were invaluable to the community.
To all of you, dear readers, who followed us online, on social media, who visited our website, who donated generously, contacted us with kind messages and who are still here as we come back into print - thank you.
This issue is dedicated to all of you.
THE GCN TEAM