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Being queer means constantly questioning your identity and how you represent yourself to those around you, shares Leah Downey. There is a constant need to gauge the reactions of others, to understand if you are safe to be out or if it becomes a source of social isolation.

We want to feel that we can be open within our workplaces about our queerness. However, that process does not come without its limitations. Sometimes it can feel as though openly speaking about yourself forfeits certain aspects of privacy.

My queerness was not a topic I openly discussed until the pandemic hit and I found a sense of community by engaging with other LGBTQ+ people online. I had occasionally opened up to co-workers but for most of my working life, I kept my sexuality firmly closed off outside of my personal relationships.

The first time someone called me a lesbian was at a previous retail job. It made me feel sick. It came after I made a conscious decision to be open about this newfound pride I felt after years of questioning and repression. I felt an innate desire to connect with my coworkers who didn’t feel ashamed to be openly queer.

Breaking down those barriers made me feel incredibly vulnerable. Hearing someone so boldly assign me an identity that I was struggling to accept made me deeply uncomfortable. Being a gay woman became the cornerstone of my workplace identity.

Soon after they stopped referring to me as a lesbian and replaced it with “dyke”. I love being a dyke. I find so much empowerment in calling myself a dyke. Being called a dyke by non-dykes bothers me. Understandably there are nuances within the LGBTQ+ community around using reclaimed slurs, and I gave my gay coworkers some leeway.

I was being called a dyke multiple times a day, in front of customers and by straight staff members. I remember distinctly one day joking around with a female coworker and hearing someone say, “You can tell she’s a lezzer”. I felt so much shame and disgust with myself for being a lesbian, and for allowing people to speak to and about me that way for so long. There was an intense feeling of powerlessness in that situation, leaving me overwhelmed and uncomfortable, cast as some sort of predator.

These issues extend beyond the scope of retail. A close friend of mine has also experienced homophobia from being open about her identity as a lesbian. She is currently training to be a teacher and made the decision earlier this year to be open about her sexuality after a number of months of teaching in an all-girls school.

This was already a major decision. After having negative experiences being openly queer during her own time in secondary school, she decided to no longer make an effort to hide her sexuality. She then began to realise how important it was for her queer students to see an open and proud queer woman living a normal life, entirely different from her lonely adolescence.

Soon, however, two staff members began to follow her around and monitor her interactions with students. Thinly veiled homophobic questions began to be asked quite frequently, creating an unwelcoming work environment.

This came to a head one day towards the end of the school year when I received a number of calls from her, extremely distressed. One of these staff members alluded to her involvement with queer students, heavily alluding to the narrative of queer people being predators around young people. While no accusatory words were used, the meaning was clearly emphasised through language and expressions.

Her experience has thrown her entire career path into uncertainty - a feeling I completely resonate with. In our workplaces, neither of us has felt safe using gendered pronouns when describing a date or mentioning social events we attended if they were for queer people. Trying to connect and allow ourselves the freedom to express our identities led to discrimination and homophobia.

We want to believe that we exist in an accepting social culture. We see companies and schools celebrate Pride, but such actions can only go so far if their staff and students are made unsafe.

The homophobia we have experienced is a latent distrust of LGBTQ+ people or a view that we are someone harmful to other individuals. Being queer has become such an integral part of my identity. I am proud of it. I want to be open and empowered in the places I work.

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Welcome, dear reader, to the August/September edition of GCN.
We were delighted to use the occasion of the 2022 Dublin Pride Parade to unveil a new banner showcasing our rich legacy of campaigning dating back to 1979.
Being queer means constantly questioning your identity and how you represent yourself to those around you, shares Leah Downey. There is a constant need to gauge the reactions of others, to understand if you are safe to be out or if it becomes a source of social isolation.
Up until the day she moved from Brazil to Ireland, Leticia Barbosa never really thought of herself as part of the Black community, but a new country brought about a new realisation of identity.
Sea Change
“My younger self always dreamed about traveling, so when I learned about a program that did internships abroad I knew this was my chance”, shares Olivia Fraser.
Scrambled Eggs & Androgyny My Genderqueer Story
Zayda Slabbekoorn shares her genderqueer story and her journey of self actualisation.
With the rise of campaigns against equality, Beatrice Fanucci takes a look at where funding for far-right groups comes from.
“I have experienced domestic abuse,” writes Val Hourican. “It’s taken me two years to write that down and sit with it. It’s a hurt I’ve worked through but it still sits there under the surface. The tension ready to break at any moment like a fish jumping out of water to avoid a predator...
An absorbing read full of twisted tenderness and atmospheric tension, Hawk Mountain, the debut novel by Conner Habib, is utterly compelling. He spoke to Lisa Connell on its journey to reality. Portraits by Hazel Coonagh.
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Choreographer and performer Nick Nikolau dances through their memories in a daring solo show at DFF. Dissecting it with Oisín Kenny, they open up about the people, queer spaces, and club nights which breathed a euphoric life into their performance. The stunning images were captured by Hazel Coonagh.
After igniting a RIOT at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2016, THISISPOPBABY celebrates the act of letting go with a glittering Irish WAKE. Ahead of their new show, writer Oisín Kenny dives into this raucous meeting between club culture and Irish tradition
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“Think The Wizard of Oz meets Thelma and Louise with camp pop classics as our soundtrack,” says Candy Warhol when asked to give an elevator pitch to writer Chris Rooke for her upcoming Dublin Fringe Festival show The Wind That Shakes the Wig. The stunning photos featured are all by Eoin Greally
Writer Dylan Coburn Gray on the the process of making a show about adoption.
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Take a look at the queer side of the Dublin Fringe Festival...
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When it comes to his body, Geraint Llewellyn prefers to disappoint people one at a time – so as a result he’s never stepped inside a sauna. And by sauna he doesn’t mean getting sweaty in Sweden being hit by sticks.
Giving Voice
A series of short video portraits of queer men will be screened in Outhouse on the evening of Friday 23 September. The people involved share a part of their stories, accompanied by a series of beautiful images from Babs Daly
Trans & Intersex Pride 2022: Shared Communities
During the recent Trans and Intersex Pride, a powerful speech by Mike, a Trans Traveller, was read aloud on his behalf. We are proud to share his powerful words and thank those involved for permission
Goodbye, My Friends
From early days as a team member all the way up to running the organisation, our beloved Managing Editor Lisa Connell will depart after an incredible 14 years in total with GCN
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