Photo by Hazel Coonagh.
The thoughts of writing this ‘goodbye letter’ filled me with a weird dread. Initially it was because I genuinely don’t like drawing attention to myself, but as the time to create it (and the magazine deadline!) drew nearer I also realised it was because it’s the last thing I’ll write as a member of Team GCN.
Although I made the decision to move on, it’s a little heartbreaking to be leaving not just the great people I work with, but also to no longer be a part of creating Ireland’s national LGBTQ+ press.
GCN added things to my life that I never knew were missing. It made me feel connected to the queer community beyond going to the odd bar. It taught me more about our struggles, achievements and history. It introduced me to people who made change for the good, and not just the familiar names, there are far far more who bettered lives and gave hope without ever getting recognition. GCN is at the epicentre of Irish LGBTQ+ life, so getting the opportunity to work alongside groups, organisations, activists and people striving to make the lives of other people easier, safer and brighter has been a rare honour. It also answered a lot of questions I had about my own identity and showed me there wasn’t a box I had to squeeze myself into, queer life is a spectrum.
When I first joined GCN as an Editorial Assistant, the idea of going on to edit the magazine was non-existent. It was never a possibility so I didn’t even entertain the notion. And then, after a year, somehow, it happened, and I will always be incredibly grateful. Led by our Managing Editor at the time (and one of my favourite people in the world), Lisa Connell, GCN was more than ever a platform to make change through empathy. I believe the greatest way to make connections, and therefore to make those necessary changes to better the world, is to share our stories. Growing up in a family who were huge storytellers, always trying to make each other laugh or to tell a tale that would make the listener hang on your every word, I soon realised the power in telling. Reading and platforming the thoughts, experiences, beliefs and hopes of queer people has been life changing. There have been articles that have made me laugh out loud, inspired me, and even raised a tear. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all the volunteers, writers, creatives and photographers who trusted me with their work, their words and images, I hope I did you justice.
What I’ve loved most, and one of the things I’ll miss the most, will be working with, mentoring and championing new writers. It wasn’t part of the role initially, just something that evolved over time. And it was wonderful. All the face-to-face chats, the zoom meetings and the phone calls, offering support and help to writers (never corrections, never that), discussing what they needed to move forward and figuring out how to get it for them, listening to their thoughts and ideas, commissioning every one of them for the magazine, in some cases giving people their first chance to be published, and then absolutely glowing when reading their finished work - that was heaven.
It would be impossible to thank all the people who impacted me over the years in this brief letter, so I thought maybe I’d keep it a little mysterious by saying ‘thank you, you know who you are’ as that would also get me off the hook down the line if I ran into someone in a bar who says ‘you never mentioned me’. Problem solved!
I leave GCN in many ways the same person - a bit of a weirdo who loves everything horror and Nicole Kidman’s biggest fan - but I leave in many more ways changed for the better. Here’s to words, here’s to stories, here’s to the creative spirit, and here’s to GCN.
Thank you, you know who you are.