ELDERING | Pocketmags.com

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The god Thor was once beaten in an arm wrestle by a very aged crone, the tale illustrating that age will always defeat youth and vigour in the end. It was El Reid-Buckley and their suggestion of “realism is overrated” that brought folklore and myth into a recent conversation about age and ageing. El’s suggestion of looking to our own folklore, such as the idea of Tír na nÓg, when thinking about time passing, was introduced during an online round table interview that Rita Wild hosted in November of behalf of GCN.

There were six participants; Ailbhe Smyth, Aoife Martin, Cathal Kerrigan, El Reid-Buckley, Hughie Maughan and Thomas Heising, ranging in age from late twenties to mid-seventies and representing a cross-section of queer experience. We came together to chat about ideas of age and ageing in our communities as part of a Community Foundation funded project that included an online survey and a live event in Belfast in partnership with Outburst Arts Festival.

The whole project so far had been surprisingly uplifting, and this online round table was no exception. There were of course genuine concerns expressed, however the relentless queer optimism that infects all our communities was the most striking thing about the conversation.

All the participants expressed gratitude that even though we had plenty of challenges still to face, we also had plenty of opportunities for queer joy. It was often mentioned that the way in which we care for each other in the face of society’s intolerance has been the source of so much of our joy and well-being. Living a life and ageing in a world not built for us requires radical acts of imagination. Cathal Kerrigan rightly reminded us that we must also imagine that we can and will change, and that change can be quite significant over a queer lifetime. He asked that we as communities be less rigid and more accepting and acknowledging of how others might change, as he has had to do over the course of his own life.

Shame and queer bodies were, unsurprisingly, a recurring theme. Aoife Martin challenged us to talk more about older bodies, and particularly trans bodies. Aoife expressed hope that we could all talk more about the things we do not currently talk much about, like trans people and sex, or being an elder when you are still young yourself because there are so few ‘older’ people in Irish trans communities.

Another subject that came up often was the idea of intergenerational learning and how being in the company of people of differing ages enriches us all. Thomas Heising reminded us that sometimes it’s our younger friends who we relate to best around popular culture. Our other young gay man in the conversation, Hughie Maughan, reminded us that negative ideas of ageing were just social conditioning and that gay men particularly can often suffer from negative ideas of getting older.

Challenging such stereotypes has been ongoing work for our communities, as Ailbhe Smyth so eloquently expressed when speaking about her lifetime of activism. It was Ailbhe who delighted us all by introducing the idea of the “Queer Granny as Agent for Radical Social Change”. The final giggle was caused by Hughie; his hilarious parting comments about botox and donating his body to the plastics factory when he dies will stay with us all a long time.

These gorgeous queers were outrageously interesting company. I’m so grateful to have spent time with them.

Ailbhe Smyth Front Cover
Activist, Queer Granny, Retired Academic
“Just because you’re in your 70’s, it doesn’t mean that you’re actually thinking about being in your 70’s. Every morning when I wake up, I do not say, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’m 76, what will I do today?’ I just get on with my life. And I think that living in what is fundamentally a very ageist society, as well as very lesbiphobic, biphobic, homophobic, transphobic, racist, you name it… I am now realising that I have to deal with ageism, as well.”

Cathal Kerrigan Previous
Activist, Historian, Retired Academic
“I want to play with being old. So let’s have fun being old. Like we had fun with being young and being activists, because we did have fun. But I also have to do it with an awareness… that ageing is a very physical process. So I’m very conscious of, ‘what do I want to do with this time, this precious time?’”

El Reid Buckley Right
Activist, Student, Artist
“Having those conversations between different generations, even if it just means where you’re five or 10 years apart, or you could be 40 years apart, that has helped me grow so much as a person. And just being able to see older queer people live happy lives is really, really important. In the same way that I think reflecting on younger people being open and out, that there is not necessarily ‘Oh, I wish I could have had that when I was younger’, it’s like, I’m so glad that they don’t have to go through the same things that I’m going through.”

Thomas Heising

Thomas Heising
Activist, Graphic Artist
“I definitely would like to see… openness. Even someone who is 16 or 19 can provide as much value to my life as someone who’s older. I think, ‘I have to look to my elders? No, I also have to look to my youngers!’”

Aoife Martin

Aoife Martin
Vice Chair of TENI, Activist, Works in IT.
“Ageing within the queer community, specifically around ageing within the trans community - I do worry a little bit about that. I worry about trans people going into homes. What if they haven’t had surgery? They obviously deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and I do worry that that might not happen… what if a trans person has Alzheimer’s, you know? Those are the things I think we need to start talking about, we need to start thinking about and we need to start wondering - how are we going to address this?”

"Living a life and ageing in a world not built for us requires radical acts of imagination...

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Welcome, dear reader, to the December/January edition of GCN, an issue that serves the double purpose of closing out one year and welcoming in another.
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When Nicole Lee moved to Ireland in 2020, one of the things she was most excited about was Dublin Pride. When 2022 arrived, she decided to go all-out by attending not one, but five different Prides.
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On December 2, 2010, former FIFA President Sepp Blatter revealed that Qatar would be the host nation for the men’s World Cup in 2022. Alice Linehan reports on how that decision has affected queer players and fans of football
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As the weather gets colder and the days shorter, those of us with seasonal depression, anxiety and other issues are bound to notice increased symptoms. But, as Ethan Moser explains, it would be remiss not to mention that LGBTQ+ folks are more likely to suffer from mental health issues than our cis-het counterparts.
Northern Star
Damian Kerlin takes a closer look at that jewel in the crown of Belfast’s queer nightlife, the much-loved Kremlin.
Whether you consider yourself young or old, ageing is something that affects us all. Han Tiernan talks about an essential roundtable discussion which happened as part of the Outburst Queer Arts Fest.
The god Thor was once beaten in an arm wrestle by a very aged crone, the tale illustrating that age will always defeat youth and vigour in the end. El’s suggestion of looking to our own folklore, such as the idea of Tír na nÓg, when thinking about time passing, was introduced during an online round table interview that Rita Wild hosted in November of behalf of GCN.
Antisocial Media
In October of this year, Elon Musk fulfilled the prophecy of his acquisition of Twitter, entering the company’s headquarters wielding a sink and a promise to become a “free speech absolutist”. Joe Drennan looks at the social media platform’s freefall since and its stark rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.
After years of campaigning for appropriate legislation to protect marginalised groups, the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill 2022 is going through its second stage in the Dáil. The majority of EU countries already have existing legislation and in the current climate of increasing hate, Beatrice Fanucci echoes the voices who say it’s past time for Ireland to take action.
Living in a predominantly white country has made it easy to lose sight of the colours that different cultures have brought to Ireland from across the globe as queer People of Colour express their identities in beautiful ways, including performance, music and art. Al Fartukh spoke to a handful of queer Asian artists whose voices are becoming louder and more recognised with each of their artistic endeavours. They shared their influences, expressions and what it means for them to identify as queer and Asian.
As of November 2022, the number of people registered as homeless in Ireland reached the highest on record - 11,397 without a home. Adding to the causes for concern about this issue is the immense cohort that remains statistically underrepresented - the LGBTQ+ community. Joe Drennan reports
2022 saw some massive shifts in Irish queer culture. From dealing with a spike in hate-fuelled attacks and persisting transphobia in Irish media to more hopeful displays of progress, the queer people
GCN Group Manager Michael Brett
And breathe…we made it to the end of the year. 2022, you were a rollercoaster of emotions! We emerged from the shadow of Covid-19 and finally celebrated Pride and queer events in-person across the country. Our light shone again, as we protested, partied, and paraded through the cities, towns, and villages of the country
Looking for back issues?
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