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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.

And what a year 2022 has been! It’s somehow felt as if it was both super long but flew by at the same time. The queer community and the country have witnessed huge changes in fortune during the year, both good and bad, seemingly insurmountable challenges were overcome only to have fresh challenges rear their head. It’s been hard, but also empowering – keep your shoulder to the wheel and see what you can achieve.

It’s with that spirit in mind that we can say there’s no one better to grace the cover of the last issue of 2022 and the first issue of 2023 than the incomparable Ailbhe Smyth. The stalwart LGBTQ+ activist, feminist and academic took part in an essential talk on ageing in the queer community and the wonderful photographer Hazel Coonagh snapped that beautiful portrait which perfectly captures Ailbhe’s spark.

GCN teamed up with the Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast as part of the aforementioned project to uncover attitudes around age and ageing within the LGBTQ+ community. The wonderful Rita Wild hosted an essential discussion with community members (of which Ailbhe was part) and you can get a flavour of events alongside further portraits by Hazel of the fab crew.

Outburst’s Elders in Residence, Split Britches, also unpacked some questions at a ‘long table’ live talk, and there’s a great piece that illuminates the experience.

You can expect some fascinating and topical features on current events, including a discussion on the very public meltdown happening in Twitter and how hate speech has skyrocketed on the platform, while the all-encompassing World Cup gets an article which shares the views of queer sportspeople on the shameful decision to host the tournament in Qatar.

There’s a gorgeous feature highlighting Asian queer creatives who share their work and their thoughts on identity, while in the latest of our series looking back at iconic queer spots that provided nights out and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people, Belfast’s crown jewel, Kremlin, scores a terrific article.

We’re always proud to platform personal essays from members of our community and this issue is no different as we feature a love letter to the punk community and the experiences of a woman recently arrived in Ireland who threw herself into the thick of Pride season by attending five festivals across the country, while the specific mental health needs of LGBTQ+ folk gets a proper and enlightening conversation.

Alongside those reads, we are aware that some essential and serious conversations need to be had, but more importantly, need to be heard. Hate Crime legislation is once again at the forefront of our thoughts and there’s a brilliant piece ahead demanding movement. Homelessness and the search for solutions on how to end it has also been a constant. With a new project looking to end homelessness for 18-24 year-olds in the works, a hard hitting piece highlights the specific fears and concerns of queer people who need to keep their identities hidden when accessing support.

Seeing how it’s the last issue of 2022, a handful of awesome folk from across the LGBTQ+ community share what the year meant to them alongside their wishes for the year to come further in these pages. Finally, we wrap up the issue with a special message from the brilliant Michael Brett, our Group Manager and the newest addition to GCN Towers!

As we bring this team letter to a close, we want to wish our beloved readers and supporters a fabulous Christmas (for those who celebrate it) and an empowering 2023. We couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to, do it without you.

Much love,

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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.
The National LGBT Federation (NXF) is glad to report that the long-awaited Hate Offences Bill was moved forward by Government in recent weeks.
Fionn Kidney of the non-profit social enterprise Common Knowledge shares information on an essential new project which creates space for LGBTQ+ people to bring climate action home to Irish communities
A Pride of Prides
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.
My Love Letter to the Punk Community
‘Punk is not dead.’ Al Fartukh heard this phrase far too many times before they even knew what punk was. They wrote it on bathroom walls, school books and even dreamed of having a tattoo of the phrase when they were a preteen, but they can now confidently say that it sure as hell is more alive than ever.
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
Mind Matters
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
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