2022 saw some massive shifts in Irish queer culture. From dealing with a spike in hatefuelled attacks and persisting transphobia in Irish media to more hopeful displays of progress, the queer people of Ireland have continued to stand together. To celebrate, Em O’Connell asked community members to reflect on 2022 and to share their hopes for 2023.
Ois O’Donoghue is a 24 year-old trans woman living in Dublin where she works full time as a theatre maker and director. “I hope to become stable: stable in housing, in how I feel about my career and stable in relationships. I think the last few years have especially felt heavily in flux and heavily chaotic, be that Covid or leaving college, whatever. I think there’s been a lot of flux for me so I hope to find some stability in 2023. I would love to feel like everything is calm with everyone around me and everyone knows where we’re going and doesn’t feel lost, because there’s a real sense of that around. I want everyone to feel at ease and at home.
“I hope to be able to access HRT in the new year. It was something that I thought was going to happen by the end of 2022 but that I’m coming to realise will not. It’s a road I’ve been on for the last year and it’s been very frustrating watching our system fail around me as I’ve been pressing against it. But what I’m hoping is that in the next two to four months I’ll be able to beat that system and I really feel like I will be. I’ve been given a lot of victories in recent times in that way and I hope that I’m able to keep that pushing.
“I also hope that people become more tolerant in the next year. I think in terms of trans stuff right now, everything is hanging in the balance. It really feels like it could go either way. Personally I’m seeing a lot of pressing stuff, especially with my family as they see me and get to know a real-life trans person. They’ve become a lot more understanding, not even in the pejorative sense but in the way that I actually think they get it. But on a wider scale I’m seeing a higher level of polarisation and people hating things they don’t understand and what I hope is that the side of people knowing trans people wins and overcomes.
“I hope there’s more communal and societal understanding. I hope in 2023 I get shouted at less… a world that allows me to exist as I am.
“What I hope to see are more trans artists telling stories that are uniquely our own, both stories that are for us and about us but also telling stories where we are just included and the story isn’t necessarily about trans issues.”
Sonya Mulligan is a 48 year-old Irish lesbian feminist filmmaker and host of the open mic night, Pride Poets. “My queer hope for 2023 is that we would all have more compassion for each other both within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond, that we would have more support for the trans community and we would all support queer organisations more, be that through donating or volunteering or even promoting the work they do. We absolutely have to end violence against queer people, queer people should feel safe on our streets, in their work places and in all areas of society. We have to stop putting human rights up for debate.
“My hopes for the the queer arts scene in 2023 is that it continues to flourish, that queer artists keep questioning the status quo and continue to be brave and push the boundaries. I also hope that we continue to fight for new safe spaces to create art in all its forms because we all need places where we feel free from judgement and it is in those free spaces where some of the best creativity comes from.”
Ultan ‘Just Some Guy’ Stanley is currently under taking an MA in Media and International Conflict in UCD. “2022 has been amazing and I’ve had so many opportunities, but a bit of stability would be nice. The whole thing was moving a mile a minute, what with ending a long-term relationship, graduating my degree, starting a masters, moving to another country then moving back into my family home, it has been a lot for one year. I’m ready for things to slow down, whatever that means.
“A relaxing year would be my main goal for 2023 but if the past is anything to go by that might not necessarily happen.
“I would hope for a seat at the table for queer people in the public sphere. I feel that a lot of mainstream media, and straight people in general, have had this ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ mentality since the referendum. In the sense that they’re like ‘ah sure you got what you wanted why are you complaining,’ but the reality is in Irish media, queer topics and queer stories are not forefronted by queer people - it is a debate on our lifestyles by people who have not lived our lifestyles. Look at the Irish Times and their controversy with debating trans issues from a really damaging stand point, and that is not the only example in recent years. I’d love to see a breakthrough with that, more queer journalists fronting that.”
Mafi Hruskova is a 25 year-old Cork resident and founder of the queer club night, Dykon. “I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to go into a new year! So many things have changed for me, I’m excited to enter the new year in a healthy, happy relationship that I’m super comfortable in. I hope to move in with my girlfriend, so I’m excited to grow as an individual and learn how to be a really good partner.
“My career is also really important to me, both my full time job as a UX designer at Yahoo, and Dykon, along with other business ventures, so I hope that I continue to flourish in this area. Business has been something that I’ve developed a passion for in the last few years and is something I want to develop further.
“I had the idea for Dykon during Covid. The reason I started it was because I finally felt comfortable being gay. It took me years to get to that point. When I was younger and realising that I was queer, I really didn’t want to be and tried my hardest to fight it, to be honest. My mental health really suffered during that time, so now, a couple of years later, to be someone who is creating queer events means so much to me.
“I hope that with Dykon anyone who is queer, or thinks they are, feels like it’s a space they can come and enjoy themselves, explore whatever they’d like to explore. My hope for Dykon in the future is not just to have nightlife events, although I love doing those, but to properly build a community where we support each other - be that smaller dating events or other social events - that is the most important thing for me. It’s something I wish I had in the process of coming out.
“For the queer nightlife scene in Ireland, especially Cork as I live here and have for the last six years, it was really severely lacking only a couple of years ago. When I moved to Cork there was one gay club and that was it. I can see a lot of queer initiatives picking up and I think the more the better. A friend of mine organises a queer open mic, Sam’s Collective, and that’s exciting to see. The more queer events there are, the more places the gays have to go and feel like we’re safe and can relax and enjoy ourselves.”