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Welcome, dear reader, to a very special edition of GCN magazine that celebrates the highly-anticipated return of the annual GALAS Awards.
Organised by the National LGBT Federation (NXF) alongside GCN, the ceremony took place on Saturday, October 7, where Dublin’s Mansion House played host to a spectacular night honouring queer heroes, both from Ireland and abroad. Attendees dazzled in stiletto boots and power suits as the Queen of Ireland, Panti Bliss, and Mother co-founder and former GCN Managing Editor, Lisa Connell, hosted proceedings impeccably.
No less than 13 awards were presented to individuals and organisations across a broad range of disciplines, including, but not limited to, arts, health, sport and advocacy. It was a truly jubilant occasion that we’re not quite ready to forget, so prepare to relive the action as we use this issue to once again celebrate the incredible achievements of our rainbow family.
In these pages, you’ll get a closer look at the glitz and glam of The Round Room with photographs courtesy of Babs Daly and Steven Peice, who is also responsible for our gorgeous cover photo of Beryl Ohas. Beryl was the recipient of the Person of the Year award, recognised for their work as a cultural mediator with refugees who have newly arrived in Ireland.
The Kenyan-born activist previously went through the process of seeking international protection herself as an LGBTQ+ person, and has spoken out in the past against pervasive interview questions, Western expectations of queerness and Irish Direct Provision centres. Get to know more about Beryl’s story in this issue, alongside those of all the other shortlisted individuals and organisations, such as trans sportswoman Guilia Valentino, young trailblazer Christine O’Mahony and the staff of Cork City Libraries.
At the GALAS, the NXF also launched its new strategy for 2023-2026, with the organisation’s chair, Anna Nolan, telling us more further in these pages. She details the background of the new plan and outlines its three key focus areas: Connecting, Celebrating and Empowering.
Other leaders of community organisations are also featured in these pages, as Moninne Griffith of Belong To talks about the fight against anti-LGBTQ+ school campaigns, and Rainbow Project Director Scott Cuthbertson shares how countries can learn from each other to improve the lives of queer people internationally.
Elsewhere in the magazine, the folks of Homeworks recount a sunny week in June when community members from all over Ireland came together in Co Clare to cocreate a Toolkit empowering others to take practical climate action. Fast forward to now- as it’s October, we felt it necessary to honour spooky season with some Halloween content, spotlighting the LGBTQ+ witches of Ireland and abroad.
Finally, this issue also includes the latest instalment in our series marking the 50th anniversary of the Irish Sexual Liberation Movement, as we also remember one of the group’s founders, Edmund Lynch. Edmund passed away on October 4, leaving behind an invaluable legacy of LGBTQ+ activism, being at the centre of the fight since the 1970’s.
Before his passing, he said, “It’s up to young people to change the world. It’s not up to me to change it anymore. My time has come and gone”. With that, we pay tribute to him, and celebrate all those recognised at the GALAS for continuing the work he started. Congratulations to all, and to you, dear reader, for helping to make our community what it is today.