It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the end of 2023 already!
We’ve had a busy year in LINC, marked by the completion of our strategic plan and the successful organisation of the first Queer Women’s National Sexual Health and Wellbeing conference – Q Con. The conference, held over two days, was attended by 130 community members exploring topics from kink to consent, and all things sexual health. As we approach our 25th year, our strategic plan will reflect the evolution of the organisation to where we are today.
The primary aim of LINC since its establishment in 1999 has been to create an inclusive space for LB women, providing them with opportunities to gather, socialise, learn and belong in an environment where they can comfortably express their identities.
While the organisation has broadened our range of services and our reach over the years, we remain dedicated to maintaining a welcoming and safe space. The ethos of LINC is succinctly captured by a community member who described it as; “A place I can find the home in myself, where all parts of my identity are welcome and celebrated”. For many women, LINC has served as a crucial lifeline, often being the sole place in their lives where they feel safe to openly embrace their identities.
In a time when trans people are being targeted and scapegoated by organised groups instigating hate and misinformation, it is important to point out that LINC has, since our early days, been inclusive of trans women. Rooted in feminist and social justice principles, our organisation firmly believes and acknowledges that trans women are integral members of our community. While LINC’s services are primarily for women and based on sexual orientation, it’s important to mention that there is a legacy of affinity and community between lesbian and bisexual women, trans women and non-binary people. We are a diverse blend of minority sexual orientations and gender identities captured under a queer feminist identity. This is the nature of the LINC community; this is who we are and what we mean by ‘us’.
To better reflect the beautiful and welcome diversity in LINC, we will soon be announcing an updated name, vision and mission so that the welcome extended to trans and non-binary members of the community is explicit and clear.
As I write this article, it is impossible to overlook the recent tragic events that took place in Dublin, involving the stabbing of several young children and their carer, followed by subsequent riots. Faced with such disturbing events in our capital city, many may have feelings of despair and fear. While these reactions are entirely human, it is crucial not to succumb to the belief that immigrants are responsible for the enduring structural inequalities in Ireland.
The instigators behind these riots seek to sow division and undermine the fabric of our society. Whether spreading animosity towards immigrants and refugees seeking a home in Ireland or directing their hatred towards our trans community, their agenda is clear. The recent anti-LGBTQ+ protests they orchestrated in libraries and on streets across the country serve as a stark reminder that their scope of hatred extends beyond immigrants alone.
As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we left Ireland in pursuit of safety and the opportunity to embrace a life where we could be true to ourselves. A considerable number of us were, and still are, what are termed today as ‘economic migrants’. We often faced the challenges of living undocumented. Many have chosen never to return and have established new lives in various countries across the globe that eventually became their new homes. Thankfully, Ireland has changed and has now become a place where foreign nationals come, seeking those same possibilities and safety. Ireland has evolved into a haven for many, allowing them to authentically live their lives, and this is something to be proud of and to protect dearly.
Unfortunately, if we look at what is happening in the US and various European countries, challenging times lie ahead. While we have made significant progress, we must not become complacent. We must actively oppose efforts by the detractors who endeavour to push us back into the shadows. This is a time for inclusion, allyship and solidarity.