Leading the charge | Pocketmags.com

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Leading the charge

Earlier this year, Stefano Pappalardo was appointed the new Manager of GCN. Having been with the organisation since 2017, he traces back through his journey so far and explains why he remains committed to serving the LGBTQ+ community.

There’s an anecdote I’ve shared many timesperhaps too many for those who know meabout my first day at GCN seven years ago. After being introduced to my new colleagues, I asked, “Where is the rest of the team?” only to be told, “This is everyone.” I couldn’t believe that such a small group of people was behind a magazine, a news website, events and many initiatives.

Since then, GCN has changed and evolved, but one thing has remained the same: the passion, dedication and commitment to amplifying queer voices and telling the stories of our LGBTQ+ community. This dedication has been the driving force for all the incredibly talented people who have been part of GCN’s story for over three decades.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Pride demonstration in Ireland. Since then, there have been many milestones for queer folks in Ireland: the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the Employment Equality Act, the Marriage Equality Referendum, and the Gender Recognition Act, to name but a few.

Through these landmark moments, GCN has been a key resource for documenting Ireland’s LGBTQ+ lives, history and seismic societal changes. We have platformed and informed the community, celebrated our victories, raised awareness of our struggles and advocated for positive change.

But while we celebrate how far we’ve come thanks to countless individuals who have fought for a more inclusive society, we have also faced setbacks, made mistakes, tried our best to learn from them, and we must also recognise the work that still lies ahead. Right now, we are witnessing a concerning increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, hate crimes and misinformation that target members of our community, particularly our trans siblings, but I firmly believe there is great power in unity. Organisations that do vital work for the community, including GCN, are needed now more than ever.

My journey in GCN began just over seven years ago. I had just finished a diploma in Digital Marketing and, having been involved with the Marriage Equality campaign, I was looking to work with the LGBTQ+ communitysomething I truly felt passionate about. When I saw the Digital Marketer role advertised, I knew I had found the perfect job. I applied despite my lack of experience, hoping GCN would take a chance on me. When I got the call, I quit my job at a multinational and never looked back. Since then, I’ve been lucky to be involved in different areas of the organisation, from leading digital to fundraising and commercial.

It’s safe to say that GCN and the amazing people I’ve shared this experience with have changed me for the better. It has helped me grow, challenge myself and my views, and taught me about our history and ultimately, myself. GCN has been more than ‘just a job’; it has been a place that has allowed me to proudly embrace my identity. It has provided me with opportunities, community, lifelong friendships and above all, a family.

I’ve had the fortune to collaborate with many talented contributors, creatives, community members and allies from different walks of life. Each of them has brought their unique perspectives and experiences that reflect our multifaceted and diverse community. This diversity, I believe, is one of GCN’s biggest strengths and what makes it what it is.

For this reason, I invite all of you to keep engaging with us and sharing your stories so they can be platformed and we can keep reflecting queer Ireland. Together, we can celebrate our triumphs, joys and achievements, highlight our struggles and overcome our challenges as we move towards our common goals.

We may be a small team at GCN, but we have a big vision, we’ve got your back, and with your support, we can continue raising our collective voice and build a future where queer people in Ireland can not only be truly equal but thrive.

I’m very honoured, especially as a non-Irish person who is lucky to call this wonderful country home, for the opportunity to contribute to such a historic organisation alongside the best group of people anyone could ask for. I would like to thank everyone in GCN, past and present, for your patience, care and support and our governing board, the NXF, for entrusting me with this role.

I have big shoes to fill, taking the reins from Michael Brett and, before him, Lisa Connell and others who have helped shape GCN into the vibrant, vital, free community resource it is, but I’m very excited to embark on this journey with the GCN family and all of you, dear readers.

So, here’s to a new, exciting chapter.

Happy Pride, everyone. Keep fighting and keep uplifting each other.

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Welcome, dear reader, to the Pride edition of GCN for 2024!
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