2018: A Year Of LGBT+ Firsts

They didn't call it 20-gay-teen for nothing! 2018 was full of huge moments for the LGBT+ community in Ireland and around the world.

2018: year of LGBT firsts - Trans Miss Spain, Trans Pride Dublin, Jared Polis

While it can be debated how amazing 2018 was for the LGBT+ community, it cannot be argued that it was full of exciting firsts and momentous moments for queer folk in Ireland and abroad.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar publicly gets tested for HIV

The theme for World AIDS Day 2018 was ‘Know Your Status’, so Ireland’s first openly gay Taoiseach Leo Varadkar decided to help reduce the stigma and encourage the public to get tested by getting tested himself.

Varadkar took a rapid HIV test and told GCN, “I really want to encourage people not to be afraid to get tested for a start, to be aware that testing is available in a lot of GP surgeries, in free clinics around the country.

“Treatment is very effective now, people don’t die of HIV, they live with HIV. If you’re on treatment and you’re taking your treatment you can get your viral load down to zero or close to zero and that means you can’t pass it on so you’re not going to affect anyone else; your partners or partner and you’re not going to affect your baby if your pregnant.”

“From a Government point of view, we have a sexual health strategy which we are implementing. What we are going to be doing as part of that strategy is making testing more available, increasing resources for education and awareness and also counselling,” he added.

First ever Trans Pride in Ireland

A group of young trans activists holding signs demanding better trans healthcare at a Trans Pride March

Approximately one thousand marchers took to the streets of Dublin in July 2018 to demand equality and better healthcare for the trans, non-binary and intersex communities at Dublin’s first ever Trans Pride march.

The day began with a rally outside Customs House with a number of speakers including event organisers Thomas White and Ollie Bell.

In their speech, Ollie Bell said: “What we wanted to do was take Pride back to its radical roots, Pride is a political protest and that’s what we want trans pride to be about.

‘Yes, we should have a space to celebrate our identities and the diversity of our community, but we also need a space for our voices to be heard, our demands not to be overshadowed by companies that profit off our suffering.

“Pride needs to go back to its radical roots of struggle and protest, we made history with marriage equality, the gender recognition bill, and repeal but we have still so much to fight for.”

Government apologises to those who were convicted for being gay in Ireland

Leo Varadkar apologising to those who were convicted for being gay in Ireland in Leinster House

In June, the government acknowledged the hurt caused by laws that saw people being convicted for being gay in Ireland, 25 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said far too many had lived under the stigma of persecution and had their lives destroyed.

“25 years ago President Mary Robinson signed into law a historic act that brought an end to decades of cruelty and injustice,” he said.

“Homosexuality was seen as a perversion, and trials were sometimes a cruel form of entertainment. Others saw it as a mental illness, including the medical profession at the time.

“We cannot erase the wrong that was done to them. What we can say is that we have learned as a society from their suffering” he added.

We repealed the eighth!

Crowds react as the 8th Amendment is repealed in May.

After a gruelling referendum campaign, a majority ‘Yes’ vote in May, and endless debate about what reproductive rights in Ireland should look like, the eighth was officially repealed in 2018.

The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill passed its final stages in the Seanad after two months of consideration by TDs and Senators and following nine hours of debate.

Upon signing off the bill, Chairperson of the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee Catherine Noone, said that her thoughts were with Savita Hallippanavar.

Irish-English Queer Dictionary Launched

TENI, BelongTo, USI and Minister at the launch of the Queer Dictionary

In March, Belong To, TENI and USI launched the Irish Queer Dictionary, which adds over 100 queer terms to the Irish language increasing queer representation and inclusion as Gaeilge.

An Foclóir Aiteach (Queer Dictionary) saw many queer terms translated as Gaeilge for the first time ever.

Minister for Gaeilge and Gaeltacht, Joe McHugh, was in attendance during the launch and spoke of the importance of keeping the Irish language alive.

Some of the translated terms include Gan inscne (Agender), Dá-rómánsach (Biromantic), Trasinscneach (Transgender), and Homafóibe (Homophobia).

The first transgender woman competes in Miss Universe

Miss Universe Spain 2018 Angela Ponce

Six years after transgender contestants were first invited to compete in the Miss Universe competition, Spain’s Angela Ponce became the first transgender person to do so.

Earlier this year, Angela Ponce beat 20 other women to win the title of Miss Universe Spain, and although she did not nab the title of Miss Universe, she has spoken of her pride in representing her country and the transgender community at the world’s largest beauty pageant.

“My hope is for tomorrow to be able to live in a world of equality for everyone.

“Simply for us all to understand that we are all human and that we must make all our lives easier together. That reality for many people is going to change.

“If I can give that to the world, I don’t need to win Miss Universe, I only need to be here,” she said.

GCN30 Exhibition

In June, GCN’s multi-faceted exhibition was a celebration of 30 years of queer Ireland as we celebrated three decades of our LGBT+ publication.

The GCN30 exhibition featured an A to Z of Queer Irish life over the past 30 years, with each letter of the alphabet representing the huge range of editorials and contributions, highlighting the scope of GCN throughout its history.

“It’s such an interesting and wide-ranging look back at how Ireland’s LGBT+ community has evolved and changed over 30 years, and how Ireland has changed alongside it.

“For all those years, GCN has been at the heart of the LGBT+ community, it’s a kind of mothership that gives us a sense of our community, given that we are spread across the country and come from all kinds of backgrounds,” said GCN’s editor, Brian Finnegan.

First bisexual dating show on UK television

2018 saw RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni and Celebrity Big Brother champ Courtney Act take over TV screens with a new bisexual dating show, gifting us with our very own queer Love Island.

Set in Barcelona, the show sees a group of bisexual, pansexual and sexually fluid single people living together, partying together and navigating the dating scene.

“It’s high time there was a dating show for a large number of young people today, like me, who are attracted to more than one gender,” the Drag Race star said.

“In 2018 we know that sexuality is fluid, and sharing the stories and experiences, the laughter and the lovemaking, of young bi people is so important. So get ready to see the true stories of bisexual singles, who are the largest part of the LGBTQ+ community, but the least known,” she added.

A number of LGBT+ people elected in 2018 US midterm elections

Image of Jared Polis, victorious at the midterms.

Election night saw victorious firsts for women, people of colour, immigrants and LGBT+ people as they took back control of Washington.

In Colorado, democratic nominee Jared Polis became the first openly gay man elected as Governor, after he ran a campaign advocating for single-payer health care, reform of the death penalty and sensible gun reform.

In Kentucky, Kim Davis, who in 2015 refused to issue a marriage licence to gay couples, suffered a defeat to Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr, while in Oregon, Kate Brown, who is openly bisexual, who became the country’s first LGBT+ Governor when she was elected in 2016, was re-elected, defeating GOP Republican Knute Buehler.

Additionally, Wilton Manors in Florida became the second city in the US to elect a council comprised entirely of LGBT+ councillors in November.

Honourable Mention: RuPaul tweeted as Gaeilge

Honestly, this is probably the last thing we expected from 20-gay-teen.


Mama Ru tweeted to wish his RuPaul’s Drag Race co-star Michelle Visage good luck on Ireland’s Got Talent in FebRUary, and included phrases like ‘what’s the craic’, ‘deadly’, and, the one that had us deceased, ‘ag sashayáil away’.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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