Finding community as a queer person in the Irish punk scene

"I can confidently say with everything that I have experienced and seen, punk is sure as hell not dead."

Illustration of a skull with a mohawk and speech bubble reading:
Image: Al Fartukh

“Punk is not dead.” Al Fartukh heard this phrase far too many times before they even knew what punk was. They wrote it on bathroom walls, school books and probably even dreamed of having a tattoo of the phrase when they were a preteen, but they can now confidently say that it sure as hell is more alive than ever.

I had always leaned towards being a more alternative kid and was very non-conforming ever since I began consciously thinking for myself. For so long, I couldn’t fit into a community that shared my ideals and was just overall accepting and looking for a good time. In the words of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, I hated the phonies that surrounded me.

I have always felt forced to say silent about my music tastes as it was often met with scowls and a “can you turn that off?” Not being able to connect with people in that way really separated me from the in-crowd. I went my own way for a while and understood the true meaning of loneliness before I found Dublin’s punk community.

In my short time of being actively involved in that loving and loud group, I already have so many good things to say.

I believe my first step to fully immersing myself in my punk identity was when I finally got a mohawk. It was extremely sloppy and not the mohawk I have today!

Soon after I found the queer punk and goth night Dance to the Underground. Where at first I went to take photos to expand my photography portfolio, I ended up meeting the people that changed my life the most.


Every person was outrageously dressed and everyone couldn’t help but hype each other up for looking the part. There is no such thing as a judgemental look in the community, it just lets people be the best version of themselves. No matter who you talked to everyone had the biggest smiles when keeping up a conversation and quickly I made friends I am still close to today.

You can love who you love and be who you want to be, no stereotypes or labels. The people that organise the punk events are legendary, giving us misfits a place to scream, mosh and feel at home for the night.

One of the best things about being punk is the freedom to be experimental. Punk is the definition of DIY and experimentation, so people are only more excited to try something new.

The amount of creative work I’ve done that has turned out wonky in my eyes was revered by people around me and every time I wanted to try something new I always have the space to respectfully do so. The people in this community get to express themselves in the coolest ways possible, through punk drag, goth burlesque and emotional music that you can’t see or hear anywhere else.


And with every experience I had so far all I have to say is thank you to everyone I have met and connected with who calls themselves a punk.

I can’t thank everyone enough for the immense support I always get and the amount of love everyone shares for each other. No matter how many times I have seen familiar faces I always get a big greeting and a down-to-earth conversation always comes my way.

Thank you to everyone who has let me into their lives and has shared amazing moments with me so far and I can confidently say with everything that I have experienced and seen, punk is sure as hell not dead.

Find a punk and you’ll find out just how alive this community is.

This story originally appeared in GCN’s December 2022 issue 375. Read the full issue here.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

This article was published in the print edition Issue No. 375 (December 16, 2022). Click here to read it now.

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Looking Forward

Issue 375 December 16, 2022

Ailbhe Smyth Look Forward on the cover of GCN's December/January issue.
December 16, 2022

This article was originally published in GCN Issue 375 (December 16, 2022).

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