GCN unveils free Digital Archive giving access to first 10 years of Ireland’s national LGBTQ+ press

The new GCN Archive will make the first decade of the magazine freely available for online readers for the first time in its 35 year history.

The image is a three-way split screen of three GCN covers from the Archive. On the left is issue 1, in the middle is issue 106, and on the right is issue 54. Issue 1 is predominantly text with a cartoon in the upper left corner of a feet dangling above heads. Issue 106 is a full=page image of a patchwork quilt with a spool of black thread. Issue 54 shows four people toasting with champagne outside Dáil Éireann after the announcement that decriminalisation had been passed.
Image: GCN Archive

As the nation’s queer paper of record, for the past 35 years, GCN has documented the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Ireland. Until now, the early days of the magazine have been unavailable to the public due to their existence in print form only; the delicate newspapers stored carefully away. Today, June 19, celebrating the start of Dublin Pride week, GCN launches an online archive of its first 10 years, making our community’s history accessible to the public for the very first time. 

2023 marks a series of major milestones for the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland: 50 years since the formation of the Sexual Liberation Movement, 40 years since the Fairview March and the first Dublin Pride parade, and 30 years since decriminalisation. Much of this legacy is documented through the pages of the magazine, and with GCN celebrating its 35th anniversary in publishing, this is the perfect opportunity to launch a resource that showcases Ireland’s rich queer history.

Chairperson of NXF, Anna Nolan, commented: “GCN has been in existence for the last 35 years, working tirelessly to represent, support and inform the LGBTQ+ community of Ireland. And so it is especially exciting that in this year, they launch the online archive of the first 10 years of GCN. To have at our fingertips the stories and accounts of an Ireland from 1988 to 1998 is invaluable and one that can only add to the rich tapestry of our LGBTQ+ community today.” 

GCN’s Head of Digital, Marketing & Development, Stefano Pappalardo, adds: “We’re delighted to launch the GCN archive online, making our queer history accessible and free to all for the very first time. It’s been a privilege to be involved in this milestone project which aims at preserving and celebrating our past and bringing our community’s history into the future for generations to come.”

From pioneering campaigners, activists, artists, community leaders and LGBTQ+ individuals across Ireland and beyond, their stories of resilience and solidarity that continue to inspire us will be made visible once again.

This wonderful resource will showcase the tireless work of organisations and support networks that have provided vital assistance and safe spaces throughout the years. It will share the lives and legacies of activists who have played pivotal roles in shaping Ireland’s queer history and the diverse intersections within the LGBTQ+ community, including the most marginalised voices like transgender and non-binary folks, disabled people and migrants.

The image shows some of the team involved in the GCN Archive online project. From left to right, Anna Nolan, Dave Darcy, Han Tiernan, Stefano Pappalardo.

GCN’s co-founder, Tonie Walsh, shares: “GCN’s ambitious digitisation programme is a significant marker in how the magazine imagines a future for itself, as a publishing house and as an essential research tool. It’s also so apposite that GCN Archives is being launched in this year of important LGBTQ+ anniversaries, all the better to help us form a deeper understanding of these historical signifiers.”

As well as preserving and celebrating our past, digitising the archive will bring our community’s history into the future. It will become a valuable resource for researchers, scholars, or people who want to learn about our past, our struggles, our victories, the challenges we faced, and how we overcame them.

Given the scale of the project, the digitisation of GCN’s full archive will be rolled out in several phases. Launching on June 19th, the website will initially include the first decade of the magazine – from 1988 to 1998 – an incredible 113 issues. All the content has been organised by tagged keywords, so users will be able to search through the first 10 years of the magazine by topic, author and year, making the archive a fully searchable resource.

It will also feature a spotlight section showcasing historic articles from those years and a ‘Reflections on the Archive’ series with curated takes exploring some of the historical content. 

Archivist, Han Tiernan, describes: “GCN has been a part of my life for over 20 years, so getting to work on this project was an incredible privilege. It is an integral part of the Irish LGBTQ+ community, and making this invaluable archive free and accessible to all will prove to be a vital resource in accurately recording and telling our histories.”

The image shows some of the team involved in the GCN Archive online project. From left to right, Aidan Quigley, Dave Darcy, Tonie Walsh, Stefano Pappalardo, Michael Brett.

The remaining phase will see the digitisation and tagging of the full archive from 1999 to 2013.

GCN’s Art Director, Dave Darcy, continues: “It is always a pleasure to work on a project that will have a genuine impact… and the GCN Archive falls firmly into that category. It is a rich documentation of the lives, actions, achievements, battles, heartaches, stories and memories of countless people over GCN’s 30+ years in operation. I hope it is a suitable testament to those mentioned and an inspiration to those still carving out their stories.”

Web designer and developer Aidan Quigley concludes: “I couldn’t be prouder to unveil the GCN Archive – the result of another successful collaboration with GCN. This bespoke website is built with Webflow, allowing me to fully realise the Art Director’s vision and integrate powerful functionality like live search and custom animations.”

This work could not have been done without the valued support of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth through its LGBTI+ Community Services fund.

On June 19, we welcome the community and its allies to visit the archive and learn more about our country’s LGBTQ+ history. It has been a true labour of love, and we are absolutely thrilled to unveil it. We look forward to expanding the archive into its next phase to keep preserving our history and our stories for generations to come.

You can visit the GCN Archive here.

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

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GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

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