Today is International Youth Day, and this year’s theme is Youth Engagement for Global Action – to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at local and global levels is enriching our institutions and processes.
With that in mind, we decided to mark the occasion by highlighting the young people who were nominated for the Young Trailblazer award at this year’s GALAS Awards. Organised by the NXF, the GALAS were established to celebrate the outstanding contributions of people to the LGBT+ community.
While we couldn’t possibly highlight all the amazing young people who do such terrific work, this lineup of fantastic young queer folk is a great place to start. On International Youth Day – here’s to all those out there making a difference.
Esther Young was the winner of the Young Trailblazer award. Esther has been a community liaison officer with LINC (Lesbians In Cork) since 2018. LINC is a community development organisation which has been providing support, assistance and safe spaces in Cork for lesbian and bisexual women for over 20 years. They run a drop-in service, a youth group, and a variety of activities including drama and boxing, both of which Esther Young is involved in.
When she was called up to receive the award, her acceptance speech focused on the community, thanking her fiancée, Sinead; everyone in the LINC drama group, and the organisation: “I’m proud to call all of you my family.” She congratulated all the nominees and winners in other categories. Esther then spoke about the importance of working together and supporting each other, saying: “I don’t think anyone would be up here without everyone in this room.”
Seamus Byrne is a young transgender man from Co Meath who has been a vocal activist for trans rights for many years, including during the Repeal referendum. A peer educator and a member of BeLonG To, he has represented the cause of Irish transgender rights at many international conferences, and has also worked on the Gender Recognition Act in a review committee with TENI, among others. He has made invaluable contributions to the community.
Alannah Murray is a prominent 23 year-old activist, Disabled Women Ireland self-advocate, Washington Ireland Programme alumnus, and postgraduate researcher. Through her advocacy and online presence, she calls attention to issues of accessibility in queer spaces, discusses issues of sustainable fashion, and is an important voice within the community.
The founder of Dublin Homeless Awareness, Brandon O’Connor is an active supporter of the campaign against homelessness as well as the LGBT+ community. He often organises events such as Christmas dinners, sleep-outs and donation drives for those affected by homelessness.
This article originally appeared in GCN Issue 363.
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