Members of Ireland's queer community share their hopes for 2023

Em O'Connell spoke with four Irish LGBTQ+ people about their aspirations for the coming year.

Two people hold a rainbow flag as Irish queers share hopes for 2023.
Image: Pexels

As with many recent years, 2022 saw some massive shifts, both positive and negative, in Irish queer culture. From dealing with a spike in hate-fuelled attacks and persisting transphobia in Irish media, to more hopeful displays of progress such as the removal of sexuality-based restrictions from blood donation rules, the queer people of Ireland have continued to stand together and grow as a community. To celebrate this, Em O’Connell asked a group of community members to reflect on 2022 and to share both their personal and political hopes for 2023.

Ois O’Donoghue
First to share their hopes for 2023 is Ois O’Donoghue, a 24-year-old trans woman living in Dublin where she works full-time as a theatremaker and director.

“I hope to become stable: stable in housing, in how I feel about my career and stable in relationships. I think the last few years have especially felt heavily in flux and heavily chaotic, be that Covid or leaving college, whatever. I think there’s been a lot of flux for me so I hope to find some stability in 2023. I would love to feel like everything is calm with everyone around me and everyone knows where we’re going and doesn’t feel lost because there’s a real sense of that around. I want everyone to feel at ease and at home.

“I hope to be able to access HRT in the new year. It was something that I thought was going to happen by the end of 2022 but that I’m coming to realise will not happen. It’s a road I’ve been on for the last year and it’s been very frustrating watching our system fail around me as I’ve been pressing against it. But what I’m hoping is that in the next two to four months I’ll be able to beat that system and I really feel like I will be. I’ve been given a lot of victories in recent times in that way and I hope that I’m able to keep that pushing.

“I also hope that people become more tolerant in the next year. I think in terms of trans stuff right now, everything is hanging in the balance. It really feels like it could go either way. Personally I’m seeing a lot of pressing stuff, especially with my family as they see me and get to know a real-life trans person. They’ve become a lot more understanding, not even in the pejorative sense but in the way that I actually think they get it. But on a wider scale I’m seeing a higher level of polarisation and people hating things they don’t understand and what I hope is that the side of people knowing trans people wins and overcomes. I hope coming out of this we keep moving forwards and not backwards.

“I hope there’s more communal and societal understanding. I hope in 2023 I get shouted at less… a world that allows me to exist as I am and go about the world living in the way I see myself and the way I see it.

“What I hope to see are more trans artists telling stories that are uniquely our own, both stories that are for us and about us but also telling stories where we are just included and the story isn’t necessarily about trans issues but trans people are involved.”

Sonya Mulligan
Sonya Mulligan is a 48-year-old Irish lesbian feminist filmmaker and host of open mic night Pride Poets.

“My queer hopes for 2023 is that we would all have more compassion for each other both within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond, that we would have more support for the trans community and we would all support queer organisations more, be that through donating or volunteering or even promoting the work they do. We absolutely have to end violence against queer people, queer people should feel safe on our streets, in their workplaces and in all areas of society. We have to stop putting human rights up for debate.

“My hopes for the queer arts scene in 2023 is that it continues to flourish, that queer artists keep questioning the status quo and continue to be brave and push the boundaries. I also hope that we continue to fight for new safe spaces to create art in all its forms because we all need places where we feel free from judgement and it is in those free spaces where some of the best creativity comes from.”

Ultan ‘Just Some Guy’ Stanley
Also sharing their hopes for 2023 is Ultan ‘Just Some Guy’ Stanley, a Media and International Conflict MA student in UCD.

“2022 has been amazing and I’ve had so many opportunities, but a bit of stability would be nice. The whole thing was moving a mile a minute, what with ending a long-term relationship, graduating my degree, starting a master’s, moving to another country then moving back into my family home, it has just been a lot for one year. I’m ready for things to slow down, whatever that means.

“A relaxing year would be my main goal for 2023 but if the past is anything to go by that might not necessarily happen.

“I would hope for a seat at the table for queer people in the public sphere. I feel that a lot of mainstream media, and straight people in general, have had this ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ mentality since the referendum. In the sense that they’re like ‘ah sure you got what you wanted why are you complaining,’ but the reality is in Irish media, queer topics and queer stories are not forefronted by queer people – it is a debate on our lifestyles by people who have not lived our lifestyles. Look at the Irish Times and their controversy with debating trans issues from a really damaging standpoint, and that is not the only example in recent years. I’d love to see a breakthrough with that, more queer journalists fronting that.”

Mafi Hruskova
Next to share their 2023 hopes is Mafi Hruskova, a 25-year-old Cork resident and founder of queer club night, Dykon.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to go into a new year! So many things have changed for me this year. I’m excited to enter the new year in a healthy, happy relationship that I’m super comfortable in. I hope to move in with my girlfriend next year, so I’m excited just to grow as an individual and learn how to be a really good partner.

“My career is also really important to me, both my full-time job as a UX designer at Yahoo and Dykon, along with other business ventures that I will be taking on next year, so I hope that I continue to flourish in this area. Business has been something that I’ve developed a passion for in the last few years and is something I want to develop further and next year I hope to tackle it head on.

“I had the idea for Dykon during Covid where I knew it wasn’t going to be a possibility. The reason I started it was because I finally felt comfortable being gay, it took me years to get to that point. When I was younger and realising that I was queer, I really didn’t want to be and tried my hardest to fight it, to be honest. My mental health really suffered during that time so now, a couple of years later, to be someone who is creating queer events means so much to me.

“I hope that with Dykon next year anyone who is queer, or thinks they are, feels like it’s a space they can come and enjoy themselves, explore whatever they’d like to explore. My hope for Dykon in the future is not just to have nightlife events, although I love doing those, but to properly build a community where we support each other and we have different types of events. Be that smaller dating events or other social events I have planned for the future. To create a community that can support and provide for each other and become friends – that is the most important thing for me. It’s something I wish I had in the process of coming out.

“For the queer nightlife scene in Dublin and Ireland, especially Cork as I live here and have for the last six years, it was really severely lacking only a couple of years ago. When I moved to Cork there was one gay club and that was it. It was nearly the same in Dublin, there were only a couple of queer clubs, but I know that it’s been expanding this year. I can see a lot of queer initiatives picking up and I think the more the better. A friend of mine organises a queer open mic, Sam’s Collective, and that’s exciting to see. The more queer events there are, the more places the gays have to go and feel like we’re safe and can relax and enjoy ourselves.”

This article originally appeared in the 375 December 2022 issue of GCN Magazine.

© 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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