A return to Level 5 COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Ireland presents various challenges for the LGBTQ+ community, however queer spaces and support services are finding ways to safely keep people connected.
Following on from the Level 5 lockdown in March 2020, outreach groups and queer spaces had to quickly adapt for an everchanging environment. LGBTQ+ services were suddenly engaging with online platforms in ways which had never been considered before, with many volunteers and workers swiftly learning how to navigate these new spaces.
After a year of meeting these challenges head on, support services and queer spaces are facing a return to Level 5 with a stronger understanding on how to keep the community connected. While many people are uncertain about what comes next after January 31, there are numerous initiatives aimed at bringing everyone together.
Gay Project in Cork are taking over the internet this January with an exciting lineup of online events. To help keep the community entertained and informed during Level 5, they will be holding digital meditation classes, coffee meet ups, and the return of A Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
Plus the first eight sessions of A Festival of Dangerous Ideas are all available over at this link, so there will be plenty to keep the community going.
Looking for some cheerful Queer lock down entertainment? We have the perfect solution..the first 8 sessions of Queer Hedge School, and you might learn some stuff too. Catch up here:https://t.co/CD7LdD2cMx
— Gay Project ?️? (@GayProjectIRL) January 6, 2021
OutWest are kicking off the New Year with an monthly online book club starting January 26. On the last Tuesday of every month, people are invited to come join the team on Zoom to share their favourite book and have some fun chats.
On the last Tuesday of each month, we will be hosting an online book club, starting 26th January.
Everyone is welcome no matter what type of books you read, print books, ebooks, audio books, graphic novels, they're all welcome here!
DM for more info. pic.twitter.com/YIPbIbRCyL
— OutWest (@OutwestLGBT) January 6, 2021
In the build up to Christmas 2020, OutWest shared the following message, “Despite all the challenges that this year brought to us all, we have been able to adapt and continue to provide support to the LGBT+ community in the west of Ireland, mainly via our online Drop-in Centre, which we are happy to say will remain in place for the foreseeable future!”
?️? OutWest would like to thank all the amazing volunteers for their hard work and devotion, and thank you all for your continuous support!!
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, and all the best for 2021!! ?️? Stay safe.
Team OutWest pic.twitter.com/dTJkpfSlng
— OutWest (@OutwestLGBT) December 22, 2020
“All of this would not have been possible without the continuous hardwork of all our amazing and devoted volunteers. So thank you,” OutWest further expressed.
In partnership with Turn2Me, LGBT Ireland are proud to launch a new safe and confidential 24/7 mental health support service for young people and adults in Ireland. The joint partnership will provide online counselling, group support, and peer support.
LGBT Ireland is delighted to partner with https://t.co/vgENxbs5h0 for safe and confidential 24/7 Mental Health Support for young people and adults in Ireland!
— LGBT Ireland (@LGBT_ie) January 6, 2021
On Twitter, Turn2Me wrote, “We are here to offer mental health support to all members of the LGBTQ+ community across Ireland. We’ll be working with the wonderful people at LGBT Ireland to promote supports from both organisations over the coming months.”
We are here to offer mental health support to all members of the LGBTQ+ community across Ireland. We'll be working with the wonderful people at @LGBT_ie to promote supports from both organisations over the coming months #MentalHealthMatters https://t.co/yJRZ0o963V
— Turn2me (@Turn2me) January 7, 2021
In the New Year, ShoutOut will be expanding their wonderful team with virtual training workshops on January 12. This will be a great way of joining a fantastic group helping to create safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people in every school across Ireland.
Happy New Year friends!??
Sign up now for our next #ShoutOut training sessions and become a ShoutOut volunteer..or if you're already with us, train up to do virtual workshops this year??
— ShoutOut (@ShoutOut_IE) January 4, 2021
On top of that, keep an eye on ShoutOut’s blog for great pieces on all things LGBTQ+. Their recent addition includes a list of queer books to check out in 2021.
Bi+ Ireland are delighted to be announcing their very first book club, which will be launching on Saturday February 6 at 8pm. Similar to many LGBTQ+ support services and spaces during this lockdown, they are embracing new initiatives to uplift the community during these times.
On their website, Bi+ Ireland wrote, “Whatever you feel most comfortable doing, is what you should be doing. This zoom, like all Bi+ Ireland events, is there for the enjoyment and comfort of our members and that means different things to different members but each is valid.”
The fabulous team over at Street 66 are warming everyone’s heart with messages of hope and solidarity on their social media accounts. They wrote, “Happy Nollaig na MBan 2021. We will be back celebrating many festivities we missed throughout the lockdown. We miss each and everyone and will be back as soon as we can. Stay Safe we will get through this!”
Mother Club ended 2020 with a love letter to the dance floor and the uplifting message that ‘We will dance again’. These words continue to resonate in the New Year as a powerful sign of hope.
Big love xx pic.twitter.com/J5MqTF7Rbm
— Mother Club (@MotherDublin) December 10, 2020
Mother are also continuing to create their incredible merch, which can be found at this link.
Dublin Lesbian Line
Looking ahead, Dublin Lesbian Line are welcoming new volunteers to their amazing team. New members will be helping with online events such as webinars and social inclusion workshops.
Would you like to volunteer for DLL?
We are currently looking for new volunteers to join our team to help us with our online events including webinars and social inclusion events.
For more information email [email protected] pic.twitter.com/logNe04JoH
— Dublin Lesbian Line (@DubLesbianLine) January 6, 2021
Plus if anyone’s looking for ideas to keep busy during this lockdown, Dublin Lesbian Line currently have six episodes of their Women STAR Podcast up on their website. Each one provides a great and insightful look into the stories of queer women in Ireland.
— Dublin Lesbian Line (@DubLesbianLine) January 5, 2021
While this popular Cork based LGBTQ+ club sadly shut its doors in accordance with lockdown restrictions, they’ve continued supporting the community by providing funding for a thrilling new documentary. On February 12, people are invited to witness the fabulousness that will be Dragging Up The Past.
‘Dragging Up The Past’ documentary on Friday 12th February. And a fabulous Covid-safe window display exhibition hosted by the Crawford College on Grand Parade from the 8th-19th February.
— CIT LGBT (@CITLGBT) January 1, 2021
CIT LGBTQ+ Society have created an absolute treat for the community with a documentary highlighting the vibrant drag history in Cork. It will include Q&A’s with Fabula Di Beauxmarchais, Candy Warhol, Letycha Le’Synn and Mia Gold and the Queen of Ireland Panti Bliss. So snatch up your tickets here.
Small Trans Library
Throughout 2020, the Small Trans Library organised a crucial support fund for trans people who were financially affected by the ongoing pandemic. During December, they wrote on Twitter, “Since March 2020, we’ve redistributed almost 7000 euro to trans people in need in Ireland (North and South) And we’re still going.”
Since March 2020 we've redistributed almost 7000 euro to trans people in need in Ireland (North and South) ? And we're still going – trans and in need right now? Contact us at [email protected] or by DM and we can help
— Small Trans Library Dublin (@smalltranslibr) December 24, 2020
Near the end of 2020, the Small Trans Library announced their support for Creme de la Creme in their struggle to open a safe house for trans people in Imo state, Nigeria. They are an instrumental voice in advocating towards creating safe and inclusive environments for the trans community so check out their social media accounts for information on future campaigns, along with great book suggestions!
This Is Me Campaign
One of the leading voices in the campaign for trans healthcare in Ireland, This Is Me, has seen numerous changes to their services across 2020, strengthening their support for the community in numerous ways. With the New Year, they will keep raising up the voices of the trans community as they stride forward.
On Twitter, This Is Me shared, “After a most desperately uncertain and difficult 2020, let’s enter 2021 with new found hope for better days ahead.”
Happy New Year to all.
After a most desperately uncertain and difficult 2020, let’s enter 2021 with new found hope for better days ahead ?️⚧️?️?❤️
— ThisIsMe Campaign (@ThisIsMeIreland) January 1, 2021
While the physical space may be closed for the time being, Outhouse are continuing to provide the same great services for the LGBTQ+ community over the phone. On Twitter, they wrote, “Following updated advice issued by government, Outhouse have decided to close the building and café to the general public until further notice. Our phone lines at (01) 873 4999 will stay open Monday to Friday 10am-6pm.”
Following updated advice issued by government, Outhouse have decided to close the building and café to the general public until further notice.
— Outhouse (@Outhouse_Dublin) January 4, 2021
BeLonG To Youth Services
BeLonG To brought in the New Year with their 12 Days of Care, a great project highlighting that it’s “normal to feel a bit lost during this time of year.” They ended it with the great message, “Remember, no matter who you are or who you love we are here for you. We offer support, advice and crisis counselling for LGBTI+ young people.”
It’s the final day of our #12DaysOfSelfCare! ?
Remember, no matter who you are or who you love we are here for you. We offer support, advice and crisis counselling for LGBTI+ young people.
— BeLonG To Youth Services (@BeLonG_To) January 5, 2021
The incredible Youth Workers are continuing their vital work online and through the phone. Their crisis counselling services with Pieta House are always available as well.
We're here for you.
Talk to our Youth Workers via text, email, & phone if you need support? https://t.co/p5pjWDkAXE
— BeLonG To Youth Services (@BeLonG_To) January 6, 2021
BeLonG To are also bringing back their fantastic online LGBTQ+ Youth Group for new members. It will be returning on January 11.
Our online LGBTI+ Youth Group for new members is BACK! ?
This group is open to 14-23 year olds who identify as LGBTI+ and will kick off on Monday the 11th of January virtually. ?
— BeLonG To Youth Services (@BeLonG_To) January 7, 2021
The phenomenal TENI keep going from strength to strength as they recently announced they would be involved with the Clinical Governance Committee and Service User Forum to advocate on behalf of trans healthcare along with providing GIST training and conversations on care models. In 2021, they will continue their vital campaigning for the rights and representation of trans people.
TENI have partnered with A4 Sounds and Create to invite applications from trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming artists for a four-month residency award as part of the We Only Want the Earth 2021 programme. It will be running from Feburary to May as a superb opportunity to support artists based in Dublin in developing their arts practice.
We Only Want The Earth applications are open, we hope to see many of you apply! https://t.co/PhOnykjjm9
— TENI (@TENI_Tweets) January 6, 2021
On the residency website, it states, “We are living through a time of sudden and unpredictable social change caused by interlinked issues of global warming, the collapse of the neoliberal order, a resurgence of violent misogyny and nationalism, growing inequality, housing and homelessness crises, and the growth of ecofascism. We Only Want the Earth is a 12-month programme of awards, exhibitions, and events that seeks to interrogate the goals and strategies of social change: what kind of society do we want and how should we get there?”
Continuing their advocacy work for representation and inclusion, CEO of TENI Éirénne Carroll, alongside author and journalist, Una Mullaly, and Managing Editor of GCN, Lisa Connell, took part in a riveting information evening for journalists and media workers – Talking Sense. They spoke on trans rights and media discourse in Ireland.
During this lockdown, Gay Switchboard are still providing their great helpline services for the LGBTQ+ community. They are showing that they are here to help through their fantastic support systems.
Our trained volunteers are here to offer support & information 7 days a week by phone, email & online chat.
— Gay Switchboard (@GaySwitchboard) December 28, 2018
Across their social media accounts, HIV Ireland provide up to date information about living with HIV in their ongoing work towards breaking the stigma. They have also recently published their MPOWER Rapid HIV Testing 2019 Report to gain a better understanding of those who use the service and the trends in the reactivity rate as means of informing future testing policies.
We recently published a 2019 Report on our #MPOWER Rapid #HIV testing service. Monitoring community-based testing is essential for understanding the trends in reactivity rates and determining if we are reaching people more vulnerable to acquiring HIV.https://t.co/Xh0iq9Sdvu pic.twitter.com/ieOTJ4zAde
— HIV Ireland (@HIVIreland) January 4, 2021
Across 2020, Origins Eile launched stunning online events to uplift the Black queer community, including a thrilling Afro futuristic exhibition. In the New Year, they are ready to continue these wonderful celebrations as they plan a second edition of their publication, TONGUES.
Sex Workers Alliance Ireland
SWAI are inviting people to get creative in the New Year and help raise funds for a crucial cause. They recently organised a life drawing session as part of their continous work in highlighting creativity within the community.
Get creative in the New Year and support the work of SWAI. Join 'Life Drawing for SWAI' for a life drawing class to raise funds for us! To join donate to SWAI at https://t.co/2oNwWKLrVR, email the receipt/screengrab of your donation to [email protected] and they will pic.twitter.com/7cJGjrX7vO
— Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) (@SWAIIreland) January 8, 2021
The amazing team behind SWAI have also developed COVID-19 harm reduction resources as well as training seminars for service providers.
Although the doors may be closed, the show must go on and the George are definitely bringing an extravaganza. During this lockdown, why not relive their stellar Christmas special?
— The George Dublin (@TheGeorgeDublin) December 20, 2020
LINC have a jampacked schedule of Zoom related content for people to take part in across January, including book clubs, pilates and tea time sessions. For more information, check out their newsletter below.
LINC Newsletter 6th January 2021 – https://t.co/alYGPB6mll
— LINC (@LINCwomen) January 6, 2021
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