LGBTQ+ support services and spaces continuing to supporting the community online during Level 5 lockdown

In a powerful showcase of community solidarity, LGBTQ+ services and spaces are continuing throughout Level 5 lockdown with an array of new online projects.

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Image: BeLonG To

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

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. 

OutWest

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. 

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!”

“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.

LGBT Ireland

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. 

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.”

ShoutOut 

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.

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

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. 

Promotional image for Bi+ Ireland book club, among many LGBTQ+ support services and spaces bringing in new projects during the lockdown

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.”

Street 66

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

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.

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.

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.

Chambers

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.

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.”

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.”

Outhouse

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.”

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.”

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.

BeLonG To are also bringing back their fantastic online LGBTQ+ Youth Group for new members. It will be returning on January 11.

TENI

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.

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.

Gay Switchboard 

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.

HIV Ireland

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.

Origins Eile

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.

Origins Eile have launched a fundraising campaign to support the magazine. Check out their Instagram page for more information along with pieces from their exhibition.

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.

The amazing team behind SWAI have also developed COVID-19 harm reduction resources as well as training seminars for service providers.

PantiBar

Following lockdown restrictions, PantiBar had to sadly shut it’s doors once more back in 2020. However, they shared this encouraging message, “We’ll meet again soon.”

PantiBar in pink lights from the LGBTQ+ space's Facebook page

The George

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?

LINC

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.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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