For 20 years LINC has been the only community development organisation working exclusively with lesbian and bisexual women in the Republic of Ireland. It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of women have been supported and assisted during that time, and thousands more have found friends, family, a safe space, a lifeline and a home.
This past weekend, LINC celebrated that milestone birthday with an event that brought out all those who made it what it is today and all those who love it.
In attendance were the Lord Mayor Dr John Sheehan, senior members of the HSE, past coordinators and staff, the organisation’s steering group and the most VIP of guests; members of the lesbian and bisexual community. Eilish O’Carroll from the hit series Mrs Brown’s Boys said, “Finding and being part of LINC changed my life and that’s not an exaggeration, that’s a fact!”
Ask many queer women, and they will describe passionately how much it has meant to them. That passion and love for LINC (and the community it serves) is reflected back just as strongly by the women who founded it and the women there today who ensure there is always a welcome for a sister in need.
Speaking at the event, Lord Mayor Sheehan shared, “The work that LINC does – like all good community work – is essential to maximising a community’s potential and opportunities. For an organisation to contribute both locally to Cork city and nationally amidst seemingly insurmountable challenges such as homophobia, recession, inequality – to name a few – is really something to be celebrated as part of the LGBT community and as part of the Cork community”.
Kate Moynihan, LINC Project Coordinator, shared with those present that while the LGBT+ have made huge progress in terms of rights, there was still so much more that needed to be done. “Kids are still being bullied in schools, our families are still not legally recognised, older LGBT people are particularly vulnerable.”
The work of the organisation continues to expand to meet the needs of their community, recently extending their opening hours, expanding their LGBT Awareness Training programme, commencing outreach work in Kerry and launching a new website tonight. Next year LINC will launch a pilot befriending service for Older LGBT+ people in the Cork area.
Earlier this year, GCN spoke to some of the women who have found LINC such a home away from home. Here’s what they kindly shared:
Jo Anne: “LINC to me has been a place where I can belong. A place where, whatever kind of a day I am having, I know there will be someone there with a cup of tea. I have used LINC when I’ve needed support and I’ve used LINC as a social space to just hang out and be… It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”
Evelyn: “I was welcomed with the kind of support, acceptance and encouragement I have never known. I learned to accept myself and to have courage, and fun! I feel lucky to be part of this wonderful community.”
Lilian: “Being supported by LINC is very important to me. When l first went there l was looking for information but what l found was a safe place that makes you feel welcome as soon as you step inside the door.”
Sarah: “They supported and helped me through some of the toughest times in coming out, especially telling my parents. It was a relief to have a tribe of women who listened and cared for me during those times.”
With such love for LINC from the LGBT+ community, we congratulate them on all their amazing achievements and wish them all the best for the next 20 years and beyond.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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