Hi, my name is Joseph Healy and I am the Chair of the London Irish LGBT Network. I am a Dubliner originally and have been living in London since the 80s. I have been involved in the Network since it started and have seen it grow and develop. We have done some very interesting stuff over the last few years and have had people come and go, some to return to live in Ireland, others who are second generation Irish and are rediscovering their Irish roots.
We have a wide range of committee members ranging from some recent arrivals to one guy who arrived in London in the 60s! This difference in experience lends a lot of colour to our work and for me as a historian, can prove fascinating.
I am aware that people have many different interests and reasons for coming to the Network and we have covered both cultural, social and campaigning issues and are always looking for new and enthusiastic people to get involved. We have links with many other Irish organisations in London and have gone to see LGBT films about Ireland at the London Irish Film Festival, taken part in receptions at the Irish embassy, and organised poetry readings with performance poets from Tyrone as well as veteran lesbian novelists. We also have picked on the fact that there are many Irish LGBT people who want a more authentic Irish social experience in London and I for one am always keen to have a bit of music and craic.
I would love to see more Irish LGBT people in London getting involved in the Network and as well as having fun and sharing ideas, making links with policymakers, artists and our own community. The “gay community” is a very overused term, but I hope that in the Network we are forming that community and coming together to enjoy the experience of London living. We have a great programme of events ahead in 2018 – look out for us at the St Patrick’s Festival in March – and hope that you will be interested in joining us for some of them and even better, getting involved.