John Lloyd was elected Chairperson on London Irish LGBT Network at our AGM in November. He is the first second generation Irish person to hold the position of Chair. Here, he reflects on 2018.
2018 has seen us organise, co organise, stage and participate in high profile events and projects.
Following a resolution at the 2017 Irish in Britain Conference. London Irish LGBT Network and Irish in Britain organised a conference on LGBT Equality in Ireland Past and Present.
The conference was high profile, cutting edge and drew a broad range of civil society organisations. In attendance was the Irish Ambassador to the UK, Ambassador O’Neil. The conference was addressed by the Openly Gay Irish born Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan, Sinn Fein MP and Assembly Member Chris Hazard, Labour MP for St Helens Connor Mc Ginn, Clair Moore from the Northern Ireland Love Equality Campaign, and Professor Daniel Monk a founder of Birkbeck Institute of Sexuality and Gender.
We also heard from Dr David Shaw from Liverpool University’s Institute of Irish Studies and Dr Joanne McCarthy Co – author of Identity Formation and Conflict in Older Irish Gay Men.
Our LGBT Network also staged a reading of Friends of Rio Rita by Gay Irish Republican writer and Playwright Colm Sigursun Clifford, before a full house at the Lewisham Irish Centre.
Our story telling project is now almost complete and will be widely publicised with a book launch event in the New Year
Our significant high-profile presence on the St Patrick’s Day parade and at Trafalgar Square. After, was warmly greeted with high levels of support and solidarity along the parades route and at our stall. We were also strongly represented at LGBT Pride in London.
We were invited to attended and participated in many events including those organised by the Irish Embassy, Sinn Fein, The Irish Film Festival, and Irish in Britain. We as members of the St Patrick Days Committee, made and continue to make an important contribution to the organisation of the St Patrick’s Day Parade and events leading up to the day.
Dr Mariela Castro Espin Director of the Cuban LGBT rights organisation CENESEX was invited to the UK. She spent a whole day meeting UK LGBT rights organisation’s including our London Irish LGBT Network. Mariela spent the morning coffee break with Sean Hutton, one of our committee members.
Special thanks to Joseph Healy, Vanessa Monaghan, James Berkery, Sean Hutton, and Ruari McAleese. Joseph for not only keeping our LGBT network going but raising its profile significantly in both the UK and Ireland. Thanks to Joseph many of our events and our Network were covered in the Irish media.
Many thanks to Vanessa for all her hard work, skill and dedication in putting together the Story Telling Project.
James for coordinating our participation at St Patrick’s Day and LGBT pride parades.
Through James’s professional contacts we are in touch with performers who can or who know people that will help us to stage performances next year which is the 30th anniversary of Colm Clifford’s death.
Many thanks to Martin for giving his time for free at the play reading and rehearsals. Not to mention his powerful performance with Joseph at the Friends of Rio Rita play reading. Also, to Colm Clifford’s Literary Executors Mary and Derek Evan.
Finally, thanks to the generosity and support of the Irish Embassy, Innisfree Housing, Irish in Britain, Lewisham Irish Centre and Camden LGBT project without whose support we could not have put together all our projects and events in 2018.
Hugs and Kisses and Seasons Greetings to you all and have a happy New Year.
John Robert Lloyd