The Network was formed in 2014 when a group of Irish LGBT people who had been using the services of the Irish charity Mind Yourself came together to give a response to the Constitutional Assembly in Ireland about the Marriage Referendum.
The group originally was part of Mind Yourself but became aware that they wanted to form an independent group in order to socialise, campaign and support artistic pursuits. Forming a constitution the group declared itself open to any LGBT people who were from Ireland or had Irish ancestry living in London.
Our first year, when we had no funds whatsoever, was spent in putting in fundraising bids and drawing up a plan for the organisation.
In this we were helped by the Irish in Britain and also had the support of the London Irish Centre in Camden. We also built firm links with the Mixed Race Irish Group and with the Camden LGBT Forum, where our first Chair was also the Chair.
Gradually we secured funding from the Irish Dept of Foreign Affairs via the Irish Embassy, the first Irish LGBT group outside Ireland to be funded by the Emigrant Support Programme. With the help of this funding we organised a stall at the Mayor of London’s St Patrick’s Festival and marched in the parade over the last three years. We also organised events for LGBT History Month at the Irish Centre, with a poetry reading attended by the Irish ambassador and featuring several Irish LGBT poets and an event in autumn 2016 commemorating the LGBT input into the Easter Rising, examining the lives of Roger Casement and Eva Goore-Booth.
We are currently working on a major oral history project “Irish LGBT Storytelling Project” funded by the Emigrant Support Programme with a book launch in the offing.
We have also secured funding via the National Lottery for a series of events involving the Irish LGBT community in London. We play a major role in the Mayor of London’s St Patrick’s Day Festival in March and have links with many Irish and LGBT organisations across London.
We organise regular socials and trips to the theatre, cinema etc. We see ourselves as offering a link between the LGBT community in London and Ireland and also between the Irish LGBT community in London and the rest of the Irish community here.
In this way we belong to the “diversity” strand of the London Irish community. We also have close links with the Irish embassy and attend conferences held for the Irish global diaspora where our LGBT voice is heard.
We are keen to develop new projects and ideas and to involved as wide a range of Irish LGBT people as possible from recent arrivals to those who have been here for decades, and including second and third generation Irish. As a relatively new organisation we want to gain ideas from as wide a range of people as possible and welcome anyone who is Irish and LGBT who wishes to contribute to our work, while having a bit of craic at the same time!