The Queer Republic of Cork Exhibition opened in Camden Palace community arts centre in Cork on 25 August 2016. This Exhibition was organised by Orla Egan, Cork LGBT Archive, as part of the Irish Heritage Week.
This Exhibition took visitors on a journey through the development of the Cork Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities from the 1970s onwards.
Cork has a long and rich history of LGBT activism, community formation and development. Since at least the 1970s LGBT people in Cork have forged communities, established organisations, set up services and reached out to others. As well as campaigning for LGBT rights and providing services and supports to LGBT people, the LGBT community has played a vital role in movements for social justice and political change in Cork. Yet this community, like many other LGBT communities worldwide, has been largely invisible in historical accounts and its contribution to social and political change and developments largely unacknowledged.
The Queer Republic of Cork exhibition highlighted some key moments, organisations, campaigns and triumphs in the history of the Cork LGBT Community. It showcased some of Cork’s firsts – the 1st National Gay Conference (1981), the 1st Irish AIDS leaflet (1985), the 1st Irish Lesbian and Gay Festival (1991) and the 1st LGBT float in a Patrick’s Day Parade (1992). The Exhibition then moved through the decades, 1970s to 2000, focusing on Cork LGBT community organisations and activism.
The response to the Exhibition was very positive with people delighted to see and explore some of the history of this dynamic community. The Exhibition was just a small sample of the items contained in the Cork LGBT Archive. To see more visit the digital archive on http://corklgbtarchive.com/
The core of the archive is organised around the Arthur Leahy collection – a private collection gathered by Arthur Leahy since the 1970s, and containing a rich collection of leaflets, posters, newsletters and other items relating to the history of the Cork LGBT community. It was appropriate then that the Exhibition was formally launched by Arthur Leahy. Orla Egan spoke of the importance of acknowledging and sharing the history of the Cork LGBT community and the decades of activism and community formation. Both Arthur and Orla spoke of the importance of creating a more inclusive and accurate account of Irish LGBT history.
The Exhibition was organised as part of National Heritage Week. The Cork LGBT Archive has recently received funding from the Irish Heritage Council for the proper storage and cataloguing of the archive collection – this funding marked an important acknowledgment of LGBT history as part of Irish heritage. Further funding has since been secured from the Cork City Council Heritage Publication grant for a publication on the History of the Cork LGBT Community (this will be published by December 2016).
The Cork LGBT Archive is very grateful to Camden Palace for hosing the exhibition. A huge thanks to Peter Flynn, UCC, who loaned his printer to enable the exhibition to be created! Jess Jones, Carol O Keeffe and Jacob Egan-Morley assisted with hanging the exhibition and hosting / filming the launch.
The Exhibition can be viewed in Camden Palace, John Redmond Street, Cork, each day 12-6 until 3 September 2016.