Written by Orla Egan
I am still reeling from the emotional rollercoaster of the weekend as my country finally voted to respect me, my son, my family, my friends and my community.
This weekend Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through popular vote. And by a resoundingly popular vote – 62.1% overall, with only one constituency (Roscommon-South Leitrim) voting No. The highest YES vote was in Dublin South East with 74.9%. In the 5 Cork constituencies the YES vote ranged from 56% (Cork South West) to 65.8% (Cork South Central).
It has been a long and hard journey to get here. This weekend’s vote is the result of decades of LGBT community activism all over Ireland. Since at least the 1970s Irish LGBT people have supported one another to build community and have pride in who we are, despite the consistent messages from the church, the laws, the media and society telling us that we were sick, evil, lesser and unworthy. We set up LGBT organisations, centres and services. But we also created community – we created the positive spaces where LGBT people could be together, to love, to party, to affirm each other – to counterbalance all the negativity. We gave each other the strength to come out in ever increasing numbers. And that’s what made the difference. People respond to the personal. Its easy to vilify a concept – a gay man, a lesbian family etc. – its harder to hate the person standing in front of you: your son, your daughter, your mother, your uncle, your neighbour, your colleague. Its the stories of real people’s lives that have convinced so many people to vote YES.
This week I have been engaged in creative pursuits, while also trying to make progress towards my aim of creating a Cork LGBT Digital Archive.
In an earlier post on Cork LGBT Digital Archive I talked about the rich source of archival material stored in the basement of a house in Cork. This material has been gathered over the past 30 years. It relates to the history of the LGBT community in Cork, the Quay Co-op, Safer Sex and AIDS organisations as well as various other campaigns and organisations. While it contains many gems, the ‘archive’ is unsorted with information on various organisations mixed in together.
This week I began the slow process of trying to sort through the archive, with the assistance of Arthur, Carol, Katherine, John and Fionuala. We tried to resist the temptation to read through all the fantastic information we found, although we had to admire some of the wonderful posters in the collection. Initially the information is being sorted into broad categories, such as LGBT Cork, Quay Co-op, AIDS, Environmental, Housing Co-op etc. Once sorted each category can be catalogued and explored in further depth.
In the basement of a magnificent house in Cork there are boxes and boxes of old newsletters, posters, letters and other documents collected over the past 35 years by a local activist. They relate to the activities of various Cork groups, including the lesbian and gay communities, the Quay Co-op, environmental groups and different campaign groups. It is a rich source of information documenting the activities of these groups and a testament to Arthur’s foresight that it has not all been lost over the years.
To call this an ‘archive’ would be to suggest a level of organisation that doesn’t exist. It is a jumble of unorganised boxes, each containing a mix of information relating to different organisations and activities. There are also old computers which would require some level of expertise to unlock the files contained on them.
As I trawled through boxes of archival material recently, I found this hand written notice for the Women’s Discos which were run on Friday nights in the Other Place in the 1990s.
It is unsigned. The hand writing is very neat and clear. It includes a word count, so I would assume it was written for inclusion in a newsletter or in GCN.
Does anyone know who wrote this?
It provides a good snap shot of the Women’s Discos, the atmosphere inside the club and the experiences of women coming to and leaving the club – security cameras to ensure safety. And it sings the praises of the D.J. – Diane Jefferies!
Here is a transcript of the article:
Want to get your glad rags on and boogy on down, or just sit in a quiet corner and watch other women shed their inhibitions? Then it is about time you came to the Women’s Disco. From 11.00 pm onwards on the first Friday of the month knock on the door of the Other Place and the night and space is yours. Continue reading