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15 Years Of BeLonG To

Since the doors of BeLonG To opened in 2003, it had always been envisioned as an advocacy youth service. As founder Michael Barron pointed out, “it’s important to note that BeLonG To was never set up to be a youth group. In one way it was set up with the purpose of providing a safe space for LGBT young people, but it always had an activist and advocacy mandate as well. From the very beginning, the idea was that we’d support LGBT young people in where they’re at, but that we would also work with them in advocating for systemic change”.

So how did such a visionary and unusual model come into being? It started out in 1999, when Barron was working with Focus Ireland as a key worker. He recalled, “I was out as a gay member of staff. Because of that when LGBT young people would come in I’d become their key worker. One of the things that became apparent really quickly was that there was no service specifically to support them. And there was a disproportionate number of young people who were homeless and LGBT.”

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About GCN

In this special edition, our community's younger members take over for the annual Youth Issue. Our guest editor Emily profiles a group of young activists leading the charge for a new Ireland. We celebrate 15 years of the awesome BeLonG To, the national organisation supporting LGBTI+ youth while one of their subgroups, The LadyBirds, tackle the lack of awareness around women's sexuality and sexual health. A young asylum seeker in Direct Provision tells us of his struggles with homophobia while LGBT+ people in rural areas speak about the effects of isolation and how youth groups helped them find confidence. We top things off with a preview of the upcoming Science Of The Kiss exhibition, part of GCN's takeover of the Science Gallery. This is a good one!

Other Articles in this Issue


Editor’s Letter
Every year GCN publishes an issue which is completely dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth.
Focál Up!
The Housing Crisis
Dublin’s Science Gallery recently launched their Intimacy exhibition.
Irish painter Stephen Doyle makes art history this month with
Brian Teeling’s stunning t’s are both a celebration and recognition of queer fans of the beautiful game.
Brace yourselves for one of the biggest LGBT+ events of 2018’s cultural calendar, people!
The Outburst Queer Arts Festival takes over Belfast in early November.
While new HIV diagnoses in Ireland remain at historic highs, there is some good news on the horizon with the Government recently announcing plans to finally make a HIV prevention drug available through the public health system. Andrew Leavitt of ACT UP explains
Francophiles rejoice as the French Film Festival returns to the IFI.
Stephen Boylan brings a special YA edition this month.
Feature: Music
Lady Gaga's role in A Star Is Born has ushered in a new wave of excitement for an artist celebrating a decade in music.
MNEK —Language
For the last two years, The LadyBirds, a bi-weekly group for young LBT women and non-binary people, have been doing all they can to raise awareness around women’s sexuality and sexual health.
Holman Sulumba came to Ireland to escape an abusive home life in Malawi. Four years on, he suffers from mental health problems and is trapped in a system that is failing to protect him.
A new generation of activists are coming to the fore, leading the charge for necessary changes.
As part of GCN’s takeover of the Science Gallery on November 9, a photographic exhibition by Babs Daly will have its grand unveiling. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect.
For most young people, realising you are LGBT+ can feel isolating, there are moments when you just want to it in with the crowd. For some, that feeling of isolation is compounded by growing up in a remote area with a seeming lack of available support services.
As BeLonG To, Ireland’s leading youth organisation for LGBTI+ young people celebrates its fifteenth birthday.
Community Chest
Here's everything happening in LGBT+ Ireland this month.
One of the people behind a host of support services and groups for young queer people around Donegal, including BreakOUT, Sinead Murray is a tireless supporter of LGBT+ youth.
Síona Cahill is the President of the Union of Students in Ireland. She was appointed to the LGBTI+ youth strategy committee by Minister Katherine Zappone, and last year won a GALA for her work as a student LGBT+ advocate.