About Invisible Threads
In this eight-part series, we meet 8 older members of the LGBT community to reflect on the journey to finding your identity and the courage it takes to be yourself.
In this special episode of Invisible Threads, recorded to mark World AIDS Day, we meet Gerard a 57 year old publican & postman from Cavan. After being diagnosed with HIV in his late 30s he was faced with a choice to remain in the closet, or to risk losing his family to come out as both gay and HIV Positive in pursuit of living an honest life. Since the first cases of HIV were reported more than 35 years ago, 78 million people have become infected and 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Almost directly after its emergence in the early 1980’s AIDS, or GRIDS (Gay-related immune deficiency syndrome) as it was initially called became inextricably linked to the LGBTQ community – for many years a diagnosis of HIV was presumed to be fatal and the shame, fear and stigma associated with the virus live on to this day. While there is currently no cure for HIV advances in available treatment mean that people living with the virus can have long & healthy lives. World AIDS day is celebrated annually to show support for those who have been diagnosed and to remember those who have been lost to the disease. This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 LGBT Support Services If you would like to know more about LGBT Ireland and the work which we do visit our website. https://lgbt.ie/ LGBT+ support (helplines, peer support) National LGBT Helpline 1800 929 539 [Mon.-Thurs. 6.30pm-10pm; Fri. 4pm-10pm; Sat.-Sun. 4-6pm] -all monthly peer support group meeting dates / times check- www.lgbt.ie Gender Identity Family Support Line run by LGBT Ireland & Transgender equality Network Ireland (TENI) tel. 01 907 3707 [Sundays 6-9pm; Tuesday 10am-12noon) TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland): https://www.teni.ie BeLonGTo, the national organisation for LGBT young people: https://www.belongto.org HIV Ireland: https://www.hivireland.ie/
After keeping his sexuality a secret for over 31 years Ed Roche is now at a point where he’s ready to share his experiences. In this preview of the new 5 part series to celebrate Pride Month, we hear the real life stories of some incredible LGBTQIA+ people who grew up in Ireland. We learn what life was like for them growing up and what life is like for these people now.
Damian is a 66 year-old retired teacher living between Dublin and his home town of Tuam in Galway, he was a a founder member of the Irish National Teachers Organisation’s LGBT group, which started in 1979. After college he lived in Australia and London, returning to Ireland in 1992 – a year before homosexuality was decriminalised – having to conceal his identity in his workplace due to Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act (allowing workplaces to discriminate in terms of employment “…in order to maintain the religious ethos of the institution”) took an enormous emotional toll and resulted in him having a breakdown, since this time he has gone on to advocate for greater protection or LGBT Teachers.
Anne is a retired academic living in North Dublin, she is a teacher, poet and theologian. She married when he was 19 and had two children. In the late 90s she met a woman and decided she need to follow her heart – she left her husband and started a new journey accepting her identity. She was close friends with Anne Louise Gilligan who helped her understand the courage it took to be herself and end her marriage.
Brian is a 71 years of age and is an archaeologist, historian and author. He grew up in Donnybrook, Dublin 4. After living in Brussels and Paris for a period he settled in Derry for 24 years, he now lives in Donegal, surrounded by musicians, painters, poets and very creative people – many of whom are also gay. Brian was active in opposition to the Save Ulster from Sodomy political campaign in the late 70s. He has written a book called 'Terrible Queer Creatures: Homosexuality in Irish History' which is a history of homosexuality in Ireland, from ancient Ireland through to 2015.
Louise Hannon is a 60 year-old transgender woman from Northern Ireland, living in Dublin. Louise was the first transgender person to use the Employment Equality Act to win a case against an employer on the grounds of gender discrimination. From an early age, Louise realised that she wasn’t comfortable in the male role, at the age of 16 seeing derogatory media coverage of April Ashley terrified her and she married and had children, in the early 00s after her marriage broke down she relocated to Dublin where she began the process of transitioning.
Sean is a 62 year-old retired physio & farmer, he has been livening West Cork in Skibbereen since 1991. Born in Michigan, near the Canadian border to an Italian mother, and a Scottish father in to a military family. When he was 19 he joined the Navy and was one of the first service members to be honourably discharged when he revealed his identity to his superior following the death of his partner. He moved to Ireland in 1991 where he worked with one of his sisters on a family farm in Ballylickey.
Eilish O'Carroll is a 68 year-old actress, writer and comedian. Eilish is the sister of Mrs. Brown's Boys star and creator, Brendan O'Carroll, she grew up in a traditional catholic Irish home. She was married twice to a man, and has two children, In 2003 she began a relationship with a woman. She has stated she was homophobic until she came out in her forties.
Tom is 66 years old and lives in Aughrim Co. Wicklow, he is originally from Limerick. Tom moved to Dublin in the mid-80s where he began to explore some of the gay scene which existed at the time – however an underlying need to be ‘normal’ lead him to reject that part of his identity and through conversion therapy he locked it away and get married. Over the years the pressure of denying his true identity took its toll and after a period of depression when he was 55 years-old he came out. He is an active runner and has represented Ireland as an over 65s master athlete in Europe.
Luchia Fitzgerald is a 74 year-old activist for gay liberation and women's rights. Born in Bessborough mother and baby home outside Cork City, she was brought up by her grandmother from the age of four years-old,until she ran away to Manchester as a teenager in 1961 following physical and mental abuse from her family. After a period of living on the streets, she met another Irish Woman, Angela Cooper, by chance at an underground gay bar. Together, they co-founded the Manchester branch of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), opened the city’s first women’s refuge, launched a radical queer printing press and organised demonstrations in defiance of Margaret Thatcher’s repressive Section 28 bill. As she has aged Luchia has remained politically engaged and now fights on behalf of older LGBT people.
Society & Culture
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