Today, BeLonG To – Ireland’s national organisation for LGBT youth – and the National Library of Ireland launched a major exhibition at the National Photography Archive charting a decade of LGBT youth rights in Ireland.
Belonging: Irish Queer Youth celebrates and reflects on BeLonG To’s work towards an Ireland where Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people are respected, empowered and cared for. This exhibition marks the donation of BeLonG To’s work to the National Library of Ireland, joining the Irish Queer Archives as valued documentations of Irish society.
Belonging: Irish Queer Youth explores BeLonG To’s work to combat homophobia & transphobia in schools and the workplace which has helped create a growing confidence amongst LGBT young people in Ireland today. Photographs also document young people’s participation in Pride events, advocacy work, political protests and actions, global solidarity work and portraits of the young people themselves. This exhibition is a celebration of how much positive change has happened for Irish LGBT young people over the past decade and an acknowledgment of how much more needs to happen.
Speaking at the launch Michael Barron, Founding Director of BeLonG To said:
“We are delighted to be working with the National Photography Archive and the National Library of Ireland to honour and celebrate the lives and achievements of LGBT young people in Ireland today. Over the past 11 years we have seen hugely positive developments happen – with LGBT young people coming out much young and in much greater numbers. This growing confidence and bravery has really changed families, schools and indeed the country itself – which is now a much better place to be LGBT due in large part to these courageous young people”.
“At BeLonG To we have always worked for social change and for a more just society for young people and while there is still so much work to do, this exhibition celebrates the changes that have happened. I would like to thank the National Photography Archive & the National Library of Ireland for working with us and for accepting BeLonG To’s archive, as doing so preserves for future generations this vital period for LGBT young people’s Rights.”
Photographs also highlight community fundraising efforts, such as Deborah & Jennifer Sweeney atop Mt. Kilimanjaro in a fundraising hike for BeLonG To, and Ireland’s first Gay Prom. Images of BeLonG To’s international work also feature, including work with UNESCO in Brazil and Paris to develop the first global guide on tackling homophobic bullying and meeting US First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. Many prominent figures in Irish politics and sport appear regularly in photos, showing an ongoing commitment to supporting the work of BeLonG To, including; Minister for Justice (former Minister for Children & Youth Affairs) Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn TD, former President Mary McAleese, and All Ireland Hurling Champion Donal Óg Cusak
Belonging: Irish Queer Youth is curated by Irish artist Kevin Gaffney who developed the archive for BeLonG To in 2013. The exhibition is part of Dublin Pride and the Photo Ireland Canon Open Programme, and is kindly supported by Dublin City Council and the Copper House.