Belfast City Hall saw the launch of a first for the city, yesterday, an LGBT History Festival. ‘Outing the Past, Belfast’ was launched by the Lord Mayor, Cllr. Nuala McAllister, at an event from 6pm yesterday, Friday, February 16th. The Lord Mayor was helped in launching the festival by Senator David Norris, from the Irish Senate, and fellow Belfast city councillor, Jeff Dudgeon. Both Norris and Dudgeon were involved in taking their respective jurisdictions to the European Courts in order to bring about the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1992 and 1982 respectively.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Lord Mayor, Cllr. Nuala McAllister said:
“I am delighted that Cara-Friend, along with Belfast City Council and the Ulster Museum, are presenting this LGBT history festival. It is a great initiative to celebrate and highlight the rich history of the LGBT community here in Northern Ireland and elsewhere across the UK and Ireland. Recording and telling the story of the past is an important community-building exercise. This festival allows the LGBT community to become more aware of their heritage and historical struggles and achievements.”
As well as the launch on Friday night, there will be a series of short paper presentations taking place in the Ulster Museum today, Saturday February 17th, from 10am-4pm. The papers cover a variety of subjects that reflects the diversity of the LGBT community. Paper subjects range from LGBT emigration from Northern Ireland since the 1960s, to love letters between British soldiers during WW2, to the media’s portrayal of transgender people over the decades.
Declan Meehan, organiser of the festival, commented:
“Outing the Past is all about bringing people from the LGBT community, and people who aren’t LGBT, together to explore and discuss the narratives that exist, or should exist, in relation to the LGBT experience here in Northern Ireland, and elsewhere in the UK and Ireland. It’s important to recognise and chronicle the leaps and bounds we’ve made as a community – and as a society – in relation to the lived experiences of LGBT people. It’s also important to look at where we’ve come from in order to move forward to address outstanding inequalities.”
Outing the Past, Belfast, is free and open to all members of the public. The official launch took place yesterday Friday, February 16th, in Belfast City Hall, and the paper presentations will take place from 10am in the Ulster Museum today Saturday, February 17th.
Full line up and schedule can be found here:
Outing the Past is a festival which runs in several hubs across Great Britain each February (as part of LGBT History Month). This is the first time a hub has taken place in Ireland. Outing the Past is coordinated nationally by Schools OUT UK, and Cara-Friend is the local host for 2018. The festival is supported by Belfast City Council and the Ulster Museum.
Cara-Friend is Northern Ireland’s oldest LGBT organisation, set up in 1974. It is now the youth service for LGBTQ+ young people in Northern Ireland with regular youth groups in seven locations. It also operates the LGBT Switchboard, a helpline for people who wish to talk in confidence about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.