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Gay Traveller Support Group win National Award

December 3rd, 2010 · 4 Comments · Equality, Homophobia, LGBT

In the midst of the snow and economic chaos the Traveller Pride Awards yesterday may have gone unnoticed, however the Irish Times gives excellent coverage to the ceremony and the prize winners. The prizes were presented by President Mary McAleese.

The community prize was shared by Rosaleen McDonagh and the Gay Traveller Support Group.  When it came time for the Gay group to come and collect their prize nobody in the room felt that they could come forward because they didn’t feel comfortable.   Rosaleen collected the award on their behalf, she and other Travellers and other lesbians and gay men working with Travellers have been supporting this group who this year marched in the Dublin and Galway Pride Parades.

I’ve been aware of the group for some time and the great difficulties that they experience both in the lgbt community/scene and in the Traveller community. As the gay man interviewed in the Irish Times piece says there are huge similarities between different groups and their lived experiences in Irish Society.

It struck me how similar the life of a disabled person is to the life of a Traveller. We both have to fight against prejudice and isolation.

As a lesbian with a disability I have known the difficulties in both the lgbt community and also the disability sector.  It’s a case of constant coming out or constant shutting up or being shut out.

Rosaleen said yesterday that there are 100 ways to be a Traveller and that is so true elsewhere – there are 100 ways to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.  Different ethnicities, social classes, abilities, sexual desires, relationships,  marital statuses, opinions and needs.  We’re a very diverse bunch and that diversity has to be recognised and celebrated.

There are great difficulties faced by lgbt Pavees in living their lives openly.   Retaining your Traveller identity while coming out is hard.  Coming out to family and friends and staying connected to those contacts is nearly impossible.

There are also huge challenges for Lesbian Travellers as they are even more invisible for many reasons including lack of access to money, freedom and safety to move and explore their lives and been seen to reject marriage and family obligations if they do not marry.

The recognition by Traveller culture of the diversity in their community will hopefully help the Gay Traveller Support Group to thrive in the coming years and for it’s members to overcome the racism and homophobia in both communities.  The LGBT community must also work on continuing to support the group and lgbt Travellers and other minorities in Irish society.

Congratulations to them and of course also to Rosaleen McDonagh for winning the overall prize for her work in pursuing a more inclusive community for Travellers.


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