The Longford branch of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) celebrated its first birthday in MB Coy’s in Longford town recently. The group was established in October 2011 with the help of the Acorn Equality Fund (AEF), a grassroots organisation that provides financial support for civil rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender persons and the Employment Development Information Centre (EDI) on the Athone Road.
Currently meeting once a week in Longford town, the LLGBT has seen its numbers rise steadily since its formation and now proudly provides a social outlet for its 20 members. The organisation was established with the assistance of Hailey Fox Roberts, Regional Development Officer at the Northside Community Centre in Sligo town and LGBT rights activist.
“The group is there for men and women who just want to have a chat and talk about life in general, anything that has been annoying them or anything that’s on their mind,” says Paul Quigley, PRO for LLGBT. “We’ve been meeting once a week since late last year and the numbers turning up have gone from strength to strength. We just sit back and have a laugh and a giggle, it’s just a really great place to come and get to know people.”
Attracting new members to groups such a LGBT can prove difficult in the early stages, but Paul looks to groups such as Outwest, a support group for both gay men and women based in the west of Ireland as an example of where LLGBT wants to go. “Outwest would be one of the leading society of its kind in Connaught and probably nationwide as well. They attract members from all over the region to their meetings at various locations across the west. We now see people coming to our own evenings from areas like Roscommon and Cavan which is a massive boost for us.
“Sometimes people can be a bit nervous about turning up, especially older people. But we are a very private group and once people get to know who we are and what we’re about, they become very open.”
Marking the first anniversary on Saturday, October 20th in MB Coy’s Bar, the LLGBT held a raffle which raised over E300 for the group. Paul says they also plan to hold further fundraisers in the near future. “We’ll go from where we are now and it was great to raise the money. We plan to hold further fundraisers and nights out. We are also looking into a table quiz maybe after the Christmas period.”
Longford LGBT meet every Thursday night at 8.30pm in Longford town. If you would like to get involved, call 086 3022161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.