The Word For It

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Mind Yourself Mind Yourself

A Mind Yourself / Door to Door project

J.T.

The Project

For the past four months Mind Yourself has held a series of Visual Art workshops with their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group. The participants were encouraged to share stories as a group and create imagery individually.

Eabhall

Themes

Over the course of the sessions themes arose spontaneously: identity, privacy, faith, transition. Spoken stories and poetry were recorded during the making process, adding narrative layers to what was being expressed visually.

Eamer

Eamer told us of how she learned Gregg shorthand many years ago. She says that it saved her, because she was able to write down her thoughts and feelings in a secret code that few other people could understand. This is how she felt able to write poetry.

“I guess I was always gay, but growing up as I did in County Clare the word ‘gay’ did not exist…”

Anon.
Eoin
Phil

Bernárd’s Story

I was sent to New York initially to do post-graduate studies in Theology and Psychology. I did a doctorate at Fordham University and New York Theological Seminary. I worked there for over twenty years and I got very involved in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual liberation movement. Primarily, that happened, or it collapsed into the AIDS pandemic in 1981 where AIDS was first “officially” diagnosed in New York and San Francisco amongst the gay community. It was known as GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency. I became chaplain or theological advisor to people who were dying of AIDS.

Ciara
Joseph
J.T.
Gerry

Bernárd’s Story (cont.)

I mean, the Church condemned gay people for being sexual and at the same time, because of the way it constructed its ethic, it forced gay people into promiscuity. In other words, you could go to confession, take a very straight line - no pun intended - and confess that you’d been with ten men on a given week and if you said you were sorry the priest would give you absolution. Whereas if you went to confession - and this is still true and this is the absurdity of the position - if you go and say to a priest, “I’m in love with a man,” or if it’s a woman, “I’m in love with a woman and I’m living in glorious “fidelity” (whatever that means), and truthfulness and yes we do express our relationship sexually (and what love relationship does not express itself sexually in a marriage),” they cannot forgive you. A priest cannot forgive you because you are technically living in sin and that’s the absurdity of the Catholic Churches position.

J.T.
Bairbre
Rob

Bernárd’s Story (cont.)

But I do have a hope. I am able to say, having seen and been with so many people dying, that [as Emily Dickinson says] “This life is not conclusion”. I think there is a possibility of more, whatever that more is, and to be able to help people to be open to the possibility of more without using religious terminology - you can call it God, you can call it Buddha, you can call it love, you can call it the universe - to be able help people to be open to that possibility and have that artistic sensibility is to be able to enable them to live. And to die.

Read Bernárd’s story in full here.

Clare

The more time I spend with the Irish LBGT, the greater respect I have for them. Especially our older generation. What they went through to pave the way for the younger generation to be able and encouraged to be open and free. How they still tirelessly come up with ideas and ways to speak about the gay community in Ireland and as Irish Emigrants. The hurt you feel them feeling when they talk about the unnecessary high rates of suicides among the gay community back home. The pride they feel when they see how far they have come, and the disappointment at how far there is still to go.

Read Clare’s story in full here.

Bairbre
Peter
Anon.

This is an ongoing project. This page will be updated regularly so please come back soon.

The Door to Door project is a story sharing program run by Mind Yourself which has been collecting stories from the Irish diaspora documenting journeys from Ireland to London. Volunteers facilitate workshops with a focus on encouraging and exploring different ways of telling and sharing these stories, ranging from drama and writing to audio-editing and visual storytelling.

If you'd like to know more about the Mind Yourself organisation or the Door to Door project, follow the links below.