Student Perspectives ) IRELAND
I have been extremely involved in the University College of Cork’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Society on campus, the first society I joined on campus. Since Ireland is a predominantly Catholic country, I didn’t really expect to find very many gay people. Turns out there are lots of us at UCC.
My first event was a gay tour of Cork which introduced me to every gay bar, resource centre, and gay hairdresser in Cork. It ended with a table quiz in Chambers. The UCC LGBT society has helped me connect to the rest of Cork and become involved in the local community. I am now a member of an LGBT choir I learned about at my first event.
The UCC LGBT club has given me a place on campus. It has become a part of my identity and has given me many friends. To me, they are a lot more than a school society. They are my new Irish family. I spend every week with them and am always being introduced to someone new. I have new friends that I will keep in touch with even after I return home, and people to remain pen pals with.
Every week I attend at least one event and often go out with people after. I also experienced other campus societies and joined other groups because I have learned about them from LGBT Society. I have new friends from joint events with the Atheist Society, and I discovered why I never owned a video game at game night with the Networking and Gaming Society. I have discovered new skills like karaoke and relived my childhood with art and bowling nights. Every week, I look forward to the Thursday night Coffee Posse; we just sit around joking and talking for hours. Some of the coffee meetings are on campus and other at different restaurants; they change weekly so we get to discover new places. Sometimes we even end up going to a movie after. I also attended my very first ball and fashion show for charity, and participated in Rainbow Week! Rainbow Week is a week-long event to promote awareness of gay rights which ended with a wedding and party to promote marriage equality.
“The UCC LGBT society has helped me connect to the rest of Cork and become involved in the local community.”
I have also gotten involved in local issues and politics with the UCC LGBT Society. With them, I helped spread awareness about the lack of marriage equality in Ireland and around the globe. I helped out at a campaign to raise awareness to stop the ban on gay men donating blood by collecting signatures. I have listened to talks and attended awards ceremonies on human rights. I also attended a funny talk on human sexuality. I even got to vote and have a say on committee members. The LGBT Society helped me balance important elements like the human rights award ceremony and rights workshops with fun aspects like the Gay Oscars and dance nights. It has also provided a great atmosphere to make friendships outside of a bar.
This second term I have also become involved in the UCC Choral Society. I attend weekly rehearsals and go to events. My favourite is the sing along cinemas where we sing to movies like Moulin Rouge and Spice World. I also attended my first opera with them. The UCC Choral Society has allowed me to get back to my singing roots. I have also learned folk songs in Irish and other traditions related to Irish singing culture.
I have learned so much about Ireland from my involvement in clubs and society. I have learned about politics and what Irish people think of Ireland. My views on the United States have also changed. I have also learned a very different vocabulary and plan to return to the States saying things like “no bother,” and “that’s grand.”
My new friends have taught me so much about life, and I think the Irish really are the nicest people in the world! They have made me feel welcomed and also reminded me not to take myself, or anything, too seriously.