Photos of LGBT youth in Ireland will be showcased for a month at Ireland's National Photographic Archive in a new exhibit called Belonging: Irish Queer Youth. The exhibit is the result of a partnership between the National Library of Ireland and BeLonG To, the Irish national organization for LGBT people aged 14-23.
The photographs document LGBT youth showing their pride and spirirt, as well as young people at Pride events, as part of campaigns to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, and participating in advocacy work, all shot over the past eleven years since the founding of BeLonG To in 2003. Some celebrities and public figures also make appearances in the exhibit, including former President Mary McAleese and All Ireland Hurling Champion Donal Óg Cusak, who have shown a commitment to the work of BeLonG To. The United States' very own Michelle Obama is also photographed hosting Irish LGBT youth at the White House!
Michael Barron, Founding Director of BeLonG To said at the exhibit's launch:
“We are delighted to be working with the National Photography Archive and the National Library of Ireland to honour and celebrate the lives and achievements of LGBT young people in Ireland today. Over the past 11 years we have seen hugely positive developments happen – with LGBT young people coming out much younger and in much greater numbers. This growing confidence and bravery has really changed families, schools and indeed the country itself – which is now a much better place to be LGBT due in large part to these courageous young people."
There certainly has been great progress over the past 11 years in Ireland. BeLonG To’s national Stand Up! Don’t Stand for Homophobic or Transphobic Bullying campaign has been running for five years and is now co-sponsored by the Department of Education as Ireland’s largest school-based anti-bullying campaign. Watch this campaign video:
After the closing of the exhibition on July 27 the photographs will become a permanent fixture in the National Photographic Archive to forever document the place of LGBT youth in Irish history.