National LGBT Federation (NXF), C/O GCN, the Skylab, 2 Exchange St Upper, Dublin 2, Ireland
21 October 2017
Sent via author’s email (this morning)
Open letter to the National LGBT Federation
Re: Selection process regarding The Gala Awards
To Whom It May Concern
Firstly, I write to you as someone whose natural community is LGBT.
Yesterday I wrote, posted and subsequently deleted a blog. As I reflected further, the content felt disingenuous—because I have always held the belief if it really matters, go directly to the source, the result being, this letter.
As I read through the published 2017 short list on TheGalas.ie I was delighted to see such people as Una Mullaly and Noeleen Cummins being nominated for their respective categories and permitted myself a moment to reminisce on what a lovely night The Galas is.
Then I arrived at the list of nominees for the Politician of the Year award and gasped in horror, and that is an understatement.
Katherine Zappone, Joan Burton, Leo Varadkar (I know nothing of the fourth nominee and therefore will not mention him).
Katherine Zappone and her late wife, Ann, did huge work for their community and if she was being honoured for that work I would not have batted an eyelid. However, Ms. Zappone u-turned and reneged on all she said she stood for, once she was elected.
Joan Burton has actively sought, through the Irish legal system to quash dissenting voices and stigmatise the Irish Citizen’s right to protest. Something the LGBT community once had to do to win acceptance.
Leo Varadkar has not just been a passive member of the LGBT community but has actively fought against measures that would have improved their inclusion and acceptance in Irish society. An individual so arrogant he doesn’t even feel the need to address women’s issues and an unchecked ego that allows him to verbalise public displays of misogyny.
In a year that saw, Ian McDonagh receive The Traveller Pride Award for his project “A Scientific Investigation of the Cures and Folkways of the Irish Traveller Community” entered into the 2016 BT Young Scientist programme, the Travelling Community having their ethnicity finally recognised by the State and Sindy Joyce launching her book, Travellers and Roma in Ireland: Understanding Hate Crime Data through the Lens of Structural Inequality, how truly indicative of change and inclusion it would have been to see a representative like Hughie Maughan being honoured as a positive influence by the National LGBT Federation.
Identity, a support group set up for LGBT asylum seekers is also absent from the mentions—maintaining the patriarchal status quo.
This, from an organisation whose very existence is directly because it has a backstory of social exclusion and othering.
Now, please don’t insult my intelligence by telling me that the public voted them in. We both know the flaws in the process that permits this kind of nomination to occur. I had the same issue with GLEN, but in those days I penned my concerns anonymously.
This is not about personalities, this is about an organisation that should be the beacon of inclusivity but instead is allowing itself to be sucked in by the establishment to be used as a propaganda tool for self-serving purposes.
May I suggest the category be replaced. For example, The Diceman Award (in honour of Thom McGinty) where a bursary is offered to a struggling young artist whose natural community is LGBT.