Reeling in the Queers by Páraic Kerrigan

Growing up without a sense of a shared identity or community can be profoundly isolating and lonely. This book arose from that disconnect, fuelled by a deep desire to connect with fellow members of the queer Irish community. Ten years ago in 2014, I began to research Ireland’s queer history and I was amazed to uncover the legacy of individuals who had worked tirelessly to pave the way for liberation and celebration within our community.

As my research began, I was really surprised to find out that Ireland was one of the first countries in the world to have a gay boyband, that Hollywood royalty Rock Hudson had once come to Dublin’s early gay scene for a night on the town and that a children’s book showing a child being raised by a gay parents in the 1990s caused such a furore that it was banned.

Yet, many individual stories such as these are often overlooked. Within the grand and emerging narrative of LGBTQ Ireland are woven intricate threads of ordinary people’s extraordinary stories. I was inspired to write this book as I was motivated to tell the lesser-told tales of Ireland’s LGBTQ community. While many in this community may not have changed laws, their actions provided hope, relief, support and crucially, created enclaves of fun and queer joy.

The year 2024 marks half a century since the founding of the Irish Gay Rights Movement and Ireland’s first Gay Pride event all the way back in 1974. This book serves as the perfect juncture to look back at the impact of Ireland’s LGBTQ community on politics, society and culture, providing a window into different aspects of Irish culture.

Many people have gone unsung in this history. From the Irish priest Fr. Bernárd Lynch, who set up the world’s first AIDS ministry in New York at the height of the AIDS crisis, to Toni Burgess, a lesbian mother who fought to maintain custody rights of her children, to Phil Moore, the mother of a gay son, who bent the ear of a government minister and helped to propel gay law reform in 1993. This book gathers the tales of the unsung heroes of everyday LGBTQ life in Ireland – stories that are brave, startling, funny (and often outrageous!). This book is a testament to the fact that the LGBTQ community have always been here and have left an indelible mark on modern-day Ireland. Crucially, this book bears witness to the resilience of queer culture, a testament to how it emerged and thrived against all odds and the people who made it happen.

You can pre-order Reeling in the Queers by Páraic Kerrigan .

Reeling in the Queers by Páraic Kerrigan is published by New Island.

Páraic Kerrigan is an Assistant Professor at University College Dublin. He has published widely as an academic and critic. His first book, LGBTQ Visibility, Media and Sexuality in Ireland was published by Routledge in 2021 and explored media representations of Ireland’s LGBTQ community. He is currently co-leading a project called Waking the Hirschfeld, an oral history podcast about the LGBTQ community space, the Hirschfeld Centre, which operated out of Temple Bar from 1979-1987.

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