Monday saw the launch of a new poster which aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in the Traveller and Roma communities. Darragh Lynch spoke to Kat Bahramian from Pavee Point about the project.
The poster was designed by a group of young people from these communities, facilitated by a collaboration between Pavee Point, BeLonG To and LGBT Pavee, and was timed to coincide with both Traveller Pride week and Dublin LGBTQ Pride.
The launch of the poster on Monday seemed like a huge success. Are you happy with how the event panned out?
I am delighted with the event and glad that you all could be a part of it. I want to be Ailbhe Smyth when I grow up! How we do measure success? The proof is in the pudding. If a LGBTQ Traveller sees the poster, picks up a postcard, flips it to find the contact information for the support services involved and knows where to go-that’s success.
The process, the poster and the event were brilliant, and the music, of course. Now we need to get the poster and postcards out there and proceed onwards and upwards.
Can you give us a brief overview of the project and the idea behind it?
Pavee Point and BeLonG To have supported each others work for years. This idea germinated after a Traveller Drug Network meeting we hosted last year on sexuality and substance misuse in the Traveller community. Change happens with the young people. It just made sense for our respective youth groups to come together and why not learn from and work with the best?
The term community development gets bandied about, but when it comes to BeLonG To’s Ladybirds – actions speak louder than words. Hats off to Ger Roe and the fabulous work that his crew does. We look forward to the Pride breakfast they’re hosting. Anyone feel like joining us for the Pride parade?
One of the speakers, Ailbhe Smyth, gave a particularly moving speech about her journey from feminism to socialism, to the realisation of her own homosexuality, and how difficult this was in the 70s and 80s. Was it a conscious effort to involve such motivational role-models? And had she met any of the young people involved previously?
The event and the development of the poster was a group effort. Ailbhe came highly recommended by my co-worker, Siobhan Curran. She did not disappoint! It definitely was a conscious decision on our parts to give a nonconformist, courageous individual like Ailbhe the platform to speak of her experiences. Because at the end of the day, it isn’t easy for a Traveller or Roma to come out and maybe by hearing Ailbhe, by being present for the launch, by seeing the poster, that person will feel a little less alone. I know that she is a friend of BeLonG To and she generously offered to speak with the young women at Pavee Point. We will take her up on that offer.
LGBTQ Travellers and Roma people must be some of the most marginalised people in society, which made the dedication of those involved all the more impressive. What were your impressions of the inputs delivered by (Traveller speakers) Bridgy Collins and Oein de Bhairduin at the launch?
I was tremendously proud and moved by both of their inputs. Oein speaks from the heart. I have a lot of respect for him and the courage it takes to speak out about his experiences as a Traveller who is out. Bridgy did great up there and was an integral part of the youth group process. LGBTQ Traveller women are a particularly vulnerable group that are difficult to reach. The learning and satisfaction for me was in the interactions between Pavee Point’s young women’s group and BeLonG To’s Ladybirds. They are the future and that’s where the change happens.
Were there any challenging aspects to the experience?
Absolutely, and the inevitable challenges made the poster and launch even more satisfying. The poster isn’t the end result. The process will continue hopefully, the partnership work. It’s just the 1st step.
Can you tell us where people can go to find out more about the groups involved?
Our respective websites are advertised on the back of the postcard distributed at the launch and will be available at various locations around town and throughout the country.
You can read more about the poster here.