GAYLGEOIRÍ Visibility and Representation By Cian Griffin
When I first started Gaylgeoirí on Instagram as a meme page back in 2018, I had no idea it would grow into what it has become today. Three years later and I am truly proud of what it has become and I am shocked by how many messages I receive from young people thanking me for showing them it’s OK to embrace who they are, and live life as their authentic selves. It’s surprisingly emotional to receive DMs from young people thanking me for giving them the courage to come out, because I know just how big a deal it is at any age, but especially at an age where they may not have necessarily found their tribe yet, and living as their authentic self can be a very isolating experience. I am in constant awe of the younger generation, who really embrace who they are unapologetically, and I think part of that is due to the shift in the media’s representation of queer peole. So for Gaylgeoirí to have helped create that community for these people, I am extremely proud. Haters Are My Motivators Despite receiving gorgeous messages of support and gratitude, I receive just as much hate on a weekly basis. I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told to kill myself, that I’m an abomination, and that I should be ashamed of myself for being a man that wears makeup and heels - but I mean, with legs like these it’d be a crime not to! And while this negativity no longer gets to me, it still scares me. I am in my mid twenties. I have developed a thick skin from growing up in a country that told me at every turn (in politics, religion, and education) that I wasn’t good enough and that being gay wasn’t normal. I was part of the fight for marriage equality and I have grown confident in myself. With that said however, if sixteen year old me was to read the messages I receive, I know for sure that he wouldn’t be able to deal with them. That’s why it’s so important that Gaylgeoirí exists; to further the fight for equality. Just by being visible, that in itself is very powerful and the same can be said for the wonderful trans activists out their, or
Growing Up and Becoming the Representation Growing up, I didn’t have representation in the media. I didn’t have visibility of people like me to assure me things would be alright. And as much as I may appear confident on the outside, those years have certainly taken their toll on me. In recent years, I’ve definitely grown into myself, but for myself and most queer
People often ask me “what’s your favourite part of being a Gaeilge influencer?”, and despite not really liking that word (I mean, c’mon. CRINGE!), my answer is always the same. The most powerful thing about Gaylgeoirí for me is visibility, representation, and pride (and the free food I get sent, let’s be real). Although I’m part of the generation that gets to live out and proud, for a large portion of my life I wasn’t accepted by society, and arguably, I’m still not. Although I have learned to be GAFA liom féin (‘obsessed with myself ’ in English), I was not always like this. I was conditioned by society to grow up with internalised shame surrounding my sexuality. Gaylgeoirí is my way to combat that shame; my own as well as that of other members of the LGBTQIAP+ community. It’s also a tool to educate - both how to say some of Gemma Collins’ most iconic quotes as Gaeilge, and more importantly, on how Ireland is still not there yet in terms of equality.
the queer artists and musicians, or drag queens. They give visibility to further issues we need to solve as a society. The marriage referendum was obviously a giant leap in the right direction, but there is still so much we need to fight for and I am so grateful to be part of the fight. Another question I’m often asked is “what can I do to help as an ally?”. Again, it’s simple; show your support and help amplify the voices of minorities. Whether it’s equality in terms of sexuality, gender, race, religion; it doesn’t matter. You can help by doing something as simple as sharing someone’s post on social media with the click of a button. There is so much activism online and it’s so easily accessible, so do your bit to help amplify these important messages to your audience, and help change the world for the better so that the next generation of kids won’t be afraid to be themselves. Do your bit to make sure that your friends, your family members, and your children feel empowered to embrace their authentic selves, because believe me, that is a truly powerful thing.
people, we aren’t really able to explore our identities freely until our 20s - whereas for most straight people, they begin this process in their teenage years. Thankfully, I grew up in a very supportive household. From a young age, I was more in touch with my feminine side and my parents didn’t try stop me from doing what made me happy. However as I grew older, especially in my teenage years, I learned to suppress my true self because of how much abuse I was receiving from my peers. I wasn’t able to truly embrace myself, in fact I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. This privilege is something I’ve always been jealous of straight people for, because had I been allowed to flourish at an earlier age, I would have found that confidence and self-love in my identity much earlier - and it would have saved me a fortune in therapist fees! That said, even though it took me longer to get here, I am still happy and grateful for the journey because it has shaped me and helped me realise how important using your voice and platform is. Thanks to Gaylgeoirí, I can now be the thing that I needed the most growing up for other people. I can offer representation to young queer kids across the country, who are looking to see themselves online, on TV, in newspapers, online, and on the radio.
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