‘Tourism, Emigration, and the Troubles: Belfast and Transnational Gay Networks.’
Rachel Wallace (Speaker)
Activity: Talk or presentation types › Invited talk
The ethno-religious community conflict 1968-98, known as the Troubles, led to violence, cultural division and political stagnation in Northern Ireland. However, despite this backdrop the gay community in Northern Ireland sought to forge an identity free from sectarian prejudices, agitate for the legalisation of homosexuality and play a part in the international gay community. As the conflict was reported-on internationally, gay men and women from all over the world wrote to gay organisations in Belfast offering emotional and practical support. The previous history of Irish emigration, particularly to North America and Australia, resulted in many gay emigrants contacting organisations in Belfast as they sought to reconnect with their Irish roots during this turbulent period. Transnational epistolary networks were extremely important to those who could not visit each other; pen-friends contributed feelings of international solidarity and created a world-wide gay community. Travel, related to work or leisure, also furthered Belfast’s connections with the international gay community. Visitors to Belfast sought a variety of experiences; some people wanted to visit bars, some people wanted to attend gay liberation meetings and others sought out cruising areas for anonymous sex. Using research gathered from letters, organisational papers and travel guides, this paper examines the importance of international connections in the burgeoning gay community and development of gay identity in Northern Ireland.
02 Oct 2015
University of Texas at Austin, United States, Texas