"From Clare To Cork" Aarons LGBTI+ Journey
Aaron Kelly is a 32 year old gay man from a village named Cranny in Co. Clare.
As a young gay man growing up in Ireland, rural Ireland in particular, Aaron faced many challenges in regards to his sexuality and his place in society.
“I felt very isolated” said Aaron. Growing up there was never any discussion regarding the LGBTI+ community, he felt intense pressure from society as he knew he wasn’t the same and couldn’t conform to what was expected of him. “LGBTI+ just wasn’t a thing” said Aaron, “even in school with sex talks it was always boy meets girl, nothing else, you didn’t feel normal. I knew I liked boys but it felt wrong, I was in a dark place. I had nobody to talk to.”
Asked if, after all he had experienced, he had any advice for those going through similar experiences, Aaron couldn’t stress enough how important it is to be true to who you are and how damaging it can be to try and suppress that identity.
“Things have come a long way in the last 10 or so years since I went through this, a lot of good work is being done in Ireland to make it a safer place for LGBTI+ people, and how important it is for those struggling to do their best to reach out to somebody, parents, teachers, friends, you need to be true to yourself. Reaching out and communicating is the first step and it is so important.”
Growing up in rural Ireland with such a small LGBTI+ community, eventually Aaron’s sights turned toward other parts of Ireland. Aaron says what caught his eye was Cork’s LGBTI+ football team, ‘Cork Rebels FC’. He also had friends and family living in Cork and knew the county had a much larger LGBTI+ community which is why he decided to make the move there.
After experiencing the Cork Rebels FC team, Aaron became interested in and began to participate in many other groups, such as the Hellhounds Rugby club, Frontrunners Cork running club and Cork Racketeers Badminton Club. “I got to play all these sports I loved, and meet so many people from different LGBTI+ backgrounds and hear their stories, and not feel how you felt 10, 12 years ago when you felt isolated from everyone else, and you get to experience a kind of common trust and familiarity you may not experience with straight friends.”
Finally, for anyone that may find themselves in a similar situation but maybe feel they just can’t come out, Aaron had some great advice to give, valuable to anyone struggling with their sexual identity. “Everyone needs to come out at their own pace” he said, “don’t let it build up in your head as this can lead to bad thoughts and depression. Write down on a piece of paper how you’re feeling and try to process it yourself. This can give some structure and clarity to your thoughts instead of having them swirling around in your head. Don’t get bogged down and don’t feel pressure to come out.”
Ireland as a whole has come a very long way in a short span of time in regards to LGBTI+ awareness but it’s stories like Aaron’s that will help to educate and inform others into the future.
If you would like to know more about any of the LGBTI+ community groups mentioned in this blog check out: