We are BRÓD! Welcome to the first of our monthly columns in the West Cork People. BRÓD started life in the minds of a group of people in West Cork a few years ago. At the time it had no name, no structure, nothing but a strong sense of being and a will of its own to be heard. The Equality referendum of 2015 showed over a 60 per cent turnout nationwide and a resounding Yes vote was passed at 62 per cent. These figures compelled action and in 2019, BRÓD was born.
From thought to reality, how did this happen? We all know that there are many good ideas for community projects that never reach the communities that they are meant for. BRÓD is the result of nearly two years of work between five core members of the group. John Fleming, a therapist and counsellor working with young trans people, Mark Holland, community worker with the Gay Project in Cork and studying in UCC, Abi O’Callaghan Platt, project manager and researcher for an environmental NGO, Lisa Brinkmann, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist with a focus on sex research and LBGTI+ matters, and Fern Higgins Atkinson, Youth Development Officer with the Ability Programme in West Cork Development Partnership, working with 18 to 29-year-olds with mental health difficulties.
In July 2019, Cork Pride enabled BRÓD to host its first event, ‘Clonakilty Pride by the Sea’. This event attracted a large number of people on the day and the committee organized entertainment, stalls and guest speakers. The response from the community highlighted the importance of ongoing support for the LGBTI+ community in West Cork and BRÓD became a reality through regular meetings, stakeholder engagement and discussion with key members of the public. Work in 2020 has been slow and steady. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, BRÓD are unable to hold an event this year but are hopeful that 2021 will bring a fresh outlook for all. The group have affiliated with the West Cork Development Partnership through support from its ‘SICAP’ programme. It has made all of the appropriate registrations as a community group at council level and has received a very positive response from our local representatives, namely Holly Cairns TD, Christopher O’Sullivan TD and Cllr. Paul Hayes.
BRÓD hope to facilitate a community where LGBTI+ people feel safe, included and equal. To this end, we brought the idea of a ‘Rainbow Crossing’ to our local representatives. This has been advocated for by Cllr. Paul Hayes at municipal council meetings and is now being put forward as a possibility for Clonakilty town centre, as well as the other municipal districts in the West Cork region. We really feel this would highlight both Clonakilty and West Cork as a safe haven for the LGBTI+ community. A place where discrimination and bigotry have no stage. Every step across that Rainbow Crossing, would be akin to Neil Armstrong and his famous stroll, ‘One small step for ‘insert pronoun’, one giant leap for ‘insert pronoun’.’ for both the LGBTI+ community, their families and allies.
BRÓD has values, they adhere to the ethos of ‘Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, Collaboration and Solidarity’. BRÓD has a mission, ‘Support, Advocate and Increase Visibility’ for the LGBTI+ community in West Cork and it aims to implement these areas through a mix of events, community engagement initiatives, education initiatives and support offerings. Follow us on our journey through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as in our monthly column in the West Cork People. Through our column we will discuss topics, issues and events surrounding everything LGBTI+. We aim to educate, involve and support through relevant, fun and informative offerings and we welcome input from interested parties.