1970s Cork LGBT Community

What was it like to be LGBT in Cork in the 1970s?  

In the early to mid-1970s there were no formal LGBT organisations or social centres in Cork, these began to emerge in mid / late 1970s.  

There were informal social networks, mostly centering around parties and gatherings, particularly in the homes of some of the wealthier gay men.  Even in the midst of hostility, criminalisation and discrimination, the gay community creacted spaces for the celebration and enjoyment of gay culutre.  However, these parties were primarily for gay men, and were only available to those who knew about them and were invited.  

Many LGBT people coming out in the early 1970s were isolated and found it difficult to find a community.

Cork LGBT people would sometimes travel to Dublin to socialise in the emerging LGBT scene there.

Many Cork LGBT people emigrated to cities such as London, where they could find a larger and more open LGBT community.

The first Cork LGBT organisation, the Cork Branch of the IGRM (Irish Gay Rights Movement) was set up in 1975 and the first gay centre opened on MacCurtain Street in 1976.  This provided an important space for the LGBT community, with social and community activities being organised, including weekend discos, newsletters and a telephone helpline.

The nascent LGBT community sought to challenge misinformation and prejudice about LGBT people, for example through media programmes on radio and on TV.

At this stage the community identified as gay and lesbian, with little acknowledgment or respect for bisexual and transgender people.  From the beginning tensions emerged between lesbians and gay men, with struggles over the allocation of resources for lesbian activities.

This Exhibit provides some information about Cork in the 1970s.  If you would like to add information and stories to this Exhibit please get in touch at corklgbthistory@gmail.com 


Created by Orla Egan