Northern Ireland's first LGBTQ+ GAA club celebrates milestone one-year anniversary
Northern Ireland’s first GAA club created exclusively for LGBTQ+ players, Aeracha Uladh, celebrated its one-year anniversary in April.
To mark the milestone, the Lámh Dhearg Gaelic Athletic Association club hosted a five-aside blitz at its facility, which included a raffle, live entertainment, stalls from local charities and refreshments.
A big thanks to @AvonmoreProtein for the generous donation on first anniversary, to help support our players development and recovery! ❤️💛 #avonmoreproteinmilk #lgbt #aerachauladh #belfast #gaelicfootball pic.twitter.com/Q45mf8gBAj
— Aeracha Uladh (@AerachaUladh) April 24, 2023
Aeracha Uladh loosely translates to ‘Gay people of Ulster’. The club was founded by Martin Murray, a Belfast native who performs under the drag name ‘Danú Variant’, in April 2022.
Co-Chairperson of the club, Emma Gernon, said the club serves as a community and safe space “…for anybody to come to get fit and healthy and enjoy themselves”. In the past year, over 60 LGBTQ+ players have joined the sessions.
Aeracha Uladh believes in breaking down harmful gender norms and stereotypes that too often exist within sports. Emma explained, “The GAA are trying to be more inclusive and diverse, but they do come from a long and deep rooted history in Irish culture and identity.”
The club has big plans for the future. While right now, it is not officially affiliated with the GAA or LGFA, this is one of the goals for this year. However, the club is approaching it with caution.
Most members have not played Gaelic games before, but some players, particularly gay men, report having had negative experiences with homophobia from their participation with GAA teams in the past.
Even so, club committee member Cathal McGurk said, “We now have a diversity officer in the GAA in Dublin. So, inclusivity is becoming a bigger thing for them, and….The GAA in Dublin marched with the Dublin team during Pride, and up here we had Ulster marching with us at Pride.”
While the GAA has yet to make an official statement on the eligibility of trans and non-binary players, the LGFA is determining eligibility on a case-by-case basis, and Aeracha Ulad club members hope that the former authority will make an inclusive decision soon.
For now, the club is focusing on sharing information about the organisation and getting more people to join its supportive, inclusive team. Emma emphasised that everyone is welcome to join Aeracha Uladh, “including asylum seekers and neurodivergent people.”
The LGBTQ+ GAA club trains at Cardinal O’Donnell’s GAC on Whiterock Road in Belfast.
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