Many LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland find that there is no place for them in many areas of their communities, including a church. People on both “sides” of the conflict can face the same problems when they search for acceptance and a place to feel truly welcome. This is particularly true of faith, which isn't easy when the vast majority of options in Northern Ireland reject LGBTQ+ people.
As an organisation, Parity works towards reconciliation within communities and within people themselves. It is my belief that this type of amazing work could have a great impact if it were available in places like Northern Ireland. Year after year, statistics have shown that LGBTQ+ people are affected by mental health problems in Northern Ireland – a devastating 47% have contemplated suicide and 25% have attempted it. Parity offers skills and knowledge which could be practically implemented in these communities which need it most.
The three key words of this retreat are: Empower, Connect and Highlight. These words in themselves open up the possibilities of hope.
Thank you for supporting my fundraiser! Any money raised above my goal of $1250 will help others to attend Be the Hope, and to be empowered for their ministries.
Location: Belfast, United Kingdom
About Rachael: I am currently finishing an internship at the European Women's Lobby (finishing in February 2018), after which I will return to my PhD at Queen's University Belfast in Queer Women's Voices in 19th Century French Literature.
Coming from a post-conflict society based on religious differences, LGBTQ people in Northern Ireland have the added struggle of the normalised homophobia they face on a daily basis in the only part of Ireland & the UK in which equal marriage is still illegal. Learning more about how to bring about equality despite religious differences would be an important tool to use for LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland.