Well, i had just about had enough of sitting on my backside and doing nothing about my sexuality other than say to myself “i am Gay”. i had recently come out and i found that i wanted to develop myself to some degree within the gay community and scene. the first time i plucked up the courage to go out on the newry scene, i had decided to attend luscious, but to my shock and horror, i found that it had been cancelled. i had heard about it before but hadn’t the courage to go and now that i had found some sense of balls, it was no longer taking place. the next time i went to go on the gay scene was at spectrum in dundalk and to be honest i found it a lonely place. i didn’t know anyone and i didn’t go out of my way to meet anyone, so the reality for myself was that even though i was out on the scene, i wasn’t participating in the scene. when i realised this, things began to change.

i began going to the new venture in newry called Aqueeriam, and found that i was meeting people and making friends so long as i made the effort to do something other than sit at a bar drinking myself drunk, then walking home alone. i started to date a few people and as time wore on, i wanted to make my statement. i wanted everyone to know that i, Damian, was claiming my inheritance and that i was taking ownership of my life, i wanted it out in the open that i was and am gay and proud of that fact in all its glory. but the big question was how was i going to manage it and cause the least amount of (perceived) offence as possible to people who were and are close to me?

As i went through my inner thoughts and while continuing to attend Aqueeriam, i began to hear about Dublin Gay Pride from people and also from magazines like the GCN. my thought processes began to turn (i can still see the smoke puffing from my brain) and the thought developed that i could do the announcement through particapation in the Dublin gay pride parade. i had already come out to my family about my being gay, but, here was the opportunity presenting itself to me, that would allow me to come out on a wider scale and acknowledge for all time my own worthiness and indeed force people of the fence as to where they stood in relation to me, and in general, the gay community. here was a chance to say to all, “i accept you on your terms so could you please do me the courtesy of accepting me on my terms with respect and due care, as i do you”. so i made my way to dublin and joined in the festivities but missed the parade through my lateness in journeying from newry. it was a great time, i enjoyed gubu, yello, the ould out in the liffey(now company), and of course the good old george, the jewel in the crown of dublin’s gay scene.

i met my partner that weekend and continue to be together today in a relationship that has become very exciting and wholesome in many ways.

soon afterwards, we travelled north, towards belfast and the gay pride there. again the scene was great in the union, the krem, the kube etc but more powerfully for myself, was that i felt on home ground and it was really here that my statement was needed to be made, and it was done not just through parading with the gay community but by going on tv and saying that the hecklers that were heckling us that day claimed to be “Christians but the reality was that they weren’t being very Christian to us or myself when they wont allow our lives to flourish in its most natural form, that of being gay”.

So there it was, for all to see who knew and know me. i was out not only celebrating my gayness and that of my community as a whole, but i was demanding a moral right to respect and the human right of having my dignity in tact without fear of intimidation from any quarter, wheather it be from Christian or otherwise. i was claiming my birthright to be equal among equals and i was demanding that i be allowed to be equal. do you know what? to this day, i have had no real problems with being gay or from people who are striaght. so there it is folks, a short story about my life on the scene. there are many more encounters that i could relate but i think the point i am making is suffice for now.
the scene can be a good thing if one allows it to be so. there must be a reason for why we go on the scene and surely its not just all sex and music, although that too is good, excellent in fact ha. this year there is gay pride in dublin and belfast and what i would like to say is that if you are sitting back accepting that you are gay and want to get out from newry for to express that gayness in whatever way suits you, then maybe these events are the places to do just that. whatever you decide be happy with your desicion. it is you that matters. be safe, be prudent, be wholesome and definately be proud of who you are.

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14 Responses to “Aqueeriam”

  1. damian says:

    Well guys, now that the fourth Passion is here I feel I must say a few things just to register my total support for such an endeavour and to help encourage people to keep coming along. The above article was wrote by myself sometime ago and is self explanatory but now that things and time have moved on maybe it is fitting that I update myself thoughts a little here.

    So Passion started off with a bang, literally… with the launch, the media, and some local politicians helping in their respective roles, the Newry populace recieved with open arms the Pink People of Newry in a very generous manner. In return, the Gay community developed its foundation through the N.R.C. and its various events such as the discussions in Ballybot house, the Hill walking and then the every great Passion nights that we all enjoy free of charge. There is then, of course, the fortnightly update in the local Newry Democrat through Gaybits, and I know the local Str8 and Gay community, combined, both enjoy what this section has to offer, one can see it in the Str8 people who attend the Passion nights.

    I, myself welcome all of the work and effort that all the guys at the N.R.C have put in to making Newry a good place to be Gay or otherwise. I also have had the pleasure at the last Passion night of having some of my relatives present (Str8’s), and to be honest they thought we were all nice and happy people. Well what can I say, OF COURSE WE ARE!!! I think they were suprised at how we seem to enjoy ourselves and make others welcomed and to be honest it helped my relatives understand something more of where I am at at the moment, and, from whence I came from.

    I also visited the Ballybot house on an occassion when the local P.S.N.I representatives were in attendance and here again, I was suprised and delighted with the presentation, deliverance and co-operation that was present and what remains on offer for those of us in the community who might suffer some form of homophobia etc. It is hearteniong to know that we have a local lasion officer at the P.S.N.I. in newry who can be reached at 028 308 32067 or so the Gay Community News informs us all. I’m sure there are other things that are on offer such as sexual/mental health, housing issues, education, and a host of other things that I’m sure will come through in the local NRC news bits either on GayNewry or in the Newry Democrat at some point or another.

    I find also, now that when I frequent other public establishments in newry that they too are becoming more gay friendly or at least open to the option that some of their clientele are in fact gay. This is good for all of us and supports the idea that we as gay people belong among all the popoulace of this city, and are indeed an important intergrated part. I believe over this past few years since my last piece, that I have felt I definately belong to the Newry population not as a person on the margins or in isolation but as a fully accepted person in my own right. I believe things like luscious, aqueeriam,Belfast,Dublin and Newry pride have helped me along the way, likewise so did the endless chats I had with people both within and without the NRC. Passion is continuing in this manner and is developing my sense of being, to the point, whereby some of my relatives are now looking to us as people whereas before maybe viewed us as freaks. They are actively being part of my life and indeed through things such as the Gaybits and the talks the NRC have going on, I know the newry people in general have indeed been brought along a pathway of acceptance. Still I see work that needs to be done and I’m sure our leaders will continue to help develop the community in, with and through us all, as we move forward in this, our city. A city that has as its people, gay, foriegn, local and different creeds and class, all of whom i belong to as a newry citizen.

    Just thought I would share some thoughts since I last wrote to “out on the scene”. Hope everyone enjoys Passion and thanks for being part of my development guys.

  2. madone says:

    well damien what can i say? Really nice and personal piece and heart warming to hear your thoughts on the above.

    To add my own wee bit i only came out in early 2006 and i have found the scene very welcoming in Newry and Belfast. My network of friends and family have been great (thankfully) and my work colleagues also have been challenged on their attitudes towards the gay community.. And my little input and direction has helped them to talk about it and not feel embarrassed when i am around and i can answer any question’s they may have. And at the present time things are quite good.!

    As Damien has mention the NRC commitee has been a breath of fresh air. The personalities and commitment these people have is fantastic!
    they have helped me in ways that they will never know! (Thanks Folks)
    Yes my experience of the local establisments (coffee SHops, Bars,) in newry has been positive..!!

    The scene has been great fun and crack meeting people of the same persuasion and enjoying Seriously though it has been fabulous i can now be me..! ( i am Complete) live life now without any secrets.

    As for the Passion nights the atmosphere and the people that attend them, has been truly amazing the crowds are increasing every month. The courteous ,friendly and charming folks that attend PASSION has been great. And having met new friends also has been a bonus. And has damien has mentioned the feedback from St8 people has been great.

    So i will be heading to Pride this year both in the south + the North to express my identiy and that i have a lot to give and contribute to, in my community both the gay and the St8 one…!

    So Folks see you out and about at the various events! And for those that yet have to experience passion give it a go… Beats sitting in the house or wherever.. And you might just meet that special person!!
    ( i am still waiting though lol)

    L8er be safe and proud..:) 🙂

  3. there2be says:

    well guys , it’s myself again… just a short note to say a much heartfelt thank you to the gay community of newry, who over the years, have given me their time, help, company, friendship and indeed much more. so a big THANK YOU.

    since my last piece so much has happened and changed in my own life, in the newry city life, and the gay community life here in the city. it has been for the good i know it indeed deserves all the support it can get.

    gonna keep this piece brief. but thought you should know, that for all my writing above, and for all my exoeriences, the one constant that has been there with me has been the knowledge that i’m not alone. yes i have been on the scene and thats where i met my partner of almost nine years now. we are still together today and in fact hope to have a civil partnership ceremony towards the end of this year. i tell you this because the scene in newry, belfast, dublin and elsewhere has helped develop me to the point where i am now at in my life. i knew i wasn’t alone in my gayness and now i’m going to be together with the person i love for life, my soul mate. so for all you out there on the scene looking for love, keep looking and availing of all that the gay community has to offer. it’s your community. the N R.C. is a fantanstic group of people doing much needed work on our behalf. join with them if you can, but more importantly, keep on going after the love you desire, he/she is out there waiting for you.

    good to see passion up and expanding. good luck in the venture.

  4. Hi there2be good to see you the other night and that you are still keen on being involved. yes time flys by and hopefully things are improving all the time in Newry for the gay community.

  5. kieran11 says:

    im just coming out should i go to the passion disco sat night im shy and 45 or should i catch my self on?

  6. Hi Kieran, definitely don’t think you should catch yourself on!

    I’m afraid the majority of us poor folk who organize the Passion night are of a “certain age” as well so if you caught yourself on we would probably have to as well!!!

    People of all ages go to the disco and you lose nothing in trying it out so give it a go and let us know how you get on

  7. kieran11 says:

    hi i went to passion last night loved it thank you to the two lovley ladys who looked after me i got to meet some lovley people thank you.

  8. Thats great Kieran thanks, Glad you had a good one

  9. elmo says:

    As a Newry guy and gay who has been away from the place for most of my life progress has been good in terms of gay people living in Newry or so it seems. I have lived all over UK. What gets up my nose is that the “gay pub night” still exists and apparently is readily accepted as the norm in Newry despite its obviously discrimatory and homophobic undertones. Once a month a straight pub allows a gay night how pathetic is that !! Why the hell isnt there a gay pub! In the rest of the uk “gay pub nights” died the death it deserved with full equality with the rest of the population. It seems to me there will never be an accepted equality for Newry gay people unless most grow a pair and stand up and say we as a group can drink, dance, hold hands whereever we want and nobody can stop us because it is OUR RIGHT. There has been progress but there is a long haul ahead.

  10. Interesting thoughts Elmo.

    I would say there is no gay bar in Newry specifically because economics of Newry’s size would prevent it plus gay bars in Dublin and Belfast are only a short distance away and a nightbus runs to Dublin so just like London you can be home from a night out in an hour!

    Bellinis gay night works because it is only once a month, it’s certainly not a begrudging exercise and in fact the said bar couldn’t be more supportive to us.

    I would prefer a situation where we don’t need gay bars because you can be yourself in any bar and we are certainly making great progress in that respect in Newry.

  11. elmo says:

    Thanks for a swift reply lol I can see where you are coming from and I suppose not everything is econonomically viable. Im in Newry 15th October for a week so I will get my neice and nephew (both gay) to give the old uncle a wee tour of the new gay friendly city ! I look forward to visiting this site more often. Last but not least congratulations for your organisation of a pride event in Newry, I never thought I would see the day.

  12. Hi Elmo, Enjoy your trip home. If you are about 7pm to 10pm Thursday night or Friday night or Saturday afternoon 2-6 call in to the NRC Centre at 82a Hill St and we’ll make you a wee cuppa. I’m there on Thursday nights but call in any night that suits. C

  13. elmo says:

    awww thanks for the invite but went to bingo with the mother on thursday and home friday! Never say the invite till late sat afternoon – will make a point next time x Never won a penny at bingo lol x

  14. david says:

    so where is the place in Newry to be on NYE . Visiting for 4 days.

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