With the first interview of the year we will continue where we left off in 2019: welcome another role model, a successful lesbian* athlete. Reg from Ireland won the Gold Medal in badminton at the last EuroGames in Rome.
Hey, Reg. Can you introduce yourself please?
Hi, my name is Regina Curtis. I am an Irish citizen, currently living in Cork, which is part of the Southern Region in Ireland. I work with Children in Care, which means that the children I work with are no longer able to live with their families for various different reasons. In addition, I have recently returned to college in order to complete an Honours Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
My favourite things to do is reading a good crime novel, spending time with family and friends, and of course with my girlfriend.
In recent years, following personal tragedy, I found myself having to put myself back out on the social scene and joined Team Ireland committee in 2018 and we together organised to bring 101 participants from Ireland to Paris for the 10th International Gay Games. Team Ireland brought home over 40 medals. It was an honour to be part of that whole process and to openly represent my country. Again in 2019, Team Ireland organised participants to attend the EuroGames in Rome. I won gold along with my team partner (actually, my girlfriend) in Badminton. I am still in awe!
Wow, congratulations! It really is a huge deal. Now let us talk a bit about Ireland and its LGBTQ+ scene. How is it to live there as an LGBTQ+ person?
Like any country, there will always be need for continuous work to be completed with regard to the LGBTQ+ community. There is a broad range of issues to be dealt with to ensure equality for all.
As a lesbian woman in Ireland, it has been a long struggle of the last 30 years for equality: now I live openly in Ireland and in general, and it is good to say that I do not suffer discrimination. Ireland is a good place to live at present with regard to rights for the LGBTQ+ community. In 2015, a marriage referendum was held in the country and won with quite a large majority. Since the inception of Marriage Equality, the community has moved forward even with the rights of the parents in same-sex couples. As it stands today, same sex couples can adopt jointly since 2017.
That sounds promising. What’s the situation in Cork specifically?
Cork City and County has always been on the forefront of accepting LGBTQ+ people into their community. So much the local council had LGBTQ+ community in their social inclusion plan. It is no surprise that there is a high number of rainbow families in Cork City and the greater Cork area. Most companies are very supportive of any LGBTQ+ employee and would show their support during Pride month and Cork's annual Pride Week in August.
What about lesbian* social life?
Cork has a resource centre for Lesbian Women called LinC, which dates back to the late 1990's (then under a different name). The people involved in it continued their work to ensure a safe place for lesbian* women to meet. In addition, there are several social groups set up for women to meet in mainstream bars in the City Centre a couple of times a month.
Like a mentioned earlier, I am part of a Lesbian* Badminton Club which is the longest running LGBTQ+ sports group in Ireland and was set up in 2006. Since then, many other groups have been formed, such as running, hill walking, boxing, a drama group and a choir.
Finally, can you share a memorable coming out stories of yours?
So my coming out story! Ireland was an extremely Catholic country and being gay was not accepted over 20 years ago. My biggest fear was that my parents would reject me and I would be isolated from my family. I am an only girl with three brothers so it was difficult to tell my parents. I spoke to my parents separately. I told my Dad, he would be the only man in my life and he accepted that. I sat down with my Mother and told her everything. She was a little upset to begin with. Nevertheless, I was very fortunate: my parents accepted me and show me nothing but unconditional love.