Happy new year! How are the resolutions going? Did you make any? Broken them yet? So what if you have. New year is only a date, start again, give it another go. I made a few but to be honest most of them were started before the new year. A new year is a great time to reevaluate your goals and look at where you are and where you want to be. So is Monday. Or a Thursday. In fact any day ending in Y.
Personally for me 2017 was a roller coaster. I made some massive mistakes but I also had some amazing successes. It’s all a learning curve. During 2017 I learned a lot about people. Life can be filled with heroes and villains and ensuring you surround yourself with the right ones is vastly important. In 2017 I made sure I did just that and discovered so much about people that I was truly amazed at how much people do without asking for any form of acknowledgement. Yes, they get thanks but they don’t do it for that. And yes, there are some that do it just to be noticed because they live off that attention. That’s fine, if that’s what they need then go for it. To me, the ones who don’t say “Didn’t I do well?” are the ones I admire.
So with that in mind here are my ten heroes of 2017. Ten people or groups who deserves your appreciation and your thanks, in my humble opinion, and who don’t ask for it. They do what they do because they want to. To me, that is inspirational. You may disagree with who I’ve put on this list and that’s okay. You’re allowed to and I encourage it, the point behind it is, as the title says, not all heroes wear capes.
The list is in no particular order but my number one is my number and will always be my number one.
10. GARN – Galway Anti Racism Network.
Launching in 2016 I’m ashamed to say I only became aware of them towards the middle of 2017. Racism is still a thing and the volunteers of this group work hard to eradicate it. They do more than that though! They turn up and help out at LGBT+ events, are helping to bring about an end to direct provision, are involved in many of the women’s movements and so much more.
9. Galway Autism Partnership (GAP)
I have had the pleasure of doing some work for this group and I’d so again tomorrow at the drop of hat. The events they organise to raise awareness and funds literally cover everything! There will be at least one event every year that you could attend and enjoy. The work they do is endless and the support they give to families and individuals is just amazing.
8. Galway Pro-Choice
If you think the marriage referendum was divisive and turned nasty try being part of this group! I’ve heard stories of people getting spat at, shouted at and death threats sent all because they believe, as I do, that a woman should have a say over her body. They go through all that and still turn up to fight on. Well done to them.
7. Niall Ó Tuathail
It’s an honour to call Niall my friend. He’ll be running in the general election for the Social Democrats and no candidate could deserve your number one vote more. A few days ago, when Galway suffered flooding, he was first on the frontline to organise sandbags and support for the companies who needed it. That example of his forward thinking is from 2018 but there are loads from 2017 I could have included, as well as his work on the marriage referendum. The list is essentially endless.
6. Sharon Nolan
Last year Sharon won Volunteer of the Year at the Gay and Lesbians Awards and the award was so so well deserved. She is highly skilled at time management because she manages to have a social life AND help out with so many different causes and do so because she wants to! She’ll say no when she can’t but it’s not often she says no.
5. Pride Committee
I felt a bit weird adding this one as I was the chairperson but I need to add them. If you knew the full story of what the committee went through over the last eighteen months or so you’d know why they’re here. I’m not going in to it because I’m sure it would just cause yet another unwarranted solicitors letter to arrive but suffice to say this group of people deserve a pat on the back and a thank you. I thank them immensely for their support while I was chair.
4. Martin Beanz Warde
Martin organised a comedy event for Pride and took some stick for the line-up. Stick that he didn’t deserve and that wasn’t warranted. Rather than just ignore it and let slide he took this criticism and turned it into something positive. But that’s not all. This talented young man would go out of his way to help someone in need. Be it giving them a lift to just being at the end of the phone at 3am listening to silence. I’ve never once heard him say “Yeah, I did that and no one thanked me!” He doesn’t do it for thanks or recognition, although there may be some who’d think otherwise. He does it because he wants to. Because he can.
3. Cameron Keighron
I’m not going to go into too much detail on this one because it’s his story and if he wants to tell it he can. All I’m going to say is I’ve never met such a brave young man who stood up to bulling and adversity in such a calm and controlled manner. I have so much respect for him.
2. The volunteers of the LGBT Helpline
As some of you will be aware I work closely with this group and I’ve got to say the dedication shown by them to ensure every caller feels safe, respected and not judged is incredible. I can’t name the volunteers as they like to remain anonymous but they give up their time, attend training, and support each other as well as the callers. They become a close knit group, a family if you will, and the do it all, like so many others on this list, because they can. Calls come from all backgrounds with all sorts of queries and questions. From people asking how they get to certain bar to others feeling deep in crisis yet every caller gets the respect they deserve and someone to listen. It’s not easy answering some of these calls but they do. I wish there had been something like this when I was growing up and discovering more about myself.
Nothing else needs to be said here.
But obviously I will.
Without his love and support I would be lost. If you knew the kind of crap I make him put up with you’d know why he is number one.
To those of you on this list thank you. You have my admiration and heartfelt thanks.
So is your hero? Tell me! Better still, tell them!