About Belong To
The Outing is supporting BelongTo’s national work to promote support and acceptance of LGBT young people in their own hometowns. Small towns like Dromoland are embracing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and making them feel welcome.
BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland. Since 2003, they have worked with LGBTI+ young people, between 14 and 23 years, to create a world where they are equal, safe, and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences.
They also advocate and campaign on behalf of young LGBTI+ people, and offer a specialised LGBTI+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol support. They respond to the needs of LGBTI+ young people in Ireland and help them thrive.
When 19-year-old Katie McCabe first set foot in BeLonG To, she was terrified. Here she talks about how much has changed since that day.
“Try and imagine that you’re 15 again. Imagine all the things you cared about at that age. Did you make the sports team, would your mam let you go to the disco? Try and remember how much these things mattered at the time – as trivial as they may seem now.
Now imagine, as well as the normal, everyday stresses of being a teenager, along with the raging hormones, school pressures, and everything else that comes with being a teenager; you were terrified.
Terrified, that your friends would leave you. Terrified that your family would disown you. Terrified that your community would exclude you. I was terrified.
All because, at 15, you fancied that girl in your history class. Imagine how scary that is! The fear becomes almost all you can think about. You do your best to live your, seemingly normal, teenage life, all the while lying, to those you love about who you really are.
This is not a new story. It’s not ground breaking or unique. It’s been told a thousand times before by anyone who’s ever felt different, or wrong, or ashamed. But it’s my story too.
The day I stepped into BeLonG To was the day the terror in my life began to come to an end. The first time I went there, I was so scared. I was so used to hiding who I was that I didn’t know how to react to such an open, inclusive, and accepting place. Half way through the group I slipped out to the bathroom to cry. I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Going from the terror and anxiety that I felt, to being accepted and empowered was an unbelievable experience. No longer did I feel the constant panic that I would be judged and ridiculed for who I am.
Through the work at BeLonG To, I gained the strength and courage to be who I truly am. This has empowered me to go on and study youth work at university.
I have seen the power of youth work and the impact of a supportive, non-judgemental space. I know exactly what isolation feels like, and I don’t want anyone else to feel like that. I want that girl, age 15, frightened and unsure to know that things can change, and there is a place where you can truly be who you are.
Please help us to create a safe space for young LGBTI+ people, a place they can be their true selves, happy, safe and supported.
You can help us build a society that cheers when every young person says ‘this is me’: https://donate.belongto.org/
Make a Donation
At The Outing, we’ll hear from those involved with this work and we’ll ask you for a small donation to support this incredibly worthy cause. If you’d like to make a donation online now, you can do so at: https://www.friends-of.
These were the words of a wonderful young man Dan, who spoke at the recent launch of Stand Up! our campaign in schools to eliminate homophobic and transphobic bullying. He was talking about BeLonG To.
We have much to celebrate.
For five years we have taken the fight against homophobic and transphobic bullying into our schools, and this year, our most successful Stand Up campaign ever, was not only sent to all 750 schools, but was hailed by the Department of Education as saving lives.
Yes we do have much to celebrate.
But, we also have much more to do.
Because all over Ireland there are still lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans young people, like Dan, who are facing intolerable abuses every day.
More than half of lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans schoolchildren, like Dan, have reported homophobic bullying at school.
More than half.
School life forms the bedrock of your childhood experience. It should be the place to flourish and thrive, to develop your sense of identity and independence.
Which is why BeLonG To is transforming the landscape for LGBT young people in Ireland
Which is why BeLonG To has fought, and will continue to fight to eliminate homophobic & transphobic bullying in our schools – and foster a spirit of inclusion in our classrooms
Which is why we need your support!
€21.00 will deliver a Stand Up! pack to a teacher to help them eliminate homophobia & transphobia from their classroom
€40.00 will provide one-to-one support for a young person who has experienced bullying
€125.00 will print 500 booklets for parents which contains key information on how they can support their LGBT child
€250.00 will run a rural youth group for a month so that LGBT young people can meet and feel accepted
Here’s Dan again. “Home is hope that someday when you pluck up the courage to say ‘this is me’ the world will resonate an echo of that.”
Please, help us a build a society that cheers when every young person says ‘this is me’. We need your donation today to make that society a reality!
Executive Director at BeLonG To Youth Services