The Irish LGBTQ diaspora: Dusty Springfield, Eileen Gray, Fr Bernárd Lynch

To mark Pride week, Jessica Traynor celebrates some LGBTQ+ members of the diaspora

Dusty Springfield.  Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Dusty Springfield. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

With homosexuality illegal until 1993 in Ireland, gender identity was an important factor in the migration of Irish people from the early modern period to more recent times. At Epic, we explore the social and legal factors that made their lives in Ireland untenable, but we also celebrate their successes and the immeasurable contribution they made around the world. To complement a week of Pride events at Epic, here are some LGBTQ+ diaspora members who we want to celebrate this year.

Fr Bernárd J Lynch

Fr Bernard Lynch (right) and his husband Billy Desmond (left) in 2012. Photograph: Eric Luke /The Irish Times
Fr Bernard Lynch (right) and his husband Billy Desmond (left) in 2012. Photograph: Eric Luke /The Irish Times

Born in Co Clare in the 1950s, Bernárd didn’t feel he fit in, calling himself “a pious little creep”. He entered the seminary at 17 and had a long-term relationship with another trainee priest, before being ordained in 1971 and undertaking further studies in counselling and psychotherapy. The mid-70s found him in New York, where he would remain through the worst of the Aids crisis, working for the Gay Catholic support group Dignity. Targeted by the Vatican for drawing attention to the truth of the lives of many gay clergymen, Lynch continued to speak and campaign in defence of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Lynch has been married to his partner, Billy Desmond, since 1998. He has published books including Priest on Trial and If It Wasn’t Love, Sex, Death and God, and was part of the Take the Boat to Vote campaign in 2015 for the Irish Marriage Equality referendum.

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