‘Being open and confident in yourself is a radical act of empowerment’

Life Lessons: Lisa Connell, managing editor of Gay Community News

What’s the biggest influence on your career?

Adversity. I’ve worked for a charity organisation, GCN (Gay Community News), for the past 10 years, through boom and bust, and as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. The constant hustle to keep the money coming in has meant much diversifying and growing my skills to keep the company afloat.

We have a monthly print magazine, a busy website, and a raft of exciting events that we run most notably, Mother, an LGBT+ club night that’s a fixture of night culture in Dublin for more than nine years now. The magazine was founded in 1988, and so the current team stands on the shoulders of giants that have come before us sustaining this key community resource. That inspires and encourages me greatly.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced?

Overcoming the tyranny of imposter syndrome in a world that likes women and queer people to stay small. Being open and confident in yourself is a radical act of empowerment and self-actualisation.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be true to yourself, trust your gut, and get out of your own way.


And the worst advice?

Get a “real job”, whatever the hell that means.

What’s the moment that changed your life?

Finding my community, and fighting for our rights on the streets by organising protests, marches and stunts as part of both LGBT Noise and Equals, and learning to understand that each person has the power to affect change in their worlds. As Alice Walker says, “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet”.

Who do you most admire?

I can’t choose one person! It’s too hard. I’m in such mad awe of so many people all the time, every day, for multiple reasons. My partner Sarah for being an all-round badass, my friends for being the best ones, my work colleagues for making the daily grind fun, and for all the artists and creators out there articulating our pain and joy in a variety of beautiful, thought-provoking ways.

What’s the most pain you’ve ever experienced?

When my mother suffered a very serious, life-altering brain injury. The uncertainty of those first few months were unbearable. It had a profound effect on my personhood.

What practical thing do you to do to help your personal development?

Learning new skills, most recently finally learning how to drive, despite the fact that city centre lessons are a uniquely terrifying introduction to the craft.

What location do you return to for a sense of calm?

The ocean or any large body of water. I recently learned how to swim, overcoming a long-held fear of the water, and it’s the best gift I’ve given myself.

What’s your biggest flaw?

My inability to say no.

And your worst habit?

Being too sensitive. Sometimes that’s a pain.

What would your friends say your most dominant trait is?

Now, I conducted some qualitative research for this one and am happy to report that I am gas.

What are you most proud of?

My positivity. I’m a great believer in the transformative power of positivity. It’s all perspective, this living business.

What’s your motto for life?

A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

Lisa Connell is managing editor of Gay Community News. The club night Mother has a new home at Lost Lane, Dublin 2, every Saturday night.