‘I’m not going to be your experiment. I’m not another notch on your bedpost’

New campaign to target racism and anti-Traveller sentiment in the LGBTQI+ community

Survey findings by Cork based charity the Gay Project, based on the experiences of GBTQ+ Travellers and GBTQ+ people of colour, have revealed discrimination within the wider LGBTQI+ community including racism, anti-Traveller sentiment, and transphobia.

A new campaign, #ProudAF, has been launched in response to the findings aimed at raising awareness about racism among people of colour and Travellers within the LGBTQI+ community.

Nearly all of the 20 respondents to the survey had experienced racism or anti-Traveller sentiment within Ireland’s LGBTQI+ community, with many citing verbal racism and exclusion from social clubs.

One respondent said they experienced: “People fetishising my ethnicity on a dating app, or the complete opposite where I get blocked because of my ethnicity”. Another respondent said that friends “jokingly” claim they only get an opportunity because companies/colleges are just filling up a diversity quota.


One participant in the survey likened the isolation of Covid lockdown to the lived experience of queer people of colour long before the pandemic.

“We are talking about self-isolation so much in the age of Covid, but for queer people of colour, self-isolation is something they actually face. When there is no lockdown and before Covid, nobody wants to talk with them. Nobody wants to be a friend. Nobody wants to go on a date with them, or sleep with them or hook up with them,” says Pradeep Mahadeshwar

Another participant, Tafadzwa Donald Mzondo, from Lucan, Dublin (who also uses the drag act name Viola Gayvis) says she has had both positive and negative experiences within the LGBTQI+ community.

“I try not to dwell on the negatives too much. We will always get those people that try to get a rise out of you. Although on the dating apps, a lot of people cannot get past seeing my colour. They usually focus mainly on my colour and not enough on who I am as a person.

“People will come to me and the first message is, ‘I’ve never been with a Black guy’, or ‘I’ve always wanted to be with a Black guy’. I’m not going to be your experiment. I’m not another notch on your bedpost. If you want to get with me, get with me because you like me. Don’t get with me because of the colour of my skin, or to fulfil some fetish or fantasy.”

Darren Collins (26), a Traveller man from Tullamore, Co Offaly, says: “I get a lot of racism from settled people. It is also very difficult to date a settled person; they tend to have a lot of racist attitudes towards Travellers. When you say you are a gay Traveller, settled people are less likely to date you because they know that a Traveller will get a lot of racism, but even more so if you are a gay Traveller.

“There is a real fear amongst settled people that while on a night out they may come across other members of the community, which may lead to being attacked. I find it easier to date a non-national person, because they understand what it’s like to be discriminated against, they also know what it is like to be alone in society, and even more so, they know what it is like to be the only one of their communities in an LGBT+ space.”

Delroy Mpofu (31), from Dublin, is a trans man studying politics and international relations at UCD. He says: “It is intimidating to be a black person in Ireland, but it is also intimidating to be trans in Ireland. Even within the LGBT+ community I see a lot of transphobia. We don’t see many black trans people, I tend to be the only one in LGBT+ spaces.

“It would be great if more black trans people and trans people of colour came forward so that we can discuss the issues and struggles that we face. We need to discuss how to bring about change in society and maybe change within our own communities too.”

Mpofu says trans voices tend to only be heard when they are useful for funding or to promote events and agendas. “We seem to be valued when people need funding or when they want to highlight us to promote agendas. After we take part in panel discussions or promote events, we are usually forgotten about, until the next time they need to roll us out. None of our issues are ever truly resolved…We need to ensure that trans voices are represented in all discussions about our community.”

Michael O’Donnell is community development and communications worker with the Gay Project. He says females were not included in the campaign, not for reasons of exclusion but because the mission of the organisation since inception is to “support, advocate and celebrate gay, bi, trans and queer men, much like how Men’s Shed projects operate”.

“The Gay project came about in in the 1970s as the Cork naturists club, because of course homosexuality was illegal back then.”

Regarding the new #ProudAF campaign, Michael says: “We were aware that Ireland was seen as a fore runner in LGBT life, but we know that would not be the experiences of Travellers and people of colour.”

The #ProudAF campaign, funded and supported by the Department of Equality and Integration, will run throughout October through posters and and a digital screen campaign in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, as well as in all major third level institutions. info@gayproject.ie