Pat Baillie, Out & Equal Director of Training & Professional Development, contributed to the Out & Equal blog while she was on the road for a month, traveling and training. Pat was in London for the Global LGBT Workplace Summit, which took place July 5 & 6, 2012, and is now back in the Bay Area!
I am back in the office and trying to catch up on emails and time zones. Due to some technology challenges, we left off my travels last Wednesday as Sharrin and I headed for Derry. Here is the final update, so we can finish up the trip!
Back in my memory of history, I remember stories of Bloody Sunday and my memory was of the events that happened in 1920 in Dublin during the War of Independence in Ireland. We were surprised when we got to Derry and found out that this was the site of another Bloody Sunday in 1972. As part of Northern Ireland, the “Troubles” continued even in this ancient walled city. In the case of Derry, the wall is part of their history and a point of pride that it has never been breached. When you look at the configuration of the city, you can see that there are two sides that still exist on opposite sides of the city. There is a peace bridge that is working to unite the two communities of Londonderry across the River Foyle. This was a short stop, but we got a chance to tour some of the local museums and galleries to learn more about Northern Ireland.
After lunch last Thursday, we took off for Galway and back into southern Ireland. We arrived on the first day of the Galway Arts Festival. What a difference in energy! Turned out that that Chic, under the direction of the legendary Nile Rodgers, was playing the night we arrived. Go back in time, and if you remember the disco/funk hit Le Freak, this was who was playing. Listening to the music, we walked and found this great sculpture called Emerging Diversity. Our waiter for dinner was from the Philippines and had lived in Galway for the last 11 years as a waiter and we definitely thought he was gay. He talked about the importance of his family and how he went home once a year to visit but felt more comfortable being in Ireland.
On Friday, we made our way to Cork, and on the way found another stone circle and visitor center on a beautiful secluded lake. It is interesting how little you hear about druid and Celtic faiths here in Ireland. Many of those traditions have been taken over by the faiths of today, but everyone once in a while; you see that those beliefs are still alive and celebrated. This was an accidental find but was the highlight of day. It truly is sometimes about the road less traveled!
On Saturday, we returned to Waterford, where I had visited 30 years ago and fell in love with the craft and creation of crystal. A couple of years ago, Waterford Crystal went into receivership and had to scale back. From several thousand employees, there are now just slightly less than 300. Our guide, Shawn, was one of the crystal cutters who had been just finishing up his apprenticeship (of 5 years) when I was last here. He had lost his pension and benefits with the closing, but came back to do tours. The apprentice program has ended and just a few employees possess the skills to hand cut to create these incredible works of art. The future of this craft is unknown and expertise is being lost every day. Those remaining work under much better production facilities than I saw 30 years ago, but that experience and corporate knowledge is being lost.
Listening to Shawn weave his stories and histories, it reminded me that we need to honor the experience and paths that those who have done this work for some many years in the LGBT community. Many times we find a better way, but we should always strive to keep the perspective of where we have been.
We made our way into Dublin and spent our last two days here. Shopping and touring were definitely on the list. We found a lot was closed on Sunday but did get to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells and enjoyed our last pints of Guinness. We wandered into a street performer championship and saw some amazing performances. It was all free and everyone was welcome. There was lots of music and families in all shapes and sizes. We saw a lot of LGBT people just enjoying the day, and we realized that we had found our way through London, Scotland and Ireland, and been able to be ourselves and experience people living out their lives in all kinds of diverse ways.
It was a long flight home but it was a great trip! Thanks for taking it with us, and I hope you get a chance to wander your own paths less traveled!