OUTing the Past 2019 Conference Speaker: Patrick James McDonagh

Patrick James McDonagh will be presenting during the “Building and Documenting Communities” panel at the OUTing the Past 2019 Conference. Patrick currently serves as a PhD researcher at the European University Institute Florence.


In recent years Irish society has undergone a dramatic cultural transformation, leaving behind the image of a socially conservative society dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. This transformation could be seen in the successful passage of the marriage equality referendum in 2015 and the abortion referendum in 2018; both of which were overwhelmingly supported by the Irish electorate. These changes have been driven by grassroots efforts which began long before 2015 and 2018, yet much of Irish history is still overwhelmingly focused on more mainstream politics and political agitation, as well as the role of the Roman Catholic Church and so called pioneering male politicians. It is a history which is still overwhelmingly heterosexual. 

I am interested in Irish Queer history because, I believe, it offers one means of helping to contextualise the dramatic changes which have characterised recent years in Ireland, but also helps to diversify our understanding of Irish society and history more broadly. In recent years efforts have been made to rethink Irish history by exploring the contribution of Irish women to the development of the state and society. I believe, that we need to build on this exciting new research by further including other marginalised groups, sexualities, genders, races, ethnicities, creeds, etc.  and explore how they have shaped Irish society in the past and continue to do so in the present. My research focuses primarily on the history of gay and lesbian activism/resistance in the Republic of Ireland from the 1970s-present and how they renegotiated Irish gender norms and sexual mores. This is still, however, an area of Irish history which is still in its infancy. 


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