Launch of GLAD

Earlier this week I had the pleasure to attend the launch of Gay and Lesbian across Down (GLAD) on Monday 10 March 2008 at Betty Blacks.

I am really proud to have worked with others to establish North Down and Ards LGBT group in January 2007.

Over a year later it was amazing to celebrate our First Birthday and launch a re-branded group now known as GLAD with a new name, wider remit and enhanced range of services.

Monday night was one of the proudest moments in my life, for the reason I detailed on the night.

“Back in 1996 when I came out as a gay man I was living Bangor. It was a completely different place than today. I felt excluded, isolated and alone. Today in 2008 I am now again living in Bangor. I feel valued in a part of Northern Ireland which embraces diversity and provides hope of the future.

I am truly impressed to have so many local Councillors and MLAs present here tonight. Your support for us is greatly appreciated.”

To have Mayor of North Down Councillor Doctor Stephen Farry MLA, North Down Ulster Unionist MLA Alan McFarland, Ulster Unionist Councillor James McKerrow and Chief Superintendent Graham Shields present meant the world to me.

To receive endorsement from such a wide range of people sent a strong message to me and other lesbian, gay and bisexual people that being gay is okay.

It was also great for Betty Blacks to openly welcome us to their premises.

I look forward to the future with lots of hope and tons of enthusiasm.