The Cork Gay Community Development Project evolved from political and social initiatives dating back to the early 1980’s. In the early Seventies the first recorded meetings took place in Popes Quay under the guise of the Cork Naturalist Club. Prior to this, and for many years afterwards the primary focus for a Gay movement was through individual networks.
The Quay Co-op was established in 1981 as a broad based community initiative. The Co-op was modelled on the “Community Resource Centres” which evolved from the politicisation of youth culture and were developed primarily in London in the late sixties and early 70’s.
The Cork Gay Collective was established and began to meet on a regular basis. Its first major involvement was the organisation of the First National Gay Conference.
The Dublin Gay Collective and many smaller groups were established throughout the country joining the then National Gay Federation/Irish Gay Rights Movement, particularly in Cork and Dublin, and the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA) in Northern Ireland. From this conference primarily, Kieran Rose (a prominent member of the CGC) formed a highly significant trade union group. This was the development of a strategy, which resulted in a slow but steady body of lobbying, which eventually was central to law reform nearly fifteen years later.
In the early to mid eighties there was an awareness of HIV/AIDS among the gay community. As a result local groups such as ours were aware of the issues on a day-to-day basis from a very early stage. Gay Health Action was established shortly afterwards by the Cork and Dublin Gay Collectives in 1985 and began to attempt to promote sexual health education within the community.
In 1991 a Gay and Lesbian centre was set up in Cork with “The Other Place” opening. This was established with funding from particular individuals and primarily funding from the Quay Co-op. The centre comprised of a café, a social centre (disco and some offices as well as meeting space).
The Southern Gay Men’s Health Project was established in 1991 and has become a core part of the project. The emergence of a viable Lesbian identity also happened during this period. This resulted in the establishment of LINC (Lesbians in Cork).
The centre has over the years survived under intense pressure, both internal and external. The project managed to survive despite these pressures by a variety of strategies and funding sources (Health Board, C.E. etc) and developed into a strong, clearly identifiable fixture in the social/community landscape of Cork.
In 2000 the project was successful in it’s application under the “Social Economy Scheme” and “The Cork Gay Community Development Company Limited” in its current format was formed.