Sparkles 2016 took place on Saturday 2nd April and was as successful as ever! Out in UL members and non-members alike gathered in Plassey Village Hall for an amazing day of educational fun. The aim of Sparkles is essentially that, it is a yearly event that seeks to educate and to unite the queer and straight communities, hence it is a very important event in the context of Out in UL’s aims as a society.

This year we had two workshops, both of which were incredibly informative and enjoyable. The first workshop was delivered by Patrick McElligott, the LGBT Support Project Worker at GOSHH. Patrick’s workshop focused on the forgotten letters of the spectrum; that is, orientations which are less commonly spoken in discourse and media. As the erasure experienced by those of some orientations is a major issue for the community and an issue Out in UL seeks to address, we felt this was a particularly pertinent workshop for many in the society. The workshop involved discussions about media representation of sexual orientation as well as the popular perceptions of orientation in society in general, and interactive exercises which involved those present giving their own definitions of what different terms mean to them personally. It was a highly educational workshop which everybody benefited from, and a massive thank you to Patrick and GOSHH for being as wonderful as always!

The second workshop was delivered by Out in UL committee’s very own Ciara and Kiera! This first part of this workshop involved a discussion on gender variance, which sought to educate those at Sparkles about identities and forms of gender expression outside the binary of male and female. Afterwards, this moved into the group talking about issues affecting trans* people, which built upon the Trans* 101 workshop which was delivered during Rainbow Week last semester. This was followed by a discussion on how to be a good trans* ally, with those present giving their ideas as to how they could be good allies towards their trans* friends. The workshop helped raise some much-needed awareness of issues affecting trans* and gender variant people both in Ireland and internationally, and included some very fascinating discussions in which people gave their thoughts on these issues.

All in all, Sparkles was a massive success and we hope that everyone who came along enjoyed it. We want to give a massive thank you to all the members who came and also to UL Tea Appreciation Society who were fantastic to us always, bringing us tea and friends! Out in UL HQ must now go back to planning and scheming for our next big event, so stay tuned!

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