News and Views
UCC unveils rainbow walkway to mark National Coming Out Day
UCC President John O’ Halloran has unveiled the UCC Rainbow Walkway on campus to mark National Coming Out Day on October 11th and as part of UCC Community Week.
The UCC Rainbow Walkway has been installed to celebrate and recognise the diversity of the UCC community and to express UCC’s firm commitment to the creation of a campus that is inclusive, where the whole of the UCC community can feel a sense of welcome and belonging.
Speaking at the launch President O’ Halloran stated:
“This rainbow walkway symbolically recognises the inclusion of minority people in the physical landscape of our institution. For me, this institutional recognition represented so creatively and artistically, is so much more powerful than the sum of the coloured strips which make up the walkway. For me, it portrays an unequivocal message to students, staff, family members, alumni, visitors and to the wider community that ours is a higher education institution that not only recognises the validity of LGBT+ lives, but celebrates their place in the academy. It also creatively and artistically symbolises our institution’s zero-tolerance of discrimination and marginalisation.”
The walkway was proposed by the LGBT+ Staff Network and supported by the Student LGBT+ Society, Student Union and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit.
Student Union President Asha Woodhouse noted:
“While we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the launch of this permanent symbol of pride on the UCC campus, it's important for us all to reflect on how far we have come and to acknowledge that there is more work for us to do in order to build a world that is free from discrimination and marginalization.''
Speaking on behalf of the LGBT+ Network Dr Fiachra Ó’ Súilleabháin observed:
“The walkway symbolises the progress made at UCC and nationally since the first LGBT+ staff and students groups were established in the 1980s (the first in an Irish university) by Cathal Kerrigan and Dr Joan McCarthy. UCD and TCD subsequently followed UCC’s lead and established staff networks of their own. This helped promote and drive on UCC’s strategic goal of being an inclusive workplace and reflected Joan and Cathal’s life-long commitment to building an inclusive society in Ireland. This walkway is a direct result of their early activism.”
Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Dr Avril Hutch said:
“Today UCC’s LGBT+ network is still going from strength to strength, launching its Allies scheme, ‘The Rainbow Alliance’ in 2019, holding regular coffee mornings for members and non-members alike, and hosting many talks and events on LGBT+ themes to raise awareness and improve understanding. We are delighted that the UCC Rainbow Walkway initiative has also recently been adopted by partner universities in Zagreb and Rotterdam (who are partners through a consortium called UNIC), with parallel #ProgresswithPride (named after the Progress flag) rainbow themed campaigns across their campuses.”
Under the banner #ProgresswithPride, UCC also hosted a Coming Out Day panel discussion with representatives with LGBT Ireland, the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland (TENI) and the National Federation of LGBT+ Networks. TENI also offered a dedicated Trans 101 training to students, while the Glucksman Gallery unveiled a pride art project by artist Stephen Doyle. The Boole Library is also currently wrapped in progress banners to help highlight UCC’s ongoing support to the LGBT+ community. Over the coming weeks UCC staff, students and visitors will be invited to visit the walkway to show support for friends and colleagues in the UCC LGBT+ community and beyond.