A new voluntary organisation has launched on Orkney for LGBT+ people.
NetworQ North has been established by a group of locals to help foster better connections with LGBT folk who live on the isles.
The group held their first public meeting last month, with the event featured in the local Orcadian Newspaper.
We caught up with organiser and Chairperson, Emery Amber Kennedy, to get the latest on the new group:
Let’s start with a quick opening question – what is NetworQ North?
NetworQ North is a loose-knit, ragtag bunch of LGBTQ+ people living in the Orkney Isles, working together to create a social scene and combat isolation in our local LGBTQ+ community.
Where did the idea come from and who is making it happen?
The idea came about when I was attempting to research an article about LGBT life in Orkney. I realised there was no real social scene, let alone support, for islanders falling under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and with the help of Vice Chair Jenny Sprenger, began to reach out to their friends and set about establishing our committee. Now, our team meets regularly. We are hoping to branch out and become a fun, welcoming space for people of all sexual/gender identities.
What activities are you hoping to arrange and what is the impact you hope to have?
We are very open to taking suggestions and letting the community shape what kind of group we will become and what kind of events will take place. So far, we have had an open day / meet and greet; among the activities we hope to organise in future are regular brunches, film/documentary screenings and charity fundraisers.
Life for LGBT+ folk in rural areas can be very different compared to those living in the city – What’s life life for the community in Orkney?
Orkney is home to plant of people with diverse sexual/gender identities, but unlike in a city like Edinburgh or Glasgow, there is no community hub – no place where people can go and easily find others like themselves. In starting this group, we have spoken to people who have said they had believed there were no LGBTQ+ people in Orkney other than themselves, which was saddening but also showed the potential impact our group could have. Attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in Orkney have changed radically in the last decade or so, taking a decisive turn towards tolerance and acceptance – but at the same time, it is less common here for people to be ‘out and proud’, which leads to people feeling isolated or disconnected in the community. This is the main issue our group is hoping to challenge.
How has the wider community reacted to the new group being established?
We have received a generally positive, encouraging response – an attitude of ‘it’s about time’. There has also been some cynicism – doubters who say attempts to create LGBT groups in Orkney have tried and failed in the past – but we are determined to defy their expectations!
2018 is a record breaking year for Pride events in Scotland, with a new event planned for the Highlands recently announced. Do you think Pride will ever be held in Orkney?
I hope and believe that Orkney will some day host its own Pride events – even if it takes us a few years to get there, and even is its on a (very) small scale! Orkney is full o f LGBTQ+ folk; we just need to connect, communicate and recognise the value of showing solidarity.
How can people get involved with NetworQ North?
People can contact us through the NetworQ North Facebook page and on Twitter @networqnorth. We post any details of events and activities on those platforms. We love hearing from people and welcome anyone who is interested to get in touch. You can also find out more from the group website at https://networqnorth.org.uk/about/committee/