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Inclusivity is at the very heart of the GAA’s ethos. Yet, the lack of an LGBTQ GAA team in Northern Ireland gave Martin Murray the idea to establish Aeracha Uladh.

The North’s first LGBTQ GAA team hosted maiden first training session at Jordanstown last month and the session was led by Antrim Ladies star Grainne McLaughlin.

Since launching the team, Martin, who also performs as the drag artist ‘Danú Variant’, says he has been inundated with messages of support from across the GAA community.

Read more: Female referees get the same abuse as males says leading GAA official

However, the 30-year-old believes the association can do more to support the LGBTQ community.

“The GAA has a long way to go,” said Martin.

“Geraldine McTavish is the GAAs first Diversity and Inclusion Officer I believe and she’s been doing a phenomenal job and the recent results of the GAA data collection on LGBTQ equality had incredibly positive results, but there is still a long way to go.

“The GAA represents the community and, therefore, statistically one in 10 members of the GAA are likely to be homosexual.

Aeracha Uladh founder Martin Murray. (Justin Kernoghan)

“The results showed around 10 per cent of male inter-county players knew of an LGBTQ teammate, but they aren’t publicly out.

“I think the players are good, the GAA as an organisation is good. The general public is good, but there are sports fans out there that are toxic and they are in the news constantly so players have that fear as a negative reaction from fans can lead to consequences.

“Just look at the recent attacks of LGBTQ people in Dublin or the murders or LGBTQ people in Sligo. It’s civil terrorism by definition. The reaction by government and by the public has been disappointing.

“I remember reading a statistic once that essentially said if you are LGBTQ you will experience verbal or physical assault at one point in your life. Every single one of us.”

Having been involved with Belfast Blaze, an LGBTQ soccer club in the city, Martin plans to turn his attention to other sports once Aeracha Uladh have established themselves.

Grainne McLaughlin and Martin Murray put the players through their paces at Aeracha Uladh's first training session. (Justin Kernoghan)

“I plan to start an LGBTQ inclusive team in every sport, but that will take time,” added Martin, who works in administration for the NHS.

“The conversation has been there for years. The worst thing that can happen is it doesn’t take off, which is exactly what will happen if we do nothing.

“I speak to a lot of young LGBTQ men who are so afraid of failure that they don’t do anything and that’s so damaging to mental health.

“My advice is put yourself out there and if people don’t like it that’s their problem.

“I see sports as the last great frontier for LGBTQ equality.

“We have a lot to achieve, but sport is such a thing for communities all over the world that when you achieve equality in sport you have equality in your community and with that you can achieve anything.”

Aeracha Uladh had 24 players in attendance for their first training session with Grainne McLaughlin helping Martin out with the coaching.

The next session will be held on Saturday, May 14 at Cardinal O'Donnell's GAC on the Whiterock Road, West Belfast from 12 noon until 1pm. The club will also be raising the pride flag as a welcome and the club are hoping to see more females to come along and try their hand at Gaelic Football.

The club are also encouraging people to register for the Ulster University Sporting Pride Day on EventBrite, which will be NI's first LGBTQ sports day and will be an opportunity for new members to see if they wish to join any teams.

Members of Aeracha Uladh at the club's first training session at Jordanstown last month. (Justin Kernoghan)

From the opening session, six have agreed to help form the new committee and Martin says the support they’ve received from local GAA clubs and also main universities in Belfast has been fantastic.

“I have had several clubs reach out to offer support. Grainne McLaughlin from Antrim LGFA went as far as coaching our first session and had," he added.

“Have had offers and support from several members of the Antrim GAA team and Antrim LGFA team and Tyrone. Na Gaeil Aeracha (Dublin-based LGBTQ team) are obviously going to be a huge ally of ours.

“There has been an outcry of support from the LGBTQ community and GAA community locally and internationally. We have even had GAA players reach out from US and Canada to wish us luck.

“I am currently representing Sporting Pride Ireland organising the first LGBTQ Sports Day in Ulster with University of Ulster Jordanstown so the team will always have a strong bond with them. We also hope to work with the other universities and colleges to make sure we serve the entire province.”

For more information on Aeracha Uladh, contact the club on Instagram or email, aerachauladhgac@gmail.com.

Read more: Down football in disarray as Caolan Mooney becomes the fifth player to depart

Read more: Tailteann Cup 2022: North/South divide provokes anger with New York given a bye

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Dive Deeper:
Carrickfergus charity opening free-to-use sensory room to meet community demand
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Cavan club Gowna are coming to terms with the passing of U13 player Colin Madden
Adrian Dunbar hints at Line of Duty return saying 'something else is going to happen next year'
Fans of the show are eagerly awaiting confirmation of another series
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Bootle FC's Berry Street Garage Stadium played host to Bootle Bucks Inclusion's Festival of Football event over the weekend
Get all your news in one place