Love and Courage

Michael Barron - Human Rights Activist, Founding Director of BelongTo (LGBTI+ org)

October 12, 2022 Ruairí McKiernan
Love and Courage
Michael Barron - Human Rights Activist, Founding Director of BelongTo (LGBTI+ org)
Show Notes

My guest in this episode I Michael Barron. Michael is a well-known Irish human rights activist originally from rural Co Kilkenny where he grew up as a young gay man dancing to Madonna while many of the other boys focused on hurling and sports. He shares some fascinating stories and insights from that time in his life and his coming of age in Dublin and New York.

Michael is currently working as the Executive Director of the Rowan Trust, which is an important independent foundation that funds important social movements, campaigns and initiatives. Since the 1990s Michael has worked with communities pushed to the margins - as a front-line youth and community worker, an executive director of a number of national organisations, a researcher, a grantmaker and a campaigner. As well as being an activist, hes also a great thinker and a bit of a scholar – he has a PhD in the social sciences and he tells me he’s also working on a book.  

I first met Michael when he was working as the founder and Executive Director of the BeLonG To, a pioneering LGBTI+ organisation that does amazing work with young people in Ireland. Michael went on to play a leading role in the Marriage Equality referendum he also headed up a campaign to remove the so-called Catholic baptism barrier from Irish public schools in 2018 - both major milestones in our recent history. As you’ll hear now, Michael doesn't shy away from taking on important issues such as the separation of church and state, Trans rights, and the rise of the far right. We also reflect a lot in this on our shared experiences of working in the non-profit sector, some of the trials and tribulations, and the importance of authenticity, creativity, and self-care.