Supporting the LGBTQI+ community in Ireland: an interview with Ailsa Spindler from Gay Project

Our written interview series allows our audience to learn more about the charities and organisations that we donate to. Silvio Severino is one of our Freedom of Identity artists. His art questions the representation of masculinity and ideas of maleness. Severino has chosen to direct his work’s donations toward Gay Project

We were lucky enough to interview Ailsa Spindler: Project Co-ordinator at Gay Project. They tell Artvocate all about the organisation, along with their future plans and current thoughts on our artists and their work!


Gay Project is an organisation that supports, celebrates and advocates for gay, bisexual, men who have sex with men (MSM), trans and queer men, in Ireland. Can you tell us more about the main focuses and how this is done?
We are particularly concerned with the health and wellbeing of this group of men, who face a variety of particular challenges to their physical and mental health. We encourage social integration through different sport and leisure activities, art projects and drop-in social events. We also provide an initial point of contact for those in crisis, supporting service users to negotiate appropriate care pathways.

What is your role within the organisation?

As the senior member of staff I am responsible for the day-to-day management of the charity, from supervising staff and volunteers to managing finances and grant applications. I also deal with external relationships - everything from participating in committees and conferences to dealing with Press enquiries.

Image courtesy of Ailsa Spindler, Gay Project.

In our Freedom of Identity narrative, we champion individual expression of self. How important do you believe this to be?

As a transwoman I have had plenty of opportunity to examine the importance of identity, and in particular self expression. While we live in a society which clings onto labels and categories to describe people, individuals do not have to conform to those stereotypes. Non-binary and gender-queer identities are seen by many as challenging, but for the individual these are liberating concepts.

What has your organisation been working on recently, and do you have any future events that you’re excited about?

While much of our day-to-day work is rather humdrum, we have worked on some exciting projects in the past two years, while dealing with the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 we ran a campaign, ‘PROUD AF’, which challenged racist attitudes within Ireland’s LGBTQI+ communities. Last year we initiated an art project with some of our older men, which culminated in a multimedia exhibition entitled ‘Before The Rainbow… And After’.

2023 sees the 30th anniversary of the decriminalisation of same-sex relations in Ireland, and we will be commemorating this in June.

Image courtesy of Ailsa Spindler, Gay Project.
One of our artists, Silvio Severino, is directing their artwork’s charitable donation to your organisation, Gay Project. His artwork I Kissed a Boy and I Liked It! (XII Collage) comments on the representation of maleness and masculinity. What are your thoughts on this piece, and do you feel it can help spread awareness for LGBTQI+ rights?

In ‘I Kissed a Boy and I Liked It! (XII Collage)’ Silvio presents the male form with a variety of cacti and succulents, representing the hostile environment in which gay men have to survive. They present tough, spiky exteriors to the world, protecting soft and vulnerable hearts in a variety of exotic forms. The body is posed on a platter, which recalls the objectification of the male form in gay culture, which in turn leads to exploitation.

Silvio’s artworks provoke a variety of thoughts and questions which can lead the viewer to examine their own, and society’s, attitudes to gay male culture and masculinity. In this way the work can help to raise awareness of LGBTQI+ issues.

Silvio Severino, I Kissed a Boy and I Liked It! (XII Collage), mixed media on paper, 38.5 x 33.6 cm
Looking at all the artworks on our Artvocate gallery platform, do you have a favourite, and why?

‘Rapunzel’ by Lídia Vives. I love the classical, ‘Grand Master’ style but with lots of symbolism to suggest sexuality, decadence and seduction. I would happily hang this on my wall!

Lídia Vives, Rapunzel, photograph


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