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09th Jan 2018

LGBTQ artist XNTHONY aims to spark positive change in nightlife culture

Brought to you by Smirnoff.

Society still lacks the full understanding of the non-conforming community.

That’s the general consensus even as Smirnoff has found that 12 percent of millennials identify as trans or gender non-conforming.

Anthony Keigher, the Roscommon native and LGBTQ performance artist who goes by the stage name of XNTHONY, teamed up with Smirnoff to launch the latest chapter in their ‘We’re Open’ campaign, which aims to amplify the voices of trans and gender non-conforming individuals, and to create positive conversation around nightlife culture, making for more open-minded and socially inclusive spaces.

Anthony’s London shows like DOUZE (an epic show about XNTHONY applying for, and epically failing at Eurovision) and Confirmation (a new show in the pipeline that takes inspiration from Roscommon’s rejection of Marriage Equality) highlight these important topics while ensuring oodles of glitz and glam too!!

Describing his shows as ‘exuberant,’ cabarets that will ‘make you smile with wonder,’ we wanted to know how Anthony has come to live his best life and explore popular culture.

It turns out XNTHONY came to life after an uneasy period that Anthony wanted to escape. Here, the ‘outrageous, exuberant and exaggerated character, not unlike a superhero alter ego’ was born! The fact that he prefers to spend his down time eating in bed and generally avoiding large crowds – might then be surprising.

But there’s a wild side to the proud Roscommon man that has managed to shine through thanks to this on-stage presence.

A post shared by XNTHONY (@xnthony) on

Growing up in Roscommon, Anthony says there was a family and community that simply allowed him to be. Art and music teachers encouraged his love of creativity while his parents ‘set up structures’ for him to develop and flourish.

There was an acceptance and love there – the same kind that needs to have a space in our community, and nightlife culture today.

Bullies were the exception to Anthony’s ideal home life, adding to his self-consciousness and leading him to hide his true self.

“It’s hard being yourself when being yourself means what other people think,” says Anthony. Overall though – it was mighty positive.

When asked how he felt when Roscommon was the only county in Ireland to vote ‘no’ in 2015 he said;

“At the time I was furious. Then I was defensive. But I knew about my own experiences in Roscommon – I knew this wasn’t a reflection of my home.

“The result of the referendum was a reflection of, I think anyway, the populations anger at the then government.”

He goes on to explain how Roscommon needs more attention, naming international talents the county has produced such as actor Chris O’ Dowd saying, “There’s something in the water I’m telling you!”

A post shared by XNTHONY (@xnthony) on

So why then the move to the UK you might ask?

“I was doing quite well in Dublin – I had serious notions about myself. But then my first Dublin Fringe show didn’t go down the way I had expected, and I felt betrayed.

“It’s complicated when you’re hurt and still believe you have something worth saying. Looking back, I’ve learned I’m a particularly resilient person when it comes to accepting failure.”

One thing Anthony has clearly continued living by – which is evident from his exhilarating performances – are the words his principal once said to him. During an incident in school where he was being endlessly picked on, he retaliated by throwing a coffee at the bully.

Although he was reprimanded for doing so, his principal said something Anthony ensures he will always remember. ‘Never change who you are for anyone.’

“I think there is a fresh movement in Dublin’s nightlife right now through platforms like Spice Bag and Glitter Hole which provide a safe space for queer self-expression…

“Things like Alternative Miss Ireland offered a space for all to express themselves. At the time we had very definite causes which brought the LGBTQ community together.

“We are at risk of forgetting those in our community who need help, like our trans family, and women everywhere demanding bodily autonomy. Now the baton comes to us to push forward.”

The new film and national campaign sets out to amplify the voices of trans and gender non-conforming individuals and put gender identity front and centre in mainstream conversation. SMIRNOFF has a longstanding affiliation with LGBTQ+ causes. Through its proud partnership with Dublin Pride and events like the Mother Pride Block Party, SMIRNOFF sees the intrinsic value of creating open, safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community to fully express its identity. Smirnoff will also be bringing DJ and producer Honey Dijon (who also features in the ad) to Dublin to play her first Irish show hosted by Smirnoff this spring. 

Brought to you by Smirnoff .