irishtimes.com – Fionala Meredith – photographs by Charles McQuillan
T’s a few days before Christmas, and at a small suburban social club near Belfast, preparations for a party are well under way. The mince pies are heating up in the oven, sausage rolls and salads are set out on the table, and the sparkling wine is open and ready to be poured. It’s a freezing night, and as members of the club arrive in their party gear – short silky skirts, spaghetti-strap tops, diamante-studded stilettos – they huddle up to the three-bar electric fire, trying to bring a little warmth to chilly fingers and toes. It’s a familiar scene in all but one respect. This is the Belfast Butterfly Club, and the party-goers are middle-aged men dressed in women’s clothes.