Why Pride? | Pocketmags.com
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Why Pride?

Clodagh Leonard

Chairperson of the Dublin LGBT+ Pride board.

My first Pride was such a treat. I remember coming up from Mayo and being so overwhelmed to see so many LGBT+ people expressing themselves exactly as they were. My teens were so shaped by shame that I believed if I told people who I was they would leave. [The thoughts] that there was something wrong with being queer and here I was, surrounded by people celebrating the thing I thought made me different/alone. I was me and that was fine. It was genuinely transformative. I felt like I had arrived.

Pride is a celebration of being yourself. It is a radical action to show up unapologetically. To find a community of people who understand your experiences. To raise awareness of the issues that the LGBT+ community experience and to fight against a world that tries to make us fit in.

The team has done massive work in the last year to make this Pride the most accessible ever. We have been listening to the community over the last few years and two themes that came up were a city centre route and accessibility. We took both pieces of feedback on board.

This year we will have the GPO as the backdrop as we acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and our own Rainbow Revolution.

This route down O’Connell Street is accessible, with no cobblestones. We will also have a bus for people who have mobility issues and older members of our community who wish to participate. We also have a quiet bus for people for whom the sensory experience of the Parade will be overwhelming.

We understand that we will constantly come up with challenges providing a festival that caters for everyone, but we are proud that this year we have worked hard to make it cater for more members of our community than ever.

Maura Molloy (Pictured Right)

Director of Dublin LGBT+ Pride

My first Pride was actually in London in 1979. Ireland was an economic mess. So I was an economic migrant. But mostly it was because I was a social migrant, like so many, because it was just suffocatingly oppressive here.

When I got off the mail train in Heuston, London, the very first thing I did was go to a news stand and bought a copy of Gay News because that was banned in Ireland.

My first Irish Pride would have been 1983. I was in that as part of the Dublin Lesbian And Gay Collective. What surprises me when I look at the photo is my pink bow tie. I had never seen that photo until a few weeks ago. It’s how small it is (the gathering of people), and yet what I remember was we didn’t think it was really small. That was a good turn out for us. So if you got a 100 people or 150 people, we were thrilled.

It was only three months after Fairview, I think we must have just been so resilient. At the end of the march we went to Merrion Square. We lay our banner out on the grass and sat around and had a very simple picnic.

It turned out in another area there was a much bigger gathering because a bust was being unveiled to commemorate Nelson Mandela who was still in prison at the time. So the great and good of Dublin were all at the unveiling somewhere around the corner in the park.

Park officials were there because of that and they came over and told us we were breaking section something or other and we had to remove the banner, and we said no. So a stand-off happened because we refused to remove the banner and they threatened us with arrest.

At that point a couple who knew people at the other event walked over and went to people like Ruairi Quinn, to the most liberal of the politicians there and said, “You’re probably completely unaware that 100 yards away civil rights activists have been threatened with arrest for a small gathering.” They immediately legged after the officials and said, ‘Jesus, stop it!’ and got them to go away.

That was my first Pride.

I think Pride is a powerful expression of community and friendship and I will stress the friendship part. The vast majority of my closest and most beloved life-long friends are activists. And I could tap around almost my entire friendship circle and tell you what event or piece of activism we met at. Activism was our mental health, we would have gone mad in Ireland at the time. In just an extraordinarily misogynistic and homophobic society, it was our activism that kept us sane. And the friendships we made from them. And for me Pride will never be divorced from that.

Pride doesn’t belong to anyone, it belongs to everyone. Everyone has to celebrate it in their own way. And I can’t tell anyone how they should celebrate or experience their Pride and they can’t tell me. I just hope we all enjoy the day. And I do think we’re part of an unfinished revolution. And we just keep marching on.

Jed Dowling

Festival Director.

My first Pride was a long time ago - 2000. At the beginning of the summer I was still in the closet. Earlier on that year I had started seeing Colm - to whom I’m now married. I really wanted to go to Pride but realised I couldn’t if I was in the closet. So I told all my family and friends and people I worked with. Pride was the motivating thing that made me come out of the closet. And then the following year I ended up on the organising committee.

Pride represents everything that we have achieved, it represents a struggle, it’s about us being equal and it’s about us fighting for that. As someone from an Irish nationalist background, Pride is always on that same level. It’s my version of nationalism.

Regarding the rainbow flag flying over the GPO - most Irish people claim to have a relative who was there in 1916! The GPO is a symbol of revolution and freedom, so it is a huge thing. Not everyone gets to have their flag flown over it!

Nem Ní Chíaráin

Community Engagement and Administration Lead.

I don’t remember what year my first Pride was, somewhere around the early 2000’s after I’d moved to Dublin. It was noisy and colourful, and a little confusing to be honest! But it felt like a sense of liberation; a huge crowd of people with different lives and different bodies coming together to celebrate their shared experiences, their community and their triumphs in the face of adversity. It felt like acceptance and defiance and mischief all at the same time.

Pride means commemorating those who came before us; those who fought so that we could march through the city in pride rather than shame, and to be able to say, without fear, that this is our city too. I always feel part of something bigger when I’m at Pride as if I can feel all the lives of the people around me and of people I’ll never know tingling at the ends of my fingertips. Pride also means acceptance to me. I’ve not always felt that I fit in in queer spaces; not gay enough, not intellectual enough, not radical enough, but at Pride none of this worries me. Everyone is enough just the way they are.

I’ve never felt the need to prove myself or apologise at Pride. Pride also means looking around to see who’s not there, what obstacles they’re facing and fighting with them for the future; it means having a place to come together where we can amplify our voices and call for the change that still needs to happen.

This year’s Pride is going to be more inclusive than ever before; we still have a long way to go on this journey but we’re heading in the right direction, which I’m finding exciting. It’s going to be a place where people can embrace all their identities and celebrate them all. There will also be strolling entertainers throughout the parade and the Pride Village, which the child in me is far too hyper about.

This article appears in the 355 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 355 Issue of GCN