Pride march charts the long walk to equality
The annual gay festival is an expression of self-acceptance hard won over many years
THE VIBRANT colours of the rainbow brought Dublin to life last Saturday as an estimated 30,000 people, an increase from last year’s 26,000, took part in the annual Gay Pride parade.
Undoubtedly, Pride is the highlight of the year for the gay community here and all over the world. It’s an annual festival that celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) life and its rich diversity in an explosion of colour, music, glitter, sequins and, yes, even feather boas. Dublin Pride is the largest such celebration in Ireland and has grown from a one-day event into a 10-day festival.
The first Pride parade took place in New York in 1969 to commemorate the Stonewall riots, a pivotal moment for the LGBTQ movement, which for the first time realised it needed to stand up for its human rights.
So what began as a political demonstration has evolved into a flamboyant tongue-in-cheek festival that features popular catchphrases such as “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”, “Gay by birth, fabulous by choice” and the very political “What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want it? Now!”
Many are under the impression that Pride is just an outrageous celebration based on the glamorous drag queens, handsome drag kings, people clad in leather chaps and lamé hot-pants but don’t be mistaken, because at its core is the aim to inspire social activism.
As the movement began to gain traction in the US, LGBTQ communities from around the world staged their own Prides in an effort to become visible and achieve equal rights. Ireland’s first Pride was in March 1983 but it had a troubled beginning. Prior to it, a march was held from Dublin city centre to Fairview Park protesting the levels of violence against gay men and women in Ireland.
In particular, the march was a reaction to the controversial judgment in the Declan Flynn case, in which suspended sentences on charges of manslaughter were given to members of a gang found guilty of killing the 31-year old gay man; and to subsequent celebrations by members of the local community following their release.
For many, including myself, marching in the Pride parade holds huge significance even though I have marched it for the last 12 years. It’s a celebration of my personal triumph in my journey to self-acceptance.
Allow me to share with you my “coming out” story and perhaps then you will understand just how much Pride really means to the members of my community.
For as long as I remember I always knew I didn’t fit in. My mother was a model for Vogue Italia and was the epitome of chic and femininity. She became a successful fashion designer and always hoped I would follow in her footsteps.