Human spirit triumphs in a riot of colour, cheekiness, exuberance and sexiness


The massive parade wrapping the Gay Pride festival is a celebratory party and political event

THERE WERE hundreds of thousands of welcomes for gay and lesbian Ireland over the weekend as Gay Pride sashayed, pranced, whistled and hollered through Dublin city centre.

In its 28th year, the Gay Pride parade is now surpassed only by the St Patrick’s Day parade, and only in terms of numbers.

Gay Pride surely trumps every other public event with its colour, cheekiness, exuberance, sexiness, love of life and thrill in the triumph of the human spirit. “It’s a human thing” was the message that came from floats, open-top buses, banners, badges, dancing angels and hot-pants-wearing young men, as they boogied past Trinity College to Madonna’s Express Yourselfand Whitney Houston’s So Emotional.

And the bemused and delighted ear-to-ear grins on the faces of, it seemed, every last person watching, seemed to be saying back – “It’s a wonderful thing”.

Some 25,000 people took part in and 100,000 watched Saturday’s parade, which was the final extravaganza of a 10-day LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer) Pride Festival which had included a historic walking tour of gay Dublin, a night of poetry and readings and a visit to Ireland by Gilbert Baker, creator of the gay flag – six stripes of rainbow colours signifying the beauty of diversity.

The parade is a celebratory party and a political event.

As well as banners and floats representing support organisations such as Dublin Aids Alliance, Outhouse, BelongTo, the Gloria gay and lesbian choir, the Dublin gay theatre festival, the LGBT Lawyers’ Association, the Dublin Devils FC, Dundalk Outcomers and Dublin Lesbian Line, there was Marriage Equality, which is campaigning for gay marriage legislation. Amnesty members carried banners saying “Human Rights are my Pride”.

Other participants included Changing Attitudes, working for recognition of gays in the Church of Ireland, campaigners and political parties including Labour, Sinn Féin, the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Greens. Trade unions Siptu, Unite and the three teaching unions were present, as were Travellers’ organisations and G-Force, representing gay and lesbian gardaí.

“It’s absolutely fantastic, isn’t it?” beamed Sheila O’Shea from Walkinstown, there with her daughter Sinéad. “It’s great to see people so happy to be alive and it’s so infectious, their good mood. No, we hadn’t come into town to see the parade, but you know we might next year.”

Watching the air-kissing and pouting as the parade passed up Dame Street was elderly gentleman Steven Moore.

“Well it’s very colourful. It brightens up the city on a Saturday afternoon.”

The party passed City Hall, where Lord Mayor Gerry Breen viewed it as it passed on towards the civic offices at Wood Quay where, at an open-air, alcohol-free party, 5,000 people were addressed by Michael Barron of BelongTo, who spoke of the continued bravery of young people coming out to a still often-hostile Ireland.

Senator David Norris was introduced as “The next president of Ireland” and he gave a short, bland speech where he urged people to register to vote and then vote, adding people should vote for whichever man or woman they thought would make the best president.

“I just happen to think the best person in the race so far is a gay man.”

The crowd were entertained by singer Niamh Kavanagh and Crystal Swing.

As the crowd whooped to the Swing’s rendition of the Hucklebucksong, one would almost have to agree with a participant who hollered as he waved (wearing a beautiful ball gown and to-die-for heels), “Bet you’re raging yous are heterosexual!”