As a member of the LGBT+ community and a citizen, I’m proud of Ireland’s many recent achievements.
Marriage equality and the removal of the eighth amendment were massively important steps in the development of equal opportunity for marginalised people in all parts of the republic. We can be proud that our streets are safer for LGBT+ people than they were 10 or 20 years ago.
Growing up a mixed-race boy in a working-class Jehovah’s Witness family in the rural west of Ireland meant I dealt with a lot of prejudice alone. The supports that would allow me to even consider being open were out of reach – blocked by my location, class, race and religion.
When I was 18, I finally came out. Not because I suddenly had the support available to me, but because living a double life was slowly destroying me.
These days, I have a good job at a global tech corporation. I live in a beautiful suburb on the outskirts of Dublin. I recognise the privilege I now enjoy.
With heated debate around issues facing the LGBT+ community and how we organise Pride, I would like to draw on my experience and make a call to action.
Let’s Spread the Wealth
We can be proud that we are visible, that we are vocal and that we are strong.
The conversations around corporate pink-washing and police involvement at Pride are valuable, but we also need to speak up about the massive centralisation of power and state finances in Dublin.
We know that LGBT+ people in rural areas can feel more isolated than those in cities, and can also find it harder to access support and health services that might be miles away from where they live.
For sure, there’s great work being done in towns and cities all over the country by community groups, activists and Pride organisers. We have Pride parades in Mayo, Clare, Cork, Galway and other towns across the country, of course.
But in Dublin we have more access to vital resources all year round, and our Pride events are privileged with large corporate sponsorships.
I think it’s time we help drive more funds to these groups outside Dublin, to address this imbalance in our community. There has been a lot of positive change, but let’s not ignore this massive inequality that still exists.
As a software engineer, a member of LGBT+ community, a person of color, and a culchie from the west of Ireland, I call for a decentralisation of this privilege.
As a community, we can help make this happen by listening to the needs of LGBT+ organisers from towns and cities across the country and making this the focus for future organising.
Ireland LGBT+ Pride
An LGBT+ resource centre in Galway, Teach Solais, launched a GoFundMe campaign back in March, saying that due to a lack of funding, they were facing closure.
Teach Solais says they operate an LGBT Helpline, provided free HIV testing via AIDS West, operate cultural-competency and social-inclusion training for professional service providers, and hosting social and well-being events.
If we had a new “Ireland LGBT+ Pride”, which rotated around to a new location each year, it would help us build more connections between groups in Dublin, and in other parts of the country.
This could help drive much-needed funds to community groups in towns and cities all over the country, via private sponsorships and state funding.
Dublin Pride 2019 will be remembered by debate and splits. But both Dublin Pride and Alternative Pride are still both based in Dublin.
People from all over the country come to Dublin at the end of June to celebrate who they are and who they want to be. But why does everybody have to travel here to do that?
What is stopping us from making a statewide Pride, moving the destination for the parade every year. Let’s move out of Merrion Square, but not just to Smithfield.
I’d suggest we start in 2021 in Mullingar, in Killarney, or in Ballina. Let’s march in solidarity with everyone who feels excluded, who feels punished for being not as a majority, for being her, them or himself.
For that kid that I was. For the trans and non-binary people. For the asylum seekers, for culchies, for homeless people, for working-class people, for Travellers, for elderly people, and everyone excluded everywhere, let’s make all of Ireland a place of pride, of acceptance, of solidarity and inclusion.