Thousands take part in Pride in Dublin


Saturday June 25th saw another massive Pride in Dublin with the Garda estimating that as many as 26,000 took part in the parade and another 100,000 spectated.  While Pride has very much become more of a social and commercial event since its early years in Dublin it also remains a strong political expression of the ongoing struggles against Queer oppression.

This years Pride for the first time this included LGBT Pavee a Queer Irish Travellers group as well as a very large Marriage Equality contingent and another supporting the campaign to elect long time gay activist David Norris president.  The Transgender Equality Network which included a number of large home made protest signs was probably most reminiscent of the spirit of the original Dublin Pride marches of the 1980's.

Pride began in Dublin in 1983 following on from a 900 strong demonstration organised by the Dublin lesbian and gay collective against the suspended sentences given to members of a five strong gang who had beaten Declan Flynn, a 31-year old gay man, to death in Fairview Park in 1982. One of the gang told Garda they had attacked 20 'steamers' over the previous 6 weeks.  [Read more]

The National Lesbian and Gay Federation organised the first Pride in June of 1983 although these were certainly not the first demonstrations.  Gay activist Tonie Walsh told the Sunday Business Post that: "There had been a Pride event in 1979. The event that year was small-scale, maybe as few as 20 people took part in handing out leaflets in Dublin city centre."  Pride in the 1980's was frequently very small with as few as 25 taking part because according to one participant Chris Robson "It was easier to march in that one [Fairview]; to march alongside the trade unionists who came out and marched that day in protest and with other groups; you weren't identifying yourself as gay.. Pride was seen perhaps as being more exclusively a parade for gay people and there was more than a little concern that if one was spotted at this sort of thing that it would get back to the workplace or to family."

I remember taking part in my first Pride sometime in the late 1980's when the numbers had grown to over a 100 but even then a gang of small kids shouted insults and threw stones at the march went between George's street and the bottom of Camden street. It was not until 1993 that homosexuality was decriminalised and as late as 1987 RTE used criminalisation as an excuse not to run an ad for Out magazine.  The mass participation in Pride today is a demonstration of just how much has been won, even if much remains to be fought for.

WORDS: Andrew Flood IMAGES:Andrew Flood & Aileen O'Carroll
There are additional photos in the WSM Facebook album

Read more on the struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer rights