Meet the Volunteers: Nem

For a long time, our movement has centred around the needs of white, cis, able-bodied gay men. Over the years, however, we have worked hard to challenge this notion, to include people of colour and make sure that our bi, our trans, our intersex, our asexual and aromatic siblings feel welcome, seen and supported. While it is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come, there is a long road ahead of us, and there are many communities under our rainbow that need our support. 

For this volunteer profile, we sat down with Nem (she/her, they/them), a vocal advocate for persons with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community, who has been involved with Dublin LGBTQ+ since 2018. 

How did you first become involved with Dublin Pride?

“In 2018, I worked for Together4Yes, the national campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment. As we were wrapping things up after the referendum, my friend Karl suggested that I pop over to Montague Street and speak to his friend Eddie because Dublin Pride was looking to hire more people for the festival that year. So after finishing up with the Together4Yes campaign, I thought I should do something different. I went to Montague Street, applied to work with Dublin Pride, and the rest is history!” 

What role does Dublin Pride play within the wider LGBTQ+ community?

“I think Dublin Pride is uniquely placed to form invaluable connections between different community groups; many of which are doing incredible work with few resources. Pride, at its best, is a touchstone that supports and brings together LGBTQI+ community organisations that nurture, console and fight for our community members every day and against all odds.

Its unique position allows Pride to support members of our community whose voices too often go unheard. This includes Traveller and migrant LGBTQI+ folk, the transgender community, intersex people and disabled queer folk. It’s been wonderful to see Pride grow into this role, with innovations such as Winter Pride and the Older Than Pride and neuro[diverse] queer social groups.

The visibility and pride that the Dublin Pride Festival brings to our community can’t be overstated. The sheer joy of being able to be as queer as you like in the heart of your city and celebrated for it just can’t be put into words. Attending my first Pride soothed old wounds I didn’t even know I had and gave me a feeling of belonging.”

What has been your most memorable moment while volunteering for Dublin Pride?

“There are many to choose from, but a moment that meant a lot to me personally was when an older lesbian who used mobility aids sought me out at the Pride Village Quiet Zone after the parade to tell me that the accessibility initiatives I’d introduced while with Pride had enabled her to be there. It meant so much to her and her partner that they could be part of the parade thanks to the Rainbow Bus provided by Dublin Bus, and she confided that she had resigned herself to never being able to participate in Dublin Pride and to celebrate with her community in her lifetime. It’s a moment that has stayed with me and motivated me to always seek to include as much of our community as possible in everything we do.”

What advice would you give to someone who was considering volunteering for Dublin Pride?

“Do it! You’ll learn so much from being part of Dublin Pride. From the experiences to the amazing volunteer crew, who are as brilliant, funny, caring and passionate a group as you could ever hope to meet. Volunteers also bring their own invaluable experiences and insights to the table. They raise issues and suggest ideas to keep Pride growing and improving when it comes to representing our diverse and thriving LGBTQI+ community.”

In 2005, the disabilities act was brought into law to ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in society. The act was brought forward and passed to further the rights of a person with a disability both physical and mental conditions. How has this act changed the lives of people with disabilities?

“Disabled people exist in all of our communities but are too often excluded, marginalised and unseen. We too easily assume that disabled people’s existence and the struggle for equality can be reduced solely to access and healthcare issues and fail to include the largest minority group in our advocacy. We forget that the same standard we expect in all our other work – nothing about us without us – also extends to our disabled siblings and that approximately 1 in 5 members of our community is disabled.

Accessibility is incredibly important, and it’s heartening to see the steps being taken in this direction by many community groups. What most people don’t realise though, is that many disabled people don’t have equal legal and civil rights in this country right now. Disabled people to this very day continue to be locked up in institutions against their will, denied their right to marry the person they love, to start a family, or even choose what to wear, when to eat or where to go. Any one of us interested in and working towards equality needs to listen to the voices of disabled people – and not just people claiming to speak on their behalf – so that we can be true allies and create a truly equal society for all.”

Has accessibility improved in the LGBTQ+ community to include people with disabilities?

“I have seen a genuine commitment to and interest in accessibility from many of the community groups I’ve worked with. This gives me hope that if we stand together, we can finally turn the tide on disability rights in Ireland. No minority can successfully secure their rights and bring about social inclusion without allies, and I sincerely believe that there are many communities, organisations and individuals in Ireland who want to be true allies to all who are marginalised and unheard.

There is also much we can learn from each other. Conversion therapies continue to be widely used on autistic and other neurodivergent (ND) children. The lessons learned from the LGBTQ+ activists who did such great work in stopping the use of conversion therapy against queer kids could help save lives and break the cycle of trauma for the next generation of ND people. Disabled people’s organisations are some of the best people to turn to for life hacks online and alternative forms of organising, having years of experience of ‘business as usual’ not being an option. We are stronger together and our communities richer when all of us have a seat at the table.”

Why is activism important to you?

“When you think of the strides Ireland has made towards real equality over the past decades – from Marriage Equality and Repeal to the Stand for Truth rally and the Justice for Magdalenes campaign – they all came about from the work of activists and advocates over many years. Although we still have a long way to go in terms of trans healthcare, the This Is Me campaign has been incredible in increasing public understanding and awareness of the issue and placing it on the government’s agenda. Advocacy is also fundamental in shifting public attitudes to create a more understanding, compassionate and inclusive society and in educating legislators on the impact and gaps of current laws. Some legislators, particularly the Seanad’s Civil Engagement Group, have introduced and amended legislation in ways that make meaningful changes in people’s real lives by engaging with advocates, activists and community organisations, showing that dedicated advocacy can genuinely shape the country we live in.

That being said, there are many among us who are still pushed to the margins and who don’t have equal access to rights many of us take for granted, including undocumented migrants and people living in Direct Provision, our trans and intersex siblings, Deaf and disabled people, people of colour, adoptees, LGBTQ+ parents and sadly many more – we all need to demand better and to make sure that no-one gets left behind.”

Finally, how are you getting through life in lockdown?

“Luckily, through my involvement in disability rights, feminist, LGBTQI+ and anti-racist groups, I have both been kept busy and gotten to work alongside fantastic and uplifting people. In particular, the disabled advocates I know are witty, passionate and strong as hell and have kept me positive and supported over the past year. I’m also autistic and mobility-impaired, so remote working and not being able to access all the social spaces I’d like to, is something I’ve been learning to do for years. Although things will be tough for the foreseeable future, I’m hopeful that we’ll get through it and that we’ll build on the accessibility improvements and new ways to connect with our communities that Covid has shown are possible.”

The Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride Volunteer Programme aims to be as diverse and inclusive as possible. We welcome volunteers from all communities as well as LGBTQ+ allies and aim to provide a safe space for everyone. If you are interested in joining the volunteer team at Dublin Pride, please fill out this form.

Meet the Volunteers: Keely

We continue our Dublin Pride volunteer profile series with LGBTQ+ advocate Keely (she/her). After working with Dublin Pride from 2009 – 2020, she stayed involved with Dublin Pride as a volunteer.

How did you first become involved with Dublin Pride?

“I began working with Dublin Pride way back in 2009, and it somehow both doesn’t feel as long as it probably sounds and still feels like a lifetime ago!

I had moved up from Cork where I’d been heavily involved in the LGBTQI+ scene. From spending most of my time in The Other Place and watching the L-Word in LINC on Wednesday nights to volunteering with Cork Pride alongside several other things. So when I moved to Dublin it made sense to continue working with Dublin Pride as it brought a sense of normalcy to this new city.”

When it comes to the role of LGBTQ+ organisations and groups, Keely stresses their importance in empowering people and fostering a sense of community. 

“I think it’s important to have representation, and Dublin Pride supports LGBTQ+ representation. By getting thousands of proud individuals together to walk the streets of our capital or driving representation within the workforce of our sponsors. In most recent years, the notable work Dublin Pride has done with RTÉ to showcase queer stories during Pride 2019, for example, is something we should be shouting about more. 

I have never regretted my decision to start working with Dublin Pride. It was and still is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Yes, it’s difficult at times, and yes it’s tiring, but it’s worth it! You will make friends for life; people you can always rely on for support, and some of the most inspirational people I know. The people I met along the way certainly helped mould me into the person I am today. Being part of Dublin Pride has also encouraged and helped me to learn more about who I am, and how to play an active part in supporting other queer people who are struggling with their identity.”

What has been your most memorable Dublin Pride moment?

“Oh wow, let me think! It was a couple of years ago when my parents came up to Dublin for the parade with my two youngest sisters in tow. It was their first time attending any kind of Pride or LGBTQI+ event and felt very much like a show of support and solidarity. So much of my adult life has been dedicated to the community in one way or another, and it was amazing to have them take part in my life. Even if it was just for a day! I don’t think they will ever know how much it meant to me to have them there. I think for them it was also important to see the amazing queer family I had built. Like most of their generation, one of their biggest concerns, when I came out, was how my life was going to turn out. So for them to see how loving, supportive and caring our community was was important.”

In addition to fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, Keely actively campaigned for the repeal of the 8th amendment in 2018. The country voted by 66.4% to 33.6% to repeal the amendment with more than 2 million votes cast, paving the way for a much-needed reform of abortion laws and access to reproductive healthcare.

“As a woman, I struggled with the idea that people with reproductive systems had to ask for approval for what they felt was best for their bodies and lives, all because of the lagging effect of good auld Catholicism. Repeal meant detaching my body and reproductive system from the will of the state.

In some ways, Ireland feels so modern and accepting, yet in other ways, it remains prehistoric. We are all responsible for bringing about change, doing whatever is necessary to achieve that change and make sure that no one gets left behind in that prehistoric era.”

What does pride and being part of the LGBTQ+ community mean to you?

“It’s the pride I feel every day when I see our community support each other. The zoom calls set up by community groups in the aftermath of COVID; shout out to LINC and Running Amach. It’s the people doing shopping for those who can’t leave their homes, the check-ins, the love and light sharing. It’s easy to recognise the parades and the festivals, but fundamentally, it’s those who are in the background making it their mission to support the world around them and our community a better place. That’s hard work. That’s important work. My pride comes from highlighting the amazing work of those people.”

We have come further than any of us could have dreamed of since the first Dublin Pride March in June of 1983, but we still have a long way to go. One way to honour the legacy of those who fought before us is by getting involved and continuing to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. You can join the Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride Volunteer Programme by filling out this form.

Meet the Volunteers: Vivek

Bringing volunteers to the table and actively involving them in the decision-making process can be beneficial for organisations and their leaders. Fresh perspectives and new ideas lay bare systemic weaknesses and pave the way for reform. The Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride Volunteer Programme encourages the participation of its volunteers to ensure that the organisation remains as progressive as possible.          

We sat down with Vivek (he/him), who is originally from India, to chat about his experience with the Irish LGBTQ+ community compared to his home country, and why he became a Dublin Pride volunteer.

What has your experience as a gay immigrant in Ireland been like?

“I always wanted to be part of the LGBTQI+ community, which I did not get to do in my home country India. Until September 2018, when India’s highest court overturned the law that made homosexuality illegal, it was tough for me to be openly gay and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community at home.

Compared to India – where homosexuality was illegal when I moved out and I only had a small but supportive community – the LGBTQI+ community in Ireland is liberated and proactive when it comes to driving change.

I also appreciate the support of allies, but I strongly believe that even though our community has come a long way, we still have a lot to achieve because we are becoming more and more diverse. I am proud to be part of this change, and I want to contribute as much as I can.

Organisations like Dublin Pride are important not just because they organise festivals and parades but because they create events for members of the LGBTQI+ community to take part in.”

Apart from being an active member of the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland, Vivek enjoys Bollywood music and dancing.

Could you briefly explain Bollywood for those who are unfamiliar with the tradition?

“Bollywood dancing comes from Indian movies and has its roots in  Indian classical and folk dance forms. Bollywood dancing is known for people coming together to dance in large groups and in stunning locations and costumes to make the cinematic experience more beautiful.  

Indian movies have always inspired me, and Bollywood dancing has become a way for me to express myself. I like how it allows you to work through all kinds of emotions and different moods.” 

How would you define the importance of cultural upbringing?

“I believe what I am today is because of my culture. It has taught me my values, beliefs and opinions and way of looking at life. That being said, Indian culture is very diverse, with a large population and many different languages and different ways of dressing or eating.

India’s history has taught me to be open and accepting of diversity. The fight for our independence is one of the greatest examples in the world’s history of strength in unity. My cultural values are what makes me unique in Ireland.”

When did you decide to move to Ireland and what was it like moving to a new country?

“I’d been working in a corporate job for some years before I moved to Ireland in 2017. I was lucky enough to find a job after finishing my postgrad in Advertising & Marketing, but after working for a few years, I found my work getting a bit repetitive and boring. I decided to take a break, so I thought I’d go back to college, but this time in a different country. Leaving my country for the first time was a big step, and I was both excited and nervous, but coming to Ireland was one of the best decisions of my life. The country and its people have been so warm and welcoming to people from other countries.

Before coming to Ireland, I read somewhere on the internet that it’s one of the friendliest countries, and I can assure you that is true. Let me share a story from my early days here. I was on my way to view a house, and when I reached the door, this Irish lady was standing there and welcoming me with her hands joined for namaste. I had the best time staying with them, and they made me feel like home.”

What has your experience been like as an international student?

“It has been an amazing experience. Being an international student can be extra hard because you have to get accustomed not only to the weather but also to local life, the legal system and so on. My class had students from so many other countries, and I learned something new about a different culture every single day. The moments I spent celebrating birthdays, hanging out, going for coffees and nights out – even working on assignments – are something I will cherish for life.” 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering studying abroad?

“Be strongminded, and focus on what you came for. One thing I really believe is that there is so much more to the world than meets the eye. Be open to learning and growing as a person. Try to learn and understand local life, and respect and be kind to everyone you meet. Doing this can make your life easier when you are an immigrant away from home.”

What has Dublin Pride’s role been in welcoming you to the LGBTQ+ community?

“Dublin Pride is such an amazing organisation that brings the people in our community and our allies together. I am especially moved by the immense support from our allies that I have experienced because at the end of the day we also need straight people to support the LGBTQI+ community. Dublin Pride gave me the freedom of being myself and welcomed me with open arms. Even though I was new to the team, they didn’t hesitate to trust me with important duties and responsibilities.”

Why is volunteering important to you?

“Service to others is a key part of my culture. Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ Someone who volunteers for Dublin Pride will not regret their decision, and they will truly cherish giving back to the community.”

What has been your most memorable moment while volunteering for Dublin Pride?

“When I got the opportunity to be Flag Marshal for the Parade in 2019. Leading a 65 m long rainbow flag and progression gave me an immense feeling of pride and of being part of the community and the team. I was surrounded by a great team of volunteers that year, so I knew I had the support of not only them but also the Chief Marshal and the Dublin Pride Team.”

Volunteering for Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride is an excellent opportunity to learn new skills and work with a fantastic team of like-minded people who care about advancing LGBTQ+ rights. If you are interested in joining the volunteer team at Dublin Pride, please fill out this form.

Meet the Volunteers: Brendan

The Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride Volunteer Programme attracts individuals from all walks of life; from students to social workers, business and IT professionals and more. In addition to allowing you to use your skills outside an educational or professional setting, we also provide training opportunities for volunteers.

Brendan (he/him) is not just an LGBTQ+ community activist but also the CEO, co-founder and board member of the Sandymount School Past Pupils Union, which organises social events for former students. In our interview, Brendan speaks about his experience with the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of organisations like Dublin Pride.

When did you join Dublin Pride, and what’s it like being a volunteer for the organisation?

“I spent seven years as a youth member of BeLonG To and was able to benefit from the services they offered to young LGBTQI+ people in the early 2000s when the organisation began. That really inspired me.

I always felt that I had a lot more to offer to our LGBTQ+ community and wanted to give back. So I signed up as a volunteer after marching in 2005 the parade, and it’s been a tough but also rewarding 16 years. I actually spent most of my time as a volunteer for Dublin Pride at Outhouse LGBT Community Resource Centre on Capel Street.

Volunteering for Dublin Pride has been the most enjoyable experience. I have honestly gained so much from it, and the Dublin Pride team has always encouraged volunteers to be the best they can be by allowing them to use their skills and experiences for our community. Volunteers are such an indispensable part of Dublin Pride, especially the Pride Parade, and the team knows that.

After the Pride Festival is finished, the entire organisation and directors come together along with our members to examine and discuss feedback and how the festival went that year. Once a year, our annual general meeting is called and company members come together to appoint the Board of Directors for the following year and to discuss company matters as well. For me, volunteers play a vital role in the organisation. Volunteering with Dublin Pride is not just a great opportunity to make new friends but also give back to the community, and  I have seen first-hand what they can achieve by working together.”

What was your coming-out experience like?

“I was afraid to come out to my family and friends, and it wasn’t until I was 16 that I told my siblings I was gay. In the early 2000s, there weren’t many people to look up to as a young gay man. There wasn’t a lot of queer representation on TV really until shows like Bad Girls, Will & Grace and Queer as Folk. They had a huge impact on my life in terms of helping me accept my sexuality. Thankfully, nowadays we have more LGBTQI+ characters on TV than ever before.

Coming out was a big relief for me, and I began to feel more and more comfortable as a gay man. Ireland still had a long way to go for LGBTQI+ people to feel comfortable being open about their sexuality, but I was fortunate to come out here.

That being said, there wasn’t enough support given to LGBTQI+ students in my school, and it wasn’t until BeLonG To Youth Services opened in the early 2000s that I was able to find the support I needed as a young gay man.

I still remember my first Pride Parade in June 2000. I was so excited to walk down the streets of Dublin alongside so many other young LGBTQI+ people, and there were of course the music and all the powerful speeches by community activists. 

After the parade had finished, I went to my first ever gay bar, The George. I was only 18 years old, and it was a fantastic place to go to as a young person at the weekends. I actually met my first boyfriend at The George when I was 21 years old. This relationship was something very new to me, but we ended up dating for three years.

I was quite overwhelmed that first time at Pride, but I remember coming home and telling my family that it’d been the best day of my life.” 

What role does community activism play in your life?

“I’ve always been very active within my community. When I was in primary school, I got involved in the Student Union where I served in different roles including secretary and treasurer. I even became the chairperson of the Student Union.

After I left school, I got more involved in LGBTQI+ activism. Activism allows me to engage with organisations in the community, listen to their concerns and place them on the national agenda. The recent Marriage Equality referendum campaign is a good example, where a group of local community activists came together and started a national movement that affects all of us to this day.”

How has community activism changed since you first got involved?

“I strongly believe that social media is changing community activism and political movements. Social media plays a crucial part in campaigning; more so than ever before. I strongly believe that the powers that be need to do more to stop online bullying and harassment. It is a problem that is getting worse as we become more and more dependent on technology.

Growing up in the 90s, we didn’t have Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; social media didn’t exist. I think growing up without it was much better because I knew who my friends were, and we still always managed to meet up over the weekend. Social media is dominating our lives, so I feel kind of lucky that these things didn’t exist back then.”

What are some of the challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces right now?

I am very proud that I was able to be part of important changes in Ireland, marching to support civil rights. I was so happy to see the success of the Marriage Equality referendum and to see the introduction of the 2015 Gender Recognition Bill. What is needed now is the introduction of a hate crime bill.

In spite of everything we’ve achieved over the past number of years both within and for the wider LGBTQI+ community, there are new groups and community organisations that have only just set up. Their voices must be heard and be able to share their experiences within the LGBTQI+ community.”

What role does Dublin Pride play when it comes to community activism?

“Dublin Pride began as a protest march in 1983 when Declan Flynn was murdered in Fairview Park. He was a gay man and the victim of a hate crime. Dublin Pride has changed a lot since then. While it remains a march for our rights and freedom, it has also become a celebration of our history and of how far we’ve come.” 

If you are interested in joining the volunteer team at Dublin Pride, please fill out this form.

Meet the Volunteers: Gilly

Volunteers donating their time and skills are the backbone of many non-profit organisations. However, they too often remain anonymous. To recognise and acknowledge their contributions to our community, we want to shine a light on some of our Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride volunteers.

Last year, we sat down with Gilly (she/her) to chat about volunteering with Dublin Pride, the wider LGBTQ+ community and her love for body art.

How did you first become involved with Dublin Pride?

“In the early 2000s, while I was living in the UK, I decided to visit as many Pride Festivals as I could. Throughout the years, I’ve volunteered and marched in the Manchester, Brighton and Soho Pride Festivals. You could call it my tour de pride.

I didn’t have the easiest experience coming out, and doing the tour de pride was definitely part rebellion, a little bit of trying to catch up and understanding and becoming part of the LGBTQ+ scene. The rest was trying to do something for queers still in the closet, so they wouldn’t have the same experience I had.

After taking part in all these Pride celebrations in the UK, I wanted to check out the growing efforts here. I moved to Ireland after marching in the 2006 Dublin Pride Parade and joined the organisation as a volunteer because I felt that I could contribute to the festival.”

What has it been like volunteering with Dublin Pride?

“When I joined Dublin Pride in 2007, I was an ordinary festival volunteer in the Pride Village. Over time, I climbed the ladder of positions available to a volunteer to being partly in charge of organising several events for Dublin Pride.

In 2011, I was appointed Deputy Chief Marshal in charge of all the events as well as a member of the Dublin Pride secondary pride. I later took on a position on the voluntary Board of Directors. After years on the Board, I took a break from Dublin Pride but soon after was asked to oversee the parade as Chief Marshal. When I resigned from my position as Chief Marshal in 2017, I really intended to leave Pride. Turns out that’s easier said than done!”

This year, the Pride Festival & Parade moved online due to COVID-19 restrictions. What was that like for you?

“I have to say, being part of the “lockdown parade” this year was definitely a very unconventional experience. We couldn’t host the normal parade with our usual 50,000+ attendance of people from all across Ireland representing every part of our wonderful community.”

What’s the significance of Pride parades and festivities for the LGBTQ+ community?

“Pride will always be important to LGBTQI+ people as it is an opportunity to express yourself as a member of the community but also to advocate for the causes you support. As a community, we are continually growing and diversifying. As we become better educated about language and lived experiences, it is vital that everyone feels they have a space to be seen, heard and represented. 

Over the years, we have grown from being a community for LGB (Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals) to a more inclusive community which represents people who identify as LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Intersex).”

What advice would you give to someone who was considering volunteering for Dublin Pride?

“Dublin Pride volunteers are ordinary people who are passionate, awesome at what they do and willing to lend a hand or give advice to a fellow volunteer. They become like your second family.

I think if you wanted to join the team, communication is essential to any role, and while sometimes the voices at the top might seem to be the most dominant that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up, ask the hard questions, and send an email if you think something needs to be changed.”

What has been your most memorable moment while volunteering for Dublin Pride?

“There have been so many great memories! I think the most memorable moment as a Dublin Pride volunteer has to be my first year as Chief Marshall of the parade and to feel the entire parade waiting with excitement for you to start the march through Dublin City.

I nearly freaked because I was sure that everyone was just waiting for me to drop the flag. This tremendous feeling hasn’t decreased, and it’s what I feel every year as the parade waits to begin its march. When I left my role as Chief Marshal in 2017, I remember stopping as the parade finished and looking at the crowd as they danced and celebrated. It was a sight to behold; all this energy from such a small community.”

Can you describe what it has been like to work beside the volunteer team in Dublin Pride?

“These people have stood with me at some of my lowest moments and been there to cheer me through some of my best times.”

Outside of LGBTQ+ advocacy, I know that you are passionate about tattooing and burlesque performing. Can you tell me a little bit more what they mean to you?

“The tattoo and burlesque scenes in Ireland are growing significantly, with both being seen as forms of self-expression and autonomy. There is also a growing acceptance of both fields within the general community. Where tattoos were once seen as a sign of questionable morals, they are now seen more as a sign of individuality and creativity.

While it’s true that just like with every demographic there are some elitists, as a whole, both communities are very welcoming and very supportive.

The performance sector in Ireland as well is generally very supportive, and there are incredible teachers from pole to burlesque, belly dancing and even circus skills. Not only are the sense of community and the flow of energy while performing empowering, but there are also aspects of dance that you can apply to the outside world, such as posture and breathing. They can really improve your overall health and confidence.”

How has burlesque and cabaret performing influenced your life?

“Even though I have been on stage in front of thousands of people, and I’ve had several thousand people following me in the parade, I suffer from social anxiety and very low self-esteem. 

Working with burlesque and cabaret groups, I have been fortunate to feel welcomed, accepted and valued. It also made me more confident in my skills as a stage manager and event coordinator. The biggest lesson I learned from it is that you can often find your stars – with all their sparkle and grace – backstage going through routines their anxiety routines. They’re all just regular people.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become involved in burlesque and cabaret but maybe lacks confidence when it comes to performing?

“There are so many ways to break into the scene. With so many shows going on, my first advice would be to go to a show, watch it and completely take it apart in your mind. Pay attention to the stage, the lights, the acts, the cues, the host. Have an act ready that you could pop out in the middle of Aldi, should the fancy strike you. Something you know inside out. Most importantly, speak to the producers. If you can’t get a hold of them straight away, talk to other people behind the scenes like the stage crew or performers. Someone that might introduce you to the right people, or if you can’t get a hold of anyone, look them up online. Groups like The Dirty Circus, Sideshow Dramas and Undercurrent are always very open to new things.” 

What is your stance on the significance of “meaningful” tattoos as opposed to getting tattoos-for-tattoos sake?

“I think this will remain an open-ended question in tattooing. There is an increase in the number of ‘story tattoos’ being commissioned. Be it something associated with a place you travelled to or the memorial of your dog. For me, all of my tattoos have been designed with a specific meaning in mind that will never be tattooed on another person in this way. That said, I don’t consider them any more or less individual than folks who pick an image off a flash sheet. I think, ultimately, whether a tattoo is a custom job or not, every tattoo is in some way part of your personal story. Tattoos are a commitment; no one gets a tattoo that they’ll remove a year later. So there has to be an attachment to the content of the image.”

Gilly’s is one of many stories to be told. Stay tuned for more volunteer profiles such as hers and to learn more about the volunteers behind Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride.

If you are interested in joining the volunteer team, please fill out this form.

Meet the Volunteers: Pat

Pat (he/him) has been a dedicated volunteer with Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride since 2015 and Chief Marshal and coordinator of the Pride Parade since 2018. He is also a member of The Social Democrats.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t have a full-sized Pride Parade in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but with a lot of planning and coordination with the HSE and emergency services, we were able to organise a scaled-down version. Even if it was just for a short 15 minutes, we were able to come together and march together with pride.

How did you first become involved with Dublin Pride?

“About a month before Pride 2015, an advert looking for volunteers appeared on my Facebook feed, and I thought, ‘Yeah, why not. Why didn’t I think of Pride before!’ 2020 was my 6th parade as a Dublin Pride volunteer – I guess you could call me a ‘serial volunteer’ – and being part of a socially-distanced parade with less than 40 LGBTQI+ community members, was definitely a strange experience.”

What does the role of Chief Marshal and Pride Coordinator involve, and what are some of the challenges you face?

“As Pride Coordinator, my role is to organise the Pride Parade. I love marshalling and crowd control. From figuring out the order of vehicles and walking groups to making sure that certain criteria were met. For example, putting LGBTQI+ groups near the front and making sure vehicles aren’t crammed together. As Chief Marshal, I then have to put the parade together on the morning of Pride Day and make sure it gets safely from A to B.”

How do the volunteers fit into this?

“In a normal year, the Dublin Pride Parade is so big that it needs a crew of nearly 300 to pull off. We need people to marshal the parade, help with the stage, grandstand area and work stalls, direct crowds – all manner of jobs! Without volunteers, the Dublin Pride Parade would not be able to happen.”

What is the relationship like between the volunteers?

“The day of the Pride Parade can be very stressful. That’s why it’s important that my team doesn’t just trust me, but also trust each other. The volunteers have to know that I have their backs, and I have to know that they have each other’s backs. I also need to know that if I ask someone to do a job, particularly one of the senior volunteers, that it will get done. Sometimes you might not think a job is important, but it could make or break the parade.”

How does Dublin Pride prepare their volunteers for the parade?

“Every year, Dublin Pride marshals receive extensive training. Areas covered are crowd and vehicle safety, dealing with members of the public, and de-escalation. On top of that, core volunteers have the opportunity to partake in formal training through an external agency and receive recognised qualifications. This is to make sure that senior volunteers in the core team, for example, can manage a section of thousands of parade attendees. The number of people attending Pride gets bigger and bigger each year, and volunteers need to be able to handle this influx of people.”

What has been your most memorable moment while volunteering for Dublin Pride?

“In 2017, I was Assistant Chief Marshal. The Chief Marshal that year, Gilly, had already announced that she would step down after 2017 and that I would take over in 2018. On the day of the parade – it was our first year in St. Stephen’s Green – Gilly was late. By the time she got there, I already had things underway, so she left me to it. I didn’t realise what she was doing and carried on with the day. It was only afterwards – when I congratulated her on another successful parade – that she turned to me and said, ‘You realise you just ran today’s parade, right? I just let you do it!’ It hadn’t occurred to me at all, but I remember thinking, ‘Wow! I can do this! I just did this!'”

You’re not just an active member of the LGBTQ+ community but also the Social Democrats. How did you first become involved in politics?

“I first got bitten by the politics bug at DIT. I personally think DIT is the best college in Ireland, and I really enjoyed studying there. As a student, I volunteered for loads of things, and it was DIT’s LGBT Soc that got me to my first Pride Parade in 2013. I actually met a lot of the people that are now core members of the Parade Team through college. I was a late bloomer when it comes to being active in the LGBTQI+ community, but there’s no time like the present!

At DIT, I also became involved in student politics, both on a college and national level, which led me to join the Soc Dems. I’ve always been a left voter but never a party member. I’ve always been a big fan of Róisín Shortall, so when she quit Labour and started a new party, I was in. At that time, I was very much disillusioned with other left-wing parties.

I don’t think that my involvement with the Soc Dems has anything to do really with me being a member of the queer community. However, their policies on equality, including queer rights, are very important to me. I would not stay with the party if they were not 100% in favour of gender equality, women’s rights, trans rights and queer rights.”

Where else can we find you?

“I volunteer mostly behind the scenes, things like operations, logistics, volunteer management, venue liaison, facilities. All the stuff people never get to see. Besides the Pride Parade, I’ve stewarded student protests, the AVIVA Stadium and St. Patrick’s Day. I also do a lot of geek conventions. I’m involved in five or six a year, including the World Science Fiction Convention Worldcon. Now and then I’ll step up to the plate and run one. I ran Octocon, Ireland’s annual science fiction convention, in 2017. I started and ran a gaming, anime and science fiction convention at DIT for two years. Last year I ran the first-ever virtual Gaelcon, Ireland’s Premier Games Convention, and fell short by a couple of weeks, of running Ireland’s first-ever virtual geek-style convention.”

What does pride mean to you?

“I grew up in a world where being gay or queer wasn’t socially acceptable.  As a teenager in the 80s, I didn’t even know that being bisexual existed, and I was very confused and worried that I might be gay. Oh, the horrors! I was in my late 20s, maybe early 30s, when I came to terms with my identity. Once I’d accepted myself, I wore it like a badge of honour, and since then, I’ve never tried to hide who I am. Today, things, while not perfect, are a lot better than when I was young. I hope that by being out and proud, I can help other people – young and old – to accept themselves for who they – or rather who we – are. The more open we are about the LGBTQI+ community, the more it will be accepted and become a normal thing. Like being left-handed or having green eyes. I want to live in a world where coming out is either not a thing or everyone does it, and you come out as gay, bi, fluid, pan or straight.”

At Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride, we run events all year around. If you are interested in joining the volunteer team at Dublin Pride, please fill out this form.

Pride at Work

Pride at Work by Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride is an initiative to challenge workplace discrimination and its legacy by partnering with employers to promote allyship, inclusion and equality in the workplace while at the same time empowering LGBTQ+ people.

With the help of the wonderful editorial and design team at GCN, we are delighted to share publication with you.

For more information about our Pride at Work initiative, contact prideatwork@dublinpride.ie

Career Coaching with Pride

As Part of our 2021 Pride at Work Conference, we were delighted to partner with the iPride group from Indeed who delivered a special training session offering practical advice and tips for for those whose careers have been affected by Covid, who are entering the workforce for the first time or are looking to develop their careers.

Click here to watch this session

Pride at Work

Resources from Indeed

Employment

How to Make Time for Self-Care While Working from Home
9 Virtual Social Activities to Stay Connected
How to Deal with Job Loss
Resignation Letter Due to a Career Change: Tips and Examples
Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well
How to Ask Someone to Be Your Referee: Email Examples
How to Change Careers
Encountering mistreatment in the workplace

Recruitment

How to find LGBT+ friendly workplace
Tips for Transgender/ Non-Binary People and use of Pronouns in an interview

Guide: How to Get a Job Fast
Tips for Graduates Entering the Workforce During COVID-1
How to Find the Best Jobs for You
The Essential Job Search Guide
Guide: Using Indeed.com Job Search
Email Examples: How to Respond to an Employer Interview Request
What to Do If You Aren’t Hearing Back From Employers
How to Succeed in a Virtual Interview
Interview Question: “Tell Me About Yourself”
139 Action Verbs to Make Your CV Stand Out
Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples
COVID-19 and Your Job: Tips and Actions to Consider
How to Write a Cover Letter
6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV

Education

DI&B Report
The Complete Guide to Changing Careers During COVID-19 (With Tips From a Recruiter)
Tips From a Recruiter: How to Stand Out When Changing Careers
Setting Goals to Improve Your Career
Learning Styles for Career Development

Should I include pronouns on my CV?

4 Job Search Tips for Transgender and Non-Binary People
5 Interviewing Tips for Transgender and Non-Binary People


What are Inclusion Resource Groups (IRGs)

Employee Resource Groups: A Guide from Indeed
How to build an effective Employee Resource Group Program
So You’ve built an ERG – Now what?

The Quilt: Echoes & Memories

Today, on World AIDS Day, we kicked off our new exhibition The Quilt: Echoes & Memories, which will run from 1-31 December at Filmbase in Temple Bar. This project is a collaboration with Queer Culture Ireland, which was founded by Judith Finlay and Kate Drinane.

Among other things, The Quilt: Echoes & Memories features the Irish AIDS Quilt and highlights the pioneering work of Gay Health Action. The exhibition is dedicated to the late Mary Shannon (1947-2020), founder of the Irish NAMES Project and Custodian of the Quilts.

The Quilt: Echoes & Memories reflects on the echoes we feel and the memories evoked when looking back at the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s and 1990s while living through this current pandemic. The exhibition honours the memory of the people who died from AIDS-related illnesses, many of whom are named on the Quilts, many more who are not. We also want to honour those who supported and fought for the rights of those living with HIV and AIDS, especially in a time of stigmatisation and secrecy.

The Quilt: Echoes & Memories was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, in a live-streamed Facebook event.

For more World AIDS Day and Winter Pride events, check out our events section.

Winter Pride 2021

Beyond protest and celebration, Pride connects our community, it brings us together, and for over 50 years it has kept us together. Winter Pride Dublin is an annual festival of LGBTQ+ events and activities designed to help bring the community together, reconnect friends and showcase all the resources and supports available at a time when people often need them the most.

Subject to COVID restrictions our next Winter Pride Festival will take place between November 20th and December 1st 2021