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.