Prides of Future Past

20 years ago, about 2,000 of us marched to the Amphitheatre in the Civic Offices on Wood Quay. We got a £200 grant from Dublin Corporation and they flew 8 Pride Flags along the Liffey. A little more than 20 years before that we were just a handful of people having a picnic in Merrion Square, and being asked to leave. We’ve fought hard to get this far, and in true Pride spirit, we’ve celebrated every victory along the way and every hero who got us here, but we have changed.

Now when I go into the Civic Offices with our Festival Manager Eddie McGuinness for a statutory meeting to plan Dublin Pride, everyone’s there; senior staff from DCC, the Gardai, Dublin Fire Brigade, the HSE Dublin Bus, Luas, Civil Defence, health & safety, and event management experts. Dublin LGBTQ Pride has grown from a few hundred people to thousands, we have taken to the streets of Dublin and walked all over this city, our route changing at times as Dublin evolved and our protest march grew into a victory celebration.

This is one of those years where we take another leap forward and adapt ourselves to the changing city, one that we are now truly part of and want to celebrate with. Everyone at the table has already heard my speech on Stonewall and Fairview and the importance of Pride, most of them have heard it a few times and they get it. They all offer support and ask how they can help. And when we get down to business, we’re planning how to manage rolling road closures, keep access open to businesses and residents, divert public transport, manage crowds of over 25,000 people at one time and, of course, how to deal with an emergency. Every possible scenario has to be considered and planned for. Passion isn’t enough for this kind of planning, we need people like Eddie, who has a Master’s and degrees in Social Media & Communications and Event Management, to make something this big work.

In another office we have to sign to draw down our grant, it’s hundreds of times bigger than the one we got in 1997, and we have to bring tax clearance certificates and insurance indemnity forms and have our signatures witnessed and countersigned. We’ve become one of the biggest LGBTQ organisations in the country and what started with just a handful of people is now on the verge of becoming a national event. Can you imagine Pride being declared a national public holiday? We can.

We’ve changed, and we’re still changing. One thing won’t change though; I’m still going to tell the story of Stonewall and Fairview, the story of the 15 year old boy in drag who had the courage to fight back against oppression and the story of Declan Flynn being murdered in Fairview Park. Like any superhero, everything we are and everything we do is rooted in our origin story.

Jed Dowling.

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