Last last month I missed Dublin Pride. I didn’t mourn, largely because of how intrusive the corporate sponsorship of companies like Tesco and Nestle has become – these are not known for treating their staff well. Rumour has is that London Pride is even worse – apparently members of the LGBT community are only allowed to participate when invited to do so by corporate sponsors – the ordinary folk are corralled behind barriers to watch Goldman Sachs employees wave rainbow flags on the parade. I have hope that Dublin Pride can be saved from its own greed with a strong effort made to limit corporate hijacking of the event. It saddened me somewhat to miss Dublin Pride – having experienced my first one there in 1996. It couldn’t be helped however. I was being internationally fabulous out foreign.
To make up for this I took a train to Limerick this morning, to join in the Limerick event. This was my second Pride in Limerick (the first was in 2017, which I absolutely loved – you can read about that experience HERE. )
I didn’t have the same fear this time (which surprised me in 2017 seeing as I am a veteran of the event, and have attended the parade in Dublin; Amsterdam; Manchester; Brighton and Budapest). I knew what to expect. I was slightly apprehensive as I was travelling on my own to this one. Pride has always been a day for hanging out with my buddies and celebrating with them. However as time does its relentless march, people’s lives are busier, spare time is more precious, and a trip west, to Ireland’s real capital with a single man of middle years, probably requires more persuasion. I have no issues with sailing my own ship, it’s just the first time I take the plunge into a new experience is a touch nerve-wracking.
I walked from the station straight to Supermacs where I ordered a plate of their finest garlic chips and cheese. Supermacs on O’Connell Street does the best version of this famed cuisine. I bumped into a woman I know, who was bringing her young children to watch their first Pride. That was so lovely, and a real sign of how times have changed. There was no such support back in 1996.
I walked through town to the gathering point and bumped into someone else I know. She was handing out fliers. She said she wouldn’t give me one – commendable, always save paper when possible – but that if I was so inclined there were HIV and hepatitis tests with instant results being offered across the road at the Health Hub which were being coordinated by GOSHH (Gender Orientation Sexual Health HIV – a Limerick based organisation.) I decided that I would avail of this seeing as I was passing by.
Inside I was seen quickly. I think my refusal to let the staff draw blood surprised them. I told them that as a Type 1 diabetic, I am well used to using those finger prick guns. There is a delicate art to their use. You want to get sufficient blood but press too hard and you’ll end up with a sore finger for hours. I was allowed to use the gun myself, produced sufficient blood and no after-pain.
A minute later, I toddled on my merry way. The sun was shining at the assembly point outside the courthouse. There was a real community feel to the event that is lacking in the more recent iterations of Dublin Pride, since it has become so massive. The political parties were all present – including to my astonishment Fianna Fail. This is good I suppose considering how ill advised that party was on the issue of marriage equality and repealing the 8th Amendment quite recently. There were a few corporate sponsors but they were not present in an aggressive manner.
The parade floated up O’Connell Street with the music blaring (and yes I did raise my fist for the eternal gay lullaby ‘Believe’), and crowds lining the streets taking pictures. Circling round to Henry Street it made its way to the party held in the gardens of the Hunt Museum overlooking the river Shannon.
I ordered a cider and watched the entertainment. A highlight was the Cork duo Sparkle who got the crowd moving. Also impressive was Gero Hanlon who was in fine voice. The drag queens lip syncing to hits were somewhat engaging but not really my cup of tea. It’s probably a sign of my age but I like personality drag queens like Panti or Shirley who are also comedians. I guess in the era of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the taste of the children has changed.
I was shocked however to read that Limerick City Council offers so little financial support to the event, considering how big a festival it has become.
My train was after six, so I called in for fish and chips before boarding for my return to dirty Dublin, where I now sit.
A lovely day at a lovely event