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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
File Photo. Tomorrows Gay Pride Parade is the 40th anniversary of the first parade in Gay Pride Parades. Pictured members and supporters of the Gay Community in Ireland parade, as they March in Dublin this afternoon in the annual Gay Pride Parade.

Aoife Martin Reflections on Pride 2023 - it really is for everybody

As Pride Month 2023 draws to a close, our columnist reflects on this year’s celebrations and what they mean to the community and wider society.

LAST SATURDAY, UNDER a glorious Simpsons sky, I, along with tens of thousands of other people, marched in Dublin’s Pride Parade. In a sea festooned with colour people sang, chanted and danced their way along the route before ending up at the Pride Village in Merrion Square.

Young and old, families and friends, work colleagues and allies, walked in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community on the 40th anniversary of Dublin’s first-ever Pride march.

That first march to Fairview Park took place under very different circumstances. It was in protest against the leniency of the sentences handed down to the murderers of Declan Flynn. Flynn, a gay man, was attacked in the park and the five men charged with his murder were given suspended sentences with the judge remarking:

“This could never be regarded as murder.”

It is a sombre reminder of why we need Pride. In the four decades since then many things have changed. In 1993 homosexuality was legalised; in 2015 Marriage Equality was passed and, in the same year, so was the Gender Recognition Act. All of this happened within my lifetime.

Challenges remain

Ireland has come a long way but there is still much left to be done and we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. All too recently we have seen an upsurge in anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment around the world, something to which we have not been immune.

Just last May a drag show that was due to take place in a Carlow hotel was cancelled after the organisers received online abuse. In April Swords Library was targeted by a group protesting the availability of LGBTQ+ books aimed at younger people. Fingal County Council passed a motion condemning the protest. Another protest in April, this time in Dublin’s city centre, was against Children’s Books Ireland’s Pride Reading Guide, a beautifully curated list of LGBTQ+ inclusive stories for young readers aged 0-18.

It is worth remembering the words of Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.

All too often I hear of attacks on people in the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone knows someone who has been targeted or attacked. As Pride month draws to a close we cannot afford to be complacent. We are seeing LGBTQ+ rights being rolled back around the world and we need to be on our guard.

It’s sometimes easy to be cynical about Pride. We’ve all heard the arguments about it being too corporate, about pink-washing, about the inclusion of certain groups and about whether it should be a celebration or a protest.


All of these are valid questions and we should never stop asking them but it’s also important to ask ourselves who is Pride actually for? As I sat on the grass with my friends in the Pride village and watched families walking by with their kids, people dancing, people holding hands, people kissing, people in colourful costumes, people with flags draped around their shoulders, and everyone having a good time, the obvious answer is that Pride is for everybody.

But more importantly, Pride is for those who aren’t able to march. It is for those who are still in the closet, those still struggling with their sexuality or their gender identity, those who, for whatever reason, cannot be their true selves.

The visibility of Pride and the joy of Pride sends a powerful message. It tells people that there is a community out there, that they are not alone, and that there is a welcome waiting for them when they are ready to take that first step.

Aoife Martin is a trans woman and activist. In her spare time, she likes reading, going to the cinema and practising card tricks.