Rainbows and showers at Dublin's Pride parade
IN former times we might have inferred biblical disapproval from the fact that Dublin's Pride parade was, quite literally, rained upon.
But yesterday afternoon nobody was getting their angel wings in a twist about the bad weather. The rainbow flags looked even more vivid against the dark skies and if you can survive thousands of years of oppression what's a few raindrops?
It has been said that Dublin has more gay people per capita than San Francisco and if the crowd was a little smaller than in previous years, at least the energy of the event was undiminished.
In other countries Pride has been slickly corporate-ised but in Ireland there is still a home-made, activist feel to proceedings. Marriage-equality and gay sports groups lined up alongside other organisations.
The focus of this year's festivities was undoubtedly the gay police groups, who came from all over Europe and lined up in their uniforms ("cop drag" quipped one reveller) at the Garden of Remembrance.
Compared to them our lot -- the gay gardai group, G Force -- looked a lot like a gaggle of ushers. They wore polo shirts and t-shirts and were warned not to speak to press about the fact that they were banned from wearing their uniforms on the parade.
The official explanation is that they weren't allowed to be in full regalia since they're not "on duty", although exceptions have been made to this rule in the past.
The mood was mercifully lightened when the first thumps of disco were heard, and the sea of blue uniforms dramatically parted to make way for the unofficial head of state: Panti, Ireland's mother superior of drag, aboard her bus. "Happy Pride, Dublin!" she called into her microphone and the crowd roared its approval.
Instantly, the event was turned from a political march into a street party.
From the Garden of Remembrance the parade noisily cavorted down O'Connell Street, which was lined with people holding small rainbow flags and filming the procession on their mobile phones.
We were getting closer and closer to our journey's end and the real point of Gay Pride -- some socially conscious, human-rights-related day-time drinking.
Sadly there was no sign of gay Austrian fashion icon Bruno -- Sacha Baron Cohen (who is thought to be in town for the weekend) -- but the Front Lounge and Panti Bar heaved with patrons from early in the evening and many businesses around the city had cannily rolled out the rainbow bunting for the day.
"Give us your euros and we give you our tolerance" seemed to be the thinking.
And for many marchers that sounded like rather a good deal.