Monday 18 February 2019

A festival full of pride and joy

Anna Hayes

With the summer finally here and the weather threatening every so often to burst into a blaze of sunshine, Dublin is gearing up for the Gay Pride Festival, which started yesterday and runs until Sunday, June 26.

The history of Dublin's Pride scene goes back to 1983, when the first parade was held, finishing with a rally outside the GPO.

In the 28 years since then, the parade has grown in leaps and bounds, so much that it has now turned into a 10-day festival.

"It's a human thing!" is the theme and message of this year's festival,

For those of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) persuasion, it's 10 days of fun, frolics and the chance to celebrate diversity and continue the ongoing campaign for equal rights.

But Gay Pride is anything but exclusive, with festivals all over the world welcoming people of all orientations and diversity and encouraging them to join the party.

With a host of events taking place over the next 10 days, the programme is sure to have something to suit everyone.

Here are 10 things you need to know about Gay Pride.

1 Last year, 25,000 people took part in the Dublin Pride Parade with 100,000 attending as spectators. More than 160,000 people took part in the festival overall, with that figure expected to be even bigger for 2011 following the introduction of the Civil Partnership earlier this year.

This makes the Pride Parade the second-biggest in the country, topped only by the St Patrick's Day parade.

2 Last year, Sian Barber and her fiancé Dave Clarke found themselves unexpectedly taking part in the parade, carrying the rainbow flag that leads the procession down O'Connell Street.

Sian and Dave have attended the parade on numerous occasions and Sian said: "It's not exclusive at all. You don't go there and have people say, 'Oh. You're straight.' It was 'Oh, the more the merrier.'"

The parade is attended by lots of straight people every year who go in support of gay friends and family.

3 For all the X-Factor fans among us, Monday June 20 is D-Day for eight nervous and weary contestants as the Pride Factor Grand Final takes place in The Front Lounge from 9pm.

Admission is free, and it is the final night of the competition, which ran for eight weeks leading up to the festival. Hosted by April Showers, the last eight contestants battle it out for a €1,000 prize and the honour of performing on the main stage at the post-parade party on Saturday.

4 For all the Irish living it up down under, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the biggest Pride events in the world and attracts visitors from all over -- Kylie Minogue has performed at it. 'Fair Day' in Victoria Park attracts 70,000 people each year and the parade and after-party generates an income of about AU$30m (€22m) for the state of New South Wales. More than 300,000 people attended events in the 2011 festival.

5 Staying with the economy, the Dublin Festival this year gives welcome to whom they refer to as the 'intelli-gays' for the Pride Debate on the 'Pink Euro' -- the gay economy and the question of whether it is the exploited or the exploiter.

An as-of-yet-unknown special guest is due to make an appearance and this is your chance to be seen and heard. The event takes place in Ormond's Wine Bar on Monday, June 20 at 6:30pm.

6 For those with a more academic interest in all things LGBTQ, the walking tour of Historic Gay Dublin starts from the Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square on Saturday, June 18, and takes participants through the streets of Dublin, regaling them with rainbow tales of the Irish Crown Jewels, the 1980s club scene and more than a few stories about our wittiest playwright, poet and author.

Run by LGBTQ activists, the event is free and should the weather hold up looks set to be a great, fun day out.

7 In 2007, the London Pride committee erected a huge TV screen in Trafalgar Square in order to broadcast the Doctor Who series three finale, whose main star, David Tennant, had been voted 'Most Fanciable Male' in The Pink Paper the previous year.

The show itself commands a substantial gay following and John Barrowman, who also starred in the series, was a host at the festival that same year.

This year, the festival takes cheese to new heights by welcoming Eurovision veterans Bucks Fizz.

8 Events for the Dublin Festival take place in numerous locations across the city. Among them: The Front Lounge; Panti Bar; The Dragon; The New Theatre; The Civic Office Amphitheatre and, of course, The George, whose trademark pink teacup sign will be permanently illuminated for the duration of the festival.

In the past, people have run into Louis Walsh, Rupert Everett, Scissor Sisters and numerous others making The George a formidable celebrity haunt for any autograph chasers, particularly for the duration of Pride.

9 If you fancy a beachside Pride, Brighton, the UK's number one destination for 'Something a bit different' welcomes visitors from all over for its Pride Festival running from August 6-14. Beach volleyball, Pride's Got Talent, the parade and more take place over the course of the festival. This year, the organisers have made available a designated camping site, lending a real festival feel to the event.

10 This year, the Dublin festival welcomes BeLongTo director Michael Barron as its Grand Marshall. As part of the youth service, Barron has overseen numerous initiatives, including the recent Stand Up! campaign, which called for people to support gay friends in the face of bullying.

This year's parade also welcomes Crystal Swing, Niamh Kavanagh, Catherine Lynch and Kelis. Past attendees include presenters Alan Hughes, Brendan Courtney and many others.

The Dublin Pride Festival runs until June 26. The Parade takes place on Saturday, June 25. For more information, visit www.dublinpride.ie

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