A chance encounter 15 years ago changed the lives of two people forever, leading to a close friendship which has empowered both of them to be themselves.
Marco Dias (36), who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them, said the conservatism and violence of their home country of Brazil meant they were unable to live freely.
They moved to Ireland and enrolled in a language college where they happened to meet fellow student and Italian native Nadia Funaro (41). The pair have built an enduring friendship.
Marco feared that the same “oppression” which exists in Brazil would exist in Ireland, but said their friendship with Nadia helped to “solidify the decision I made to move abroad”.
“With how accepting she was since the beginning and how we connected at a deeper level as human beings – without judgment,” Marco said.
“Living in Dublin I have way more freedom to express who I am. It’s definitely safer and more welcoming as well.
“Back home violence would happen quite a lot, because Brazil is a very religious country. While it’s known for carnival and football, it can be very conservative at the same time.”
Nadia said her friendship with Marco has had a positive impact on her life also. When they first met, Nadia said she was already a “very sociable person” but she also feared being judged by others.
“But then when I met my friend Marco, I realised that I don’t need to care about what people think about me, I should express myself fully and be who I want to be without asking permission or without having anyone’s approval all the time.”
The best friends have been selected as ambassadors for the “By My Side This Pride” campaign which has been launched by Dublin Bus and LGBT Ireland.
Marco said each Pride festival is “special”, but this year “means the world to me”.
They added: “Because I will have my face and my best friend’s face around Dublin town representing not only our friendship, but the love we have for each other and the acceptance we have for each other.”
Marco, Nadia and their friends are planning to attend a number of events this weekend, including Saturday’s Pride Parade and March, as well as the Radical Queer Pride of Homes event highlighting housing issues.
Dublin Pride began in earnest yesterday with the festival’s official launch. The celebration will continue over the weekend.
The biggest event will be Saturday’s main parade which runs from 12pm to 3pm. Organisers said more than 13,000 people have registered for the parade so far.
The parade will weave its way from the Garden of Remembrance to Merrion Square and participants need to show their colour-coded wristband for entry.
Meanwhile, the Pride Village at Merrion Square Park will have food, music and live entertainment throughout Saturday afternoon. Other events include the Lavender Walk – Queer History walking Tour and the Mother Pride Block Party.