Last week the LGBT+ community and allies took part in numerous events across the county for Sligo Pride.
With everything from meetups, to yoga, to panels, and of course the parade, Sligo Pride took place from Monday 1st to Sunday 7th of August.
The history of pride festivals, protests, celebrations, and drives in Sligo date back to the formation of Northwest LGBT Pride in 2005, SAGA Sligo Pride in 2016, which stands for sexuality and gender acceptance, and the current incarnation of the Sligo Pride Festival which was launched in 2019.
Maxton (Max) Ó Floinn, a spokesperson with Sligo Pride, spoke to the The Sligo Champion about the importance of pride in Sligo and the events that took place.
“This version of Sligo Pride is trying to honour the history of pride in Sligo but also internationally on a global scale. Pride started as a protest and with everything that has happened in the last year, in Sligo, but also in Ireland and the world, we wanted to bring it back to its more protest roots,” he said.
“It started as a protest for human rights, back when it was illegal to be homosexual, back when there was no marriage equality.
“A lot of the events we have run over the past week have been a celebration of who we are in the LGBT+ community, but also trying to remind the public that we are not done yet, it did not end with marriage equality in 2015 and we still have loads of things to be fighting for”
The Pride Parade was held on Saturday, August 13, and led participants from the Mercy College to City Hall, the same location the vigil for the late Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee was held last April. While the purpose of the event was to showcase a celebration of pride it also acted as a powerful reminder of the dangers still facing many in marginalised communities.
This year, Sligo Pride have been conscious to host events all over the county of Sligo and things kicked off on Monday, August 1, at Eagles Flying in Ballymote, this was followed by a coffee meetup in Benjamin’s in Tubbercurry, as well as beach yoga, bodyboarding, and a Knocknarea nature hike in Strandhill on Wednesday.
With a focus on including minority groups who are sometimes left out of conversations surrounding LGBT+ activism, a special panel was held with the Sligo Traveller Support Group focusing on LGBT+ members of the Irish Traveller and Roma communities.
“We’ve heard a lot of stories from people that they find it easier to come out as being gay than to tell people they are a Traveller, it is still very stigmatised and we wanted to have a platform for those conversations to be held,” Max said.
Finally, on Sunday a family fun day picnic was held in Doorly Park that allowed the LGBT+ community and allies to enjoy the sun with some music in an open and friendly atmosphere that included plenty of activities for kids, including face painting, arts and crafts, and a fire performer.
This year’s Sligo Pride was the first one free of pandemic restrictions since 2019 and one of its largest programmes ever.