Preparations for this year's Pride in the Park are well under way as the event moves to Min Ryan Park for the first time.
The 2022 celebration takes place on Saturday, May 28 from 12 p.m., and will be bigger and brighter than before, boasting over five hours of live entertainment including music from Peer Pleasure, Vistafur and For The.Company, plus stand-up from Vic Kelly, spoken word performances from members of the FDYS’s LGBT+ Orbit/ Solidarity group, and a drag show featuring the queens of the Haus of Mockie Ah. The mc for the night will be DJ El Styra.
Celebrations will continue into the night with an after-party hosted by Mockie Ah! at Wexford Boat and Tennis Club. This year’s picnic will also feature a variety of booths from local businesses and groups highlighting the creative arts, commerce, and community advocacy.
Founded in 2019 The Pride in the Park event has experienced huge growth in the last three years despite the challenges of the pandemic. Founder of Pride in the Park Wexford, Robert Crookes, reflected on what prompted him to launch it in 2019 having moved to the town only a few years prior, “I moved to Wexford in 2015 and I didn't find anything for LGBTQIA+ people happening. It was also the first time I received obvious hate from people due to my sexuality in my 52 years. It was an eye-opener, I was very surprised and disappointed in what I saw.
“I noticed that John Cunningham-Ryan was trying to help organise a Pride event with people in Gorey and I suggested having something in Wexford town. So I created an event through Facebook for a month's time, and advertised an LGBTQIA+ Wexford Pride event, in Redmond Park. On the day, over 100 people arrived, we had music from a portable stereo and asked folk to bring all their own refreshments blankets and join us for a social gathering picnic. I’m so grateful for everyone who came, enjoyed the day and helped out.”
On the social and cultural obstacles that led to the lack of LGBTQIA+ community events in the town Crookes stresses the importance of community members and local representatives in the role they have to play in perpetuating a tolerant and inclusive society and acting as active allies to the LGBTQIA+ community “I'd say you're on the wrong side of history now, it is time to be kind and inclusive."
Chairperson of Wexford Pride, John Cunningham-Ryan emphasised the importance of pride spaces in solidifying a sense of family and community, saying, "I've always loved going to Pride events, it gives everyone in our community the opportunity to meet our chosen family, our tribe. The last couple of years have been tough, especially for communities that normally experience isolation and loneliness anyway so going to Pride is a must. I feel my batteries recharged afterwards and it fuels me throughout the year. Of course, Pride has a special place in my heart as that's where I met my husband Noel in 2015."
Organisers have stressed that Pride in the Park Wexford 2022 will send a clear message to the community that Wexford is a safe and welcoming place to live openly and with pride. As such, everyone is encouraged to dress as their loudest, proudest and truest self on the day.
Expressions of interest regarding securing a booth, volunteering or sponsorship can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.