My Pride Experience
Katie recently came out as pansexual
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact email@example.com.
"Even though we have come a long way since the vote for marriage equality and the gender recognition bill last year, there is still much more yet to be done"
In February of this year, after a long build up, I finally plucked up the courage to come out to my parents. I came out as pansexual and anybody who’s been through the experience of coming out knows how scary it can be, adding on top of that having to explain what being pansexual meant to my parents, it was fairly nerve wrecking. Luckily I was in a situation where my parents were open minded and accepting of who I was and this lead to my mother suggesting several weeks later that we go to see the pride parade in Dublin. I was apprehensive at first but I thought it’d be a good way to introduce her to the LGBTQ+ community and an opportunity to join in the celebrations.
On Saturday morning I headed towards Connolly Station to meet my mam and a friend who was joining us for the day. On my way there I passed an elderly man, who was undeniably headed to celebrate pride, decked out in rainbow shirt and bow tie. I smiled at him and kept walking thinking of how times must have changed so much from when he was my age. I arrived at the station and saw a large crowd of young teenagers, adorned in the colours of pride, including flags, face paint and even a rainbow mohawk, make their way out of the station talking excitedly about their plans for the day. It highlighted a huge difference between when I was younger and how afraid I was of how I might be judged for who I was and this group of young people ready for a great day out despite what might be going on within their own minds and personal lives, pride provided them a space where they could forget about it all and embrace who they were, even if it was only for a little while.
As we killed time walking along Talbot Street we headed into a shop that sold novelty Irish souvenirs and, given the weekend that was in it, some pride themed accessories were on sale too. We went in and had a look. There was face paint, shot glasses, big flags, little flags, masks, sunglasses, wristbands – all adorned with the colours of the rainbow. I picked up a few wristbands and some badges. I was weary to buy a flag or face paint or anything that could draw attention to me. This was the first time I was in a place where it was openly encouraged to show who you were and to be proud of it. That was a huge leap for me from a few months ago where I had to actively hide who I was. Shaking off that feeling of insecurity was more difficult than I expected. After a little encouragement I bought myself a flag and some face paint.
I put my badge and wristband on while we sat in a restaurant eating some breakfast unsure if my other purchases would make it outside of my shopping bag. I thought about all the other people I’d seen walking along the street embracing the day that was in it and bizarrely I felt a bit underdressed so on our way out I took a detour to the bathrooms to apply some face paint. As I left the restaraunt I felt like there was a huge sign above my head saying “LOOK AT ME!”. We spent some time traversing the shopping centre in Jervis street before we headed to the quays for the parade. Strolling around the shops with my cheek painted with the colours of the rainbow I felt a little proud. I tried not to worry about what other people thought like I would’ve walking along the street in my own town. As we walked along Connolly Street there were hundreds of people lining the street in anticipation. We found a little spot just off the corner of O’Connell Bridge. I could hear the cheers of the crowd as the parade made its way down towards us.
Cheers and applause erupted from the crowds as the grand marshal, Max Krzyzanowski (of LGBT Noise), accompanied by the Lord Mayor of Dublin; Críona Ní Dhálaigh made their way along Eden Quay. By this time I’d rooted out my rainbow flag and wrapped it around me. The parade went on for almost 2 hours. It was amazing to see thousands of people in one place embracing who they were regardless of gender or sexuality. Watching the organisations that work to support people within the LGBTQ+ community and the crowds that were marching behind them made me feel proud. There was music, drums and drag and everybody was out to have a good time and celebrate being a part of this diverse community. With my rainbow flag wrapped around my shoulders, I didn’t feel so insecure or nervous anymore, I felt safe. There were a lot of young people marching as well as families, mothers and fathers with their young kids, activists, people in fancy dress dancing along to the music and a few dogs sporting rainbow flower chains too. There were several companies that took part, such Twitter and Google too. There were also touching tributes to the victims of the recent massacre in Orlando. We followed the parade down to the pride village in Merrion Square.
The streets were awash with colour. We headed into the village and watched the main stage from the big screen that was set up while we sat on the grass and chilled out. We watched Panti Bliss and a drag queen girl band. Before we left to get our dinner and catch our train we watched a speech from the main stage. Sam Blackens from TENI made a speech highlighting non-binary identities in Irish society. I thought this was wonderful, but it did lead to some bewildered looks from a couple naïve pride goers. As the whole square was swarmed with people we walked around the pride village to get an idea of what it was all about and then we headed out to get something to eat and a few drinks to mark the occasion.
That evening on the train ride home recounting the day led to some interesting conversations about the LGBTQ+ community and a couple new terms that my mam had learned over the course of the day. She made a remark about something she noticed while queueing for the bathroom at the train station that morning. She noticed, a person who she presumed to be, a transgender woman having to queue to use the male bathroom. This led to a conversation about the recent bathroom bills in the USA and the lack of rights for Trans people here in Ireland. It also highlighted to me the other side of being a part of the wider LGBTQ+ community in Irish society, away from the glitter and parties. Even though we have come a long way since the vote for marriage equality and the gender recognition bill last year, there is still much more yet to be done.
We also talked about the speech made at the main stage in Merrion Square and about what being non-binary meant. I think Pride is a good way to educate allies on the LGBTQ+ community past the extravagant and over the top celebrations it’s mostly associated with; I think it’s an opportunity that should be utilized a lot more than it currently is. Heading into pride on Saturday morning I had no idea what to expect. I started off feeling so shy and insecure but as the day progressed I felt more and more happy, and content within myself. Pride isn’t the only part of the LGBTQ+ community; it’s just a part of it. In the same way it is with my sexuality, it isn’t all of me; it’s just a part of me.
This community isn’t perfect, sometimes I feel it focuses just on the white male diaspora of the community but what I experienced for the first time this weekend was an event that made me feel like a member of this big, wonderful, diverse community of people which embraced all walks of life. I feel that this is the true essence of pride.