Historic rainbow walkway unveiled on Cork University campus

The new rainbow walkway on the UCC campus pays tribute to activist roots and marks the University's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students and staff.

Cork University Rainbow Walkway. Footpath painted in progressive pride colours
Image: TWITTER @UCCEquality

As part of a day of celebrations to mark Coming Out Day, Cork University have unveiled their brand new rainbow walkway.

The walkway is the first of its kind on a University campus in the country and aptly pays homage to the University’s activist roots.

The move follows in a long line of groundbreaking activist milestones established in Cork and more significantly by the University, through the forty-plus years fight for LGBTQ+ rights across Ireland. 

In 1980, the University became the first NUI college to establish a Gay Society and in 2008 it became the first University in Ireland to establish an LGBTQ+ Staff Network.

In speaking to GCN about the foundation of the 1980 Gay Soc, activist Cathal Kerrigan describes, “We invited (David Norris) down and he and I spoke ‘for’ and there were two speakers ‘against’ and the place was packed. The large auditorium was jammed packed, literally standing room only and it was overwhelmingly passed.” 

He was also keen to point out “About half the people were not gay themselves, they were allies. From the very beginning, the Gay Soc in UCC was built around allies and also many of the people were women.”

The rainbow walkway runs between the Boole Library complex and the O’Rahilly building. It is painted in the full spectrum of colours incorporated on the Progressive Pride flag and is mirrored by ‘progressive banners’ on the windows of the library. 

The University has also launched #ProgressWithPride, encouraging students, staff and visitors to share photos of the walkway on social media. In the move to raise awareness of the meaning of the Progressive Pride colours. They aim to show support for LGBTQ+, black, brown and ethnic minority communities and display how they represent different facets of the community as well as highlighting intersectionality. 

Kerrigan recognises the value of inclusion that the rainbow represents is keen to emphasise the power of including LGBTQ+ allies in the conversation. 

The rainbow walk is wonderful for the LGBTQIA+ community but now the rainbow, for me, represents something far more serious… We need that inclusion to now to go beyond and to (include) everybody… We need to unite with everybody to build a fair inclusive world with one another and to save our planet.” 

This display of solidarity and support for all members of the LGBTQ+ community was echoed in the University’s Coming Out Day events. As well as panel discussions, TENI hosted a Trans 101 session for students, while the Glucksman Gallery launched a new LGBTQ+ artwork created by Stephen Doyle through a community engagement initiative. 

Commenting on the work on Instagram, Doyle said, “It was a dream come true to get this commission, it’s exactly the kind of work I love to make. Entirely inspired by discussions with the community, constructed by a queer artist and presented for the queer public.”

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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