Dublin Pride's Clodagh Leonard Talks 2018 Theme 'We Are Family'

We sat down with the Chairperson of Dublin Pride Clodagh Leonard to chat about protest, the pope, families and solidarity.

Clodagh Leonard of Dublin Pride Talks 2018 Theme

This year Dublin Pride takes on the theme “We Are Family”. This will be Clodagh’s second year as the Chairperson of Dublin Pride and we sat down to talk everything family…

 

Tell me a bit about how the board decided on the theme?

This year was a particularly difficult one when it came to picking a theme. There were so many options to consider. Its 100 years since women were given the vote, 35 years since the march on Fairview, 30 years of GCN, 25 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and of course the campaign to Repeal the 8th amendment was in the forefront of our minds.

we began to realise that that was the commonality in all these events. That we had relied on one another to get us through each moment of our history

We were very conscious that with so much happening and so much to be acknowledged we didn’t want to pick one topic over another. While we were discussing this, we were also made aware of the removal of LGBTQ+ families from the leaflets around the World Meeting of the Families here in Dublin in August. This started a conversation about the nature of families and we began to realise that that was the commonality in all these events. That we had relied on one another to get us through each moment of our history, that parents and partners and friends had been the backbone of each of these moments.

 

What does “We Are Family” encompass and represent? 

We Are Family represents the massive variety of families that we have as a community. From biological families, families of origin, to the queer support networks that we build around ourselves. For much of our history, we were isolated. We found strength by building families with each other when our biological families were not accepting. And now, we are in a moment in time where that narrative has started to change, and people’s parents are accepting their LGBTQ children.

We want to celebrate all of this. It would also be foolish for us to pretend that we are finished with this particular fight, especially as it relates to LGBTQ families. We are still waiting for elements of the Children and Families Act 2015 to be enacted that would allow LGBTQ parents to both be on their children’s birth certificate, for example. So the protest is not over yet!

 

 

Why do you think this theme is significant to the LGBT+ community in Ireland in 2018? 

It is no coincidence that in the year when Pope Francis will visit Ireland and take part in The World Meeting of Families, we have chosen the theme ‘We are Family’. Like many people, we were appalled not just the exclusion, but the active erasure of representation of LGBTQ+ families in literature for this event, but we were also encouraged by the number of people who spoke out about this, especially those from within the church.

We know that across Ireland there are thousands of parents – including those of faith – who love their LGBTQ+ children and more than anything want to protect them and show them that they are loved and welcome in our Ireland.

We know that across Ireland there are thousands of parents – including those of faith – who love their LGBTQ+ children and more than anything want to protect them and show them that they are loved and welcome in our Ireland. We know that millions of Irish people love their LGBTQ+ brothers, sisters, parents and friends and truly believe that they are part of their families. We know this for a fact because on the 22nd of May 2015 the people of Ireland overwhelmingly voted their acceptance of our families. It is for every one of those people that we have chosen ‘We are Family’ as our theme.

 

Chair of Pride Clodagh with fiancé Aisling
Pictured with her fiancé Aisling at the Marriage Equality referendum result in Dublin Castle

 

What does family mean to you?

Family are the people that see you at your most vulnerable and jump in to help. They are the people who roll up their sleeves and say ‘I am here with you regardless of what it takes’. For example, the March on Fairview in 1983, which was a historical moment in the Irish LGBTQ movement. Women and men who at the time were fighting their own battle to prevent the inclusion of the 8th amendment joined the march in solidarity.

This act of compassion to me is what family is all about, it’s about rallying around the person who needs it the most and caring for them.

A march to stop violence against Women and Gays. This act of compassion to me is what family is all about, it’s about rallying around the person who needs it the most and caring for them. They stepped up at a time when the stigma around being gay was costing us our lives and helped us create a society that loves and accepts and embraces us. It is our turn to return the favour. That is what family is and that is what family does.

 

If you could construct your own family with anyone who would it be? 

Well, I am extremely fortunate this year to be marrying Aisling Dolan, the love of my life, and I cannot imagine anyone better in the world to start a family with.

 

Dublin Pride Festival takes place June 21st to 30th, see http://dublinpride.ie/ for more details.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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