Ireland has come a long way and while many LGBT+ folks are excited as Pride season is approaching, others question the need of having a parade when we are now equal. But, are we really?
There was a time back in the good old days when men were men and women had to travel when you didn’t have to concern yourself with providing rationalisations for bigotry. Gay people were disgusting, gay sex was gross and society could proceed happily from this unquestioned starting point and arrange it in such which privileged straightness at the expense of gayness.
These days it doesn’t work like that. New norms have been established which place an onerous burden onto homophobes requiring them to at least have some basis for their intolerance. So rather than hearing “backs to walls lads” we get a concern for traditional family values, a desire not to violate the sanctity of marriage and pseudo-intellectual discussions on what constitutes “real women”.
Given how Pride is just around the corner we should all prepare ourselves for the usual hand wringing around why we need to make spectacles of ourselves by having Pride. Given how all the battles have now supposedly been won and we’ve been ‘granted’ equal rights, shouldn’t we just pack away our assless chaps, de-wig, de-gloss and stop subjecting the shoppers to our silly sideshow? Where is straight Pride etc?
Questioning the legitimacy of Pride is about as basic as it gets.
It’s a parade, a fun parade and before getting into the politics you could quite easily defend it purely on the basis that it’s a great day out and leave it at that. Who doesn’t like a whole day where you can march down a street, meet all your friends, dress up and dance the night away?
The idea that because we have attained many new rights that the parade should cease to exist is absurd. Our national parade literally consists of celebrating a man who apparently single-handedly drove non-existent snakes from our shores. If we can celebrate that we can certainly celebrate a vibrant living community which up until recently were treated as second class citizens.
Politically we still have so much more to achieve. Blood bans are still in place, we still have no hate crime legislation, no decent trans healthcare, no free access to PrEP, no inclusive sex education to say nothing of the complete failure of the state to supply service to vulnerable members of our community. Internationally, 11 countries still impose the death penalty for being gay and as we celebrated 25 years since decriminalisation last year we remember the 72 countries which still criminalise us.
We celebrate Pride to remember all those who couldn’t, we celebrate it to rejoice in how far we have come as a community, we celebrate it to remind ourselves that the battle is not completely over and we celebrate it in solidarity with our international gay community many of whom don’t have the luxury to do it and if you have a problem with that it is very much your problem.
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