“His loss leaves a huge void in all our hearts and a big emptiness in our communities, but he would want us to keep the flame of passion for LGBT+ activism burning bright by remembering and celebrating his legacy of love.”
At GCN we were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of veteran LGBT+ and animal welfare activist, and beloved Cork native, Dave Roche. As a mark of respect we asked his partner Paul O’Shea to write in the magazine about the man he loved, and to celebrate his legacy. His beautiful piece is included here, as a companion to the tribute video released by Cork Pride as the city gears up for this year’s festival.
Throughout life, you will meet lots of people, but you will meet one person who is unlike any other. When you meet the right person, you know it. You feel so comfortable together, you feel at home. When you are apart, you cannot stop thinking about each other. When you reunite, it feels like coming home. It feels like you have known each other for your whole life, and you instantly become best friends. These people are your soulmates. When I met Dave for the first time, I knew I had met a special person. He was my soulmate.
It is said that a single rose can make a garden… a lover, the world. Love planted a rose in my garden and my world blossomed. Love is like a rose with thorns, beautiful but painful. If you dare not grasp the rose for fear of its thorns, then you will never experience its beauty and fragrant smell. I grasped the rose, inhaled the sweet fragrance of love and it changed my life forever. Two years later I watched the petals fall from the rose as I held Dave’s dead body in my arms, and the painful thorns of death pierced my heart.
There is no way I can ever fully express the pain of losing Dave suddenly. The hardest thing about losing Dave is how my life has come to a grinding halt; my hopes and dreams shattered, the foundation has collapsed beneath me, while the lives of everyone around me carries on. The world of love, laughter and happiness we once knew was destroyed. There remains too much unfinished business, no chance to kiss and in say “I love you” one last time. There is no closure, except that which I find in my mind, my heart and my words.
Death ends life, but not a relationship. I mourn Dave’s death, but the legacy of love he created will live on in my heart, and all the hearts he touched. All I can do now is find comfort in celebrating the precious time Dave and I had together and keeping those special memories alive. I will retrace the footprints Dave left on my heart until we meet again.
Dave was an inspirational advocate for equality, and for human and animal rights. He approached his work with an optimistic exuberance and an assertive directness, with humanistic compassion. As CEO of the Cork Gay Project, founder member of the Cork LGBT+ Pride Festival, and board member of local and national organisations and committees (such as CESCA, Cork City Council Joint Policing Committee, and the National LBGT Helpline, to name a few), Dave was undoubtedly one of the most influential and effective advocates for LGBT+ rights in Ireland.
Dave was a driving force behind the Yes Equality Cork Campaign and LGBT Awareness week. Prior to the Marriage Equality vote, Dave played a key role in canvassing in rural Ireland. Dave did pioneering work with young gay men through support groups, such as Unite. He gave inspiring talks and workshops with staff and students in secondary schools in Cork and Kerry, and in third level institutes, UCC and CIT.
Dave was a mentor for a new generation of activists, leaders, and campaigners. His loss leaves a huge void in all our hearts and a big emptiness in our communities, but he would want us to keep the flame of passion for LGBT+ activism burning bright by remembering and celebrating his legacy of love.
Dave touched many lives, in many different ways with his charismatic, witty and magnanimous personality. He was many things to many different people: an inspiration, a role model, a leader, a Cork ‘gay icon’, and a TV and radio personality. Most importantly, Dave was a loyal friend, a companion, a sweetheart and a lover. Despite his often fearsomely tough appearance, few people knew that Dave was secretly a closeted romantic. He was a big softie with a huge heart and an abundance of love, kindness and generosity to share.
During this dark time in my life, I am extremely grateful for the overwhelming support from not only my friends and family, but especially from Dave’s friends and family who hold me up when I need someone to lean on, lift my spirits when I am at my lowest, and offer me many shoulders to cry on. I am touched beyond words by the massive outpouring of love and sympathy from everyone in Ireland in the wake of Dave’s passing. For someone whose life was ultimately devoted to his love for his friends, family, partner and pets, Dave was humble about his professional achievements. Dave never knew how great he was, but that was part of what made him great. I wish he could see now the flood of beautiful tributes recognising his outstanding influence.
I would like to conclude by sharing with you, dear reader, a few parting words of Dave’s wisdom:
“Human rights and animal rights are not optional. Do not stay silent so that someone else can stay comfortable. Stand up for what you believe in. Even if it means standing alone. Do no harm but take no bull. Embrace who you are and do not make any apologies for being yourself. You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody. Always be yourself! Remember to stop and smell the roses.”
I am eternally grateful I did. Love, Paul.
© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.