Before we could celebrate Pride, before we could live authentically as ourselves, the queer population of the world had to live in shame and secret. While there has been major progress in recent history, there is still a long way to go.
As we should all know by now, Pride started as a riot due to LGBTQ+ folks being oppressed, attacked, and killed. The Stonewall Riots in the States created a global movement that gave rise to many laws being passed in favour of LGBTQ+ rights.
Our own Pride parades started as marches so that we could gain more visibility, and better treatment from the media and the general public. But it took the brutal murder and gay bashing of a young Irish man, Declan Flynn, in 1982 to spark the outrage that really started a more substantial gay rights movement in Ireland.
Some 127 countries have decriminalized homosexuality, with 28 allowing same-sex marriages, and many more making workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal.
So we’re good, right? We can stop celebrating now, we can stop pushing our agenda on straight folks, we can stop demanding better treatment for ourselves, right?
Well no, we still have a long way to go. Not just here in Ireland, but globally. But we have marriage equality, we have the Gender Recognition Act, so what’s the problem?
The problem is that homophobia is still rampant in Ireland. Just this month, a month that means something to the LGBTQ+ community, our flags have been burned, there have been ‘straight pride’ posters plastered over Waterford City, PantiBar was attacked with graffiti screaming ‘pedo,’ post boxes with Pride flags on them have been defaced.
Outside of these incidents, homophobia is alive and thriving on the internet. One look at the comments section under online articles is enough for anyone to see that Queer folks are still not supported by some people in Ireland.
Speaking of Ireland, our trans community are being forced to leave this country just so they can have access to basic healthcare. This treatment is all too familiar to anyone who fought for abortion rights in Ireland. We are once again shipping our vulnerable off to other countries, instead of implementing the healthcare needed here.
On top of being forced to travel, those who have surgery must fundraise just to be able to afford the costs in order for them to live as themselves. By setting up necessary fundraisers online, they are again being targeted by bigots.
These internet trolls abuse any person who is being their authentic self, both online and in reality. Back in January, Senator Fintan Warfield received waves of online abuse for bringing LGBTQ+ issues to the Seanad Eireann, as well as for being a gay man himself.
In an article for GCN, Stephen Moloney, details the after effects that Warfield’s speech had, while also raising concerns about how the far-right is weaponising the current pandemic and spreading hate speech online. I implore you to read this piece, as it explains the issues far better than I ever could.
All of these issues are just the Irish experience. We have not even touched on what’s happening in Poland, and in Hungary, or the USA, or the fact that there are only three countries in the entire world that have criminalised, so-called, ‘conversion therapy.’
We celebrate Pride to continue the fight started by those in the ‘60s and ‘70s. We celebrate to remind people that we are still here, that we are still not equal, and that we will not stop until we are. We celebrate to show solidarity with our international Queer community that are continuing to be oppressed.
We celebrate Pride to show those who are scared to come out that there is a community of acceptance waiting for them on the other side.
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