Raising the rainbow flag at Millmount today were (from left): Cameron Browne who is the Grand Marshal of tomorrow’s Pride parade in Drogheda, Councillor Joanna Byrne, Mayor of Drogheda Councillor Michelle Hall, Rebecca Tallon de Havilland and Peter James Nugent. Photos: Andy Spearman.
Drogheda Pride was officially launched at noon today at a ceremony at Millmount during which the rainbow flag was once again raised over the town. For many the highlight of Pride is the parade which takes place tomorrow staring at midday at King Street carpark.
Each year the Pride grows both in numbers and quality and, in her speech at the opening ceremony Councillor Joanna Byrne recalled the first ever Pride in the town which took place in 2016, the year she was co-opted onto the Council.
“I remember it well” she said to organiser Peter Nugent. “There was you and me and about ten other people at the most present when we cut the ribbon.”
Councillor Byrne said that equality is what a republic is all about. “It is at the core of everything I believe in and hold dear” she said, “...whether it is equality of gender, sexual inclination, physical or mental ability.
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She said that the increasing acceptance and demand for the services of the various LGBTQ groups was a testament to the esteem and value placed on the services they offer.
Drogheda Pride manager Peter Nugent said that Pride month occurs to commemorate the Stonewall riots which happened in New York at the end of June in 1969. These events were pivotal in shining a light on the LGBTQIA+ and the need for equal rights / normalising our community.
“Pride isn’t just a parade” he said, it’s a call to action. It’s not just for Queer folks to strut their stuff down the middle of the city. It’s an invitation for you to make your little corner of the world loving, accepting and safe for our Community.
“Right now not everyone feels safe and as long as LGBTQIA+ folks don’t feel safe, Pride will continue to have this higher purpose.
“To my LGBTQIA+ family — thank you for being you and for finding the courage to be the LOVE you were born to be. To those who consider themselves an ally, keep doing what you’re doing to welcome our way of being into your world.”
Mayor of Drogheda Councillor Michelle Hall said that one of the reasons she joined the Labour Party was because of the strong advocacy the party had for equal rights for the queer community including marriage rights.
“For previous generations coming out as gay was not easy, there were no pride parades, no equal marriage rights by law, gay slurs were part of the everyday vocabulary and many people moved away from Drogheda to be the person they wanted to be without judgement from family or friends.
“Brave people stood up in Ireland, walked in St. Patrick's Day parades in the 90’s behind banners from the Gay and Lesbian organisations, came out in theircommunities, some may have lost their jobs because of it, but the tide was changing, the Catholic Church was losing its iron grip on the people, and we took a Christian stance instead, to love one another.
“We can't take any of this openness and acceptance for granted though and trans rights are being advocated for at this moment. I'm delighted that Cameron Browne, a trans youth is leading tomorrow’s parade.
“When we display our flags in all the businesses and organisations across Drogheda, it is saying that Drogheda is a safe place to be who you want to be. We don't have any trends in Drogheda of homophobic violence and long may that continue.
Another speaker at the opening was 60-year-old trans woman Rebecca Tallon de Havilland who gave a moving account of the prejudice she was subjected to during the time that she was coming out.