"Dublin Pride for me, as it should be for the LGBTQ community, is not an excuse for a piss-up, a chance to parade around in my undies in front of men, women and children or the chance to ignore law and common expectations of decency."
It’s almost that time of year again and back again to worrying. Dublin Pride, the opiate of Ireland’s LGBTQ masses. What once was a protest march, a sign of pride and struggle for rights, now stands as a symbol of shame upon my community. Of course that is a strong criticism and I don’t make it lightly.
As a regular attendee at Dublin Pride for the past number of years, I note each year is marred by a sense of internal shame.
This shame isn’t one of my own sexuality, rather one of the association with others who seem to hold no qualms about dragging the LGBTQ community into disrepute.
Cans, plastic cups, glass bottles and rubbish everywhere. This is what greets a person along many of the capital’s central streets the night of Dublin Pride.
The LGBTQ community and its supporters transform within the space of less than 24 hours from wanting to value this country to littering its capital with rubbish, with little to no regard for how their actions reflect on them as members of a civilised and respectful society.
Recently I stumbled across an article online from one of those conservative anti-gay websites. It detailed a pride parade in another part of the world in which two men marched fully naked down the street as spectators and children looked on. And there is the second mark of shame upon the community I count myself a member of.
Thankfully I’ve yet to witness or hear of any fully naked parade participants in Ireland, however Dublin Pride comes pretty close to it. Year after year I see men, in particular, parade down Dublin’s main streets on a Saturday wearing very little and in many cases sexual bondage outfits. In no way can this be viewed as appropriate.
We all, as citizens of this State, must take note and abide by the laws on how we present ourselves in public. Stripping down to your birthday suit in public is rightly against the law.
I don’t know if walking down a main street early on a Saturday afternoon with your backside hanging out of leather bondage material, which just about covers your crotch, is illegal but should it not be?
Yet each year LGBTQ people and their supporters are expected to applaud such acts and stand proudly by these individuals as heroes of minority rights.
It is not even slightly prudish to expect people to be reasonably dressed when using a main street in our capital city during a busy afternoon.
Would we accept someone walking half-naked down the street any other day of the year? No, we wouldn’t - in fact the gardaí would likely be called pretty quickly if it did happen.
Dublin Pride is an LGBTQ pride event, not an ‘I like walking around in public half naked’ event.
You will often find at a pro-life march that the media tends to pick out the most obvious religious fundamentalist to photograph and slap up on their various websites as a representative image of the overall gathering - it’s usually the man with the giant cross, dragging it behind him.
The same rule applies to Dublin Pride, when the media scouts out the most obscenely under-dressed person and begins their camera frenzy.
Each year I have a point, usually midway through the parade, where I wonder what I’m doing there. I wonder why I’m associating myself with a parade where the rules of public decency and respect for others go out the window for almost a full 24 hours.
Pride for me, as it should be for the LGBTQ community, is not an excuse for a piss-up, a chance to parade around in my undies in front of men, women and children or the chance to ignore law and common expectations of decency.
I have regularly encountered people, LGBTQ and otherwise, who emphatically reject Pride celebrations - they refuse to tolerate participating in any of the events. And who could blame them?
We’re now told we are equal citizens, we have access to the same civil institutions, such as marriage. And understandably some people are now questioning the need for Pride as an institution itself.
However Pride is an act of protest. Yes, we should rightly celebrate all the achievements and advancements of rights for our community. But there is more to do. Pride should still be a protest, as always intended. Otherwise it really has no purpose.
This year, as every other, I’ll be back on the streets of Dublin marching in the parade at the end of this month. I hear people saying it will be the biggest Pride event to date and this warms my heart, while simultaneously filling me with a level of fear and caution.
Will the largest Dublin Pride yet result in even more destruction of the capital’s streets and neglect of the environment and the society we live in? Will there be even less clothes this year? Will the news coverage of Pride be flanked by a shirtless man in leather briefs with his ass hanging out the back?
Will I have to now begin mouthing “I’m sorry” to passers by, especially families with their children, because of all the public nudity?
Being gay isn’t about who you have sex with - it’s not even about the act of sex itself. Being gay is about being sexually attracted to a person of the same sex.
So why then does Dublin Pride in particular celebrate being LGBTQ as what is for many parade participants a sex-fest?
Pride should be exactly what the word entails and watching many in the LGBTQ community shame their own community year in, year out would be enough to put even the most dedicated LGBTQ activist and advocate off these annual celebrations.
To read another student's alternative opinion of the Pride parade, just click here.
Photo: Giuseppe Milo/ Flickr