not a member? click here to sign up
Marching Season with a difference
Usually when you see a bunch of brightly dressed men in funny hats poncing around Derry, the Orange Order is involved. This year, however, the local Gay Pride Community was getting in on the act for the first time. And no one discriminated against women!
Eamonn McCann, 27 Sep 2010
Derry’s first-ever Pride March was a soaraway, scintillant, sensational success. The half-dozen young LGBTQ activists who had insisted on marching when older campaigners cautioned that there was no tradition of marching for gay rights in Derry could feel triumphantly vindicated at the end.
We took the old civil rights route, from the Waterside Station, across the bridge, through Ferryquay Gate, around by the Diamond and down to the Guildhall, making the connection with October ’68, asserting the entitlement of gays to claim that tradition. The other feature the march had in common with ’68 was a band of Free Presbyterians telling us we were on the high road to hell. At least this time they didn’t join with the police in an assault force against us.
In fact, the police were so friendly it’s obvious they’ve been taking courses in cunning.
Free Pees apart, there wasn’t a cross word to be heard.
Summoned to the stage to say a few words, I paused to catch breath at the scene spread out before me. The Guildhall has never looked so gorgeous, all the angle-headed hipsters of Derry’s high society assembled in the gaudy colours of freedom, a sea of smiles to meet the shine of the benignant sun above, chief organiser Cha Gillespie, mistress of all she surveyed, wicked grin and dinky cap, bright-eyed as if transported.
Later, we gathered in the courtyard of Kerr’s Kaff – aka Cafe del Monde – for incantations, booze, puffs and magic dragons, and a set of songs to warp the world from Adamantine Connor Kelly, resplendent in the ruffled raiment of timeless romance.
Everybody agreed we’ll have to do it again next year, and the year after that, by which stage there’ll be millions of us, and Cha will be Gay Impressario of the Epoch, and Connor might be mega.
We mustn’t allow joy to blind us to the dark side, to the most glaring contradiction in Irish public life.
Pride is applauded through the streets. Homophobia scarcely dares speak its name. So why is it that, as the suicide statistics strongly suggest, some young gays would still rather die than admit their sexuality?