Waking up before my first pride parade felt like waking up on the morning of a last exam before the summer break: nerves and anticipation mixed in with the excitement over what was was to come. A few hours later in a sea of rainbow flags, all my nerves were gone, as the LGBT community that surrounded me emanated joy and love in abundance.
Two years and two pride parades later, I am able to reflect on the role pride plays in moving LGBT issues forwards in society and the benefits it may entail, especially for the LGBT Youth.
Pride is about much more than parades. At its core is a political protest, proudly proclaiming that the LGBTQ community will not be forced to hide, or settle for inferior rights to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. It can often be a safe space for members of the LGBT community, especially those who have only recently come out to themselves or to their families, friends and peers. The celebration offers the opportunity for individuals to express themselves in a way they may be hesitant to within wider society and away from the ignorant questions and potentially negative remarks from those who do not identify as LGBT.
This remains relevant to many students, as many affirm their sexuality or gender towards the end of their teens or once they have moved to college, to flourish without being confined within the communities they grew up in, who may expect them to be heterosexual and/or cisgender. In support of the LGBT community within Trinity and various colleges, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) hosted a breakfast with Q Soc and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in House Six, before leading a delegation to attend the Pride Parade later in the day, alongside other student unions. These efforts give students the opportunity to meet fellow members of the LGBT community, many of whom will have gone through similar experiences, both within and beyond college.
Pride also has the amazing ability to bring together individuals who share similar interests, the same drive to fight for LGBT rights. It can even help individuals find someone special, which is often harder for members of the LGBT community than for heterosexual and cisgender individuals.
This visibility remains particularly important as a means of showing young people that there is no shame in being part of the LGBT community, and that those who constitute the community are not the caricatures they are often portrayed as.
Although Ireland has in recent years become much more accepting of the LGBT community – and many major battles in the fight for LGBT equality have been won – the celebration of the community continues to play a key role in ensuring that the issues the community faces are not ignored. This visibility remains particularly important as a means of showing young people that there is no shame in being part of the LGBT community, and that those who constitute the community are not the caricatures they are often portrayed as.
However, there remain significant strides to be made with regard to transgender individuals. With the movement for transgender people’s rights gaining increased attention, this year’s pride will have an important role to play in maintaining this momentum. For transgender individuals, pride serves as a public reminder to politicians, health authorities and the general public that transgender people will continue in calls for action to be taken. This political message somewhat sets the transgender community apart from the LGBT community, who may not be sending such a political message.
Personally, pride was most beneficial in showing me that growing up to be an LGBT adult does not necessarily entail all the hardships society prepared me to expect.
Disputes within the LGBT community have also resurfaced this year, with the ongoing debate surrounding whether or not LGBT allies should be able to participate and attend pride events. Many argue that heterosexual and cisgender individuals have eleven other months in the year to celebrate their sexuality and gender meaning that they should therefore not impede on pride. However, the LGBT community prides itself on inclusivity, which makes excluding people based on their sexuality or gender seem somewhat hypocritical.
Personally, pride was most beneficial in showing me that growing up to be an LGBT adult does not necessarily entail all the hardships society prepared me to expect. Growing up without many LGBT couples around me, I had seen little proof that LGBT couples can have successful careers, have children and be happy. Pride allowed me to see that being an LGBT adult does not have to involve discrimination from doctors, employers and society as a whole as I expected. I saw that there are indeed happy LGBT couples who are just like my parents and all the heterosexual couples I grew up around. For students who have recently come out, I hope that pride provides them with this same opportunity.