The theme of this alternative pride is the radical history of pride. As many people know, modern queer pride started in 1969, when queers, including many people of colour and then called transvestites (now you would say drag queens and trans people) fought back against a raid by the New York police of their space. The message was clear: the police are holding us down, and we are no longer going to take it!
Dublin pride has a similar history. The first queer march in this city was held to protest against the judgement in the murder of Declan Flynn. The gang of five young men who beat him to death received no jail time, only a suspended sentence. The ruling was seen as basically giving “queer-bashing” gangs the right to intimidate, beat and even murder queer people as they see fit.
In this country, homosexuality was illegal until 1982 in the occupied Six Counties and until 1993 in the 26 Counties. People were arrested in this country for having gay sex during my lifetime! With a history like that, how can the queers that live in this country feel that the Gardaí can be trusted?
You might say that’s all in the past, and the Garda Síochána is not as bad now. I wish that were true. Last year the Connolly Youth Movement, supported by the Communist Party of Ireland, also held an Alternative Pride event. At the same time comrades at the “Radical Queer Pride for Housing” were harassed by the Gardaí, and three people were arrested for having closed cans of alcohol in their bag! People were walking all over town with full pint glasses and open bottles of whiskey, but if you’re too radical and too queer at pride you still get arrested on spurious grounds.
The Garda Síochána proudly marched in uniform at the pride parade while their colleagues harassed and arrested queers. And even more recently, gardaí escorted far-right agitators into a local library, helping them harass staff over the library’s inclusion of “this book is gay.”
On another note, look at all the corporations marching again at pride this year. Take Ryanair, famously known for cutting corners on safety and employees’ wellbeing, and for trying to make strike action illegal in their sector. In their thirst for revenue they have deemed it profitable to put on a queer-friendly façade. We know this will not last, as we have seen in the United States, as companies drop their LGBT-friendly face as soon as it hurts their profits.
Airlines and car companies are marching, partying while knowingly contributing to the climate crisis that disproportionately hurts the working class. At this very moment the North Atlantic Ocean is going through an unprecedented heat wave, with the very extremes of 5 degrees above normal right at our coast. We are entering uncertain times, with unknown effects while the companies marching here are looking the other way. Are they proud of our dying world?
We have the big banks here too. They are waving their progress flags, despite upholding the capitalist system that disproportionately hurts queers, and especially young queers. We are at a higher risk of homelessness or unsafe housing situations. If we are employed under a flexible or temporary contract it’s easy for homophobic and transphobic bosses to fire us. It’s difficult to access health care, especially for trans people, who have to deal with the dysfunctional National Gender Service, with waiting-lists up to nine years.
Meanwhile we are facing attacks by the far right, calling us pedos and poisoning people’s minds with conspiracy theories. As radical queers, we have to be anti-fascist and anti-capitalist. At this point it’s a simple matter of survival. Make sure to get involved in the fight! Join a radical party, your union, and your tenants’ union. And let’s make our voices heard this year and do some chants. No pigs, no corps, no terfs!