The head of one of the country’s largest gay pride festivals hopes that events across Cork this week will give people the strength to come out.
Cork LGBT Pride Festival chairman Clive Davis was speaking in City Hall last night at the official launch of one of the city’s largest festivals, worth an estimated €500,000 to the local economy.
Thousands of people from all over Ireland are expected to attend events as part of this year’s festival, which will culminate in its first family fun-day in Fitzgerald’s Park on Saturday, and a parade of more than 3,000 people through the city centre on Sunday.
“We view the festival as a gathering for all in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community — helping them to feel that they are part of something,” Mr Davis said.
“When you look at the parade — when you have thousands of people walking down St Patrick’s St — we hope that it starts a conversation. Firstly, that it will enable people to come out to themselves and that they can then take the next steps.
“And secondly, that it shows that there is a community and network here to support them, to give them the skills and tools to cope with it.
“We want people to know that there is a large community out there to support you, with clubs and groups from all over Ireland standing in solidarity with you.”
The theme of this year’s festival is ‘20 years proud’ to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
The Kino will screen two films tonight — one charting the lives of five people who lived through the so-called gay plague in San Francisco in the 1980s, and the other featuring stories of homosexual men and women born in France between the wars who chose to live their lives openly at a time when society rejected them.
The Imperial Hotel will host an interactive ‘coming out’ talk at 7pm tomorrow.
A remembrance service will take place at St Anne’s, Shandon, at 7.30pm on Thursday, followed by a barbecue on Friday at the LINC centre.
The first Cork Pride Family Fair will take place in Fitzgerald Park from 1pm on Saturday, with the flagship parade starting at 3pm on Sunday.
There will also be a range of social events at bars and restaurants across the city.
Ted O’Connell, who runs Loafers Bar, which opened 30 years ago as one of the first gay bars in Ireland, said it will be a particularly special festival for him and his patrons, as the bar gears up to celebrate its 30th anniversary in September.
“How times have changed over the years,” Mr O’Connell said. “Thirty years ago, you could see people discreetly coming in to the bar, looking around to see who was watching as they slipped in the door.
“Now you pass the bar and you can see people queuing to get in, and people outside enjoying a drink or a smoke.
* www.corkpride.com Twitter: @corkpride.
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