A DECADE ago, the possibility of thousands of people celebrating their sexuality in a triumphant parade through O’Connell Street in Limerick city was but a dream.
But now the Limerick Pride festival has become one of the city’s most successful festivals, since it was first held in 2010.The parade itself has been a particular highlight for many, and a mainstay of the festival for the past five years.
The chairperson of the organising committee said: “[Limerick] Pride to me is an opportunity; a festival of intent; a celebration of conscious living and an acceptance of the reality of living as an LGBT person in today’s Ireland.
“It’s an opportunity to feel for one small space in time, a part of something greater than myself; included and welcome among strangers and friends alike,” said Billie, who goes only by her first name.
A week-long series of events is planned for this September 3 to 11 - the 10th year of recognising and celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered identity in Limerick city.
As the festival has grown, so too has the support from the civic authorities, and the regional LGBT community.
Beginning in 2001, the festival began humbly when community stalwarts Paddy Doyle and Nicole Dunphy organised the first festival of celebration and it has grown ever year since.
President Mary McAleese and Senator David Norris sent letters of support last year, as thousands took to Limerick’s streets to march in pride.
Limerick Pride 2011 will kick off with a firewalk outside Howley’s Quay on Saturday, September 3 from 7pm, with an after-party in Decorum nightclub, Thomas Street. Events for the rest of the week include music in the White House bar, Bentley’s bar, a barbeque, a roller disco, a comedy night, and a ladies night.
Mr Gay Limerick and Ms Gay Ireland will be held in Dolan’s on September 8 and 9, while the pride parade, after party and mardi gras will be held on Saturday, September 10. Richard Lynch, who is the driving force of the site ilovelimerick.com, said there is “a lot more love out there” or acceptance for the gay community than there used to be. However, he said ignorance or misunderstanding can sometimes cloud people’s perceptions.
For full listings see limerickpride.ie.