Last Sunday was the end of Cork Pride 2019 and my god it was spectacular. I have been participating in Cork Pride for the past 4 years now and every year it just gets better and better. To be honest, things were not looking too optimistic during the week when the weather forecasts were coming in stating Rain Rain and even more Rain. I kept thinking to myself all week “there is no way this year's Pride will top last years” The weather last year was just amazing. It was like being in Spain with the sun splitting the stones. This year it was going to be a complete washout. No one will turn up because of the weather. But they did. Over 15,000 people crammed into the streets of Cork City to watch the parade. But I will come back to that later.
We have a little tradition every Pride. I’m on a committee and we all meet up the night before the parade for a few scoops and a little get together before the big event. We were all excited about the prospects of the Parade on Sunday all while trying not to knock back too many drinks. Last year I was very hungover and quite sick after having 1 or 2 too many on Saturday night. As some people were saying “on a scale of 1 to Darren, how drunk will you get?” Yup, I was now officially the limit of people getting drunk lol. But this year I was very good and had only a few. But the laughs were flowing and it was so good to catch up with some faces I haven’t seen in months.
Moving onto Sunday we all met up and welcomed people to our pre Pride preparations. It was amazing to see so many friends, family and colleagues turn up and show their support. Then we all moved down to Grand Parade to get ready to march.
This year was a very special year for Pride as it was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which started the Pride Revolution. Honouring those brave men and women who fought for freedom and acceptance was the least we could do. We got ourselves into position and waited until it was our turn. We could already tell there was a huge crowd but we had no idea how big. The rain was holding off and nothing was going to dampen our spirits. As we took off we could see a sea of people, a sea of colour. People cheering, clapping, screaming. It was amazing. Usually, once we start walking up South Mall and get as far as the Imperial Hotel the crowd disappears until we hit Patrick Street but this year it was very very different. The crowd on South Mall just kept going on and on into the distance. It wasn’t until we hit the end of South Mall that the crowd had started to die down. People were taking photos, cheering and just enjoying the atmosphere.
As we came round Merchants Quay the crowd grew again and when we hit the top of Patricks Street we were gobsmacked at how big the crowd was. On both sides of the street, people were lined up supporting all the participants in the Parade. It was just magnificent. I’m still coming to terms with how many people turned up this year. Never have I felt so Proud, not Proud to be a Gay man but proud to be living in a city that is so accepting and welcoming to all the different members of the LGBTQ+ community. At one stage I had to just stop and try to take it all in. I don’t think anyone marching that day had ever felt so loved like we all did and that’s thanks to the amazing people of Cork who turned up to support us.
The rain held off until the parade had finished and then it was off to Chambers for the well-deserved knees up.
Bumping into old friends who had traveled far and wide was amazing. And that’s what Pride is all about for me. It’s the chance to meet new people, reacquaint with old friends and never take the day for granted because you genuinely do not know what will happen.
To all the Cork Pride Committee members who worked so hard this year, not only did you do yourselves proud but you did us proud and you did Cork Proud.
To everyone who took part in this year's celebrations, I hope you had an amazing time. I hope you fell in love with Cork, with each other and with life all over again. To all my friends and colleagues who marched with me this year, you are the best and it was you who made the day so special for me.
And most of all to the people of Cork City, you made a gay man very proud to be a resident in the Rebel County.
I hope everyone had an amazing Pride and Roll on Pride 2020...