Ireland is actually so bad sometimes at supporting LGBT events in smaller towns. These small towns are the ones who need the support for their LGBT groups and communities the most. These places don’t have drop in centres, LGBT cafés or gay bars. They’re not granted the funding required to enable them to get their own premises so their meeting venues are the most difficult to source. They rarely get any funding at all but have so much passion and so many ideas. This is the reality for any group outside of the cities here in Ireland so putting an event together is even harder for them and advertising it is twice as hard. Night club venues don’t want to offer a room on one of their busy nights so you need to hope that people will bother coming to your event on a night that is not usually worth going out on. There’s so many obstacles so why are our own LGBT community one of them?
It would be so easy to fill a venue if the gay people from each area actually got together and went to these events and brought along their friends or family members. Wouldn’t it be great to just sit and chill at an event full of same sex loving peers? It’s so hard to meet other LGBT people in rural areas so when groups put effort into getting an event together I like to see a good crowd at it but unfortunately that’s rarely the case. Rural based groups from all around Ireland post pictures of their events online and the main thing they usually have in common is poor attendance. Why? I love going to these events when the opportunity arises for so many different reasons yet I am constantly disappointed by the lack of support from other people. A group can’t be held responsible for a lack of public support yet the public must have their reasons too for not attending. We need each other to fill these events and keep these small groups going. Together we can make them bigger and we can help to enable them to be more progressive and successful. It would be so sad if these groups and localised events disappeared, it really would. I hope that doesn’t happen.
I’ve a confession to make about my lesbian life… I’ve never been to a gay bar. Ever. Not once.
It’s not because I’m not interested in going to one. Well, I suppose that’s partly it because the gay bars here aren’t very gay. Gay friendly would sum it up much better because it’s mainly hen nights and fag hags that fill the bars here each weekend.
I must also tell you all that I can name at least five gay bars that have closed down throughout Ireland over the past few years. Why are they closing? Apart from the obvious answer to that question (lack of customers), I really don’t know. For whatever reason the LGBTQ community’s love of going to a gay bar has seriously declined over the past few years. Some might suggest that this is happening because we are more welcome to be open in most night clubs and pubs. Personally I’d totally disagree with that statement for so many reasons. I still hear of circumstances of discrimination and homophobia at least once every few months so surely there is still a gap in the market for the safe haven that is a gay bar? If you are actually lucky enough to find a gay gay bar.
The closest gay bar to me was over an hour away by car. I say was because it’s one of the ones that’s bitten the dust now. That hour would not be an easy or cheap trip for someone like me who doesn’t drive so to make this awkward and expensive journey to a bar filled with straight ladies that happens to have a pride flag hanging outside it just doesn’t sound worth it to me. If I could find a bar that fulfills the expectations I had for so many years after watching The L Word and Queer as Folk then I would be very impressed and I would definitely be there!
Dublin Pride was brilliant, in my opinion, but I was only seventeen when I was at it so sticking around in the hopes that I’d gain access to one of the clubs Dublin has to offer didn’t make sense back then. So if Pride can be so loud and proud with it’s numbers growing each year but gay bars are disappearing rapidly does that mean that our community is simply becoming more comfortable with the idea of fading away and blending into the background? Are we now satisfied with just having that one day to show our colours before we return to our daily lives? I was asked if it is even necessary to segregate ourselves from the heterosexual community with Prides and exclusive bars. Honestly, I don’t see it as segregation or exclusivity. I would love to see Ireland have a strong LGBTQ scene that includes a few good bars for lesbos like me who just wanna have fun! It’s still not fully accepted for a couple like us to actually act like a couple in public so until that day arrives I will happily tell everyone that I think it’s necessary for us to have gay bars and prides and festivals that allow us to be ourselves. It’s just disheartening to have to travel so far to actually get the opportunity to be ourselves but I still would hate to see that opportunity completely fade away even if it is only an opportunity to be in a gay friendly atmosphere rather than a full LGBTQ experience. I may go to a gay bar one day and if I ever do you can expect a full review! For now I’m fairly happy to be one half of the lesbian couple that seems to stand out so much in our small town but I’ll still be dreaming of a camped up, butched out, drag filled bar.
Pride season is well and truly underway here in Ireland. Dublin welcomed an estimated 30,000 for it’s annual LGBTQ Pride Festival which was fantastic! With a Pride Festival taking place all over Ireland and probably somewhere near you it is really an exciting time of year to celebrate our true colours. With the Constitutional Convention (http://www.marriagequality.ie/getinvolved/constitutionalconvention) looming it is a time when we may finally gain full recognition in our country. This is a very progressive time to be part of the great rainbow but in my opinion it is also a time when it is more important than ever to remember our roots and remember all of those who have fought so hard to get us to where we are today. Pride is a celebration for all but it is also a tribute to the hardships that LGBT people have faced and are continuing to face on a daily basis. For every insult you have ever received and for every punch you have ever taken make sure you shout louder when you are marching through the streets in whichever Pride parade you choose to visit this year. We’ve gotten so far now that it would be such a pity to see people disheartened by the ignorance of some. Be true to yourself and you will never have regrets. So many people are still ashamed of their sexuality which is so upsetting to see. Like the great American Harvey Milk once said “Hope will never be silent”. There are more people on our side than you can imagine. It is no longer an us against them movement. It is now a nationwide fight for the equality of all. Never give up and never hide who you are to please others. If you choose to hide you are allowing yourself to lose out on so much happiness.