Dancing at the crossroads for Pride in West Cork

BROD will be hosting a Pride event at Emmet square in Clonakilty on Saturday, June 24 again this year. It is all of four years ago since the lst gathering, in 2019, and what a day it was shares Mark Holland.

We had food and fun, music and dancing, sunshine and rain, but most importantly we had a huge crowd that turned out to show their support for all of the LGBTI+ people who make up a part of our West Cork community. Thank you, it was such a privilege to be part of a good-humoured and colourful day out that meant so much to so many people who never knew how well we are accepted here, at home, amongst our own families and friends.

Associated with colourful flags and political marches, which were more like riots, the modern Pride movement has its origins in the 1960s USA, which was a time and place of unprecedented social upheaval and progress. It has spread and evolved since then to assume many forms. It became front and centre of the famous Rio Carnavals in the 1980s and ‘90s, but still today in parts of the world, including the ‘West’, it can be a risky business to celebrate being LGBT where you are exposed to small-minded hecklers who somehow feel they have a right to offend other people for being who they are. It is important for us here to keep in mind how lucky we are to live in a benevolent society, an open democracy, founded on Freedom of Expression, that was hard fought for by those who went before us for our benefit. And it can be disappointing to see these rights and privileges being eroded in other democratic countries when their benefits are taken for granted.

Dancing at the crossroads used to be young peoples’ opportunity to meet and enjoy themselves on mild summer evenings in the countryside in Ireland until this practice was banned by the Public Dancehalls Act 1935. Down with that kind of thing! The Act was brought in under pressure from the clergy who said that we would all go to hell in a handcart unless dancing was restricted to licenced premises, where the lights could be left on and everyone had to stand for the national anthem at the end. It seems that mandatory chicken suppers were introduced at a later date (a bit like during the early days of Covid). It was all about control and supervision.

We are so lucky to live here in the 21st century, but with such privilege comes responsibility, it is our actions today that shape the future, it is not a given. We delude ourselves that progress is a straight line rather than cyclical with ups and downs, expanding and contracting. We need to do what we can to make sure that we are in the best place we can be when that cycle begins to turn again, as a community. We all depend on our environment, the social one and the physical one. Where the physical environment is impacted negatively human rights begin to suffer, the two are linked inextricably. We have an unusual fondness for our environment here in West Cork. We identify with it as a part of us, and we extend that care for others with a welcome and protection for those who may not be as lucky as us, at home.

It will be good to be back to celebrate the inclusion of diversity in all its colourful forms, with music, performances and a bit of craic. With treats to eat and faces to paint, even the choo-choo train gets dressed up for the day. So come join us at the square from 12 to 5 o’clock, Saturday, June 24, for Pride in West Cork.

WCP Staff

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