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Loud(er) & Proud(er)

With each year, I get more and more excited about Pride.

I once disapproved of Pride; I felt the colourful parade an affront on wider society. Was it really necessary? Why did hundreds of men and women desire to dress garishly, blow whistles and flaunt their assets, when there were allocated places – such as designated bars – where they could do this in peace. I felt Gay Pride was crude. My views at the time clearly reflected I once did not accept my own sexuality.

With my increasing years and diplomas from the School of Life, I’ve done a U-turn on my views. This notably happened three years ago, when the Pride celebration was used as a platform for pushing Civil Union/Gay Marriage. At the rally, after the Pride Parade, holding my boyfriend’s hand, I realised, some day I too might want to get married or “unioned”, which at that time was not available to me. If my presence and participation in a parade, donated volume to a voice that called for equality, I was proud to take part.

The main day, of the week long Pride festival, involves a parade and rally. The bright parade starts from the Garden of Remembrance and makes its way down O’Connell Street to the Civic Offices via Dame Street. The usual suspects: Senator Norris, Panti and various political figures take prominent position. The promoters state the purpose of the Pride Festival is to celebrate diversity, promote inclusiveness and increase visibility and mutual respect. To my delight, in recent years, the reach of the parade is ever expanding. Families, involving same sex couples and relatives of gay individuals, are present in growing numbers every year. Very often, children take part. The sight of young teenage couples walking among the crowds leaves me emotional. These beautiful sights signify a gradual evolution of a society that decriminalised homosexuality as recent as 1993. And, every year, Dublin Pride gets bigger, bolder and more beautiful.

This year, I am going to go all out for the day. I’d say I am dressing up, but I am going scantily clad. I attribute every item of my costume to people I encountered during my life. For the guy that once gave me the sack, when he learned I was gay, I will wear a pair of demin hot pants. For the men in work, who are continually standoffish with me, I shall don a tight, shocking pink T-shirt. For the boyfriend of my close friend, who has yet to speak to me directly, I will carry a Pride flag. I will happily lend my outfit, presence and voice to Pride, which seeks to challenge every perception, opinion, boundary, piece of legislation and unequal treatment that resides in society.

My Go At 5-Aside

It is generally assumed I am good at sport. There are two reasons I wasn’t up for 5 Aside. The first reason is that I am abysmal at the beautiful game. The second is I am not the most assertive when it comes to sport. I haven’t touched a football in years. In fact, the last time I touched a ball was when it hit me in the back of the head. I have such a bad history with soccer. I hated playing in school. I was always the last to be picked for a team. Soccer always made me feel like the class reject. In most schools, if you are not good at soccer, you haven’t got a chance of being popular. When we graduated from school, I was so grateful for the fact that there was no PE in college. As much as I detest soccer, I thought 5 aside would be a good opportunity to get to know some of the “lads” in work. I rose to the challenge and put my name down. GO STEVE!

On the lead up to the match the lads were asking if I was any good. I said, “No, I am useless, but fit enough. How about I run around lots and get in peoples’ way?” If the game involved just running up and down the pitch for an hour, I would be really good. It’s the kicking of the round thing I have issues with. I was also worried about what I would wear. I knew my pink tank top and matching pumps wouldn’t go down too well with the lads. I settled for a more neutral alternative – a navy pair of shorts and plain runners. The game was a week away and I had already chosen my outfit. It can’t be said that I didn’t look the part. We were due to play a firm of solicitors on the astroturf in Sandymount. It was a friendly game, but we wanted to introduce the solicitors to our good friend, “Pain”. GO TEAM!

The day of the game arrived. There were eight on our team. Three were my own age and the rest were in their early thirties. The whistle blew. I did as promised. I ran around a lot. I got in the way of the other team and sometimes even managed to get a touch of the ball. About fifteen minutes into the game we scored a goal. The game was ours. We cheered. Our opponents remained nonchalant. Of their team three of them were quite good. You could tell they were GAA men by the way they were able to go from naught to sixty in about three seconds. They bounded up the field with little effort. Their superiority rang through on their second goal. The life was beginning to drain from our team. I, like a trooper, was able to keep running. I even managed to kick the ball on two occasions. GO BODY CO-ORDINATION!

The GAA lads were very aggressive. They needlessly shouldered. This annoyed me. On one occasion, one GAA guy ran towards me. I went in for a tackle. The side of my head caught his. He bounced off me and fell over. I insincerely apologised. It wasn’t my fault since both of us refused to stop. However, he did take a hard knock. His contact lens became lodged in his eye. One of the guys on my team managed to remove it. About ten minutes later, I went for another tackle. This time I managed to get the ball. The guy, who I tackled, toppled over on his ankle with a loud snap. His team mates, after examining the injury told him to rest. He walked off the pitch giving me filthies. Soon after, I took down another player. The guy shouldered me and fell over in an elaborate tumble. The closing whistle sounded. The result was 3-1 to the opposition. We shook hands and went for pints. In the changing rooms it was decided that I would be the team “Hatchet”. It was my last and only game. GO HATCHET!