Dublin Pride isn't just one of the city's biggest and most spectacular celebrations, it's also a powerful symbol of a changing, more inclusive Ireland for everyone.
We spoke to Cormac Cashman, an event manager and club promoter of Mother, Sweatbox and Prhomo, as well as a member of the board of Dublin Pride.
The Dubliner has been running LGBT events since he was 20 and is still going strong 10 years later, with his event Mother Block Party now being among the highlights of Pride's line-up.
Since the festival is set to take place from June 21-30, we thought we'd catch up with Cashman beforehand for an insight into this special occasion and what it means to him...
Tell us about your first Pride.
I honestly don’t remember my first Pride. I think it was when I was in college and I marched with the LGBT society? But I can’t be sure of that because I’ve been to so many Prides at this stage that loads of them blend together into one big, blurry, happy memory. My first memory of Pride is as a seven or eight-year-old and I was in town with my sister and my dad, the parade marched by and he told us what it was about.
How has Dublin Pride changed since your first experience with it?
Dublin Pride is has really come on in a huge way since I was in college. It’s a much bigger event than it used to be, second in the city only to Paddy's Day, which is a pretty impressive feat. The gays know how to party.
What can we expect from Mother Pride Block Party this year?
It's going to be euphoric. Thousands of LGBT+ people coming together to celebrate, and we’ve got a whopper line up with Nadine Coyle, Nicky Siano, Le Boom, Soulé, The Mother DJs and Veda's Coven.
As someone who actually works behind the scenes, describe the day of the Dublin Pride parade for you.
For me it’s a bit different as it’s a full day of work and my longest day of the year. Usually I get up around 6 or 7am and head to the Mother Block Party site to check it out and make sure it's all ready to go for later that day. There's a full team of hundreds running the parade and making sure that it all goes okay. We check in on that throughout the day, but I’m mainly based at the Mother Block Party and I work with an amazing team — the Mother family. So the day is hard work, but spent with close friends working together on something we love.
Tell us about your preparation for Pride.
We start planning in July. So a full year on and off, then three or four months full-time for me. It entails everything from booking acts to securing sponsors and partners. Smirnoff has been working with us for the past few years. Security, ticketing, promotion, hiring a team, building the site, producing the event — sure it's endless. That's why that pint after work on Pride is so good. It’s a lot of work, but it's so, so worth it. Pride is magical.
When the party finishes on that day, how do you feel?
Great. I finish at about 3 or 4am after Pride then go home to bed and sleep for two days. It’s really satisfying waking up the next day and knowing it all went well and everyone had a good Pride. The city comes alive for Pride, in a way it doesn’t for other events, and it's great to be involved with running a part of that.
What does Pride mean to you?
I think it's a hugely visible statement of respect and acceptance.
If you walk through town the feeling is intoxicating. Everyone is on the same buzz, there for a good time while making an important statement. Younger LGBT+ people see this and realise they’re not alone, older people see how much the country has changed, mostly thanks to the work they put in and the things they went through when the country wasn’t such a liberal and accepting place.
The Marriage Equality Referendum showed that the majority of Irish people have our back and showed the world how truly sound the Irish people are, but I think it’s still massively important to march and march with pride. 62% voted yes, which means 38% voted no. There is also tonnes of work to be done around trans rights and the acceptance of our trans brothers and sisters.
We’re a community, and unless everyone in that community is equal, none of us are.
SMIRNOFF has a 20-year history supporting LGBTQ+ communities at large as well as a successful ongoing partnership with Dublin Pride and Pride Mother Block Party. SMIRNOFF takes its role in shaping the future of this conversation seriously, aiming to support and give voice to the these communities and, most importantly, bring about tangible positive change.