Pride of the Déise 2021 was a weekend-long event held in Waterford during the June Bank Holiday supported by Creative Ireland Waterford. Pride of the Déise is a not-for-profit, volunteer led community organisation based in Waterford City. The aim was to promote and support the LGBTQIA+ community and to increase its visibility in the greater community. The weekend focused on an online parade. Leading up to and following this main event were workshops and events which promoted creativity, inclusivity, and self-expression, regardless of one’s identity or social stature.
The aim was to foster a developing LGBTQIA+ community in Waterford City and County by providing connections over social media. Events were aimed at targeting all demographics, providing written and visual material which was presented by a live MC (host) over the weekend. Materials included historic events and personal stories from those in the LGBTQIA+ community, which were pre-recorded and compiled ahead of the festival. Creative workshops and live online events made up the remainder of the weekend, ending in a live DJ set.
The festival itself brought people together online as there was positive engagement all around, particularly in the youth events. There was a great show of support from local businesses flying Pride flags ahead of the online festival, with photographic and video submissions from the community.
Local drag artist Fifi Fondue in Pride Garda car ahead of online parade. Courtesy of Debbie O’Rourke
A team of eight committee members worked to expand the visibility of their committee and their goals of inclusivity in the community and forged connections with local and national politicians, businesses, and Dublin Pride who generously donated hundreds of flags to us during the flag campaign. A Queer History Event was organised by our affiliate Youth Committee in lieu of this as part of their programme.
Following the first flag raising by the Mayor there was a spate of homophobic incidents (two sets of flags removed/burned, Straight Pride stickers). This was reported on in the media as ‘disgraceful’ and the Pride of the Déise committee felt it merited a response from them. They supplied the Mayor with more sets of flags that were raised twice more, the third time Minister O’Gorman attended and presented them with a flag of his own.
Running concurrently to this they put out word on social media for homes and businesses to show their support by flying a Pride flag. Due to demand, they decided they would also hand flags out to those who contacted them directly. They quickly ran out of flags as the response from the community was phenomenal. Dublin Pride had contacted them to show their support during the festival and provided them with hundreds of pride flags when they learned about the campaign, each and every one was given out for people to fly.
Whether online or in public, the Pride of the Déise committee intend to develop their project further as there is certainly room to do so. A greater online presence throughout the year will be maintained to engage with the community in relation to what events the people of Waterford would like to see in the future. The final impact in terms of the community was bigger than they could have hoped or planned for. In response to negativity the people of Waterford came together and engaged with the committee in showing support for LGBT+ people in the local community.
Flags raised By Mayor Geoghegan and Minister O’Gorman. Courtesy of Christina Gismondi