It really is a year of commemorations. While 1913 is dominating most of the discussions we’re party to, there’s a few more historical moments worthy of attention too.
2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Dublin Pride parades, and it’s also the 20th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality here. Yes, that’s right folks 1993…Jaysus. That’s a date that would shock you, were we not all left recently grappling with the god botherers after the Savita case.
To highlight these and other landmarks, some heads have organised Ireland’s first LGBT History Month. Among the highlights you can catch are Tonie Walsh and the Irish Queer Archive hosting a walking tour on Saturday February 16th from Dublin Castle at 2pm. It’s going to take in the Hirschfield Centre (which we looked at in rabble 4 ) and a host of other sites.
There’s also a fundit.ie on the go to raise money for an app that brings together some of the stops in the form of a self directed tour. Throw them something! You can check the full list of events here.
We spun off a few short questions to Jonathan from Synergy to get some background on the month here. You can read his responses after the leap…
I’ve heard of things like Black History Month in the US, does LGBT History Month borrow from this concept?
Yes, original it was an idea for African Americans to write their history into the books. It was then brought into England as a way of bring the gay conversation into schools in the Thatcher years. In 2012 the EU saw it as a way to humanize gay people across the EU. How long has it being happening in Ireland?
The is the first time that the main LGBT groups (in Dublin at least) have come together to make history month come alive.
Can you tell me about the history of the walking tour?
It will start at Dublin Castle (Dame Lane) at 2pm. You will be taken on a tour of Dublin’s rich gay history by Tonie Walsh from the stealing of the Crown Jewels through to the sleazy effect of criminalization to the liberating effect of the Hirschfeld centre.
It’s happened for a number of years now and always seems to have proven popular?
Every time it’s put on the crowd have a great time. This is in no small part to the host Tonie Walsh who brings the stories alive. His animation of life as a gay person growing up in a time, unthinkable to a “baby gay” now, is captivating.
There’s a wealth of LGBT history in Dublin, can you tell me what your own personal highlights from the tour are?
There are many highlights of the tour, but one that I really like is finding out about the Hirschfeld centre and why it was so important. With so much choose from these days its hard to imagine a one stop shop for all that was gay, and that’s it.
What stands out to you as say, three essential components of LGBT history in Dublin people should really start reading up about?
Google is your friend, start with “gay irish history”.
Brian Lacey, Terrible Queer creatures: Homosexuality in Irish history (Dublin, 2009) and Jeffrey Dudgeon’s Roger Casement: The Black Diaries, with a Study of his Background, Sexuality and Irish Political Life, (Belfast 2002) are worth a read Or why not come along to some of the talks that are going on.
2013 seems to be a year of many commemorations, but the one related to the decriminalization of homosexuality and pride seem to be getting less attention in the face of the centenary of 1913. Is there any plans down the line to mark and celebrate these dates further?
Dublin Pride will be building up momentum during the year and highlighting plus more importantly celebrating their 30th year marching. Also there is talk in Dublin City Council to name a bridge in the Fairview Park in honor of Declan Flynn , so lobby your councillor and hopefully the motion will pass.
We haven’t come across Synergy before, what’s the group about and how come you are focusing on older members of the community at the moment?