1991 A Belfast Pride to be remembered!, happened. An intrepid bunch of gays and lesbians marched through Belfast in the first Belfast Pride. This was an auspicious day and has been rightly celebrated because it said we were more than just a court case (Jeffrey Dudgeon v the United Kingdom).
In fact, we were and are!
But what people forget is that we didn’t just have a march (or in Belfast terms ‘a wee dander’) we also had a week of events. e.g.
- ‘Mixtures and Allsorts was in the Old Museum Arts Centre. It was billed as a cabaret – we were required to bring our own refreshments – so we did! There was a vast range of performance styles:
- large chunks of Martin Sherman’s ‘Bent’ done by the Gauntlet theatre group
- the Confused Sisters juggled with flaming torches
- Two women from Out and Out theatre company performed a dance, which was reminiscent of the beautifully choreographed love scenes from Desert Heart.
- Paul Johnston, of the Dublin based mandance did a beautiful angular solo, described as being based on dreams
- The Hole in the Wall gang (Eamon Freil, Hugh Jordan, and Brian Lynch) did various pieces, including some risque jokes.
- The Queen’s University Drama Society produced an inverted parlour-farce
- There was Mary Scarlett’s 20-year-old ‘Insight in the life of the”Heterosexual” (A married (male) couple trying to talk their rebellious sone out of his obsession with … wait for it … ‘het-ero-sex-ual-ity
All this was completed on a minuscule budget, and with the best-willed volunteers, you could imagine.
For a first attempt, it was good, indeed it was brilliant and excellent, and obviously, the current Belfast Pride is radically different and has grown. But what mustn’t be forgotten is that this first Belfast Pride came on the back of a historic judicial judgment in the Europe Courts which had been brought by Jeff Dudgeon with the support of so many individuals and groups throughout all of Great Britain and Ireland – from fundraisers in Liverpool, Manchester, London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Dublin, to people who distributed flyers and distributed them in venues everywhere.
Belfast Pride is our pride – but remember we still have to continue and show who we are and therefore what we are marching for yearly.
The full write-up of the first Belfast Pride can be found in the Linenhall Library archives where copies of all the Gay Star, update, and upstart magazines have been placed for research.