Over the years Sligo town has seen a number of Pride festivals take to the streets in order to protest, celebrate and drive forward the message of LGBTIQA+ rights.
Originally formed as Northwest LGBT Pride (NWP) in 2005, the festival committee ran events in Sligo and Leitrim with a parade in Sligo Town. Events included; Beach BBQs, ‘Illuminations’ Poetry Evening, Costume & Banner Making Workshop, Hillwalks, Masquerade Balls, Retrosexual–Pride Vinyl Night, Funky Céilí, the first Full Spectrum Access & Inclusion Forums as well as events hosted by The Outing Festival and OutWest.
In 2016 a new committee formed to present SAGA Sligo Pride. SAGA stands for Sexuality And Gender Acceptance. This year events included the now annual ‘Illuminations’ Pride Poetry Night, Banner & Costume Workshop, Meet’n’Mingle Night, Pride Pink Friday hosted by ITS LGBT+ Society, as well as Qrunch–Pride Brunch.
The current incarnation of Sligo Pride Festival launched in 2019, with the unofficial theme “Sligo Pride Comeback Tour” in honour of the spirit of Pride in Sligo and the North-West. The aims of Sligo Pride Festival 2019 were to promote Respect, Inclusion Diversity and Equality.
Events included; the time honoured tradition of Pride’s Banner Making Workshop, Open Mic Night, Pride Parade followed by the Pride Takeover of the Sligo Summer Festival stage, and After Party where The Outing Festival gave us a ‘Taste of the Outing’ before Swagman Sunday Chillout to wind down.
Pride in Sligo has undergone many name changes and comebacks and even 2020 couldn’t dampen our Pride Spirit! We joined forces with other Prides across the West of Ireland to take part in Pride Inside–A digital Pride for rural LGBTIQA+ people. Some of the events included, panel discussions such as; ‘LGBT Art and Expression’, ‘Bi+ Representation in the Community’, ‘We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Rural’, and ‘Sexual Health’ along with an LGBTQuiz Night hosted by each of the Pride’s involved and lots of musical presentations to get folks in to the Pride spirit.
“I have found the Hidden Beauty where the river finds the sea, Or the dark cloud finds the rainbow, or the desert finds the rain, Where the night sails out on the Dawn Wind and the darkness ceases to be, Or the Spirit builds a rainbow from whirling rings of pain, I have found the Hidden Beauty where the river finds the sea. “Eva Gore-Booth