“This Pride feels more poignant than ever.”
Davina Devine is a local legend in the Irish LGBTQI+ community, using her platform to fight against injustice and stand for what’s right and equal.
Having spent 20 years performing drag shows at The George in Dublin, she now also has a successful podcast called Petty Little Things alongside Victoria Secret, so we had much to discuss when we sat down to chat about Pride and how its dynamic has shifted this year.
While our conversation was heavy, she spoke with understanding and compassion and was, as we expected her to be, absolutely gas.
The meaning of Pride has changed for Davina. In recent years, it’s been a celebration of the community she loves, but in 2023 she says it must now return to the protest it once was.
Pride first began with the Stonewall riots in Manhattan, New York on June 28, 1969. A fight for gay liberation, it began after a police raid at the now historic Stonewall Inn.
The following year, Pride marches were held across the US in the pursuit of LGBTQI+ rights and marked a watershed moment in the battle for equality. The marches spread across the US and eventually further afield.
“It’s more important as a community to pull together.”
“I think Pride in general, it has a different meaning to me this year than other years to be honest,” Davina says. “I feel like with the rise in the far right that we’ve been seeing on social media and this fake news that’s coming in from America, it’s more important as a community to pull together. I’ve been going to pride for 20 years, and this pride feels more poignant than ever. It feels more about people coming together, a bit more of a protest.”
“We’re in a very strange time, and it’s not just LGBTQI+ people, it seems everyone is up for debate lately. It’s a scary time, when everybody gets comfortable it just goes to show how unsteady things are normally,” she says.
The “fake news” Davina mentions is of course a reference to the bigoted messaging being circulated by the far right; the ideology that being part of the gay community is a sin or unnatural and that if you are trans, you must be a predator.
“People feel they have a right to do what they want, say what they want, without any repercussions.”
“The streets don’t seem as safe and it’s not just for queer people in general, it’s people across the board. We saw what happened with the refugees, I’ve had female friends who have been followed – it feels a little bit like Gotham City. It feels like people feel they have a right to do what they want, say what they want, without any repercussions.”
Each week, there is a new story or video circulating about a person being attacked in Ireland for the simple reason that they are queer. A total of 582 hate related incidents were reported in 2022 – a rise from 448 in 2021. The largest rise was seen in Dublin, with 22% of all hate crimes committed being tied to sexual orientation.
“There is no punishment for these people. Whenever I speak to a Guard about it, they always say it starts with the courts. When they arrest somebody, they go to court and they get a slap on the wrist. Those people just become paperwork, so it’s not motivating the Guards to up the anti. It starts from the top and trickles down, and that starts with the Minister for Justice. People who are saying these streets are safe are deluded, they’re not safe for anybody. It’s not a safe city anymore.”
As Pride week kicks off, young people all over Ireland are coming to terms with their sexuality or gender identity. To them, and to those who have come out recently, Davina says there is nothing more important than surrounding yourself with people who have your back.
“Finding your tribe is life-changing and life-affirming – make that your priority.”
“Try and find your tribe. Try and get a good circle of people around you, people that have your best interest at heart. It’s very important to get a good set of friends,” she said.
“Find people who are on your side. Finding your tribe in life, in general, is life-changing and life-affirming – make that your priority. If you have good friends, they’ll always have your back.”