“The gays need a piece of that, so let’s do a big weekend of events and showcase everything.”
Chairperson of Mullingar Pride, Daniel Boyne, grew up locally but said he left the lovely rural Irish town because there was no LGBT representation and “no queer people to be seen”.
After travelling the world, Daniel returned home to Mullingar and soon realised it “wasn’t gay enough” so he decided to try change that.
Speaking to Her, Daniel said: “There was no visibility here, no representation at all.
“So I left, I was gone for ten years. I went to college in Dublin, I lived in London, Canada and Galway but like everyone else, LGBTQ people miss their families.
“So when I returned home, I was like ‘No, Mullingar isn’t gay enough for me’ and it wasn’t for others either.”
Daniel mentioned other towns around the country making strides in celebrating LGBT rights including Drogheda and Thurles.
Seeing how other communities had created a space for LGBT people inspired Daniel to do the same. Now, he’s the brains behind Mullingar Pride, WERK Fest and its entire operation.
He said: “I said there was no one better than myself to do this. We hit the ground running then.
“I said if I was doing it, I was doing it properly, I don’t do things in halves. It took a lot of work convincing people that this was something to invest in but I thought the town is so vibrant, we have so many amazing festivals as it is.
“We’ve an international superstar, Niall Horan from here, we’ve the Bachelor Festival, we’re the home of the Fleadh Cheoil. We’re a very popular town.
“I said the gays need a piece of that so let’s do a big weekend of events and showcase everything.
“I’m big and flashy so I said we’re gonna go big or go home with this.”
Mullingar Pride is no joke.
Last year marked Mullingar’s first ever Pride celebration that featured art exhibitions, story-telling evenings, concerts and a full blown weekend festival with Drag Queen performances, market stalls and more.
I can whole heartedly say it was incredible, I was there.
Thankfully, after a tough year of planning and organising the Pride events, Daniel was keen to continue the success.
He said although the first year was difficult trying to fundraise and sell tickets, people were very supportive and the feedback was overall super positive.
He said: “After last year, I was wrecked. I was so proud of myself and the team, I was so fulfilled but I was wrecked.
“To put on an event that big and build it from scratch is not easy. I was working my full-time job and had a second full-tie job trying to get everything over the line.
“So, after it, I took a break for a while but the support is different this year for sure.
“I think we’re more official and we’re more respected as an event. Have people got the message that they should support it anyway because it’s a good cause, maybe not, but I do think they see that Mullingar Pride is no joke.
“We’re here, we’re proud but we’re also very efficient and we work hard.”
This year’s Pride festival will be spicy.
Daniel said his team are “spicing it up” this year and Mullingar Pride-goers should expect a very Drag Queen themed festival.
“We’re spicing it up a little this year and giving more options to people of all ages and all kind of backgrounds. We spoke about it in January, trying to organise things, we felt we needed to add more and more.
“So yeah, there’s a whole different theme this year. It is very drag orientated, we have twelve Drag Queens ready to take the stage.”
Clearly very passionate about this event and the message behind it, Daniel told us what he wants people to take from Mullingar Pride.
He said: “I want our town and other small towns around Ireland to know that gay and queer people exist and we live in your town too.
“We’re entitled to live here and celebrate our culture and our talent and what we do just as much as everyone else, whether you’re a hurler, footballer, singer, whatever it is.
“It’s all about having a place for us as well because we’re here too. I want people to know that this is a place where LGBT people are catered for and always welcome.”
Where do you see Mullingar Pride in 10 years?
Mullingar Pride is only in its second year but there’s no doubt a celebration like this will continue for the foreseeable.
I asked Daniel where he’d like to see Mullingar Pride in the next 10 to 20 years and he said all he hopes is that it would still be here.
“Whether it’s as big as it is now or whether it’s smaller than it is, I just want it to always be here.
“Unfortunately, I think although we’re in 2023, there’s still things we’re fighting and in 20 years it might be the same.
“I mean, gay rights has been on the table forever but I just really want this to help future generations as well as the older generations to connect. It’s so important.”
The Mullingar Pride Parade and WERK! Fest will take place on Saturday July 8 in Mullingar town.