Drag queen, gay rights activist and bar owner Rory O'Neill joined Kathryn Thomas on RTÉ Radio 1 to speak about the Rainbow Revolution Trail, a series of initiatives taking place at the National Museum of Ireland in honour of Pride. 

Rory, also known as Panti Bliss, will be contributing to the initiative with a piece of clothing that many will recognise from the below video - Panti's performance of 'The Noble Call' in the Abbey Theatre in 2014.

The hard-hitting speech is considered to be a fundamental moment in the lead-up to the Marriage Equality Referendum that took place the following year, and the dress that was worn during its deliverance is now being donated to the museum's permanent collection.

"A few months ago they asked me to donate something from that time, the marriage equality stuff, but I knew what they were fishing for," he laughed. "It was just sitting in the back of a wardrobe gathering dust, covered in make-up, so I was happy to give it to them."

Although he decided to donate the dress, the 'Queen of Ireland' says he had conflicting emotions about the exhibit because "on one level, it's nutty and brilliant that Panti's dress is in the national museum" but on another, it clashes with the ethos of drag which is "anti-establishment and discombobulating and confronting and punk".

Ultimately though, the activist is happy to see queer history celebrated and recorded by the country's museum of heritage: "My history is Irish history and my family's history but it is also queer history and I feel very connected to that and if I went into the National Gallery in the past, it was never really shown," he said.

While in studio, Rory reflected on the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland, the progression of care for those living with HIV, and the lessons he wants to pass on to the younger queer generation who he affectionately refers to as "baby gays".

"The problem at the moment with HIV is that it's gone off the radar. Of course, that's for a good reason in that it's not a death sentence anymore, but it's also led to younger people not thinking about it. They're not concerned about it in the same way that we were," he told Kathryn. 

"There has been an uptake in infections. It is manageable but you don't want to get it."

Speaking on his own diagnosis, which he received in the mid-nineties, Rory remembers how it used to be perceived as a "death sentence", with doctors and social workers predicting a short and "grim" life span: "Nobody survived. And so to go from that, to where it is now, has really been remarkable."

In the nineties, he had been on 38 pills a day - all of which came with side effects - but now, thanks to the advancements made in medicine, Rory is on a simple and effective regimen.

"I take a pill in the morning and I forget about it."

When it came to telling his parents about his diagnosis, Rory said that he had dreaded the conversation: "There was so much shame and stigma around it, I couldn't help but absorb some of that. And you're telling them that you're going to die before them - that's what I was doing at the time - and that just felt unnatural."

Now, "f***ing alive and fabulous" after 25 years with HIV, Rory says that there is still work to be done when it comes to tackling the stigma of the virus.

 "There are only a handful of people in this country who would be prepared to come on radio and talk about being HIV positive - most people feel they absolutely can't," he told Kathryn.

He continued: "Most listeners out there think that they don't know anyone living with HIV, but they do. They absolutely do."

You can listen back to Rory and Kathryn's chat on RTÉ Radio 1 below: