Gathering in groups is an important part of Pride, rooted in protest and celebration for the LGBTQ+ community.

And this year is a big one, with Dublin Pride March and Parade taking place at 12.00pm on Saturday, June 25th – and many more parades, festivals and parties across Ireland returning after pandemic setbacks.

But what if you don’t like big crowds? What if small, sober and relaxed is more your cup of tea – can you still join in with Pride?

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A bit of calm

"It’s great to have the ‘big crowd’ celebrations at a Pride parade, as it shows the size of support and helps draw attention to the cause. I think it’s really important to celebrate Pride, as it’s been a long road to enjoying the freedoms we have today – and there’s still work to do," says neurodiverse and gender-fluid author and scriptwriter Lydia Christie.

"The difficulty for someone like me, who has always found it a challenge to remain in a crowd for any length of time, is it takes several hours waiting for the parade, watching it and then trying to leave a busy area," adds Christie, whose short story collection, Magic Tales & Other Stories, is released on Kindle on July 1.

Ray Larman, who runs The Bookish Type (an affiliate of ethical book-buying website Bookshop.org, which supports indie bookshops) with her partner Nicola, says: "Pride is an important celebration for the LGBTIQA+ community, but it’s vital to recognise we’re all individuals from different backgrounds, with different personalities and needs – not everyone is up for a big boozy party or noisy march. It’s good to have alternative, low/no cost celebration events to bring people together, like film screenings, talks and picnics."

Smaller, more low key gatherings like The Secret History of Gay Dublin or Tonie's Lavender Walk could be good options.

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Beyond bars

Over in the UK, Maryann Wright launched Sappho Events in January 2021, providing sober social events for LGBTQ+ women, trans and non-binary people centred on things like crafts, film and literature, gaming, dating and wellbeing.

"The main reason I set up Sappho was to give people an alternative to loud, noisy, alcohol-fuelled spaces," says Wright. "Because of the nature of our events, you’re there to share an activity and make conversation – but the point of being there is not necessarily the conversation, as sometimes that’s the daunting bit."

"One thing that keeps coming home for me is just how much these kinds of spaces are needed," adds Wright, who notes it’s not just about organising events – there’s also a huge need for more LGBTQ+ venues.

"Pride is a protest, and always will be. But in terms of the celebration component, communities gather in different ways, and we have to make sure we’re providing truly accessible ways people can celebrate. I’m really passionate about creating spaces where people can feel part of the community, celebrate their queerness and feel connected, but in a way that suits their interests and needs."

Now is the perfect time to start organising alcohol-free events for the LGBTQ community.

A sober bar like The Virgin Mary on Capel Street in Dublin could be an ideal meeting spot for a alcohol-free Pride celebration.

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A whole new online world

Christie is keen to celebrate Pride online. "The rise of online events during the pandemic has shown us what can be done online if people put their minds to it. If Pride events are livestreamed online, it’s helpful for other people like me. It might also help to attract the international LGBTQ+ community and their allies, who couldn’t otherwise attend."

Eventbrite have an impressive collection of online Pride events including live podcasts, book clubs and discussions here.

For more information on Dublin Pride, click here.