The History of Foyle Pride
The first incarnation of ‘Foyle Gay Pride’ kicked off in 1993 when a small group of committed activists decided it was time to make a visible stand and show the city that there was a thriving community that was being ignored and the wider community was not aware existed.
The small festival then called ‘Derry Pride’ lasted for two years. In 1995, ‘North West Pride’ was born, a 10 day festival taking in several venues giving the LGBT community more visibility than ever in the north west of Ireland. It was launched at the Tower Museum and brought a few hundred from the community and a fantastic 10 days were had by all. North West Pride continued on a yearly basis until 2002 and was a community led festival involving a broad range of people from differing backgrounds.
In 2007 the festival was re-named Foyle Pride. It was launched by the Minister for Social Development (Margaret Ritchie MLA) with the Pride Programme being launched by the deputy First Minister (Martin McGuinness MP MLA). Over 2500 people participated in the week’s events, with the Pride Ball event, attracting over 500 people.
In 2007 the Free Derry Wall was painted pink for the festival. This attracted worldwide media attention, receiving press coverage from as far afield as the USA, New Zealand and Taiwan to name but a few. This put Foyle Pride on the world map.
Foyle Pride continued to grow in 2008/09 seeing the Festival succeed and grow into an event that attracted not only people from Derry but from around the world.
In 2010, a new Committee was formed which aimed to put on Derry’s first Pride Parade. Through the hard work and sheer determination of the committee, this became a reality and in August 2010 over 6000 people came out to support the parade. This exceeded everybody’s expectations and made clear to everyone involved that this had to be a yearly event.
The first parade was led by the Mayor of the city Cllr Colum Eastwood, our local MPs and Civil Rights Veterans Eamonn McCann and Bernadette Devlin-McAlliskay. The Family event in the Guildhall Square was introduced by International Actress, singer and local Bronagh Gallagher.
In 2011, the Foyle Pride Festival was an even bigger success. It brought more than 7,500 people to the streets during the parade and the arts and cultural events throughout the festival attracted great numbers. In 2011, Foyle Pride also hosted Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera an internationally renowned and recognised Human Rights activist from Uganda who has been fighting for LGBT rights there for many years.
In 2012 Donal Óg Cusack opened the festival for us and gave a truly inspirational speech which was reported on widely in the national press and watched over 16,000 times on youtube (filmed by the much missed Terry McCartney).