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"I feel like the term 'queer athlete' is a funny term because it puts sexual orientation before a camp that is more important. We're all athletes, and then we're who we are."

That's some much-needed wisdom from Katelyn, a rugby player who you'll learn more about. I felt I needed to start with this quote because I'll probably throw around the term 'queer athletes' a lot in this piece, simply because it's a bit less tortured than saying 'athletes who happen to be queer' over and over again. 

Make no mistake though – I agree with her. She has a valid point about a person's queerness simply being a part of who they are, and sport being an active choice. 

One thing I learned through these conversations, however, was that people vary in the way they express their queer identity, and sometimes that expression can impact a their experience as an athlete. 

The four people I spoke to in the lead-up to Pride Week are passionate athletes and they're queer. Seeing as it's Pride, I wanted to shine a light on what it's like to be an LGBT person in sport.

Their answers varied, as much as queer athletes do themselves. 

Michael Kavanagh

Michael is a trans man, and being trans, his queer identity comes into direct play with how he expresses his identity as an athlete.

He currently plays rugby on women's teams, but once he medically transitions he will have to switch to a men's team because he'll be on testosterone. 

The 22-year-old says that sport can be a 'grey area' regarding gender at times:

"While I'm legally recognised as a male, because of my body, my biology and everything, I'm still considered to be in a female league, so I still play on the women's team even though I'm a man.”

The flanker says that he feels a 'bit of conflict' when it comes to playing on a women's team, but that overall he doesn't mind because, "Have you seen rugby women? They are tough. They are tough as nails."

He explained, "I feel very at home with the women on the team and they've seen me grow up, basically. So I'm not uncomfortable with them at all. Sometimes yes, the fact that I'm a guy on a girls' team rubs me up the wrong way.”

However, he feels that before he medically transitions, he’d feel uncomfortable physically on a men’s team, such as in the locker room.

As for as trans athletes in Ireland, the rugby player says he feels bolstered by the fact that trans men are getting great recognition in Ireland, such as the GALAS Sport Award winner Cameron Keighron.

Michael says that trans women have a much more difficult time remaining involved in athletics, though. He thinks the stigma around trans people must be dispelled in order for trans athletes, especially women, to be accepted:

"It's this whole idea that to be taking hormones, or if you were assigned male at birth and you're coming in to play against people assigned female at birth, it's this assumption that male bodies automatically have better qualities and an upper hand compared to female bodies.

"I don't know a trans person who's trying to use their biology to come in and dominate a sport. They just want to play the sport in the team or in the category that matches their gender."

Michael hopes that national sports teams will make an open show of trans-inclusiveness, saying that vocal support coupled with education can help end the stigma around being trans.

For now, Michael will continue playing rugby and move to a men's team when the time comes in his medical transition.

The Emerald Warriors, a men's team, have already told him that he's welcome to join, as they've had men who are pre-, mid-, and post-transition play with them.

When I asked if he had advice for fellow trans men who're athletes, he replied:

"I suppose, my advice would be that you don't have to compromise one identity for the other. I always thought my trans identity and my sporting identity were in conflict, that if I wanted to excel in one I had to subdue the other. And it's just not like that.”

Katelyn and Louise

When Katelyn joined Trinity's women's rugby team during her year abroad, she didn't realise she meet her now-girlfriend, Louise.

They're on a club team together now, with Katelyn, 23, playing flyhalf and Louise, 25, playing flanker.

The couple said that their team is made up of women of a number of sexual orientations.

The main issues they spoke about arose from less from being queer, in their eyes, and rather the expectations around women's place in sport.

"Realistically, most clubs in Ireland – I'm reluctant to include the GAA but I think I have to – are run by men of a certain age, of a certain wealth. And their impression of women in sport is to stay in good shape, to attend the dinner with men – and that's just the way it is!" Louise said.

"We're really lucky that we're definitely not in a club that's like that, and there's a lot of clubs that aren't like that.”

Women's rugby hasn't been given the respect that it deserves for years, especially in the IRFU. Recently, women in the game have been more vocal about their frustration with how the IRFU treats them, but they've also been met with much backlash.

"There's a sentiment for maybe another generation of people in those high positions that see women's rugby players as these angry, unappreciative lesbians who will fight, and fight, and fight, but are angry about a life they've chosen," Katelyn told me.

They said that even in Trinity, the women's team has been continually passed over in favour of the men's team.

Katelyn explained, "The girls that are good in rugby want to go somewhere they're taken care of, like DCU or UCD or Carlow, where they're given coaching and made to feel like they're important.

"That's where the attention needs to be – forget about queer athletes, let's just talk about women athletes. That's really where the difference is."

Louise made the point, though, that image is an area where you can sometimes see a difference between queer and straight athletes off the pitch. 

Katelyn said, "I think that is one of the big differences between queer athletes and straight athletes is that, especially in Ireland, straight athletes have an additional game you have to play with keeping up your appearance and almost pretending that you're not an athlete."

"…You’re compensating for how good you are on the pitch because you wouldn't want to be perceived as manly or gay, god forbid," Katelyn imparted.

When I asked for their last words on the subject, Katelyn said that she thinks talking about queer athletes or other groups of queer people can sometimes put a label on something that doesn’t need to be labelled.

Thinking about this, Louise said she'd be interested to see the topic from another angle and understand how straight people perceive queer athletes.

Katelyn concluded, "It's almost like you need to be having the opposite conversation."

Oli Riordan

Oli was an avid football player growing up, and he's kept on kicking as a 22-year-old.

Being bisexual, the striker said that he was comfortable talking about girls with fellow club players growing up and just didn't bring up guys.

Now, though, he's playing on one of Ireland's two gay and inclusive football teams – the Dublin Devils, which welcomes players who are gay, straight, and everything in between. He's been with the Devils going on four years.

They’re heading to the Paris Gay Games in August to represent Team Ireland alongside athletes from other sports as well. Oli told me he’s excited to meet queer people from all over the world.

"It's not just about sports, it's about community and bringing everything together and celebrating diversity. There's going to be an awful lot of social aspects as well as the sporting competition which I'm really looking forward to," he expressed.

I asked if he preferred playing on a team where being queer is a central focus.

"I prefer playing with a gay team just because it's a lot easier, there's a lot less pressure, to just be yourself," the footballer replied.

"When you first come out to a group of people, you're never quite sure how everyone's going to take it. So, being able to turn up to football training or just a kick about and not have that expectation of having to bring it up and having to weather the storm."

He thinks, though, that we have a massive way to go until the presence of queer athletes is normalised in sport, particularly in football. Oli feels that the system needs to change in order to make coming out a viable option for professional footballers.

"The football association in England, their basic approach to it whenever someone goes up to them and says 'Are you going to legislate to make it easier for players to come out?', they say, 'Well, this would be a problem if there were any gay football players'," Oli explained.

"You're talking about tens of thousands of men, and you're telling me that there's not one queer man in that entire – that's not even including the club staff! So I think there needs to be a massive change, especially in football… It has to happen at a club and organisation level."

As for his own experience, Oli says that it can be tough at times being on one of Ireland's only gay and inclusive football teams.

He said, "I think probably the worst thing is how we have to keep justifying our existence as a team, because… every time we're in the press, there are all sorts of people saying, why is there a gay team? You know, it just becomes… it's fatiguing."

Before the interview ended, I asked if he had anything else he wanted to say about being a queer athlete.

He took his time before responding, "I think what I would want to say is that if there are queer people out there who are also into sport, who have been told that they can't be into sport because they're queer, don't lose hope. There are places for you. There are people that will accept you.

"And if I had known when I was younger that one day I would be playing for a gay team and having the best time playing football ever, that would have been really, really great for me to know…

"Whatever sport you're into, you can find a group of people that will accept you. And if not, start your own…

"Whatever city you're in, if you are queer and you love football or you love whatever sport, get a group of you together, play, and you can start your own team. And we'll look forward to meeting you on the pitch."

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It's not just us humans that are showing our support for LGBTQ Pride this month, oh no sir. These gorgeous dogs got in on the action and we can all agree that pooches decked out in rainbow attire are the cutest things ever. #PrideMonthPuppo

The Twitter trend was kick-started by WeRateDogs, and they've been showing snaps of the cutest four-legged creatures dressed up in all the colours of the rainbow. And we couldn't be happier. Supporting LGBTQ rights? Cute dogs in capes? Done.

The account, which was founded by Matt Nelson in 2015, was set up to rate other people's pooches. However, he asked his 6.8million followers to send in pictures of their Pride-supporting hounds for WeRateDogs to rate and repost.

Anything that brings positive attention and support for a cause like LGBTQ rights is a winner in our book. Plus it doesn't hurt that these doggos are absolutely gorgeous to look at. 

Twitter users quickly responded with images of their dogs rocking rainbow caps, wings, ties, bandanas and capes. One tweeted, ''Again? Seriously? We only rate dogs. Please don’t send in any downright magnificent butterflies,'' while another posted their dog Bacon draped in rainbow wings and tassels. 

Pride has been honoured throughout the month of June in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and this week, Dublin Pride has kicked off. 

If you want to join in the Pride festivities and have a furry friend on hand, festoon them in rainbow accessories with the hashtag #PrideMonthPuppo, and tweet it out. People have been really getting on board with the hashtag –  just look at this tutu!

Dublin Pride's main event – the Pride Parade –  takes place this Saturday, June 30th. In the meantime, join us by having a scroll through the hashtag – like c'mon, how adorable are they?! 

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Pride kicks off from June 21st to 30th and we CANNOT wait.

Boohoo has done us all a solid and launched their Love is Love line – and it's fair to say we are buying everything.

The collection's launch is to support LGBTQ, with the designs made to empower, embrace, and celebrate love in all of its forms.

Love is Love has 30 incredible pieces ranging from ready-to-wear and accessories, so you have no excuse to not to look on point at this year's parade.

The ingenious line is created in a subtle way that backs gender neutrality with various colourways, tones, fits and sizes.

However, that's not mean the message of the line is unstated in any way.

Slogans scream f**k hate with flower asterisks and love is a terrible thing to hate.

One of our absolute favs is the Love is Love hoodie.

It can be worn so that when holding hands it continually reads love is love, love is love….

Fantastically, the rainbow flag is a heavily featured throughout the pieces. 

The collection captures the real spirit of pride, which is a celebration of love.

Whether you are part of the LGBTQ+ community or you are someone that supports love, embrace your freedom to express yourself through this collection.

As if we didn't need any more of a reason to splash our cash, 10 per cent of the profits will be divided between the Terrence Higgins Trust and The Rainbow Fund.

Happy shopping, and pray for your bank balance later. 

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Get your pride flags out! 

The Royals are leaving their fabulous mark on the history books.

Before Princess Eugenie weds Jack Brookshank on October 12, there will be another marriage.

The Queen's cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, will be the first in the royal family to enter into a same-sex marriage. 

 

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He to due to tie the knot with his long-term partner, James Coyle.

Speaking to the Daily Mail about the historic nuptials the dad said: 

"I really wanted to do it for James. He hasn't been married. For me, what's interesting is I don't need to get married because I've been there, done that and have my wonderful children; but I'm pushing it because I think it's important for him. James hasn't had the stable life I have. I want to be able to give you that."

The marriage is expected to take place in the private chapel on Lord Ivar's country estate in Devon, later this summer.

During the ceremony, he will be given away by his ex-wife, Penny.

Lord Ivar has three daughters with his ex-wife. 

The dad-of-three opened up to the Daily Mail about his children's reaction to the news:

"When I mentioned it to our eldest daughter, Ella, she said, 'Oh Pap, it's not a big deal. It's so normal nowadays'. Of course that generation, they're completely cool about the concept of this…We'll be pronounced partners in marriage, but the ceremony itself will be very small. It's just for the girls and close family and friends.

We can't wait to see the pictures!

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Leo Varadkar will kick off his three-day visit to Canada with a bilateral meeting before marching alongside Justin Trudeau in today's Montreal Pride parade.

The Taoiseach is then expected to travel to Toronto where he will discuss CETA and trade agreements between Ireland and Canada.

Ahead of the visit, supporters of the Repeal the Eight campaign started a viral hashtag #justinformleo, calling on the Canadian Prime Minister to approach the issue of Ireland's abortion ban, and educate Leo on the progressive Canadian system.

Ailbhe Smyth from the Coalition to Repeal the 8th said: "I would really like to see someone like Leo Varadkar would have an understanding that it is not enough to come out in favour of one aspect of human rights while completely ignoring another."

Leo is also expected to meet with business and tourism leaders and attend a reception with the Irish community in the city.

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London was awash with colour and love last weekend as crowds took to the streets of the capital city to celebrate the annual Pride festival.

While onlookers enjoyed all the sights and sounds the parade had to offer, one couple used the setting as the background for one of the most special moments of their lives.

In a video that has since gone viral, we see a woman propose to her girlfriend, who just so happens to be an on-duty police officer – and it's by far the sweetest thing you'll see this week. 

Of course, she said yes, and their engagement was met with cheers of joy from the crowd.

The women remain unnamed, however the British Transport Police did share footage of the special moment on Twitter.

According to The Sun, the pair have been together for five years and live together in London.

Shortly after the footage was posted online, the couple were flooded with congratulations from members of the public and other police forces alike.

We can't help but be reminded of a similar proposal which took place at last year's London Pride parade when police officer,  Phil Adlem, momentarily stopped marching in order proposed to his unsuspecting boyfriend who was watching from the side.

Congratulation all around! 

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Dublin LGBTQ Pride culminates today, with a massive parade in celebration of being a member of the LGBT community. 

The parade, which kicked off this afternoon, played host to a menagerie of rainbow-themed displays ranging from the weird and wonderful to the politically charged. 

Twitter has been blowing up all day with amazing snaps of the parade, and here are a few of our faves: 

 

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Pride is upon us, with the Dublin LGBTQ Pride festival culminating today with the Pride parade and a day of festivities. 

Many Dublin institutions like Dublin Bus have taken it upon themselves to show their support to the Irish LGBTQ community, and one very popular Dublin doughnut shop has done the same. 

 

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Aungier Danger took to social media to share their delightful and delicious rainbow doughnuts, decked out especially for pride. 

The doughnuts don't just have rainbow icing, oh no. 

They actually have a mesmerising twisted rainbow dough inside. topped with white icing and rainbow sprinkles. 

So, if you're feeling peckish at the pride parade today, you know where to go for the perfect Insta foodie pic.

We'd be rushing down before these bad boys sell out. 

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Pride month is in full swing and with so many events due to take place across the capital this weekend, this year's festivities are not to be missed.

Dublin's Pride festival has been running since Friday June 16 and will come to an end this Saturday when thousands of people take to the city streets for the annual Pride parade.

Here's a run down of what you can expect over the weekend.

Friday June 23

Start as you mean to go on, isn't that how the saying goes?

The night before the main event, George performer, Veda Lady, will host a pride warm up show at Street 66, Parliament Street, Dublin 2.

Joined on stage by Pixie Woo, the pair will be entertaining audiences with a host of 80's classics from 9:00pm.

Admission is free, but make sure you get there early and nap yourself a table before the crowds descend.

Saturday June 24

The theme for this year's parade is 'find your inner hero', so expect to hear a lot of dodgey Mariah Carey covers belted out across the streets of Dublin.

The pre-parade rally kicks off at 12:00pm in St. Stephen's green with drag performances and speeches from David Norris and BelongTo executive director, Moninne Griffith (this year's Grand Marshal).

Taoiseach Leo Varakdar is also planning to march along the parade route with Fine Gael LBGT.

The main event starts at 2:00pm – setting off from St. Stephen's Green and heading toward Smithfield, Dublin 7.

An official after party, hosted by Panti Bliss, will be held in Smithfield square from 1:00pm to 7:00pm.

There will be food stalls, a family playground and an official Pride pop-up shop, along with performances from Niamh Kavanagh and Brian Kennedy.

But the party doesn't stop there.

Of course pubs and clubs across the city centre will be packed with parade goers, but bars like Pantibar, The George and Mother are all hosting their very own Pride parties.

Sunday June 25

For those of you brave enough to venture outside on Sunday, Street 66 Parliament Street are hosting some acoustic sessions from 5:00pm.

As well as that, Shirley Temple Bar's Pride Bingo will take its usual slot in The George this Sunday night from 9:00pm.

For more information on this year's festival, please visit www.dublinpride.ie.

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An Irish company have launched an incredible online tool just in time for Pride 2017.

Ireland have made massive strides towards equality over the past few years, with 2015's marriage referendum proving we are a country that wants to make positive changes.

However, despite our progress, online hate and discrimination still remains.

Enter Connector – an Irish company working to fix this problem once and for all.

In an effort to combat online hate speech, Connector have created a free tool called #LoveWins.

The Google Chrome extension works by monitoring homophobic language online.

When the software detects any kind of derogatory term, it automatically changes it to a positive word.

The altered phrase will appear in rainbow colours, so users know where changes have been made.

The company hopes the tool will reduce the amount of hurtful language circulating online, thus allowing users to feel safe and secure when browsing the internet.

You can download the tool for free here.  

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It's always an amazing moment to see all of the rainbow flags flying all over Dublin in honour of Dublin LGBTQ Pride, which culminates this weekend. 

Now, Dublin Bus is getting on board with Pride, and has rebranded some of their buses to reflect this. 

Dublin Bus has decked out some of their vehicles with rainbow stripes. 

The stripes sit alongside the slogan: 'Gen on board with pride.'

The wonderful move comes along with the announcement that a rainbow bus will be featuring in the Pride parade on Saturday June 24.

'We are delighted to support another year of Dublin Pride,' said Dublin Bus Chief Executive, Ray Coyne.

'Our commitment to diversity and inclusion stems from our Equality and Diversity strategy that was first introduced in 2003.'

'We are a diverse workforce serving a diverse community.'

What complete and utter legends. 

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Since the horrific Manchester attacks, events have been cracking down on their security measures. 

One which has been seen at recent events is a bag ban, where attendees are asked to leave their bags and backpacks at home. 

Dublin's LGBTQ Pride event this weekend is no different, so if you're heading along, listen up. 

'For the safety and enjoyment of all attending, An Garda Siochana and Dublin Pride request that Pride patrons leave bags at home on parade day,' reads a safety update notice.

'In line with standard protocol for all recent events, backpacks and large bags will not be allowed.'

'Only small bags measuring no bigger than A4 (8.27in/21cm x 11.7/ 29.7cm) will be permitted into both St. Stephens Green South and Smithfield Square.'

'There will of course be exceptions made for people with medical conditions and children, but for the sake of everybody’s safety, all bags will be thoroughly searched.'

'This is also an alcohol and drug free event.'

So if you're attending, leave the backpack at home. 

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