Today Ireland — and in particular its capital of Dublin, home to 1.3 million people — is considered one of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly cities in Europe. It’s a young, vibrant community where there are a ton of cultural activities for events by and for the queer community and allies.

Ireland wasn’t always this way. As a very religious country, and the church had hold on foundational aspects of the political, social, and societal framework of its people.  Progress was slow moving  until 2014, when a drag queen named Panti Bliss spoke out publicly in favor of equality. Life changed almost overnight.  

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All in all, with 20 different colleges within its borders, Dublin is a great place to study abroad. Students are welcomed to be vocal about political and social issues, and there’s always something going on via advocacy, events, and more. It’s a great place to come out, find a community, and join in the conversation as an ally.

 

LGBTQIA+ Rights in Ireland

W Ireland is considered to be on the “vanguard of social change.” In 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. It was favored by 62% of voters. The LGBTQIA+ community vocalized that the mood around the country changed immediately. Many straight allies showed their solidarity by hanging rainbow flags in their windows.

There have been advances for trans people as well. Since 2015, trans people can self-declare their gender when updating passports and driving licenses, obtaining new birth certificates, and filling out marriage certificates.

There are many organizations geared toward queer young people as well. The youth support group BeLoGTo has resources for LGBTQIA+ youth. It has a strong political sensibility, and advocates for safer online spaces  and an end to bullying in schools. Another great resource is the Transgender Equality Network Ireland.

 

Neighborhoods

There’s no single neighborhood that’s considered the heart of the LGBTQIA+ community, but if you take a stroll through the Temple Bar area,you’ll see lots of cafes and restaurants flying a rainbow flag. There are additional gay establishments north of the river on Capel Street. 

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Where To Go First

 

Outhouse

With a cheeky name, the Outhouse is a sweet, sunny café that serves a wide variety of beverages (mostly coffees and teas) and toasties (open-faced sandwiches, including vegetarian and vegan options). The walls are usually covered with works by LGBTQIA+ artists. The staff is sure to know about all the events around town.

Photo Credit: Outhouse.ie

 Museums

 

National Gallery of Ireland

With the help of a self-guided tour, you can explore this monumental museum’s works through a different lens. Many of the masterworks here were created by people whose sexuality was the subject of much speculation or whose gender was not necessarily that they were assigned at birth. All those paintings of nymphs dancing together or religious figures embracing take on a whole new meaning.

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 National Museum of Ireland

Items showcasing the country’s LGBTQIA+ past are part of the permanent collection at the National Museum of Ireland. On display is the dress worn by drag queen Panti Bliss when she delivered her famous “Noble Call” speech in the Abbey Theatre. That address helped kick off the national conversation leading to the passage of marriage equality.

 

Where to Eat

 

Oscar’s Café

Looking more like a library than a dining establishment, Oscar’s Café gets its share of bookish types from the nearby universities. The fact that it’s named for legendary gay poet and playwright Oscar Wilde doesn’t hurt, either. It’s located in Smithfield Square, a 10-minute stroll from the center of the city.

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 Platform 61

This LGBTQIA+ friendly eatery is the slightly upscale kind of place you want when your parents come to visit. The wide-ranging menu featuring lots of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free choices means it’s also a great place to meet friends. It’s underground, giving the dining room a tucked-away feel.

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 Pygmalion 

A few blocks from Trinity College, the longtime hangout attracts a lot of students for its tasty brunch menu. Pygmalion — or the Pyg, as locals refer to it — is also open for lunch and dinner. The music is usually great, since international DJs come to spin in the evenings.

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Stage Door Café

When you need an early morning pick-me-up, head to this laid-back eatery that is reputed to serve one of the best breakfasts in the city. It’s worth it for a coffee break any time of day.

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Annual Festivals

 

Béar Féile

Coming on the heels of St. Patrick’s Day, this celebration hosts four days of events, culminating with the crowning of Mr. Bear Ireland. The emphasis here is on the bearded and burly.

 

Dublin LGBTQIA+ Pride Festival

The biggest event on the calendar, June’s Dublin LGBTQIA+ Pride Festival, ends with a parade through the twisting streets of Ireland’s capital city. It’s actually two parades — one has a more activist agenda, calling for “fundamental human rights,” while the other is more of a celebration of LGBTQIA+ culture.  

Photo Credit: IrishCentral

GAZE International Film Festival 

A fixture for more than 30 years, the GAZE International LGBT Film Festival is where you can take in anything from shorts to documentaries to feature films, all of them with a queer sensibility. The focus is on Irish filmmakers, but you’ll see screenings from around the world. It usually runs from the end of September to the beginning of November.

 

International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

Held the first two weeks of May, the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival features national and international works that have a “broadly gay theme or relevance.” They aren’t all traditional plays — you’re likely to encounter one-person shows, musical performances, and even dance. It’s one of the region’s best theater festivals.

 

St. Patrick’s Day

It’s often controversial when LGBTQIA+ groups want to join in St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the U.S., but in Ireland it’s no big deal. As well as Dublin, the queer community marches in cities like Cork, Limerick, Derry, Galway, and Waterford.