The Inspiring Pride Speech That Everyone's Talking About

By: Daniel Villarreal

Whether you've ever heard of Donal Óg Cusack or the Irish sport of hurling, know this—Cusack delivered a powerful speech last week at the Foyle Pride Festival, and it's worth taking a second to read its best part.

When Cusack came out in 2009 as the only openly gay athlete in hurling—a furiously fast field sport where men whack a ball around using scary three-foot sticks—it was a significant landmark in Ireland and for LGBT sports fans across the UK.

But when he spoke in Northern Ireland last week at the Foyle Pride Festival, it was like he was speaking to everyone about the challenges of living an honest life defined by much more than your sexual orientation.

His speech included a song, a shout-out to recently deceased author Gore Vidal and a great summation of what Pride means—all of which you can see in the video below, though we've also pulled out what we think is the most powerful part to give you some strength when the (anti-)gay world is getting you down. Here it is:

And I'm an out gay man. For me that's a small part of the deal. Half a chapter maybe in a lifetime's story. But if out of curiosity you come to see me play and can't pick me out because we all wear helmets I'll be the one just in front of the loudmouth on the terrace with the megaphone. He'll be singing:

he's gay/he's bent/his ass is up for rent/ Dónal Óg/Dónal Óg.

People around him will be looking embarrassed and I'll be staring up the field.

Not giving a fuck…

When I came out a few years ago I wasn't making any big statement about myself I was following up on a promise I made to myself when I was younger. I was at a gay club in cork and somebody recognized me as a hurler. I pretended not to be who I was and I felt sick afterwards. I promised I'd never pretend to be something that I wasn't.

That was my journey and as I say every journey is different but what has been important for me is demonstrating to people that who I sleep with is only a part of who I am.

I like what the late Gore Vidal said about there being no such thing as a homosexual person or a heterosexual person. The words are just adjectives describing natural sexual acts, not people. Some of us respond to our own sex, some to the opposite sex, some to both sexes, some to neither sex, some to different things at different times.

It wouldn't be worth worrying about if it wasn't the hysteria and prejudice of other people.

I came out to be myself. To be Donal Og Cusack. I'm lots of things…

I'm not just from Cloyne, not just from Cork, not just a hurler. Not just a gay man. Like everybody in this room I'm the sum total of many, many things and that's how I want to be judged. That to me is what pride is about.

The only way you can be JUST one thing, the only way you can limit the definition of yourself, the only way you can make the world smaller and darker is to be a bigot. JUST a bigot. A small scared man with a big megaphone.

So when we enjoy this festival and share our pride in who we are we just have to remember that. With pride, brothers and sisters, we will always prevail.

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