Celebrating my hero, Izzy Kamikaze at Cork Pride 2014

Izzy KamikaziMy favourite part of every summer is that rain or shine there will always be rainbows as Pride is being celebrated somewhere! This week it’s the turn of the Rebel County as Cork Pride is celebrating their 20th anniversary with the theme ‘celebrating our heroes’. The week will be filled with music, art and film and of course the parade at which I am over the moon to say that I have the enormous privilege and honour to lead as the Grand Marshall… Incredible!

They asked me to contribute an article for the Pride booklet and share with them my hero – Izzy Kamikaze! Happy reading!

P.s. If you’d like to see a super excited grinning brown proud lesbian in a suit in a horse drawn carriage do join me at Cork Pride!!!

Since 2006, I’ve been fortunate to work in Irish media as a journalist and broadcaster for Newstalk 106-108. Many often make the assumption that being vocal comes naturally to me. That was not always the case as there were times in my life I had no voice and lived in the margins and constantly felt like I was the “other”.

I was born into a family in crisis and my parents separated when I was 12. I became a victim of sexual abuse. I failed my junior cert, I got expelled from school and then at the age of 16 I realised I was a lesbian and just when I needed my parents the most, they called me an abomination and kicked me out of the family home. I hit rock bottom at 17; I had no education, no family support… I was homeless.

I was 19 when a girl I was dating introduced me to the world of radio and I knew immediately this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Sadly this was short lived because within a year I was fired when my boss found out I was gay!

I emigrated at the age of 21, a decision that ultimately saved my life. I ran as far as my legs could carry me.

At the age of 25, in June 2000, I moved to Dublin with no idea what I was going to do. Quite serendipitously my arrival coincided with Dublin Pride and within 24 hours of stepping foot on Irish soil I found myself marching and dancing down O’Connoll street singing “It’s Raining Men!” The irony! For the first time in my life I didn’t feel alone.

I will never forget that day as long as I live! It was like Ireland took me under her wing and said “never mind the past, you are here now and we like you just the way you are!”

One person made a huge impression on me that day and that was none other than Izzy Kamikaze. She was one of the founding members of Dublin Pride and was one of the speakers at the Civic Offices. The moment she stepped up on to the stage in her black T-shirt, black jeans and black Doc Martins I was captivated! I remember thinking “finally there’s a fiery, vocal, social justice-loving lesbian I can identify with!” Up until Izzy spoke all the speakers had been mainly male and either drag artists or entertainers so it didn’t take much for Izzy to stand out as a beacon of political activism and courage! Role models like Izzy Kamikazi are essential in our community to inspire the next generation of activists. She inspired me to find my voice and speak up not only for myself but also for those who have yet to find their voice.