Leo 'rocks along' to first Gay Pride since coming out
HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar is gearing up for his first Dublin Pride Festival since coming out as a gay man.
"I am indeed," the Dublin TD (inset) told the Herald when asked if he would be attending the LGBT festival.
"It's my first time being there, so I don't know [what events I'll be going to]," he said.
"I'll just rock along and see how it goes," he said.
This weekend the capital will be awash with rainbow flags and celebrations are likely to be all the more lively following the resounding referendum victory for gay marriage rights campaigners.
A record-breaking 60,000 people will take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade - up from 45,000 last year.
In keeping with tradition the parade - this year entitled 'The Future is Equal' - will begin at the Garden of Remembrance and proceed to Merrion Square.
Three grand marshals - Marriage Equality chairwoman Grainne Healy, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network Brian Sheehan, and executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Mark Kelly - will lead the crowds on the 1.30pm march.
Other politicians marching include Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children James Reilly and veteran gay rights activist Senator David Norris.
The festival kicked off on Thursday night with a gig by Samantha Mumba in 4 Dame Lane.
It was the 31-year-old singer's first trip back to Ireland from the US since her daughter Sage was born in March.
The festival will wind down with a picnic in the Phoenix Park tomorrow.
The Pride parade has grown massively in recent years.
The first incarnation of Pride took place on June 27, 1974, when eight members of the Gay Liberation Society and Sexual Liberation Movement - including Senator Norris - demonstrated at the Justice Department.
"There were only eight of us in total - and one of the group was Swiss," Mr Norris said.
"It was a small affair. To think 60,000 people will be there today is astonishing."