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Irish Artist Dónal Talbot Opens Pride Poster Exhibition To Fight Homophobia In Waterford

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Irish Artist Dónal Talbot Opens Pride Poster Exhibition To Fight Homophobia In Waterford

Another Pride Month has come and gone but as too often is the case, it wasn't without its hiccups in Ireland.

Throughout the month of June, thousands around the country celebrated Pride through whatever means the pandemic would allow. In the absence of club nights and parades, we saw high production virtual performances, panel discussions and insightful content series take centre stage to mark the month-long celebration and provide a platform for LGBTQ+ artists, activists, and public figures to tell important stories.

Although it was yet another strange pandemic incarnation of Pride, it will hopefully be remembered as a testament to both the strength and resilience of the community. Sadly however, Pride 2021 will also be remembered for some unfortunate incidents of homophobia in Co. Waterford which garnered much attention on social media and in the press.

At the beginning of the month a Pride flag that was erected to celebrate 'Pride of the Déise' outside Menapia Building in Waterford city was torn to the ground and burned over night. After being resurrected, the flag met a similar fate once again.

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The following week, in another act of aggression towards the LGBTQ+ community, posters were stuck around the city advocating for 'Straight Pride'. The posters, which showed a newlywed heterosexual couple embracing, read 'It's natural, it's worked for thousands of years, and you can make babies'.

These attacks against the queer community in Waterford struck something in Dónal Talbot, a gay photographer from Dublin who has found a comfortable home with his boyfriend in Waterford over the last year.

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"Moving to the South East of Ireland to live with my boyfriend in the middle of a pandemic felt like a no-brainer. I was, however, quite apprehensive as to what challenges I may face as a gay person in rural Ireland, especially as I was born and raised in Dublin," Donal explained.


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"When I first moved down, I soon realised that there was no reason to be apprehensive, and I was met with open arms and acceptance. In one such case, our 60-year-old neighbour became one of our closest friends and gave us our first joint Christmas card."

Upset by these hate crimes, and the national attention they were receiving, Dónal was determined to do something to show the world this type of bigotry was not representative of a place he describes as 'exceptionally welcoming'.

In response, he put out an open-call for artists and designers to submit pro-LGBTQ+ posters with a plan to cover up the anti-Pride posters that adorned the town, replacing them with messages of love and acceptance.

"The response was nothing short of breath taking. Within a couple of days, I received over 40 poster designs that where printed and pasted around the city in an act of queer joy and solidarity, and so began 'The Poster Project'."

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Credit: The Poster Project
Credit: The Poster Project

As well as an overwhelming response in terms of poster submissions, Dónal also received over €2,000 in donations to his PayPal to cover the cost of printing posters. After taking to the streets of Waterford, he also held a meet up to paste posters around Dublin, providing posters, glue and brushes to those who wish to partake, a group he tells us ranged from trendy young creatives and activists to a mother and her eleven-year-old daughter.

Although Pride Month is behind us, obviously the need for projects like this is not - many of the posters have been torn down in the days and weeks since Dónal began the project. And so, in order to sustain momentum, tomorrow will see the opening of a one-day exhibition of all the poster designs submitted to The Poster Project, held in GOMA Gallery of Modern Art in the heart Waterford.

If you live in Waterford, you can book a slot to visit the exhibition here. For those of us not so lucky as to catch this exhibition in real life, the posters will also be sold via Dónal's official website here - 50% of the proceeds of each sale will go directly to the participating artists, and the other 50% will go to the LGBTQ+ Youth charity in Waterford 'Chill Out'.

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Whilst the funds raised by The Poster Project will undoubtedly make a major impact to a charity like Chill Out, the primary ambition of the project remains much simpler Dónal tells us.

"If just one person who may have been struggling with their sexuality or gender sees one of our posters and realises that there is a community of people just like them that welcomes them with open arms, and supports who they are, then this whole project will have been a success." We're sure it's safe to say the project has already been a roaring success by that metric.

Featured Image Credit: Hayley K. Stuart

Topics: Ireland, Pride, LGBT

Gary Grimes
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