Celebrate Pride 2023
This June, Aviva Ireland, proud sponsor of Aviva Stadium, Irish Soccer, and Irish Rugby, are asking the people of Ireland have they #GotWhatItTakes to be an ally and support the fantastic work Belong To, LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland does to help young people in Ireland.
This June, we’ll be selling rainbow pride socks both online and in store through Human Collective for €10. For every pair of socks sold, we will be matching the sale and donating €10 to Belong To, LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland.
To further support this, we will be donating €10 for every new home policy bought during the month of June to the charity.1
To launch Pride month, former Leinster Rugby teammates Devin Toner and Nick McCarthy visited Allyship Alley at Aviva Stadium to discuss the importance of allyship in sport.
00:00:01 Video starts
00:00:08 Devin Toner
How do you feel the landscape has changed for gay athletes now?
Is it a bit easier for them to be themselves compared to when you started?
00:00:16 Nick McCarthy
Yeah, I think in the last ten years or so, there's a lot more representation for gay athletes, which definitely helps, and it helped me a lot.
I think the role of allies in sport plays a massive role in helping people to be themselves.
As an ally yourself Dev, what would be your perspective on players who choose to come out?
00:00:32 Devin Toner
I think it's obviously brilliant that people are choosing to come out and do it, but I think in the future I think we should have to get to a stage where people don't have to come out.
You're obviously part of a team and part of a culture, part of an organization that everyone kind of supports everyone. So, it's all about supporting your teammates and trying to help them work through it.
Do you feel that you had the support that you needed when you came out to the team?
00:00:53 Nick McCarthy
Yeah, absolutely. Everyone was unbelievably supportive. You know, there wasn't one negative reaction at all.
You know, in the weeks or so after that, people really helped me to accept it myself and yeah, it was unbelievably helpful for me.
00:01:06 Devin Toner
So, what would you say to somebody who wants to be an ally and who wants to show support for the gay community? Where do you start?
00:01:14 Nick McCarthy
I suppose it would start with caring about our community and wanting to learn more about the community. Having these kinds of conversations makes a difference.
Maybe wearing Pride colours does how you're an ally and might help someone approach you and have a conversation that they might not have had otherwise.
00:01:46 Video ends
Everyone has a story; this is Jason’s
20 years ago, I married my wife. I thought it was the right thing to do - meet a girl, get married, build a home, and have a family. That's what all my friends wanted, it's what my family wanted, and I wanted to be accepted, to feel normal and to fit in.
When I finally came out to myself 6 years after I got married, I had a very difficult journey ahead of me. I got divorced (later my marriage was annulled), I lost the home that I built on my father's land, I left the village where I grew up. I remember packing my clothes, tears running down my face and leaving with just two black bin bags.
I had no one to talk to or anyone to help me understand how I felt. I faced dark times, alone and lost. For 10 years, I had little to no contact with my family and I lived a secret life - in work, I pretended I had a girlfriend, watched what I said, how I spoke, how I dressed... I didn't want to be this gay guy.
I often wanted to give up, to end all the self-hate, shame, and guilt. Now, I am glad I didn't.
My life in 2020
I am very happy living as a gay man, working for a company that is open and inclusive where I don't have to pretend and hide. I'm happily married to Freddy - my best friend, my soulmate, the love of my life. We married 5 years ago, after the marriage referendum was passed... our 5th anniversary is in 2 weeks!
I have a great network of friends and now an amazing relationship with my family. When I finally told my family, my mum cried - for what I went through alone and for not talking about or understanding how I felt. I'll always cherish the moment my mum told me she was so happy that I found happiness and to have her son back plus a son-in-law!
My ex-wife and I are in contact with each other again. I'm delighted to say that she is now very happily married with 3 children.
The feeling of acceptance and love for me, has allowed me be at peace with who I am. Now I'm the best version of myself.
Why #LightUpForPride and lighting up Aviva Stadium is so important
My only regret in life is that I hid my true self for so many years. At Aviva, we want our colleagues and customers to spend energy being themselves and not hiding it. This is something I wish I could go back and tell myself.
I feel so proud to work for a company who promote a culture of inclusive diversity where everyone can bring their whole self to work. Having a connection with BeLonG To, support services for young LGBTQ+ people, is so close to my heart. I wish this had been available to me when I was growing up... I think my life would have been different without spending all those years hiding and feeling ashamed.
I believe and feel things have changed for the better in Ireland and people's views on the LGBTQ+ community have progressed positively but there is still work to be done. Not everyone feels safe to be who they are. #LightUpForPride and lighting up Aviva Stadium is an amazing way for us, as a company and as individuals, to reach out to the young LGBTQ+ people of Ireland with a message of hope, solidarity, and a reminder that even in your darkest moments, you are accepted and celebrated by so many - a sign that it is safe to dream!
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