By Bayardo Barrios and Michael W. Sasser at Wire Magazine
Although the LGBT community worldwide recognizes New York City’s 1969 Stonewall riots as the beginning of the struggle for LGBT rights, that doesn’t mean that Pride celebrations are limited to North America.
All across the world, LGBT communities recognize the importance of the days when gays and lesbians in New York stood up and told the establishment that they would no longer be treated as second-class citizens, as criminals or as threats to society.
The recollection of Stonewall resounds all over the globe, as demonstrated by the timing of Pride celebrations around the world and the many that specifically name the Stonewall uprising as their impetus.
Gay Pride events abound in the world today, from nations where being gay is a crime to the most progressive cities on Earth.
Wire Magazine offers a brief survey of some of the largest – and some of the most fledgling – Pride observances from around the world, to demonstrate the successes of and challenges yet facing the global LGBT community; and maybe, for a few minutes, celebrate our own relative advances instead of just decrying the battles we face yet ahead.
While most Pride parades take place on the streets, this Dutch parade takes place above the waters of the Prinsengracht and Amstel River, making it a unique parade. Add the ultra-liberal tendencies of Amsterdam into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a crazy Pride celebration with some of the best street parties and circuit events in the world, from the underwear party at Club Church to Rapido at Paradiso, the international circuit party that is always sold out months in advance. Well, that’s all on the second weekend of Amsterdam Pride. More low-key cultural, sportive and party events can be experienced the weekend before and the week up until the second weekend.
Antwerp is probably one of the most open and tolerant cities in the world concerning gay rights and acceptance of the gay lifestyle. Although it’s a rather small city (population 600,000) it hosts numerous gay shops, venues and events, among them a summer Gay Pride celebration that attracts visitors from around Europe and beyond. While the city’s most acclaimed gay venues, such as Red & Blue nightclub and cruising bar The Boots will be filled with revelers, The Draakplaats and Café Den Draak are transformed into one big party area. In 2014, though, it’s hard to argue that the most anticipated event isn’t the appearance of winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, Conchita Wurst, at the free Antwerp Pride Closing Festival on Sunday.
The last weekend of June, people from all over the world will flock to the beautiful Mediterranean city of Barcelona, Spain. Arguably the most important Pride festivities in the Mediterranean, it rivals the iconic Prides of Tel Aviv and Marseilles. It generates so much revenue from tourists that Barcelona will make the Sunday of Pride an open shop day, allowing businesses to operate when they are usually closed. The events of the weekend are as varied as they come, including a Parade, drag competition, foam party, sports, cultural events, Pride at Tibidabo amusement park, a children’s area and more.
Spread over a week and offering around 200 events, Berlin’s ‘Christopher Street Day’ offers one of the most eclectic Pride celebrations in Europe. Events include shows, exhibitions, lectures, films, concerts and plenty of partying. Many of the city’s popular gay-oriented restaurants, hotels and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride week. The final weekend of Pride features, on Saturday, the Berlin Gay Pride Parade, commencing in Kurfürstendamm at the corner of Joachimstaler St., winding its way past Nollendorfplatz, and eventually ending up at Brandenburg Gate after passing through the city’s beautiful park, Tiergarten. The Parade lasts until 4:30 p.m., after which there’s a Pride Rally in the shadows of Brandenburg Gate.
Brighton & Hove
Visitors will join 160,000 other expected participants and spectators as 2014’s ‘The World’s A Disco’ Pride Parade celebrates the music, dance and color from around the globe, from the diversity of disco to the sauciness of salsa. Dancing under the theme “Freedom To Live” the Parade will also highlight the plight of those global LGBT communities whose basic right to party and live freely is denied. With extended opening times from 12-10 p.m., the acclaimed main stage is filled with live acts (gorgeous boy band Blue will be performing on the Pride Main Stage). With special guests plus eight entertainment areas featuring dance tents, cabaret, performance, funfair, market and community area, the Pride Festival will be a sea of rainbow flags. While the main Pride weekend is packed with activities, there is also the Pride Arts & Film Festival from July 19 through August 4.
Buenos Aires is a – arguably the – gay mecca of Latin America. Approximately a quarter-million visitors have attended recent events, including the parade through downtown, to celebrate the anniversary of the first-ever gay group in Buenos Aires, founded in 1969. A Pride Fair kicks the event off, followed by the Parade March to the Congress Palace of Argentina – three hours of walking and dancing. Next, the main stage in Plaza Congreso features musicians and artists to entertain revelers. It is particularly notable that numerous politicians make appearances at Buenos Aires Pride – demonstrating the influence and importance of the nation’s LGBT community.
Held at West Hollywood Park, it’s little wonder that the Los Angeles Pride would be the largest LGBT gathering in Southern California. House parties and events at local venues abound, but this is La-La Land, so the biggest attraction at the event in one of the most gay-friendly communities in the United States is entertainment. Such figures as Jennifer Hudson, Azealia Banks, The Bangles and Mary Lambert and Betty Who are just the headliners. Demi Lovato is the grand marshal this year. The Festival includes plenty of arts and culture as well, and the Parade is something to behold. Set to step off this year on Sunday, June 8 at 11 a.m., the Parade features 400,000 participants, spectators and marchers and gathers together a colorful and diverse look at Southern California’s creative community showcasing all that is great about the LGBT community.
While what happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, it is would be pretty difficult for the LGBT community not to notice the events of this short but bustling Pride in the desert. Las Vegas Pride’s well-known Night Parade takes place beginning at 8 p.m. on the 5th, starting at West Charleston Blvd. and heading north along 4th St. to Ogden Ave. The main stage is at Bridger Ave. just two blocks south of the Fremont Street Experience. An after Parade party follows immediately thereafter. Just head over to the Commercial Center on E. Sahara Ave. for the fun. The Festival follows the next day, for those who wake from the Parade, on Sept. 6 from 12-10 p.m. at the Clark County Amphitheater. More than 100 exhibitors are just the centerpiece of the diverse festivities.
For those people who are unfamiliar with the English, or know of them through Downton Abbey, London Pride can be an eye-opener. Stiff upper-lipped Britons? That’s not what to expect at London Pride, which would feel pretty familiar to Americans used to a diverse LGBT community. With gay unions recently being recognized in England, it is sure to be a party at night everywhere in the nation, really. Well, most of the nation at least. Officially, the Parade will take place on Saturday, June 28 and will dominate the core of London, taking in numerous well-known sites and bringing to them the glory of the rainbow. However, that is just the centerpiece of a weeklong celebration with social, cultural and educational programs that take place in virtually every London neighborhood – truly a week in which Pride takes over one of the great cities in the world.
The cultural and economic capital of French Canada holds its Fierté Montréal or Gay Pride at the end of the summer, an event dedicated to involving, educating and entertaining. Each year, the Défilé de la Fierté Gai or Gay Pride Parade has a different theme. This year, the Viagra-sponsored Parade’s theme will be “Our Flag, Our Flame: Orange.” Although the theme is a single color, Fierté Montréal boasts one of the most colorful and interesting parades, inspired largely by the competitions in different categories ranging from Best Choreography Group to Community Group of the Year. The Parade’s end leads revelers right to the Mega T-Dance outdoor dance party.
New York City
Where Pride and the LGBT rights movement all began, the Big Apple was the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, a series of violent protests by the LGBT community due to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. A year after the Stonewall riots, the first ever Pride March was held in commemoration of the uprising. With that in mind, New York City’s Pride is rich in history and amazingly well developed with many guest celebrity appearances. The Rally is the official kick-off event, including a candlelight vigil in commemoration of the one held after Stonewall. Last year’s had a surprise appearance by Lady Gaga in which she sang a controversially tweaked version of the national anthem. The March is obviously huge, with tons of floats and entries, but there are also plenty of parties, including Teaze for the girls, WE Party for the boys and Dance on the Pier, which was nominated for Circuit Party of the Year by Just Circuit Magazine.
Europride is a Pride celebration for all of Europe that is held in a different city each year. This year, Oslo, Norway will be hosting the party. Free events include Pride House, a daily forum for political and social debate about issues important to the LGBT community, Pride Park, Europride’s multi-day festival and, of course, the Europride Parade. Europride’s program also showcases many different art exhibits and events, including Queer Tango. No Pride could be complete without parties, and Europride is no exception, holding huge parties throughout the week. Rainbow Mass at the Cathedral will be the last event of the week.
While some might be surprised that Pride in Paris takes place on but a single day, there is something else to consider when it comes to the vibrancy of the French LGBT community. There will be 21 Pride observances nationwide in France, some of which have already taken place, and events continue through July 19 in Nice. The largest celebration, though, is in the City of Lights. Plenty of officially sanctioned and unofficial events take place both before and after the actual day of Pride, but the centerpiece is the festive Parade and entertainment following it. This year, the route takes in plenty of scenery. Marchers meet at 2 p.m. at the Luxembourg metro to head to the Place de la République, via the Boulevard Saint Michel, the Boulevard Saint Germain, crossing the bridge to Place de la Bastille and, finally, Republic Square. There, entertainers take the stage from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This year’s official theme is “Our lives, our bodies, our families,” and is reflected in programming.
Rio De Janeiro
In a city that knows how to party, Pride in Rio is the second biggest event after Carnival, with more than 2 million attending the spectacular Gay Pride Parade held on the main beach promenade of Copacabana. There are scores of street parties, and all the gay bars and clubs hold events and parties to celebrate this huge weeklong Pride, everyone seems to get into the spirit of things, wearing brightly colored costumes and dancing in the streets with a caipirinha, or two, in-hand. From music to over-the-top parties, there is very little that Pride doesn’t offer in one of the most famous and beautiful cities in the Americas.
Outside of New York City, site of the Stonewall riots, San Francisco would have to be considered the most obvious place for a spectacular and over-the-top Pride celebration. While the city might have gentrified over the years and become more famous for trying to outlaw goldfish and circumcision, it’s hippie-to-yuppie transition hasn’t prevented it from maintaining a wildly famous Pride celebration. The 44th annual observance of Pride dominates the city’s civic center plaza on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and the civic center on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Raquel Rodriguez is among the headliners in an event that is truly a community get-together for a rather large community. The legendary Pride Parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 29 at Market & Beale and ends at Market & 8th St. in downtown San Francisco. Social events, official and unofficial, abound to the point where it would be a challenge not to encounter more than one’s share of revelry!
This year, themed “All We Need is Love,” Sydney’s sizable Pride celebration will once again attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from the Pacific Rim and beyond looking for that “love,” or at least a good time. Sydney’s Pride features a host of events for more than two weeks, from Polly’s Follies Pride Parade on the 15th to arts events, to a performance by Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Choir and to a litany of social, cultural and community events matched by few other Pride observances in the hemisphere. Australia’s rough-and-tumble reputation isn’t just a marketing campaign, making Sydney in general, and during Pride in particular, an irresistible attraction to LGBT people worldwide.
Despite the often complained-about lock on Israeli politics that the traditional Orthodox appear to have, Israel and the Israeli people are, by far, the most accepting of LGBT people in the Middle East. A thriving gay community exists in modern cities such as Tel Aviv, where a Pride celebration barely raises eyebrows, except for those enjoying the festivities. With a gay scene that competes with all gay capitals around the globe, an amazing beach, good weather, great food and other attractions in the country like Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv has a lot of appeal as a site for a Pride celebration and added vacation time! Pride week starts on June 8 and will have events throughout the week until Sunday June 14. The Pride Parade takes place on Friday, June 13. Departing from the garden, this year’s Parade route will take participants up to Charles Clore beach (In front of David Intercontinental Hotel), where a famous beach party will be held from 3 p.m. until sunset.
Attracting more than a million attendees every year, Toronto Pride Week is one of the biggest Pride festivals in the world. In fact, it is so big that a single week can’t even contain it. Bursting with enough energy to power a city, Pride “Week” is a 10-day long celebration of LGBT culture that attracts people of all ages, ethnicities and sexual identities. Gay, straight, bi, etc., – Pride is all about celebrating diversity. Toronto’s historic Gay Village becomes a pedestrian-only party zone filled with fist-pumping music, bustling crowds, vibrant costumes and of course plenty of cute guys and gals. With so much eye candy out and about, the summer sun isn’t the only thing that will be making you hot. Many bars are open until 4 a.m. or later, so revelers can keep the party going all night long. Otherwise, there is no shortage of LGBT-friendly lounges, restaurants and open spaces to mix and mingle with other people in a comfortable environment. Families are welcome to enjoy the kid-friendly zone at Family Pride. The 10 days of revelry culminate in the annual Toronto Pride Parade – the largest and most anticipated event of its kind in Canada. One part celebration and one part demonstration, the Parade recognizes activists at home and abroad who continue to fight for the rights of the LGBT community.
Vienna’s distinct culture dominates even the summer Pride celebration. Every day during the observance, the Pride Village opens daily at 11 a.m., featuring tents with a wide range of catering and information booths. Until 10 p.m., participants can let their minds wander in the midday sun with a DJ lineup, enjoy culinary and sensual pleasures or relax and sip on one of the beach area’s cocktails. Numerous bars and clubs have their stalls to meet all appetites for information or cravings. Many educational and cultural programs take place over the course of the entire observance. Parties also abound in a non-threatening and beautiful environment. Still, the culmination of Vienna Pride is the June 14 Pride Parade. Warm up at town square at 11 a.m. for the brisk walk that will introduce new visitors to Vienna and provide a glimpse at some of Europe’s most beautiful architecture. Sure, it is a Pride event, but one would be foolish to visit this spectacular city without seeing the architecture and cultural sites and enjoying one of the great cuisines of Europe.
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine, Issue 22, 2014
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