Pride parade explained

Pride parades for the LGBT community (also known as gay pride parades, pride events and pride festivals) are events celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) culture. The events also at times serve as demonstrations for legal rights such as same-sex marriage. Most pride events occur annually and many take place around June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, a pivotal moment in the modern LGBT rights movement.

History

Early on the morning of Saturday, 28 June 1969, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning persons rioted following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn—a gay bar that was heavily patronized by people of colour, including a high percentage of drag queens — in the Greenwich Village section of New York City.[1] The Stonewall riots are generally considered to be the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, as it was the first time in modern history that a significant body of LGBT people resisted arrest. Given the population that frequented the establishment, a large percentage of the people who initially fought back were persons of colour.

On 28 June 1970, the first anniversary of the riots, the Gay Liberation Front organized a march, coordinated by Connor Weir, from Greenwich Village to Central Park in New York City in commemoration of the Stonewall riots.[2] [3] (Archival footage of March) On the same weekend gay activist groups on the West Coast of the United States held a march in Los Angeles and a march and 'Gay-in' in San Francisco.[4]

One day earlier, on Saturday, 27 June 1970, Chicago Gay Liberation organized a march[5] from Washington Square Park ("Bughouse Square") to the Water Tower at the intersection of Michigan and Chicago avenues, which was the route originally planned, and then many of the participants extemporaneously marched on to the Civic Center (now Richard J. Daley) Plaza.[6] The date was chosen because the Stonewall events began on the last Saturday of June and because organizers wanted to reach the maximum number of Michigan Avenue shoppers. Subsequent Chicago parades have been held on the last Sunday of June, coinciding with the date of many similar parades elsewhere.

The first marches were both serious and fun, and served to inspire the widening activist movement; they were repeated in the following years, and more and more annual marches started up in other cities throughout the world. In New York and Atlanta the marches were called Gay Liberation Marches, and the day of celebration was called "Gay Liberation Day"; in San Francisco and Los Angeles they became known as 'Gay Freedom Marches' and the day was called "Gay Freedom Day". As more towns and cities began holding their own celebrations, these names spread.

In the 1980s there was a cultural shift in the gay movement. Activists of a less radical nature began taking over the march committees in different cities, and they dropped "Gay Liberation" and "Gay Freedom" from the names, replacing them with "Gay Pride".

Description

Many parades still have at least some of the original political or activist character, especially in less accepting settings. However, in more accepting cities, the parades take on a festive or even Mardi Gras-like character. Large parades often involve floats, dancers, drag queens, and amplified music; but even such celebratory parades usually include political and educational contingents, such as local politicians and marching groups from LGBT institutions of various kinds. Other typical parade participants include local LGBT-friendly churches such as Metropolitan Community Churches and Unitarian Universalist Churches, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and LGBT employee associations from large businesses.

Even the most festive parades usually offer some aspect dedicated to remembering victims of AIDS and anti-LGBT violence. Some particularly important pride parades are funded by governments and corporate sponsors, and promoted as major tourist attractions for the cities that host them. In some countries, some pride parades are now also called Pride Festivals. Some of these festivals provide a carnival-like atmosphere in a nearby park or city-provided closed-off street, with information booths, music concerts, barbecues, beer stands, contests, sports, and games.

Though the reality was that the Stonewall riots themselves, as well as the immediate and the ongoing political organizing that occurred following them, were events fully participated in by lesbian women, bisexual people and transgender people as well as by gay men of all races and backgrounds, historically these events were first named Gay, the word at that time being used in a more generic sense to cover the entire spectrum of what is now variously called the 'queer' or LGBT community.[7] [8] [9]

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, as many of the actual participants had grown older, moved on to other issues or died, this led to misunderstandings as to who had actually participated in the Stonewall riots, who had actually organized the subsequent demonstrations, marches and memorials, and who had been members of early activist organizations such as Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance. The language has become more accurate and inclusive, though these changes met with initial resistance from some in their own communities who were unaware of the historical events.[10] Changing first to Lesbian and Gay, today most are called Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) or simply "Pride".

Notable pride events

See main article: List of LGBT events.

Belgrade

On 30 June 2001 several LGBTQ groups from Serbia attempted to march through Belgrade's streets and peacefully demand their rights and an end to oppression. The event was registered with the local police for safety reasons and according to the law, however, when the people started to gather in one of the city's principal squares, a huge crowd of soccer fans, clerics leading ultra nationalist youth, and skinheads stormed the event, attacked and seriously injured several participants and stopped the manifestation from taking place. The event was extremely tense as the police were not equipped to suppress riots or protect the Pride marchers. The conflict unravelled in the streets of Belgrade as the opposers of the event took to the streets triumphantly singing songs about killing gays and lesbians. Some of the victims of the attack took refuge in the building of the student cultural centre where a discussion was planned following the Pride event. The building was surrounded as well in attempt to stop the forum from happening, and it was successful. There were harder clashes between poorly equipped police and assilants in the area where several police officers were injured as well. The aftermath was characterized by sharp criticism of the assailants, government and security officials from the NGO's and a number of public personalities. Government officials did not particularly comment on the event nor were there any consequences for some (around 30) young men arrested in the riots. Serbia remains a hostile environment for the LGBTQ population and all attempts to organize subsequent Pride marches failed. This was the first Pride march organized in this region.

First Eastern European Pride

The very first Eastern European Pride, called The Internationale Pride, was assumed to be a promotion of the human right to freedom of assembly in Croatia and other Eastern European states, where such rights of the LGBT population are not respected, and a support for organizing the very first Prides in that communities. Out of all ex-Yugoslav states, only Slovenia and Croatia have a tradition of organizing Pride events, whereas the attempt to organize such an event in Belgrade, Serbia in 2001, ended in a bloody showdown between the police and the counter-protesters, with the participants heavily beaten up. This manifestation was held in Zagreb, Croatia from 22-25 June 2006 and brought together representatives of those Eastern European and Southeastern European countries where the sociopolitical climate is not ripe for the organization of Prides, or where such a manifestation is expressly forbidden by the authorities. From 13 countries that participated, only Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Latvia have been organizing Prides, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovakia and Lithuania have never had Prides before. There were also representatives from Kosovo, that participated apart from Serbia. It was the very first Pride organized jointly with other states and nations, which only ten years ago have been at war with each other. Weak cultural, political and social cooperation exists among these states, with an obvious lack of public encouragement for solidarity, which organizers hoped to initiate through that regional Pride event.

Jerusalem

On 30 June 2005, Israel's fourth annual parade took place in Jerusalem. It had originally been prohibited by a municipal ban which was cancelled by the court. Many of the religious leaders of Jerusalem's Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities had arrived to a rare consensus asking the municipal government to cancel the permit of the paraders. During the parade, a young Haredi Jewish man attacked three people with a kitchen knife.

Another parade, this time billed as an international event (see WorldPride), was scheduled to take place in the summer of 2005, but was postponed to 2006 due to the stress on police forces during in the summer of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. In 2006, it was again postponed due to the Israel-Hezbollah war. It was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on 10 November 2006, and caused a wave of protests by Haredi Jews around central Israel.[11] The Israel National Police had filed a petition to cancel the parade due to foreseen strong opposition. Later, an agreement was reached to convert the parade into an assembly inside the Hebrew University stadium in Jerusalem. 21 June 2007, the Jerusalem Open House organization succeeded in staging a parade in central Jerusalem after police allocated thousands of personnel to secure the general area. The rally planned afterwards was cancelled due to an unrelated national fire department strike which prevented proper permits from being issued.

Latvia

See main article: Riga Pride and Friendship Days.

On 22 July 2005, the first Latvian gay pride march took place in Riga, surrounded by protesters. It had previously been banned by the city council, and the Prime Minister of Latvia, Aigars Kalvītis, opposed the event, stating Riga should "not promote things like that", however a court decision allowed the march to go ahead.[12]

In 2006, LGBT in Latvija attempted a Parade but were assaulted by "No Pride" protesters, an incident sparking a storm of international media pressure and protests from the European Parliament at the failure of the Latvijan authorities to adequately protect the Parade so that it could proceed.

In 2007, following the international pressure, a Pride Parade was held once again in Riga with 4-500 people parading around Vermanes Park, protected physically from "No Pride" protesters by 1500 Latvijan police, ringing the inside and the outside of the iron railings of the park. Two fire crackers were exploded with one being thrown from outside at the end of the Festival as participants were moving off to the buses. This caused some alarm but no injury but participants did have to run the gauntlet of "No Pride" abuse as they ran to the buses. They were driven to a railway station on the outskirts of Riga, from where they went to a post Pride "relax" at the seaside resort of Jurmala. Participants included MEPs, Amnesty International observers and random individuals who traveled from abroad to support LGBT Latvijans and their friends and families.

In 2008, Riga Pride was held in the historically potent 11 November Krestmalu (Square) beneath the Presidential castle. The participants heard speeches from MEPs and a message of support from the Latvijan President. The square was not open and was isolated from the public with some participants having trouble getting past police cordons. About 300 No Pride protesters gathered on the bridges behind barricades erected by the police who kept Pride participants and the "No Pride" protesters separated. Participants were once more "bussed" out but this time a 5 min journey to central Riga.

Taipei

See main article: Taiwan Pride. On 1 November 2003 the first LGBT pride parade in Taiwan, Taiwan Pride, was held in Taipei with over 1,000 people attending [7], and the mayor of Taipei, later president, Ma Ying-jeou, attended the event. Homosexuality remains a taboo in Taiwan, and many participants wore masks to hide their identities.

Poland

In 2005, a gay pride observance in Warsaw was forbidden by local authorities (including then-Mayor Lech Kaczyński) but occurred nevertheless. The ban was later declared a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (Bączkowski and Others v. Poland). In 2008, more than 18,000 people joined the march.

India

On June 29, 2008, four Indian cities (Delhi, Bangalore, Pondicherry, and Kolkata) saw coordinated pride events. About 2000 people turned up overall. These were also the first pride events of all these cities except Kolkata, which had seen its first such event in 1999. India's gay pride events are ironic, given that the act of "unnatural sex" is still criminalized (under a law implemented during British rule, which is presently under constitutional challenge in the High Court of Delhi). The pride parades were successful, given that no right-wing group attacked or protested against the pride parade, although the conservative opposition party BJP expressed its disagreement with the concept of gay pride parade. The next day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for greater social tolerance towards homosexuals at an AIDS event. On August 16, 2008 (one day after the Independence Day of India), the gay community in Mumbai held its first ever formal pride parade (although informal pride parades had been held many times earlier), to demand that India's anti-gay laws be amended.[13]

Amsterdam

The Amsterdam Gay Pride has been held since 1996 and can be seen as one of the most succesful in acquiring social acceptance. The weekend-long event involves concerts, sports tournaments, street parties and most importantly the Canal Pride, a parade on boats on the canals of Amsterdam. In 2008 three government ministers joined on their own boat, representing the whole cabinet. Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen also joined. About 500,000 visitors were reported. 2008 was also the first year large Dutch internationals (ING Group and TNT NV) sponsored the event.

Russia

Prides in Russia are generally banned by city authorities in St Petersburg and Moscow, due to opposition from politicians, religious leaders, right-wing organisations and the general population. Attempted parades have frequently met with violence, such as in Moscow in 2007 when activist Peter Tatchell was punched.[14] Mayor Yuri Luzhkov had earlier described the proposed Pride as the "work of Satan".[14]

Opposition

There is opposition to pride events both within LGBT and mainstream populations. Critics charge the parades with an undue emphasis on sex and fetish-related interests which they see as counter-productive to LGBT interests. The argument is sometimes taken further, arguing that they expose the "gay community" to ridicule.

Those who take socially conservative political positions are sometimes opposed to such events because they view them to be indecent and contrary to public morality. This belief is partly based on certain things often found in the parades, such as public nudity, S & M paraphernalia, and other highly sexualized features.

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. "The New York Times",June 29, 1969
  2. LGBT Community Center of NYC
  3. "The Gay Militants", Don Teal, New York: Stein and Day 1971
  4. "The San Francisco Chronicle", June 29, 1970
  5. "Chicago Tribune", June 28, 1970, p. A3
  6. Web site: Outspoken: Chicago's Free Speech Tradition. Newberry Library. 2008-09-07.
  7. http://www.bisquish.com/squishive/2005/07/27/in-memoriam-brenda-howard-2/
  8. http://www.sylviasplace.org/sylvia_obituary.htm
  9. http://gender.org/remember/people/marshajohnson.html Marsha P. Johnson
  10. http://www.nyabn.org/Pages/WhoWeR/OurHistory.html New York Area Bisexual Network: A Brief History of NYC's Bisexual Community
  11. Web site: 9 Protesters Detained at Anti-Gay Pride Demonstration. Arutz 7. 2006-11-01.
  12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4708617.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Latvia gay pride given go-ahead
  13. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Reverse_swing_It_may_be_an_open_affair_for_gays_lesbians/articleshow/3186187.cms
  14. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/05/28/1180205111009.html?from=top5 Sidney Morning Herald