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A Look At

Pride Festivals Around The World by Charlene Obernauer

In the United States, GLBT rights activists have put on gay Pride parades since 1970, when the day of protest was called “gay liberation” day. The first parade was planned for the last Sunday of June: the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which was the beginning of the gay rights movement. GLBT liberation came about because of a culture of discrimination: President Eisenhower issued an Executive Order in 1953 legalizing the firing of GLBT people. Openly GLBT couples were not even allowed to publicly gather, which further criminalized the community. In 2013, much has changed. GLBT relationships are completely legal, gays can serve openly in the military, the President became the first in history to support gay marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act seems likely to be overturned by the US Supreme Court. But America has come this far for a reason: the United States is home to one of the most dynamic and successful GLBT rights movements in the entire world. In countries where going to a Pride parade can get one fired or even arrested, activists are brave to just show their faces. Pride parades are illegal in most of Russia, including the urban cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Kissing on the street could result in the equivalent of a $16,000 fine or two years imprisonment, but activists are committed to GLBT equality. In 2012, anti-gay protestors attacked Pride activists in St. Petersburg, and not a single attacker was arrested. This year, despite increasing criticisms from the international community, many city governments in Russia are keeping the ban on gay pride alive. Activists continue to protest, and are regularly attacked and arrested. Homosexuality just became legal in India in the summer of 2009, but the first gay Pride parade took place a year earlier in four Indian cities as a form of protest against discriminatory laws. Participants wore masks to cover their faces, afraid of their identities being revealed. Since then, India’s parades have steadily grown. Mumbai, the city’s capital, now holds an annual Pride parade and activists proudly show their true colors. Chinese activists tried to organize Pride in 2005 in Beijing, but police tracked their activities. Venues that agreed to host the event were shut down and Pride was canceled. But activists were resilient 8


here “In countries wpa rade going to a pridered or can get one fi ctivists even arrested, ast show are brave to ju s.” their face this year, Stockholm Pride organizers have launched an advocacy campaign inviting Russians to celebrate Pride in the Swedish capital, thus bypassing russia’s 100-year ban on pride events.

and after a few years of trying, they successfully held their first Pride parade in Shanghai in 2009, attended by 2,000 people. The parade has been labeled a weeklong cultural event by the Chinese government and cannot be officially labeled “gay Pride.” However, the event still attracts thousands of people and is well filled with film screenings, family pool parties, and big opening and closing parties. The biggest Pride parade in Asia is in Taiwan, which had its 10th anniversary last year, attended by more than 65,000 people. The parade called for the passage of gay marriage, with rainbowcolored diamond engagement rings plastered on the posters. The country is expected to be the first Asian country to legalize gay marriage. Many countries in Latin America a few steps ahead of the United States, with gay marriage already legal and GLBT rights progressing at a rapid pace. With a strong history of GLBT activism, Mexico has more than a million people at their annual pride parade in Mexico City, which has been taking place for more than 30 years. Like the United States, gay

Pride does not just take place in the biggest cities, but small towns all over the country hold their own Pride events in June. Argentina also has a strong history of GLBT activism. Instead of a Pride parade, they have a Pride march in Buenos Aires, with political speeches as an essential component of the day’s activities. Their protesting has been fruitful: the country was one of the first to pass gay marriage and continues to win rights for GLBT people. Canada is home to some of the earliest signs of GLBT activism in the Americas, with its first Pride parade occurring in Toronto in 1972. Pride week became celebrated nationally the following year. Canada is home to some of the biggest and most culturally diverse Pride celebrations in the world. Toronto will be home to the fourth World Pride celebration in 2014, which will include an international human rights conference. The first official gay Pride rally in the U.K. was held in London in June 1972, also to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. More than 100 men attended the


Issue 7, Volume 1: June 2013, LI Pride Guide  
Issue 7, Volume 1: June 2013, LI Pride Guide  

60 pages of GLBT Pride: an exclusive interview with Melissa Etheridge, a Q&A with LI PrideFest headliner Debbie Gibson, top movie and music...