Culture

Prague Pride 2019

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Prague Pride takes to the streets once more for its most ambitious and colorful festival to date.  The celebration, which attracted a whopping 92,000 people with 40,000 participating in the Saturday parade last year, has made an impact on the LGBTQ community both within and outside of Prague.  Since 2011 Prague Pride has steadily grown from being one of the most anticipated and celebrated festivals in the country next to Fringe Festival.

“I think what makes us special is the quality of the program, we are a weeklong festival.  And many other countries are limited to just the parade and maybe some concerts. But we’re a weeklong festival with over 120 events, which is unique”, says Czeslaw Walek, chairman of Prague Pride.

This year’s festival will feature similar events to last year with round the clock activities for everyone to take part in.  In addition, after the Prague Pride parade will be a Pride Park celebration as a conclusion to the weeklong festivities.  This a concert held at Letenské sady Park afterwards featuring over 25 artists on 4 separate stages. Having built a community space for families and LGBTQ members, this picnic-like area will include a Ferris wheel and dancing space from dusk till dawn, literally.

In addition to the parade and concerts, the festival hosts a plethora of events for both LGBTQ members, locals and visitors alike all throughout the day. Talk shows, theatres, movies, parties and more have filled this year line up of events, giving something for everyone to experience.   One of the biggest additions this year is Prague Life, where older members of the LGBTQ community discuss their longtime struggle.

“This is a topic we haven’t explored before, and we have a good amount of the community who is getting older.  During the communist regime, they were all in the closet and their lives were met with both physical and mental challenges. It’s well known, that when older people reach the age of retirement they go back into the closet.  With the people that were in the closet during the communist regime, they’re in the closet all the time.”

This presents an opportunity to not only reflect on past struggles, but also to look forward to see what challenges lie ahead.  Reflecting on how far the parade has come since 2011 is a celebration in itself, but to realize the infinite struggle that’s haunted senior members of the LGBTQ community for decades can inspire hope into the next generation.  “It’s really showing the struggle we take all over the world.  Every year there are some emotional moments like these,” says Walek.

The struggle for acceptance is not limited to just seniors, but people of all ages within the LGBTQ community.  Gay marriage is a grey area for the Czech Republic as it has yet to be legalized within the country.  This stagnant approach to such a progressive topic has made Prague Pride even more important to LGBTQ members.

“We’re definitely going to use the festival to talk about it (Legalizing gay marriage) and to draw public attention to the fact that marriage equality is not as prominent as it should be in the Czech Republic.  But also, that the law has been in the parliament for a year and they didn’t vote for it,” says Walek.

Prague Pride has established itself as more than just a social event, but rather a political statement as well.  With the new mayor of Prague, in office legalizing gay marriage will be at the forefront of his agenda, especially since he will be leading the Saturday parade with other members of parliament.  Considering the Pirate Party is one of the only few groups to support the legalization of gay marriage in the Czech Republic, the LGBTQ community is optimistic about the bill being passed in the future.

“We want to use the parade, especially, to underline this issue, so we are organizing a large portion of the parade to be about marriage equality.  We’ll wear white t-shirts and slogans about marriage equality, so yes, we definitely want to use this opportunity of 50,000 people walking in the streets to show this injustice.”

Prague’s weeklong Pride festival reaches beyond its own borders, acting as a symbol of hope for bordering countries as well where some same-sex couples live in fear.  “But the further east you go it’s more like a demonstration for basic human rights.  I just recently went to Kiev Pride and it was heavily guarded, almost dangerous for them.”  Gay marriage remains an issue for other countries despite the popularity of the festival.  Countries like Ukraine and Russia are absent of laws that recognize same-sex couples despite years of backlash and protests from citizens.

The members of Prague’s LGBTQ community experienced a similar level of fear when they started with just 8,000 but have since grown to not be afraid of who they are.  Today the parade is a marker of confidence, happiness, and most importantly pride for the LGBTQ community and those who support it.

“For me, it’s about not being afraid of who you are, not to be afraid to express their love to their partner. Just enjoy the fact that they are a little bit different, especially for those who’re coming from outside of Prague, they can get used to this feeling on an everyday basis. This is the day for them to celebrate themselves.”

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Prague Pride begins on Monday, August 5th and ends on Sunday, August 11th, let us know how your experience was on Facebook and Instagram!  Attached is the link to the Prague Pride website.

https://www.praguepride.cz/en/festival/programme

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