The Future of Gay Pride Parades
I think Gay Pride parades have taken on new dimensions in cities where they've existed for a long time, but let's not forget that they're continuing to spring up in other countries around the world.
The Parade I'm most familiar with is the San Francisco Pride parade, which I've attended about 7 times since 1993, and participating in twice (with Q-Hye - Armenian Queers).
SF Pride has become a lot more mainstream. There are tons of straight people attending now, not as curious observers, but as full participants. Although there is clearly a lot of work to still do in this country to combat homophobia and violence against queer people, in the Bay Area, those who choose to attend Pride events tend to be open-minded and really comfortable with sexual orientation differences.
I haven't noticed dropoffs in attendance, personally, but again, my experience is limited to San Francisco.
What I have noticed is that major brands are much less shy about targeting gay/lesbian customers. More and more floats are sponsored by big brands. It's a sign of the times, I guess, and a good one - companies aren't worried about cowing to homophobic activists who threaten boycotts.
I do remember that the 1993 Pride I attended was the first test launch of Red Bull in the U.S. We had no idea then, of course, that the energy drink would end up being such a huge hit.
Belgrade Pride turns violent
Eastern Europe & Middle East Prides
Only a handful of Eastern European countries have had Gay Pride parades, and the first ones have tended to have more protestors (some violent) against, than people marching for. I remember Belgrade's (Serbia) first pride parade in 2001 ended in bloodshed against the marchers (see video to right).
The first one in Croatia had a bunch of neo-Nazis & a bizarre fundamentalist Brit protesting (I was in the country, but not in Zagreb, where the parade took place) but the president called on tolerance and acceptance and there was plenty of police security. Subsequent pride parades have grown in attendance with fewer homophobes attending. In 2006, Zagreb hosted the first Eastern European pride parade, hosting attendants from other Eastern European countries that haven't been able to host their own (including Bosnia, Albania, Bulgaria, etc.)
Jerusalem's World Pride event was nearly called off in 2005 as it was overshadowed by Israel's invasion of Lebanon and a boycott; however, it took place but a zealot stabbed 3 marchers. The parade this year was heckled by ultra-religious protestors, but thankfully the government was supportive of the event and had the necessary police and medical personnel. (Israel's Pride Parades have typically taken place in Tel Aviv)
Warsaw's 2007 Pride parade was the first non-violent one, although it comes in the face of an increasingly homophobic right-wing government's policy in Poland.
Moscow marchers had to defy a ban imposed by the mayor of the city in 2007. The event drew prominent human rights activists, including the UK's Peter Tatchell, but they were jailed as violence erupted.
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