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The Future of Gay Pride Parades

Updated on August 15, 2011

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

Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred ("I'm Too Sexy...") beaten up at Moscow Pride 2007
Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred ("I'm Too Sexy...") beaten up at Moscow Pride 2007

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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    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 7 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm honored! Yes, it's worth seeing every now and then. :-)

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

      This is awesome LL! I am linking to this hub if you don't mind. I love the pride parade and hope to attend in the next SF parade, I'm in wine country, so its worth the drive! Up and Awesome.


    • Elegantwork23 profile image

      Elegantwork23 8 years ago

      wow i didnt know that about richard that is totally awful . I am grateful to live in a city that respects our parade. We have a very nice pride parade. Great hub.

    • stanskill profile image

      stanskill 9 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      Will we have to march forever? I thinik my proposal, for Americans at least, could create a culture of being able to help the helpless, homeless, starving, etc. I don't think any of us should ever forget the struggle, but as long as we are still fighting about this issue, the more important ones go unaided. We should have museums of the hardships of our struggle. We don't have to keep struggling though.

    • spacebull profile image

      spacebull 10 years ago from Space

      Often it's the same story (if the country has the potential to be tolerant) - the first ones are accompanied by rage and then more and more people embrace it. Like anything strange and new, anyway. Good luck to all the gay people from a straight guy :)

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      I saw the set-up getting started at Dolores Park today; we'll try to check that out during the day. Thanks!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Hey Robin,

      If you wanted to watch the Dyke March on Saturday, I don't think it would get too insane. It's pretty laid back and especially Dolores Park, where they start, is pretty mellow. But after it ends, the Castro turns into one giant street party, which might be way too much for your daughters. I would say the Castro is safe for little kids until about 8pm. :-)

      The parade itself is much more friendly to little kids - it's crowded but not too rowdy.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco

      We are planning to go to the Castro this weekend. What do you think about bringing our kids, Georgia (4) and Jules (1 and a half)?

    • Lyricallor profile image

      Lorna Lorraine 10 years ago from Croydon

      "JERUSALEM: Under heavy police guard, gay activists marched in a Gay Pride parade in downtown Jerusalem..." I was really surprised reading this in addition to learning of the Polish and Russian ones. I have really been in the dark. However, I can't see what gives people the right to inflict violence when there was no physical threat to them.

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      I love gay pride parades, as long as the really hairy guys are wearing more than a banana hammock..thats just eye abuse! ;)