The first demonstration to publicly champion the rights of gay people was a picket protest outside Independence Hall, Philadelphia on July 4, 1965. This “Annual Reminder” continued year on year until, in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, resulting in several nights of rioting. This was the point when the “glad to be gay” concept really took root, with the first Gay Pride march in US history marking the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1970. Happily, a great deal of progress has been made since those troubled times and today the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are widely celebrated around the world in a series of festivals, parades and other events. Here are a few of the best…
São Paulo Gay Pride parade
Reckoned by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the biggest Gay Pride parade in the world, the Avenida Paulista in the city of São Paulo in Brazil throngs with participants every year; organizers claim total attendance in 2013 was five million people. The superb carnival atmosphere at Pride events, enlivened by striking, imaginative floats and outrageous fashions, means that anything goes when it comes to parade costumes, including sexy lingerie for men, plus weird and wonderful makeup, hairstyles and accessories for everyone.
In June 2014 Canada’s largest annual festival was awarded the privilege of hosting WorldPride, an international celebration to commemorate the history of the gay rights movement and celebrate the present. Every year in Toronto, ten days of celebrations include parades, parties in local parks and people from around the world gathering in neighborhoods and downtown across the city. It’s estimated that between 500,000 and one million people attend. Live music of all genres rock indoor and outdoor venues with events such as Alterna-Queer – experimental, homocore, rock and punk – and Blockorama – dancehall, house, hip hop, R&B and roots reggae.
London Pride is one of Europe’s longest-running LGBT events and has been celebrating sexual diversity in the UK capital every June since 1972. With a number of major sponsors and plenty of sideshows, as well as the traditional parade, everybody is guaranteed a great time. Depending on preferences, participants can enjoy the Pride Picnic in the Park, listen to the London Gay Symphony Orchestra and attend a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, in addition to watching the main parade. In 2013, some 15,000 people took part in the parade, while in 2014 this rose to 30,000 people, led by Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita and watched by approximately 750,000 spectators.
Pride in the USA
Among many other cities across the US, there are major parades in New York, where it all began, and in San Francisco, home of the iconic rainbow flag now used all over the world. The experience of participating in Pride is said to be exhilarating and exhausting in about equal measure. Those willing to check out their nearest Pride event will enjoy a marvelously colorful spectacle and a great fun day out.