Pride Month – More than Just a Month
LGBTQ+ pride is celebrated all through the 30 days of June. This “Month of Diversity” aims to bring attention to and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with parades and festivals right across the world. Some travellers even make a pilgrimage from city to city, parade to parade, so they don’t miss a thing.
Pride Month does, however, have the dual focus of celebrating past successes, as well as highlighting and supporting ongoing struggles.
On the one hand, we celebrate the freedom to live out our own identities and truths. But at the same time, this protest march-turned-party points out and resists the continuing oppression that members of the LGBTQ+ community still face to this day. No one should feel ashamed or like they have to hide or deny their identity. Everyone should be allowed to express themselves and their love without fear.
We want to show you what exactly Pride Month is all about, where you can best celebrate, and which places you should possibly avoid as an LGBTQ+ person.
LGBTQ+ is an acronym that encompasses the broad spectrum of sexual orientations and identities: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer. The + (sometimes *) also denotes the many identities that are not expressly named within the acronym. Alternative versions such as LGBTQIA+ are designed to include intersexuality and asexuality explicitly, for example.
The Origins of Pride Month
Why is Pride Month celebrated in June? This wonderful tradition originates from the events that occurred in the USA during the 1960s. Back then, life was far from easy for LGBTQ+ folk. Besides social condemnation and persecution, they were also often victims of repeated raids on queer-associated premises. However, at one such raid on 28 June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Greenwich Village district of New York City, people had had enough and fought back. This was the first known uprising of queer people against police violence. Riots broke out spontaneously, lasted for six days and were marked by brutal confrontations.
One year later after the riots, communities arranged an anniversary assembly on Christopher Street, where the Stonewall Inn was located. Parallel demonstrations were
organised in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. From there, they spread worldwide, with marches in Europe from 1970. The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights was ignited. The demands then were the same as they are now: protection from prosecution and arbitrary attacks. More progressive societies also focus on same-sex marriage and adoption, as well as legal protection.
While June has been deliberately chosen as Pride Month. While Pride awareness is certainly at its highest this month, it is certainly not limited to just June. A wide variety of events and happenings for and about LGBTQ+ take place throughout the year, and the cause is always relevant.
Pride Month Festivals and Pride Parades
Pride parades are the absolute highlight of Pride Month. An ecstatic carnival atmosphere fills the streets and creative costumes, glitter, and Pride flags stretch as far as the eye can see. The rainbow flag has become an international symbol of the LGBTQ+ movement and can be found everywhere during Pride Month. The vibrant colours have come to symbolise the diversity and unity of the LGBTQ+ community.
Even if you are not directly part of the community, there is also plenty to experience as an ally. With speeches, lectures, and discussions, you have plenty of opportunities to educate yourself and show your support.
New York, the place where it all began, remains one of the largest Prides in the world. The parade on 26 June starts at 26th Street, 5th Avenue and ends in Greenwich Village at 23rd Street, 7th Avenue. Across the city, revellers TAKE PART IN a variety of celebrations and events. An annual “Pride Tour” of LGBTQ+ history in New York is organised, along with the Hudson Street “Pride Fest”, a free street festival, and “Pride Island,” the largest annual NYC Pride fundraiser. Megastars, the likes of Ariana Grande, Cher, and Whitney Houston, also take to the stage.
With over one million visitors, Chicago Pride has grown to become on the largest and best-known Pride events globally. The LGBTQ+ neighbourhood of Northalsted in East Lakeview, also known as Boystown, is particularly popular. Here, the “Chicago Pride Fest” takes place on 18 and 19 June, followed a week later by “Pride in the Park” on 25 and 26 June. Traditionally, the Pride Parade takes place on the last Sunday in June. It starts at 12 pm on 26 June in Boystown and goes all the way to Lincoln Park.
Over on the West Coast, San Francisco hosts the world’s second-largest Pride event, with 1,700,000 participants. With the country’s biggest Pride, San Francisco has gained the unofficial title of the “Gay Capital of the US.” The Castro District, one of the States’ first gay neighbourhoods, is also recognised as a prominent part of the international LGBTQ+ community. The San Fran parade will take place on 26 June this year with 300 participating groups making approximately 50,000 people in over 200 colourfully decorated floats. Every year, onlookers arrive hours before the start of the parade in order to secure the best seats.
With many gay-friendly countries and progressive politics, it’s no surprise that Europe is home to a spectacular array of Pride events. Famous events take place in many capital cities like Madrid, Paris, and Prague. Christopher Street Day (CSD) in Berlin is among the biggest of these LGBTQ+ celebrations. CSD is divided into several events like the Russian-speaking “Marzahn Pride” street party, the “East Pride Demo,” and “CSD on the Spree.” The biggest city festival in Europe, the “Lesbian-Gay City Festival” is celebrated in mid-July, and one week later, on 23 July, the Pride Parade of the Berlin CSD takes to the streets and journeys across Potsdamer Platz to the iconic Brandenburg Gate with its motto: “United in Love! Against hate, war and discrimination”.
Contrary to popular belief, however, Germany’s largest Pride festival is not to be found in the famously progressive capital, but in the historic city of Cologne. Attracting one million visitors a year, Cologne Pride was the biggest in Europe not so long ago. Sprawling European metropolises such as London have overtaken it recently. On the other end of the scale, however, Reykjavík Pride, “Hinsegin Dagar”, labels itself as the “Biggest Small Pride in the World.” If you’re looking for a really unique Pride experience, Amsterdam takes the idea of parade ‘floats’ literally – every year, this Pride party sails through the city on its network of beautiful canals.
You can find Pride parades of all kinds and sizes all across the world. L.A. Pride was the first officially authorised pro-queer parade worldwide in 1970, whereas the first ever Malawian Pride parade took place in the capital Lilongwe on 26 June 2021. Sydney calls itself the most colourful Pride and runs from February until March. The largest parade in the world takes place in São Paolo in Brazil. Up to three million visitors will meet at the ‘Parada do Orgulho de São Paolo’ on 19June to enjoy a real carnival atmosphere.
Pride celebrations are also scattered across some areas of the Middle East. Tel Aviv Pride is the biggest in the region, indeed the biggest in all of Asia, even though many LGBTQ+ issues are still contentious in Israeli society. Africa’s largest Pride event takes places every year in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Safety Across the Globe
Unfortunately, Pride isn’t always a cause for celebration in certain parts of the world. In over 70 countries across the world, homosexuality is illegal and a criminal act, leading to imprisonment, persecution, or in some cases, the death penalty. In some countries, Pride supporters fight for some of the most basic rights of identity. Here, the crucial activism and core mission of the movement is indescribably important.
LGBTQ+ communities in African and Middle Eastern countries are especially at risk. In Iran, to be outed as a homosexual is punishable by flogging, and in Singapore, intercourse between two members of the same sex was banned in 2020. The death penalty is a threat in Brunei (since 2019), Iran, Yemen, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates. In the vast majority of Africa, with the exceptions being South Africa and Cape Verde, LGBTQ+ rights are extremely narrow in comparison to most of the Western world.
In Eastern European countries such as Belarus, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and Romania, an overwhelmingly negative view on the LGBTQ+ community still prevails. Moreover, Russia is an extremely problematic country when it comes to LGBTQ+ equality. Pride parades have been banned for some time, and 2012 saw the enforcement of litigation that would ban any Pride marches in Moscow for the next 100 years. Strict tightening on the right to assembly also makes organising parades more difficult. The fear of public assault is still very much present in Russia. Here, homophobia is rife in law, politics, and public opinion.
Regions in Transition
Many regions are divided when it comes to gay rights. In the Caribbean, for example, sentences of life imprisonment can be imposed in Jamaica and Barbados, while countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico are safer. South Africa – where same-sex marriage and adoption have been legal since 2006 – stands in stark contrast to almost all other African nations. 2019, saw Taiwan become the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage.
There are, however, a great number of travel destinations that are perfect for LGBTQ+ travellers. These include Gran Canaria and Ibiza, where the Platja d’es Cavallet is very popular. In Mykonos, Super Paradise Beach and Little Venice in the city centre are sensational spots for members of the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, the Greek island of Lesbos is very popular, especially amongst lesbian travellers. It hosts an annual Sappho Women’s Festival every September.
Other suitable destinations include Argentina, Bali, Brazil, Columbia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Uruguay. Did you know that Malta is one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries in the world?
Generally, countries in the western world are more advanced when it comes to acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. Therefore, as an LGBTQ+ identifying person, you are able to travel to and through the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe without problem. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage, and before that, sexual activity between men has been legal since 1811. In 2009, Iceland appointed its first openly homosexual head of state. While violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community still occurs in highly developed countries like Germany, same-sex marriage has been legal for years, and acceptance is steadily increasing.
Pride Month Tips
When travelling, it’s always important to set your own boundaries and remain mindful of them. Even in countries classified as threatening, you are not in direct danger if you behave accordingly. However, it is, of course, always better to be safe than sorry. Always be sure to stay up to date on the current political situation in your destination.
Whether you’re travelling alone or with others, Pride is the perfect chance to meet new people and explore new cities. Combine your parade visit with some sightseeing and get to know the city from a different perspective. You might also meet new people during Pride – it’s a time to get together and celebrate diversity! Pride organisers often post LGBTQ+ hotel recommendations on their pages. This gives you the perfect chance for you to meet like-minded people.
Remember, you don’t have to identify as LGBTQ+ to celebrate Pride! As long as you are open and respectful, everyone is welcome.
Lastly, even if you’re partying hard, don’t forget to eat enough and stay hydrated, especially in the summer. Always take care of yourself, others, and your environment!
Pride Month is a chance for a year-round mentality to be expressed and celebrated for 30 days. Come together to celebrate diversity and tolerance in all its forms, while also fighting against stigmatisation and exclusion. From its roots as protest against oppression, what started as a political demonstration has now become so much more, all thanks to the support of millions of people worldwide. Although equality hasn’t been fully achieved yet, we are united in our continued fight for, and defence of, love. Happy Pride Month!