The Walk with Pride Project
This is a gay issue.
This is a straight issue.
This is a human rights issue.
Walk With Pride (WWP) is a project to photograph and document gay pride parades around the globe. Our aim is to promote pride, empathy, and understanding on an international level, while highlighting the similarities and differences in gay rights and gay culture around the world.
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Tag Archives: GayFest
Bucharest had its’ pride march this Saturday – making it the country’s 6th. Unlike this morning when it down poured on the right-wing nationalists’ march, the sun was out and everyone seemed in positive spirits for the start of the GayFest event. Different than the past two marches the WWP project has visited, both Lithuania’s Baltic Pride and Belarus’s Slavic Pride – which were struggling to hold their first ever pride marches, this event was very different. There didn’t seem to be any anxiety or nervous tension among those who gathered to participate, just energy to begin the gay celebration.
The location for the GayFest march was very safe, but also isolated. While the two anti-homosexuality marches, “March for Families” and “March for Normality” walked from Revolution Square to Union Square down the main streets of Bucharest, and thus attracting attention from bystanders, this march went along the closed off streets of Union Square. While marching next to empty buildings kept those that disagreed with homosexuality away, this also meant that there were few people to witness the pride, besides the participants and the media.
Around 400 people were in attendance, with most of those participating in the event proudly displaying rainbow pride symbols, costumes, or Mardi Gras face masks. The British Council is a major sponsor of the pride activities in Bucharest, so there were a number of supporters from that organization who participated, all easily identifiable in red shirts. The media was in full force as the pride march geared up, with cameras and videos targeting the most colorful and unconventionally dressed participants.
Along the broad empty streets of Bucharest’s Union Square there was a gay celebration, and people had a good time. A DJ led the procession, as participants danced and smiled, waved rainbow flags and shot silly string. On reaching the huge Parliament Palace, a relic from the Communist era, speeches were given by Michael Cashman, a gay member of the EU Parliament, and Rev. Diane Fischer, from the US branch of the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church), both saying how pleased they were that Romania was able to have GayFest, and to be free to celebrate diversity.
While there were few banners dealing with Human Rights issues, or advocacy slogans being chanted, I did see a lot of people free to express themselves. This is a freedom that so many countries still deny members the LGBT community.
Romania is making progress toward acceptance, or at least tolerance of sexual minority groups, despite the small counter rallies held against the march. And, this really was a celebration, so different than the struggles that took place last week in Minsk.
However, personally I can’t help thinking how it’s still a shame that the march is hidden away and out of public view … with only the media available to bring a dramatized and distorted view to those in the general public.
Anyway, we were feeling optimistic as we left the march, glad the LGBT community had the freedom to hold the event. As Chad and I turned the corner back onto a main city street, a little blonde boy, no more than 8yrs old, runs up and shoves a bunch of sheets of paper in our hands before running off to rejoin his father who and siblings who are waiting for him. One of the sheets was in English …
We almost missed the counter-march by the ‘New Right’ Romania Nationalist group. Walking back from breakfast, the morning of the GayFest march, we spotted some young men with shaved heads and large signs depicting homophobic messages. They were just beginning their march from Revolution Square, through a mile of city streets, to Union Square.
I would say there was a small crowd of about 100-150 people in attendance. Their march was called – the “March for Normality”. Many were dressed in large black boots, shaved heads, military style camo-pants, and black shirts etched with the image of a white Celtic cross, they looked intimidating. However, as we were told beforehand by members of the LGBT community, this group isn’t necessarily violent, and being a nationalist organization with a variety of issues that concern it, not just homosexuality, they usually only put on a demonstration against LGBT people maybe once a year, and leave the community alone during the rest of the time.
More energetic than Friday’s “March for Families,” these men, and some women, strode down the main streets of Bucharest, as the rain poured down, to deliver their message against homosexuality. Following an old car with an oversized speaker hanging out the rear, the group was led in chants and hate-slogans. As the rain increased the participants yelled in victory – hoping this would mean difficulties for the afternoon’s pride march.