Tag Archives: Parade

Jerusalem Pride – July 29, 2010

Thousands marched in the Holy Land on Thursday as part of the Jerusalem LGBT equality march.

There were no floats and no DJs, as this year’s Jerusalem March was being held in remembrance for the 2 people tragically killed at last year’s LGBT youth center shooting in Tel Aviv.  An estimated 1,500 police were in attendance, more as a preventative measure, as protests were minor.

Participants marched from Independence Park to the Parliament building, where a rally was held asking the government to promote equality and help end the violence toward Israel’s LGBT community.

See Images of Jerusalem Pride and of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance at:

http://wwpbehindthephotos.wordpress.com
(Jerusalem Pride)

Jerusalem Pride March 2010
http://wwpbehindthephotos.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/jerusalem-pride/

Budapest Pride – July 10, 2010

It was incredibly hot and sunny for Budapest Pride.  However, that didn’t stop almost 1,000 people turning out for Pride.

While previous marches were held in public view, since the violence of the 2007 and 2008 Budapest Prides, the march now takes place on a closed off section of one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Andrassy Street.  Ahead of the event, organizers were in disputes with police over the length of the Pride.  While last year they were allowed to walk down the entire length of the street, this year they could only go half-way.  The police said due to flooding problems in the South of Hungary, they didn’t have enough gates to block off the whole street.

Budapest Pride Andrassy Street

Andrassy Street before the Pride

Chad and I set off around 9 in the morning to watch the gates being set up (on half of Andrassy).  We also watched them install some video cameras along the Pride route.  Around 11am, police in full riot gear turned out.  I can guess this must have been really unbearable in the July heat, as I was baking in a tee-shirt and jeans.

Budapest Pride Police

Police putting on riot gear to get ready for Budapest Pride 2010

One of the difficulties of having a closed off Pride March is deciding who to let in.  And, unfortunately, a few people who would later cause a minor disruption of the Pride procession were mistakenly let in, as well as three completely wasted individuals that proceeded to give television interviews while falling over drunk (and in general made asses out of themselves).

The march started around 4p, after the arrival of a large decorated float with music blasting from speakers onboard.  About a thousand people, including quite a few heterosexual supporters, marched down Andrassy Street.  I noticed several signs against homophobia, and against fascism.  The event reminded me very much of Romania’s GayFest, as people walked and danced down a big empty street.

Budapest Pride

Everything was going fine and was very festive until 4 right-wingers who had infiltrated the pride took a stand in front of the truck.  Not wanting to run anyone down, whoever was driving the truck decided to stop, and the police rushed out to arrest the skinheads.  However, this did cause a minor disruption to the procession, and organizers decided to turn back the march at that point as it was nearly to the end of the route anyway.

The speeches for this Pride took place before the event, so when the march had returned to the starting point those on the organizing committee began ushering participants into the closed-off metro, where police would escort them to safe exit points away from the event.  This was good in theory, but they chose to use the metro entrance right in front of those demonstrating against the Pride, instead of any of the previous 4 empty stops on the closed off street.

Budapest  metro

As you might guess the right-wing protestors just a metal barrier away from those participating in the Pride march began chanting anti-homophobic slogans.  Pride participants would respond with chants against homophobia and fascism.  While the police outside the gate kept trying to quiet the skin heads and other protestors, the volunteer organizers inside the gated area tried to do the same – encouraging people to be silent and not to provoke the protestors.

The organizers had just fears concerning safety, however this still didn’t go over well as many who had come to participate in Budapest Pride wanted to speak up and demonstrate against homophobia.  The photo below shows one young man trying to hold out his rainbow flag, as organizers link hands and try to push him away from the barricade.

Budapest Pride Rainbow

On September 4th those opposing the pride have promised to hold their own heterosexual march down Andrassy Street.

To view more images check out the WWP: Behind the Photos blog

http://wwpbehindthephotos.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/budapest-pride-july-10-2010/

London is Full of Pride!

It was clear from the beginning that London Pride would be a different experience than most of the Prides we’ve documented so far in the ‘Walk with Pride’ Project.  Thousands of people are expected to participate in the Pride, with several hundred of thousands more coming to watch.

We arrived 3 hours early and the preparations were already in full swing.  Buses lined Baker Street, and the work of ‘glamming’ them had started.  People walked around in crazy outfits, free to wear how much or how little they’d like.  While London Pride does have a big festive party atmosphere feel, there is another side that concerns rights and social issues.  There were many organizations present supporting different social projects, and groups raising awareness concerning the troubles face by LGBT communities in Africa and the Middle East.  Chad’s photos fro this Pride try to show this contrast, as he switches between portraits of those in costume, and those promoting social issues.  It’s something a little different, but we hope you Enjoy …!

London Pride Queen
Http://wwpbehindthephotos.wordpress.com
(Pride London)

Going to London Pride

Leaving Sofia, Bulgaria, we’ve headed to the United Kingdom, so that on Saturday we can attend Pride London.  This Pride is a little different from some of the others we’ve documented as it is so huge.  Last year’s Pride march had 1 million people attending.

While for the smaller Prides we usually spend the week before a Pride getting to know the organizers and documenting the preparations, for this parade we’ve gotten a little beak.  So the past few days we’ve been visiting a friend who lives in Wales.  After documenting 11 prides so far this year, it’s been more than nice to get a few days break.

Doing this project we’ve experienced all kinds of Prides, from  marches just starting out and fighting to be able to publicly share their pride, to those that have become big festive parades.  As you can guess, London Pride is the latter.  While it is easy to sensationalize Prides like this, as outrageous customs are very much the norm, our plan is to focus on portraits.  Doing this, our desire is to keep attention on individuals.  We just hope it doesn’t rain!

For more information on London Pride: http://www.pridelondon.org/

First St. Petersburg Pride taking place June 26, 2010

While the WWP project is in Sofia, Bulgaria, this weekend for the pride march, we will unfortunately be missing St. Petersburg Pride in Russia, the city’s first.  Like Moscow pride, this event has been banned by the government and under threat from national extremists.  In addition, no foreign consulates have showed any support against the human rights violations taking place.

Despites threats of violence the pride march will stake place this Saturday, June 26.

Please know, Our thoughts are with you, and we hope for a safe Pride!

The organizers of the Pride are currently collecting signatures for an open letter to the the Government Representatives of the Russian Federation –

If you have a moment, and value Human-Rights please take a second to sign this.

Saint Petersburg LGBT Pride

Preparing for Sofia Pride

In just a few days Sofia will have its 3rd Pride march, which means both supporters and protesters of the Pride are getting ready.  There has been a flurry of letter writing on both sides, which has been appearing in the local and international media.  From those opposed, a joint declaration was issued by 25 Bulgarian organizations condemning the Pride, while letters of support and solidarity concerning Sofia Pride have arrived from several foreign Ambassadors and international LGBT groups.

This morning we joined Marko and another LGBT activist at the National Bulgarian radio station as one of the radio programs was going to focus on the upcoming Pride.  A representative from a local family-values group (who looked to be in his early 20s) also arrived at the show to provide the opposing viewpoint.

National Bulgarian Radio

National Bulgarian Radio

This young man, who claimed not to be a homophobe, but instead a “concerned citizen”, came prepared with many “facts” concerning homosexuality, including that those in the LGBT community live 20 years less, 70% have AIDS, and that legalizing prostitution is core on the gay agenda.  He therefore concluded that their choice to be gay was illogical (!) Again, what is admirable about Marko and his friend, as well as many of the activists we’ve met during this trip, instead of getting angry at this idiocy they instead tried to talk reasonably with him.  It didn’t work as it concerned him, but they did present a reasonable counter-argument for the radio program.

When the organizers for the Pride are not being kept busy doing awareness and promotion within the community, they still have a mass of other activities to do to get ready for the Pride.  While we left Marko after the radio show, we met up with more members of the Sofia organizing committee that afternoon as they prepared signs and had a security briefing.

Sofia Pride 2010

Sitting around a laptop, the group of 12-15 volunteers watched footage of the 2008 Pride where Molotov cocktails had been thrown.  Photos of some of the main aggressors against the Pride were passed around, and strategies discussed on how to deal with the opposition.  To add insult to injury, not only do they have to deal with these hateful individuals that wish them harm, but they have to personally pay the city police to protect them from these guys.  This is a serious problem as the cost for the needed police protection (caused by the aggressive protestors) runs in the thousands of Euros!  Not easy for a small Pride.  Already they have been forced to cut the length of the march and afterwards gathering by half, down from 4 hours to only 2 hours, because of the cost for police.

While only days before the main pride event, the group is still raising money to cover some of the necessities.  (see here for more details)

Zagreb Pride 2010 – June 19, 2010

Zagreb Pride was energetic and colorful, with over 500 participants in attendance.  While outrageous costumes are not the norm for this pride, there were lots of rainbows and balloons to give the event a festive feel.  The march route started at a large square in town – the “square of the victims of fascism”, and went along city street to Zagreb’s main square (where the anti-Pride march was taking place), before it headed South to end up in a big park – Park Ponosa.

With the sound of beating drums, whistles, and Pride cheers, the march proudly proceeded by watching bystanders toward Zagreb’s main square.  Police in riot gear walked next to participants, forming a moving blockade around the group.  The city had granted permission for members of the youth faction of a right-wing group to protest in the main square.  Made up of around 60 teenagers and young adults, these anger filled youths yelled oaths and obscenities at the marchers.  The police had wanted the march to go on the far South side of the square, behind the kiosks, and far away from the anti-gay protesters.  However, the pride leaders refused and won the right to march proudly in the streets of Zagreb’s main square, instead of the far sidewalk.  While the protesters were kept back by a metal barricade and a human barricade made up of police, there was still a defining moment during the pride when the two sides faced off.

When the Pride first reach the main square it halted, as the parade spread out so participants could look upon the haters.  The marchers chanted and blew whistles, with several raising two fingers to display the peace sign.  Those against the march, and the people in it, raised their fingers in a different gesture, shouted obscenities, and I saw one guy showing his dissatisfaction by unbuttoning his pants to flash marchers.  This whole scene lasted only a few minutes, before the Pride started up again and continued down another block.

At this point some of the protestors tried to follow the Pride by making a dash through the inside of mall, but were stopped by police, with some being arrested.  Caught on tape, there is a footage of one of these homophobic kids telling the police that if he is arrested his mother would kill him at home (a rough translation), at which point he was brutally kicked in the head.  Note: The officials of Zagreb Pride have come out to condemn this action, labeling it as disgusting behavior.

At the fenced off park, the Pride ended with speeches and music.  There was a release in tension as the march had successfully ended.  Unfortunately, it also gave a false sense of security, as the whole thing isn’t really over, especially as the right-wing youths filled with aggression aren’t ready to give up and go home for the night.

At the park I had talked with a Bosnian girl who had grown up in San Francisco, she had left the park to go get some food with two Norwegian guys – tourists that hadn’t know about the Pride before, but had decided to join in.  Later that night when we returned to the artist collective for the after party we saw her again, they had been attacked.  Eleven young guys had jumped them from behind, punching and kicking all three.  That same evening two other local participants of Zagreb Pride were attacked by young thugs who recognized them from the Pride.  It such a shame that such a positive event is marred by violence, and the huge cowardice of these attacks.

However, I’d like to think not of the haters, but the several people I spoke with who were attending this as their first Pride after coming out, and how much participating in this event had really meant to them, and to all those there in support of pride.

Here are some more videos:

Anti – Pride

Pictures coming soon to our main website,
http://walkwithpridenow.com

And, if you like our work, don’t forget to join us on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/WWPproject

Goodbye Moscow, Hello Athens

It was bitter sweet leaving Moscow.  We’d become quite close with many of the Moscow and Belorussian activists, and it was a little sad saying goodbye to these new friends.

Participants and Supporters of Moscow Pride

However, our next stop is Athens Pride 2010.

On Monday morning we took a very crowded Moscow train out to Sheremetyevo airport headed to Athens, Greece.

This will be the 6th year of the parade.  Unlike past years, the Pride is experiencing some of the ripple effects from the debt crisis.  A protesting Greek worker’s union started planning a demonstration for the same day and time as the already booked Pride festival.  This has caused the Pride organizers to push back the times of the scheduled Pride events.

Out of respect for the very serious issue of social claims, we cancel all our actions from 11.00 to 15.00 on Saturday.

Because of the gloomy state of Greece, the IMF and the “Troika” of uncertainty and frustration, we join our voices with those that fight for a better and fairer Greece.

~ Press Release from Athens Pride.eu

The march will still go on, as organizers realize it is an important political statement to make even in times of financial crisis.  Unfortunately, this means the Pride also faces criticisms from those that don’t understand the importance of these issues.

Baltic Pride 2010 – Vilnius, Lithuania

In a month and a half from now, the “Walk With Pride” project will travel to Eastern Europe to photograph gay pride marches.  Our first stop will be Baltic Pride 2010 in Vilnius, Lithuania (May 8).

Baltic Pride is a joint effort between LGBT organizations in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  Last year’s Baltic Pride was held in Riga, and faced serious issues as the Riga City Council revoked permission to march only 2 days before the march was to take place.  However, a last minute court injunction the morning before the Saturday march overturned the council’s ban and allowed the pride march to take place.  Almost 600 people marched during last year’s Baltic Pride in support of LGBT rights and against discrimination.  Around 70 yellow shirted activists from Amnesty International were also among those present.  Here’s a video from last year’s march, which you can see as part of the 2010 Pride Parade Calendar.

While this year’s Baltic Pride is scheduled to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania, it is also facing the risk of a government ban.  While the organizers have received a permit to hold a peaceful march, legal requests have been made to the Lithuanian Attorney General to cancel Baltic Pride as they say it would violate a new law concerning “Protection of Minors Against Harmful Public Information.“

Unfortunately, the marches held in this region currently face many prejudices, including threats of violence and the risk of cancelation.  This makes the strong efforts of the LGBT organizations operating in this area very inspiring as they work under more challenging circumstances.

For up-to-date information you can visit the Baltic Pride website, or become a Baltic Pride fan on Facebook.

Photographing Sydney’s Mardi Gras – Part 1

(Travel Experiences of WWP Photographer ~ Charles Meacham)

I arrived back in Taipei from Sydney over two weeks ago, and the daze still hasn’t fully worn off.  I can still see, hear, and feel Mardi Gras.  I close my eyes and find myself back on Oxford Street in the middle of all that sound and color.  For me, the best part of being a photographer is coming up with an idea and then making that idea happen.  The experience of being exactly where you want to be, at the exact time you want to be there is an incredible feeling.  But as any photographer will tell you, not everyday is fun, and Sydney was no exception.

I arrived in Oz the day before one of Mardi Gras biggest events, Fair Day.  Over 70,000 people were expected to show up at Sydney’s Victoria Park, and I was looking forward to a day of shooting and getting to meet different members of the community that I had been in contact with via email.  But  that morning getting to Victoria Park was a bit of a hassle.  As I had written before, my hotel, which advertised being a LGBT and Mardi Gras supporter, knew nothing about the event or where it was being held.  Going out onto one of the main streets in Sydney, two taxi drivers swore they had never heard of Victoria Park, and that I must have the name wrong.  Finally, with the help of the police, I made my way there.  There was not a cloud in the sky, and the Aussie sun was out in full force.  Jet lagged and sunburnt, I found it hard to focus my attention and get into any kind of rhythm.  I took pictures, but not anywhere the number I had hoped.

Sydney Mardi Gras

Two days later, I came across a magazine article that talked about a right-wing christian protest held a few days before the main parade during a church service.  The event looked fairly large, so I checked some local maps, found the church, and prepared to go there to photograph the service.  Getting there was not as easy as I thought, as I was directed to board the wrong train and missed the whole thing.  For me this was 0/2 and you can really start getting down on yourself.  It cost a lot of money to get to OZ, and not to produce would be a pretty big blow to the project, and to my morale.

The next event was the actual parade, and the pressure was on.

Sydney’s Mardi Gras is by far the largest, most organized event that I have yet photographed for the WWP project, and having the opportunity to be a part of it all was a truly unforgettable  life experience.  There were press passes, press meetings, police barricades, lots and lots of other photographers, news channels, etc..etc.  The true enormity of it hits you as you look out at the huge crowds gathered.

Crowd at Sydney Mardi Gras

Let me just say, I felt much better about the trip after my experience photographing the parade and Harbour Day.  I’ll write more about these events soon, and check the WWP Flickr account for new photos from Sydney.

Pride Image of Sydney Mardi Gras