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.
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Anti – Pride
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