Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The city's LGBT community celebrates the fourth annual Prague Pride

Prague Daily Monitor |
29 July 2014

Prague Pride returns to the city for the fourth time this August with a brand new theme.

The predominant theme of Prague Pride 2014 is the differences and similarities between countries in the East and West and will promote the plight of LGBT communities in less tolerant countries.

“The main focus of this year’s Prague Pride is bridging the gap between East and West and giving attention to oppressed LGBT communities in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia,” says Willem van der Bas, International Relations Manager for Prague Pride.

“Though we are focusing on these countries due to their proximity to Prague, we really want to give attention to all countries where LGBT communities face oppression.”

To ensure that the LGBT communities of Ukraine and Russia are represented at this year’s Prague Pride, the organisers have come up with a unique way of getting involved. LGBT communities from other countries can register via an online portal to receive a ‘live avatar’ – a person attending Prague Pride that will represent them and send pictures, short videos and commentary from the event. Residents of Prague can register as an Avatar at http://lgbtavatars.eu/.

Prague Pride 2014 will also include events such as Pride Voices, a programme which will see international and influential members of LGBT communities from all over the world talk about their individual situations. For the second year many events will be centred around Prague Pride Village - a designated space in Prague, which will be held at Containall near the Charles Bridge, and will feature a daily programme of shows, exhibitions and performances from 10 am to 10 pm.

Since Prague Pride’s inception in 2011, Willem has seen the event evolve and gain wider recognition by not only the residents of Prague, but also the Czech media.

“Our theme last year was all about coming out. What I really liked about Prague Pride 2013 was that the media really picked up on the topic of coming out and a lot of heterosexuals got the opportunity to learn that coming out isn’t easy,” says Willem. “I think we also saw that the press is becoming less sceptical about Prague Pride – they are now acknowledging that it really has a purpose in Czech society.”

And with each year that Prague Pride takes place, Willem is seeing a growing amount of support for the event.

“We are starting to rely less on grants and more on commercial sponsors and it’s great to have the backing of several Czech companies. For example, Staropramen will be sponsoring us for the second time this year,” explains Willem. “Even though they were on the receiving end of an extremist backlash when they sponsored us in 2013, they are still sponsoring us again this year.”

Willem believes that unlike many western Pride events that may focus more on the celebratory aspects of the event Prague Pride still retains a political purpose.

“What I really like about Prague Pride is that while every Pride event across the world has its own benefit, a number of them are more about partying than social issues. Whereas Prague Pride’s advantage is that it focuses on both LGBT rights as well as celebrating our freedoms – which gets it some really good press in the international media,” says Willem.

He has high hopes for Prague Pride 2014 in light of its growing profile year by year.

“Last year 20,000 people attended the Prague Pride parade and if we could achieve that number again this year I’d be more than happy,” says Willem. “I hope this year’s parade will be more colourful than ever. Its purpose is to show that the LGBT community is very diverse and vibrant – and we expect that this will be reflected in the parade.”