Second Prague Pride festival draws thousands in Czech capital

20-08-2012

Thousands of people joined in Saturday’s Prague Pride parade though the streets of the Czech capital, in the second instalment of the festival. The march was the climax of the week-long festival of sexual minorities which was bigger – and raised less controversy – than its debut last year.

Photo: Kristýna MakováPhoto: Kristýna Maková Crowds of enthusiastic people dressed in all colours of the rainbow took to the streets of the Czech capital on Saturday, marching from Wenceslas Square to one of the islands on the Vltava River. Czech and foreign gays, lesbians as well as straight people wanted to make their voices heard and express their pride along the way, in front of thousands of onlookers and several dozen protestors. I asked some of the estimated 15,000 participants what they thought of the event.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve just joined in the march with one of my friends. It’s great fun.”

“I think that people should have their right to choose a way how to live their lives. I think one of our major concerns is that the gay couples should have the right to adopt, I suppose.”

“I am a Christian, and I want to say out loud that Christianity doesn’t view homosexuality in negative way.”

“It’s really cool. As you can see, everybody is here: the homosexuals, bisexual or the heterosexual people. All of them are here.”

By three o’clock on sunny Saturday afternoon, the Prague Pride march reached Střelecký Island where a music festival got underway and lasted until the night. The Prague Pride festival officially concluded on Sunday with a religious service in the Protestant Church of St Martin in the Wall.

The festival’s director Czeclaw Walek says that compared to last year, the Prague Pride 2012 was bigger but also more spontaneous.

“People were much more creative in terms of costumes, in terms of colours on their faces. Last year, people still didn’t know what to expect. They came being afraid. But this year, I think, everybody knew what to expect so it was really much more colourful. I think, what was different, definitely, from the last year, was the programme. We really focused on the minorities within the minority. But what I am really happy about is that people came at all. People were interested and, basically, we had full-house in every event. And we had more than eight events!”

Czeslaw Walek (right), photo: Kristýna MakováCzeslaw Walek (right), photo: Kristýna Maková Despite opposition from some Czech politicians – including President Václav Klaus – and various conservative groups, the festival seems to have taken root in Prague. Mr Walek says the organizers will have to step up make sure next year’s instalment is just as successful.

“What I truly know is that we pushed our limits to the complete edge. We have to rethink how to do it because if you are a volunteer, you do your work to get some kind of joy out of it. I saw my team on Sunday and I couldn’t see a single pinch of joy. So we have to rethink how to do it.”

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