Over the past weekend, HotSaltBeef&Mustard popped in at the Brooklyn Gay Pride Street Fair, in New York City. It was a beautiful day of celebration where a cross-section of the borough’s business, community and city-wide organizations lined six blocks of 5th Avenue between 3rd street and 9th street with the aim to commemorate, educate, promote and celebrate the spirit of the Stonewall Riots, which gave birth to the Gay Rights Movement.
Last week, in the article ‘Gay Pride Or Just Another Street Party?‘, we asked the question, Why do we still celebrate Gay Pride? to few members of the Jewish LGBT community. Not surprisingly, most of the people we spoke to felt that Gay Pride still played a very important role in the LGBT community.
This week we continued asking members of the Jewish LGBT community what their sentiments are over Gay Pride celebrations:
“I will be going to Pride but on the march only as the get-together in Trafalgar Square is not as good as it used to be years ago. Pride means less than it used to, but I still think it is essential to make a statement and show our presence… We cannot become complacent as homophobia is still widespread. The participation in the march of the Police, the Fire Brigade and the Armed Forces, all still very reactionary bodies, is both moving and important and I admire the courage of these individuals to come out publicly.”
— David Rubin, Retired Head of Modern Languages
“I will indeed be going to London Pride this year. For me it’s important to remember that there is still homophobia in the Jewish community and Anti- Semitism in the LGBT community and many people cannot live peacefully whilst these forces are still vocal. I also think it’s important to remember that although London Pride is generally a big party nowadays, there are still injustices to address.”
— Dave Shaw, Marketing Manager & Co Chair for Keshet UK
“I will be heading to London pride this year, hopefully representing the Young Jewish Lesbians Group. The means a lot to me because it’s the one time of year we can all come together as a community to celebrate and raise awareness of different lifestyles. There certainly still is a need for a Pride march, not just for the purpose of creating visibility in London and the UK but to represent our brothers and sisters around the globe who still might be living in fear of being persecuted because of their sexuality.”
— Evey Sugarman
“…For me Pride or Gay pride is the revolution of sexual diversity where all of us must have the equality in rights.Yes Pride march must be celebrate every year. I believe that the Annual Pride march is not all about the lavish floats, extravagant costumes and loud music but also a reminder that we should appreciate each other’s differences.”
— Hershey Streisand
“Pride to me means celebrating the diversity of London and the rest of the world. It means fun, creativity, listening to other peoples experiences\story’s\struggles and learning from them, laughter and having a good day out. There is still unfortunately a need to try and change hearts and minds and show that gay people are no different than other people. I am a disabled, wheel chair using, dyslexic, bisexual Jew. I have been homeless and lived\live below the poverty line. I am part of many different minority’s and I know what it’s like to have people hate you and say offensive or just stupid ignorant things for no other reason than for who and what you are. It hurts and it makes you angry. All minorities should be able to celebrate and share their culture… Pride is a wonderful thing: it’s not just about politics and protesting. It’s about celebrating…”
— Dani Neumann
“I think of Pride as an opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievements of the LGBT community and raise awareness of what still needs to be done more broadly in society to achieve full equality. There is still a huge value in Pride, and I think that for young people struggling with their identity, the celebratory tone of Pride can be a transformative thing to experience.”
— Alma Reisel, Trainee Social Worker
It seems that in the majority of case, Pride is still embedded as a part of our unbreakable LGBT spirit. Evident to this this fact is the nearly 500 Gay Pride events that took place globally, in 2012. Nine out of ten were held in Europe or North America. São Paulo’s, the world’s largest Gay Pride, attracts more than 3million participants and around $75million in tourist revenues annually.
Perhaps more inspiring, is the 500+ LGBT people who marched in Taiwan’s first Gay Pride in 2003, many wearing masks. Nine years later 65,000 joined the same event, which was as festive and shirtless as those in New York or San Francisco. In 2012 activists rode through Minsk, Belarus, in a tram festooned with Gay Pride rainbow flags and Albanians took to their bikes for the Tirana Gay (P)Ride. Rallies are banned in China, so Shanghai’s event features a Pride Run instead and in Europe, Cyprus celebrated its first ever Gay Pride on 31 May 2014. That’s awesome!
Yet, much as we show ourselves and as much as attitudes are changing, the so-called ‘liberal sentiments’ of countries like the UK and US are not shared everyone. Despite the pulling-power of São Paulo’s Gay Pride, in Brazil in 2012, according to Grupo Gay da Bahia, an advocacy organisation, 338 people were murdered in homophobic hate crimes.
Last October the first Pride parade in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, had almost 2,000 police protecting 150 LGBT marchers from ten times as many protesters. Ukraine’s first Pride, in May 2013, also featured a heavy police presence.
When Birgitta Ohlsson — Sweden’s Minister for European Union Affairs — spoke at the 2013 Lithuania’s Gay Pride, she was pelted with eggs… In 2013, was the third consecutive year that Serbian authorities refused to allow a Pride march, fearing a repeat of the violence that marred Belgrade’s first, in 2010.
The fact remains, in many places Gay Pride marches are almost unthinkable. In 2012 only seven marches took place in the 87 countries that are the most hostile towards LGBT people. A case in point is the LGBT Ugandans who publicly marched together for the first time in 2012 amidst their parliament mulling over imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. By contrast the main threat for revellers in the Washington Gay Pride — nearly 40 years old and one of the city’s biggest attractions — is the summer heat…
For those of us who can freely celebrate who we are the tone and reason for joining the fray and fanfare might have changed since 44 years ago, however we need to be mindful of the fact that Pride will always be so much more than just another street party. For the sake of those who are still silenced and pushed back into the closet, our solidarity is part of their liberation and being visible on the streets is pivotal in exposing and challenging and defeating those people who would, if they had half a chance, keep us down for ever and a day.
** Written by Francois Lubbe and Shiraaz Chaim Sidat