We all know what summer means: it’s time for Pride again. And that means festivals and a Pride parade, parties and music, dancing and hollering. It means glitter and feathers and sensational garb. It means glorious resistance and standing up for rights, for equality, and for visibility.
This year, we can expect an especially epic Pride season, as 2019 marks 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising. Around the globe, communities are planning larger-than-life events to commemorate this special year of Pride, providing spaces in nearly every region for LGBTQ communities to celebrate, resist, march, dance, and demand change. The party has already started and will last all summer long, even into September. But while we celebrate WorldPride | Stonewall 50 in NYC, there will be Pride celebrations all across the globe! Let’s hit the streets.
This 16-day long festival is the seminal event for LGBTQ folks who are citizens of the European Union. Each year, EuroPride is hosted in a different European city. This year it’s Vienna in a particularly defiant move towards Austria’s failing far-right government. The festival boasts a plethora of events, from a parade with a predicted 1 million participants to a series of conferences on topics that celebrate diversity to gay movie night and even a beach day. Check out all the events here.
Both of these parades are some of the largest in Europe, with marches that have had 60,000 and 55,000 participants respectively. Dublin Pride first began with just 900 protestors in 1983, and Belfast Pride didn’t begin until 1991 with 100 brave marchers. Since then, the movements have flourished and made major legislative strides, including decriminalizing same-sex sexual activity in 1993 and legalizing gay marriage in 2015. Belfast Pride will have a whole weekend of events geared to celebrate LGBTQ folks, help support advocacy organizations, and connect them to those in need. And, of course, a parade. Dublin Pride will likewise be offering an array of events, from a 5K Run to the Different Families, Same Love Awards. And, of course, a parade as well.
Both of these parades are smaller celebrations, but they are symbols of persistent defiance in countries (Bulgaria and Croatia respectively) that remain reticent of LGBTQ equality. Both marches declare that they are directly inspired by the passion shown at the Stonewall Inn in the summer of 1969. Sofia Pride, which drew violent opposition last year, will consist of a march, a party, and a series of concerts by “beloved artists from Bulgaria.” The first Sofia Pride took place in 2008. Zagreb Pride, which began in 2002 and whose activists have brought about both policy and attitude changes, will likewise consist of a huge parade and a musical celebration.
Thank goodness that these magnificent celebrations of LGBTQ pride don’t take place on the same day. This way we don’t have to choose. Milan Pride is notoriously fabulous, as befits a fashion and design capital of the world, and will host a week-long festival of both entertaining and educational events culminating in a joyous parade. Last year, 250,000 attended the festival with an expected increased attendance in 2019. Rome Pride has a unique twist to it being a festival of LGBTQ celebration held just a short distance from the Vatican. This has undoubtedly become less of a tense situation since Pope Francis rolled back some of the Church’s opinions on LGBTQ rights. This year, Rome Pride will have a week of films, dance events, and drag competitions, culminating in a parade that expects 1 million participants.
For more information about European Pride Events, click here.
It makes sense that the world’s largest pride parade would be in the country famous for Carnival. There has been some quibbling over the exact number of participants, but everyone agrees that the São Paulo parade is huge, with organizers estimating some 5 million participants in 2013, and that Rio de Janeiro follows close behind, with an estimated 1.2 million in recent years. It’s especially heartening to imagine millions of LGTBQ folks and allies taking over São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, given Brazil’s conservative, anti-LGBTQ President Bolsonaro’s recent inflammatory statements. Whole swaths of the city are planning events leading up to the parade, with events in LGBTQ identified neighborhoods and in famous gay bars such as The Week for days before the parade kicks off on Consolaçao street.
Buenos Aires Pride (November 2)
Pride season is fall in Argentina, and that’s great because it means that we can keep the party going for a little longer. Buenos Aires had its first Pride Parade in 1991 with just 17 participants! These days, though, it’s a huge event with over 100,000 participants a year. The month of November is dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ culture with a diversity fair, plenty of live music, and even a Queer Tango Festival.
Bogota Pride (June 30)
Bogota, Colombia is definitely a recommended Pride destination as a country with some of the most forward-thinking LGBTQ legislation in South America. While the first Pride Parade in Bogota in 1982 with only 32 participants, the lawmakers in this country have been moving insistently forward, resulting in equality on most matters from marriage to adoption to military service. Likewise, laws have been passed criminalizing discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual identity. There’s a lot to celebrate in Bogota this June 30th!
For more information about Latin American Pride Events, click here.
Johannesburg Pride (October 26)
Every fall, Johannesburg hosts South Africa’s oldest and biggest Pride Parade, dating back to 1990. Since then, other Pride celebrations have been initiated, with the second largest being held in February or March of each year in Cape Town and other, smaller celebrations beginning in the early 2000s across the country. This is one of the few Pride festivals in Africa, and it’s a full-on festival replete with drag shows, fashion events, and live music.
Uganda Pride (TBD)
Organizers in Uganda fully intend on holding Pride events this year, although where and when has yet to be determined. These tremendous activists are unwilling to stand down in the face of threats, violence, and police crackdowns that have resulted in events being prematurely shut down, not to mention injuries sustained by LGBTQ protestors and attendees. Still, in 2018, the Ugandans held a Pride event and they have every intention of holding another one in 2019. Stay tuned for more details.
Last year saw the first ever Pride parade in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), amid fears of protest and angry retribution. Thankfully, none of the predictions of violence came to pass and the parade was instead a day of joy and love. This was a major achievement in a country whose leader, King Mswati III, has reportedly declared homosexuality to be Satanic. The organizers aim to hold a second annual Swazi Pride. Date and location to be announced soon.
For more information about Pride events in Africa, click here.
Tel Aviv’s extravagant beach-driven festival will be one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world with over 250,000 participants, not to mention the most stable parade in the Middle East. Tel-Aviv is an oasis of liberality in a region not known for LGBTQ tolerance. Even within Israel, other parades have seen protests and extreme violence, but Tel Aviv remains a beacon of celebration. The parade itself will take place June 14th, culminating in a spectacular beach party with live music and events hosted by local organizations. Throughout the week, the city will host cultural events and workshops led by LGBTQ community leaders. The Jerusalem Pride parade, which remains contentious, will kick-off Pride in Israel with a march on the theme of “Pride and Tolerance.” Organizers regularly receive threats as they plan for this considerably smaller parade, but, despite recent violence and attacks, remain firm in their resolve to march through the city’s center in support of LGBTQ rights.
Both of these strongholds of LGBTQ Pride in China will be celebrating and demanding equality with multiple events geared at educating, galvanizing, and empowering the communities in their respective cities. Shanghai Pride events include a film festival, a Pride run, open discussions, and (of course) some amazing parties. Hong Kong Pride will be a parade with a predicted 10,000 participants with the aim of educating the public by being visible and raising awareness of the diversity of the community.
Seoul Queer Culture Festival (May 21-June 9)
For the past 19 years, Seoul has been hosting Korea’s largest (and for many years only) LGBTQ Pride event. The festival, which last two weeks, features a film festival, a lecture series, a giant parade with roughly 120,000 participants, and an iconic “Pink Dot” event, borrowed from the festival with the same name in Singapore. At this massive gathering, participants wear pink and hold pink lights up to the night sky in solidarity with the LGBTQ communities of Korea.
Singapore Pink Dot Festival (June 29)
The Pink Dot Festival, so called in reference to the “Red Dot” in the center of the Singaporean flag, has been a celebration of love for the past eleven years in Hong Lim Park. The festival’s organizers do a lot of outreach, including encouraging LGBTQ folks to share their stories in order to increase visibility and understanding among the community (such as in this video or this video). Since its inception, Pink Dot events have proliferated around the world reaching places as far as London and Utah. The festival will feature a live concert and events hosted by local community partner groups.
For more information about Pride events in Asia, click here.