The international term ‘Pride’ denotes a series of events that may range from ordinary gatherings to parades, floats and parties. They concern the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) population, who are publicly demanding the dignity that every person should feel in regard to their sexual identity, while also openly celebrating their diversity and culture. At the same time, these events are an expression of the demands of this social group, with the main goal of eradicating negative stereotypes that prevail in the thoughts and actions of many people.
‘Pride’ began as an anniversary event, commemorating an incident that took place in New York on June 28, 1969. On that day, policemen raided a gay bar named the Stonewall Inn, on the pretext of illegal alcohol sales, during a series of consecutive raids in similar bars in the area, while general abuse of gay and transsexual persons was commonplace.
The arrests and violence that ensued enraged the people outside the bar, who attacked the police vehicles with rocks, bottles, even trashcans. A large crowd then gathered to demonstrate and, as a result, clashes with police continued over the following days and nights.
The next month, gay activists distributed flyers demanding a mass “gathering for gay liberation”. The alliance formed during this meeting adopted the name ‘Gay Liberation Front’. Its demands included a stop to police harassment, protection at the workplace, abolition of sodomy laws and the enactment of legislation against discrimination.
Other protest rallies ensued and gay and lesbian rights organisations were formed throughout the United States. This was considered to be the first modern LGBTI movement.
The following year, the ‘Stonewall march’ took place to commemorate the event, while also being a protest against the discrimination and violence suffered by gays, lesbians and transsexuals in New York City. In the strictest sense of the term, this could be considered the first Pride event ever held.
In 1999, on the 30th anniversary of the New York events, the Stonewall Inn was declared a National Historic Landmark, while on the 40th anniversary, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, declared June 2009 to be LGBTI Pride Month.
Over the years, the anniversary took on a celebratory character, initially spreading to other American cities and, subsequently, to numerous other countries, mainly in the Western world, while June 28 was established as Gay Pride Day. For this reason, most Pride events are held in June throughout the world.
The most popular Pride events around the world are those held in New York, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Rome, Madrid, Sidney, etc., but smaller events are also held in other cities. In recent years, it has spread to cities such as Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Istanbul, Manila, Taipei, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Sofia and Zagreb.
The 80s and 90s
The first attempt to hold a Pride event in Greece was made by AKOE (Greek Gay Liberation Movement) on 28 June 1980 in Athens, characterising the event as a cultural one, and was repeated 2 years later at the Zappeion building. It was 10 years before similar events were held again, mostly following private initiatives (Strefi Hill 1992, 1994, 1995, Field of Mars 1993, 1996 and at indoor venues 1998 and 1999). At the same time, similar events were held on the waterfront of Thessaloniki by OPOTh (Homosexuals’ Initiative of Thessaloniki) and the magazine ‘O Pothos’.
Since 2005, ‘Athens Pride’ has been held every year in June in the centre of Athens (Klafthmonos Square), with great success and ever-increasing participation.
EuroPride και WorldPride
In the early 1990s, EuroPride was established. It is the main pride festival of the European continent hosted by a different city each year, which becomes the de facto European LGBTI capital.
The title of WorldPride was also established later, in 200, being the similar event at the international level. It was initially held every 6 years, with Rome being the first host city. Today it is a biannual event. Madrid is the next WorldPride host city (2017).