Each summer, LGBT communities around the world come together to celebrate Pride, a festival that is all about love, inclusion and protesting discrimination and bigotry in all its forms. I live in London, thankfully a relatively liberal city where being LGBT won’t cause you too many problems. Sadly there are still millions of people who live in fear of being themselves. They can be discriminated against by their employers, rejected by their families and even persecuted by law in many places. It can be scary being LGBT and it’s something I’m always aware of when I’m travelling to different countries, especially ones less progressive than the UK.
In Europe, many major cities have their own Pride festivals, and a popular pastime of people in the summer months is to hit up as many of them as possible. This year I attended three which is the most I’ve ever done in one year. They are so so important, and also, so much fun.
While I was working in Wroclaw this summer, I decided that instead of flying back to London for the weekend I would catch a four hour train to a nearby city – Berlin. I love Berlin. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world – when I last visited I was obsessed. After I’d decided I would go on this specific weekend, I realised that my visit would coincide with Berlin Pride! Lucky me. For accommodation, I decided to take a look at a website called MisterBnB, a gay-friendly alternative to AirBnb. After arriving in the city and meeting my host Marty, he invited me to join him and his mates in watching the parade so that all worked out perfectly!
The parade was a lot of fun – very loud and chaotic. The main difference from the London one was that there were no barriers between the spectators and the parade itself, which made it feel like one long street party. The parade wound its way through the city and finished up at the Brandenburg Gate. A large stage had been set up and bars lined the Bundesstrasse, turning the whole road into a huge outdoor dance party. Needless to say, that was awesome.
Just a few days later, I was flying back to London from Poland for my Eurostar to Amsterdam. So I think that makes four countries in one week? I was heading to A’dam with a bunch of friends from London. There were around 12 of us in the extended group. I stayed in a spacious Airbnb with four friends and we spent most of our time partying. Not much sightseeing was achieved I’m afraid!
Obviously Amsterdam is a beautiful city. I was excited to be back as I’ve only been once and that was 7 years ago (!). The city had been transformed for Pride. It felt like the whole city had gone gay! One of the main reasons I had wanted to visit for Amsterdam Pride is because I had heard that their parade goes down the canals instead of the streets. So we managed to position ourselves on one of the bridges for a great view. The atmosphere was amazing, although the fact that the floats are on barges meant that they moved even slower than a regular parade. I was sat down so was more or less okay but some of my friends got pretty tired of standing!
We saw lots of things, like the drag Olympics (drag queen racing and the handbag toss), a number of celebrities (I made the acquaintance of Mr Gay Belgium) and actually a whole bunch of other things happened that are not suitable for my mother to read 🙂
The time I spent in Amsterdam was one of my absolute highlights of the year. It was my first time going on a trip with a bunch of LGBT+ friends and I was left kicking myself that I’d never done something like it before. Next time I’m in Europe for a summer – I’m going to go to as many as I can!
Also, some bonus photos of when I marched in the London Pride parade with my LGBT wind orchestra 😀